If you have not introduced the Iditarod to your students, you are missing out! The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is a chance to integrate multiple subject areas into a unit that is sure to be a hit with your students. Below, we have outlined our top 10 activities that we do with our students in our classrooms.
Before you begin to tell your students about the race, have them fill out a KWL chart. This is a great starting place to see the background knowledge that your students have. It also is a great lead into step #2 below. Click here or on the picture to download!
2. Serum Run to Nome Informational Text
The Nome Serum Run of 1925 is a gripping and compelling story of how the people of Alaska used sled dogs to get the serum to the people suffering from diphtheria in Nome. Click here to read more about this part of Iditarod history. This would be a great informational text activity where you could have the students read the passage and then cite evidence from the passage about the history.
This is a MUST visit website for your classroom. It has a wealth of information that your students will love to explore. Take some time to browse through the website and we are sure you will find many great resources to use! You can also have the students use the website for research on sled dog care, biographies of mushers, and so much more!
4. Video on Race
To get the students fired up about the start of the race, show a video of what the Iditarod Sled Dog Race is like. Try to find a clip of the prep before the race, the start of the race, what it's like on the trail, and the finish. Watch as your students are captivated by this amazing sporting event. Click here for a video that does a great job of describing what the trail is like and features many of the great mushers. It is over 40 minutes long, so pick the parts you want to show to your students.
5. Picking a musher
To make this experience more interactive, have the students pick a musher to follow before the race starts. Allow them to research the mushers, and pick the one that they think will win. We have even used snow boots and have typed the names out and put them in the boots for students to pick. See the next step for the fun you can have!
6. FREE Musher Tracker Sheet and Map!
Once your students have picked a musher, introduce the musher tracker sheet. This will be a great place for them to track the progression of their team along the trail! We have our students do this right away each morning. They simply go to Iditarod.com and search for their musher and what place s/he is in. Then, on the back of the tracking sheet, we have a map of Alaska that they can draw in the checkpoints! Click here to download for FREE!
7. FREE Math Activity!
This activity contains 18 math problems about the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska. There is also a teacher answer key included. Each problem is directly related to the Iditarod race. For example there are problems about: the best finishes, how many days it took to race for some mushers, the cost of the Iditarod, the Serum Run of 1925, the northern and southern routes, miles between checkpoints, costs of food and supplies, the weather, the speed of the teams, and more. You can find it for FREE by clicking here.
Allowing your students a choice to do a project about the Iditarod can be a great way for them to express their learning in different ways. Here are some choices that we offer our students:
- Create an acrostic poem
- Write a song
- Be a news reporter about the race
- Create an old-fashioned newspaper about the Serum Run
- Make up your own math problems involving the race
- Write a report on the importance of dog care
- Draw and color a poster that could be used to advertise next year's race
- Alaska: do a research report on this amazing state
- or have your students come up with their own projects!
9. Daily Journals
Another fun activity would be to have your students keep track of a daily journal. There are a few ways your students could do this. The first way would be to journal about the musher they are following on the race. They could include: checkpoints visited, number of dogs remaining, any troubles they may have encountered, any time to stop and rest, and so on. Or they could write a fiction journal about a musher, or even a sled dog on the trail! Let their imaginations run wild with the second one!
10. Iditarod Party
Just like when the racers finish and celebrate, your class should also have a celebration as well! Some ideas we have used before are paw print cookies, "straw" berries, "ice" cream, and checkpoint cherries! Give out awards if you want, such as top finishing team, red lantern team, and so on.
Let the race for fun begin in your classroom!