Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Iditarod in the Classroom!

Traditionally, February in the classroom means all things Valentine's Day.  But for me, it means my favorite part of the school year... Iditarod time!  This post will fill you in on how to incorporate the Iditarod into your classroom, and there's also a giveaway!

using Iditarod lessons in the classroom

Year after year, the Iditarod is my students' favorite unit, too.  Whenever I have students come back to visit me, one of the first things they'll ask is, "Do you guys still study the Iditarod?" You better believe it! I think the most appealing part of it is "following" mushers and the competition of the race.  Everyone like a good race. 

After we've had some time to learn about Alaska, I share the book Togo with my students.  It's so great.  It tells the story of a dog whose team took part in the 1925 Serum Run to get life saving medicine to Nome where there was a diptheria outbreak.  The book is a great lead in to the history of the Iditarod. 

Iditarod classroom powerpoint presentation
For a Powerpoint Presentation that explains everything you need to know about the Iditarod, click on the photo above.

The real fun begins when students pick the mushers they'll be learning about and following during the race.  I print off a list of mushers from the Iditarod Website and do a drawing for names.  I usually have my students work with a partner, because it seems to be more fun when you have a classmate who's on your "team".  The first thing to do learn about their mushers.

students researching Iditarod mushers

writing letters to Iditarod mushers
You can find resources to use to follow mushers by clicking on the photo above.

Next, it's time to learn more about the rules of the race. Students enjoy "packing" their sled with mandatory items, and getting creative about what they'd bring with them during the race.

Click the photo above to check out my other Iditarod Activities.  
Students also create a flag for their musher that they use to keep track of where their musher is during the race.  The kids BEG me to check the website to see where there mushers are during the day, and I've heard from parents they they're checking at home, too.  One parent even admitted to me that she was checking on her daughter's musher while she was at work! (Not gonna lie, I've "picked" the same musher to follow for the past few years, and I may be a little attached.  Go Martin Buser!)

Using this checksheet helps students keep track of where their mushers are. 

When the race is over, students write letters to their mushers.  They are FULL of questions for them.  It's a great way to practice writing with an authentic purpose.  I have students use their home addresses, and they're so excited about the possibility of getting mail at home.  I'd say that ideally about half of the students get letters back.  They love bringing them in to share with their classmates.

Last year the Iditarod Unit was right before our standardized testing.  I realized my students needed more practice answering questions and writing about paired texts, so I created two nonfiction texts and some writing prompts to go along with the Iditarod.  It was perfect, because I could use the excitement and engagement about the Iditarod to get some great writing practice in.  You can check those out {HERE}.

If you've been thinking about using the Iditarod in your classroom, I highly recommend it.  It's something your students will always remember.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these ideas! My class would love learning about the Iditarod.