This weekend marked the beginning of the annual Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska. There are so many resources online that provide wonderful ideas and activities to study this with your class. Here is one I found:
Every year Target also sponsors a “Teacher on the Trail” and there are tons of resources online about these teachers, and giving ideas across the curriculum using this theme.
One year our school used the Iditarod in combination with “March is Reading Month” and we charted how many books the children read at home using sled dog pictures and an enlarged map of Alaska. There are so many skills that fit in very well – mapping, great vocabulary, history, study of weather, temperature, and time. I also liked to emphasize the whole idea of a team spirit.
After I explained the basic story of the original Iditarod to my class we watched the video Balto in small pieces. This is an animated version of the story.
I got this information from Wikipedia:
Here is a book my Kindergartners made.
We looked at a map of Alaska and the original trail they took to bring the serum to the sick children.
We used the word “musher” and talked about the clothing they would need to wear, and all the jobs the musher would have to do to take care of the dogs and run the course. They put their own face onto this musher.
We talked about the type of dogs that run in the Iditarod. We talked about the booties that they wear to protect their feet from the ice. One year I found a teacher online – I think it was part of the Target Teacher on the Trail program, and she sent out a box of resources for teachers to use. She also sent me a bootie that had been used by a dog in a race.
We discussed and made a list of all the supplies the musher would need to take for this trip that lasted more than a week. This “sled” was a bent pipe cleaner stapled onto the page.
We talked about the job of the lead dog, and how the team had to work cooperatively.
I brought in a child’s snow sled and tied a long rope on it in a loop. I had a parent take 4 children at a time out into our hallway, which was carpeted. Each child got a chance to act out every role – the musher who sat on the sled, the lead dog, and a team dog; and they pulled each other down the hallway.
I sometimes adapted the text of this book to fit a little higher readers, but it was always a pattern. Sometimes it might have read: This is the __________. OR The musher was in the race, the dog was in the race, the sled was in the race, the team won the race! I wanted all the children to be successful reading it, and the Iditarod vocabulary was what I was really focusing on.