Friday, February 3, 2017

Bringing the Real World Into the Classroom, Iditarod Style (Grades 3-5)

Do you love to use real life events to hook students into learning the skills you have to teach from multiple subject areas?  Well, you're in luck because the IDITAROD is only 28 days away!  This post will help inspire you and give you the ideas that you need to kickstart teaching the Iditarod! :)
There's so much you can teach that uses the Iditarod theme!  And... students love it so you have an engaged audience right away!  When teaching the Iditarod, you can intertwine Geography, History, Writing, Reading,Writing, and Math into your lessons.  So what are you waiting for?  Here's a quick little video to get you excited to teach the Iditarod!

The official Iditarod race website is a must for this unit, go to to see the official race site. Did you know that every year the Iditarod chooses one lucky teacher and allows the teacher to have a trail adventure?  The teacher writes curriculum and it is posted on the site to help other educators.  You will find tons of FREE educator resources to get you started.  Here's a peek at the Educator part of the Iditarod website:

Here's some teaching ideas and web links to get you and your students interested in the Iditarod:
  • Education World has tons of Iditarod teaching resources HERE.
  • KidsKonnect has the history of the Iditarod HERE.
  • The Discovery Channel put out a great educational video that explains all about Alaska and the Iditarod, and we all know that students love when they get to watch TV in class. (run time 43 min.)
  • Read the Scholastic article, All About Alaska. This gives great background for you and your students.  Tech Tip:  Project the web page for your students to read and/or follow along.
  • Do you have to teach friction?  Use this information to learn about the friction of the sled runners.
  • This video gives a pictorial display of the Inuit people of Canada and Alaska. Video (2:11)  Photos and Songs from the Inuit People
  • How about teaching forces of flight?  Yep, you can connect that to the Iditarod, too!
  • Here's a little mini lesson that crosses multiple subject areas: Dallas Seavey is one of the race mushers. To be more specific, in 2012, Dallas became the youngest person to ever win the Iditarod!  Dallas posted a YouTube video (run time 2:54) of his team racing. Your third, fourth and fifth graders will LOVE this one!  He says, "Now it's time to pull together," - talk about puns!  Be sure to watch and maybe pause the video where he shows you the thermometer and it reads about -30F!  Yowza that's COLD!  Use that to to springboard you to a lesson on thermometer reading.  There's a video on PBS learning (run time 3:51) you can show.
  • Once the race has begun, students can choose and follow a musher's progress on the trail.  Of course this means moving the place markers on their nametags but THEN once you have students hooked, you can easily teach Iditarod-themed math problem solving and review grammar concepts.  Students will be looking forward to the next day's learning.  If you want to use my No Prep Follow an Iditarod Musher Math and Musher Language, you can find it HERE.
  • Here's a fun Brain Break FREEBIE that demonstrates why teamwork is important!  Students draw cards to find their place on the sled dog team, whether it's the musher or a sled dog, they all have an important role.  Students get into their teams, and act out what a sled dog team would do on the trail, using sled dog language, such as "Gee" and "Haw".  This fun little freebie gets students moving, learning the language of sled dog teams, and most importantly, working as a team.  Get the FREEBIE Brain Break Here
The opportunities to connect learning to the Iditarod are endless!  Feel free to comment with other tips that you have for teaching the Iditarod.  Did you try any of the ideas in this post?  Let us know what you thought! 


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