Where do I begin?
There are many sites and blogs dedicated to sharing curriculum and lesson plans about the Iditarod. We have found a few steps that will help you get started if you are a classroom teacher or a school. See below for ideas that we used to help us bring our students to the "starting line."
Subscribe to the Iditarod Insider
In order to really follow the Iditarod and bring the whole unit to your classroom, you should subscribe to the Iditarod Insider. You can get one account for just your classroom, or for an entire school, with one simple log in and password for everyone. This will allow you to track the mushers throughout the race, but you also have access to great videos during the race of the mushers at checkpoints and video interviews. It is not expensive, and the money supports the Iditarod.
Teacher on the Trail
The Iditarod sends one lucky teacher on the trail for 5 weeks each year. This special teacher travels by plane to the checkpoints and blogs his or her experiences along the trail. They also share lesson plans and curriculum to teachers everywhere. The Teacher on the Trail for 2014, is Jen Reiter. Her blog is wonderful, and you can click "follow" and receive updates from her in your email. Easy!
There are tons of resources about the Iditarod available on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest. We found many cross curricular lessons and pre-made Iditarod themed musher tracking sheets that helped us. We also used many apps since we are a 1:1 iPad district. The bulletin board set attached was used by many of us to track the mushers and set up our Iditarod themes in our classrooms.
There are many videos on YouTube about the Iditarod and personal videos of the race. We found one in particular that was great to show the faculty or your students. It has a song about Joe Redington Sr., who started and organized the Iditarod race, which is a great talking point. It is appropriate to show to all age groups and a great way to get everyone excited about the Iditarod!
There are several service projects your class or school can be involved with to help them be a small part of the Iditarod experience. See the link above for the "dropped dog" blanket project, due by mid-January. There is also a musher banquet a few days before the race, and classrooms all over the country create and make Iditarod themed centerpieces for the tables! Check the Iditarod web site early in the year for deadlines and forms. Another way to be involved is to "adopt" a sled dog by raising money. Check the web sites for the mushers, and many of them accept donations for the care of their sled dogs. This is a great way to support your musher!
QR codes to share
Make QR Codes to navigate to different internet sites about the Iditarod, and post them for all the students. This gives easy access for everyone for research and sharing. We put our password and log in on the Iditarod sheet for easy access as well. On our iPads, the students then made Iditarod folders on their home screen with all the sites. See below for codes already created for 4 sites.
How Stuff Works - research online
How Stuff Works is a TV show about just that....how stuff works. They also have a great site online with lots of great information about the Iditarod, mushers, sled dogs, etc. This is a great resource for teachers and students in the upper grades to study this topic with great vocabulary and even quizzes!
Scholastic - Iditarod information
The Scholastic site has fantastic resources for the classroom. Of course you can purchase great books too, but they have a special section dedicated to the Iditarod race, and Gary Paulsen. I would recommend this site as a great starting point to teach the history of this race, and incorporate great literature into your language arts curriculum.
The National Geographic Kids site has an Iditarod online quiz that is great way to jumpstart your unit of study. See what the students know and make a KWL chart! You can research the answers to your questions during the unit.
Zuma's Paw Prints
Zuma's Paw Prints is an official blog of the Iditarod site that hosts 4 Alaskan dog "writers" that share great information with students during the race. The dogs have different reading levels for students, and they share great information about Iditarod history and the meaning of vocabulary such as "rookie" or "veteran." Students find this very appealing and fun to read. You can even email the dogs with questions and they will answer you!
The Idita-Read site is a great way to track the Iditarod race (they have several other routes too) and track reading goals set by the students. The fee per student is under $2.00 and is a great way to engage students in their own personal "race" to read! This can also be an at home project!