Lesson 1: Iditarod Picture Dictionary
K-2 students are introduced to the Iditarod and create a picture
dictionary of key Iditarod terms.
Grade Level: K2
- Learn about the Iditarod and related terms through stories
- Review photographs of mushers and sled dogs
- Use a dictionary, encyclopedia, and online resources to gather
- Draw pictures to illustrate Iditarod terms
- Write one-line captions to accompany pictures
- brass fasteners or report holders
- clear contact paper
- computer(s) with Internet access
- construction paper
- crayons or markers
- hole punch
- Idea Web graphic
- Iditarod books (see Recommended Books)
- student-researched dictionaries, library books, or online
sources with musher terminology
- U.S. map with Alaska clearly visible
- writing paper
- optional: LCD or overhead projector to display articles
and Idea Web
- Display selected Iditarod books (see Recommended
- Post a U.S. map on a wall.
- NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print
articles referenced in this lesson and make transparency copies
to post on an overhead projector.
Step 1: Read aloud one of the selected Iditarod picture
books with your class. As you read, show pictures of sled dogs,
Step 2: Ask students what they know about the Iditarod,
or what words come to mind. Record their responses on the Idea
Web. Start with the word "Iditarod" in the center and
record responses related to Iditarod and subsequent words. Contribute
to the Idea Web by telling students that the Iditarod is the world's
longest sled dog race (over 1,000 miles) and that it takes place
Step 3: Look at the U.S. map and have a volunteer identify
Alaska. Point out how far north it is. Ask students what they
think the weather must be like so far north.
Step 4: Visit the article All
About Alaska with students. Read it aloud. Then, encourage
students to share what they now know about Alaska (e.g. cold,
icy, north, etc). Expand on your Idea Web, adding this information.
Step 5: Tell students that as they learn more about the
Iditarod, they will continue to add words and ideas to the Idea
Web. After completing the Web, they will work together to create
an Iditarod Picture Dictionary.
Step 1: Read the article Historic
Iditarod aloud. Emphasize and define the bolded words (serum
and commemoration) and have students identify other key
concepts from this article to add to the Idea Web such as: Nome,
annually, and prize.
Step 2: Repeat Step 1 with each of the following articles
or sets of articles over the next couple of days:
(key words may include: musher, champion, Anchorage, handler,
(key words may include: Junior Iditarod, and tradition)
Four Articles from A
Dog's Life (key words may include: huskies, lead dogs, tripe,
harness, dehydration, veterinarians, and dog team)
Top Mushers (key
words may include: runner-up, trophy, training, blizzards, moose,
and Bering Sea)
Step 1: Review the Idea Web with students. Invite volunteers
to read aloud the words you've recorded.
Step 2: Organize students into small groups and assign
each group at least three terms from the Idea Web. Distribute
drawing and writing materials to each group. Tell students that
they are going to create pages for an Iditarod Picture Dictionary
by drawing pictures and writing brief definitions for each of
Step 3: With your help and guidance, have students use
dictionaries, encyclopedias, Iditarod books, library sources,
and online sources to research meanings and pictures of their
Step 4: Have students draw the pictures of their words,
one per sheet of construction paper. Help them write accompanying
Step 5: Groups should work together to organize their completed
pages in alphabetical order and create a cover for their Iditarod
Step 6: Attach the pages with brass fasteners. Cover the
Iditarod Picture Dictionary with clear contact paper on the front
and back covers.
Assessment & Evaluation
Use this Project
Rubric: Iditarod Picture Dictionary to assess students' proficiency
with this activity. Evaluate whether students' skills are improving
or where they may need additional support or instruction.
- Have students create an Iditarod Alphabet. Assign each student
a letter and have her use Iditarod resources to find one word
for that letter (e.g., A is for Alaska, H is for Husky, M is
for Musher, etc.). Students can decorate their letter and associated
word to display on a classroom bulletin board.
- Get up close and personal with sled dogs. Find out more about
malamutes or huskies by inviting an owner of this breed to the
classroom along with his dog.