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Lesson 2: Recreate the Race
Students use what they read, research, and learn to recreate the
checkpoints along the Iditarod trail, bringing the Alaskan sled
dog race to life in their classroom.
Grade Level: 38
- Research and learn about the checkpoints along the Iditarod,
including the geography, the people who live in this region, their
cultures, and their traditions
- Read and/or participate in interviews of mushers and other
Iditarod experts to gather information
- Recreate the checkpoints along the Iditarod race trail
- Calculate and graph distance between checkpoints
- art supplies and writing paper
- chart paper
- computer(s) with Internet access
- construction paper
- crayons or markers
- Iditarod books (see Recommended Books)
- poster board
- U.S. map with Alaska clearly visible
- optional: graph paper
- optional: LCD or overhead projector to display articles
Set up an Iditarod learning center that includes:
- art supplies
- selected Iditarod books (see Recommended
- several computer stations, each designated for specific activities
(NOTE: If computer access is limited, print articles referenced
in this lesson and make them available offline in the Iditarod
- U.S. map with Alaska visible
Step 1: Ask students what they know about the Iditarod.
Get a discussion started by asking: What is the Iditarod? Where
does this race happen? What is a sled dog? Record students' responses
and ideas on chart paper.
Step 2: Draw students' attention to the U.S. map. Ask a
volunteer to locate Alaska on the map. Point out how far north
it is. Ask what they think the weather must be like that far north.
Step 3: Read aloud one of the selected books. Recommended:
Iditarod Dream for grades 35; Woodsong for
grades 68. (Note: Woodsong is 160 pages and may be
read over the course of the project.) Alternative: assign students
to read the online article The
Iditarod: An Unforgettable Journey.
Step 1: Divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair one
of the checkpoints along the Iditarod race trail. See the map
at Explore the Trail.
Step 2: Explain that over the next three days, each group
will make its way through various "stations" set up
in the classroom to learn more about the Iditarod, including its
history, the racers, the course, etc. Instruct groups to take
notes as they explore each station, especially as the information
relates to their checkpoint.
Station 1: Background Articles
Students get background information by reading All
About Alaska and Historic
Station 2: Explore the Trail
Display clickable Iditarod
route on one or more computers. Students explore the various
checkpoints to learn the basics about each one.
Station 3: Young Mushers Students discover what the Iditarod
means to the next generation of top mushers. By reading about
and a Junior
Station 4: Meeting the Mushers
Students learn about a variety of themes related to this unique
race through interview transcripts and profiles of Top
Station 5: Race the Course
Through a virtual sled race, each student gets to Be
a Musher and see what the real race is like and the decisions
Step 6: Have pairs review their notes from the stations
and write down facts about their assigned checkpoint as well as
the Iditarod in general.
Step 1: Over the next two days, each group should independently
research their checkpoint further, returning to the stations as
needed and checking library materials, the Recommended Books,
or Additional Resources.
Step 2: Using their research, pairs recreate Iditarod checkpoints
that include the following:
- banner or poster with the name of the checkpoint
- list of stats including distances from their checkpoint to
the next/previous checkpoints and what they are
- description of what racers do at this checkpoint, including
how long they generally stay
- brief essay about the geography of the region
- brief essay about people who live there, their culture, and
- pictures (either drawn or photocopied) showing what the area
Assessment & Evaluation
Use this Project Rubric: Recreate the
Race to assess students' proficiency with this activity. Evaluate
whether students' skills are improving or where they may need
additional support or instruction.
- Have students graph the distances between various checkpoints
on this year's Iditarod route using a bar or line graph. Have
them identify the longest and shortest distances between two checkpoints.
- At the end of this year's race, have students create graphs
of the winning times. Using their graphs, students should be able
to answer the following questions: Who had the fastest time? Who
had the slowest time? What was the difference between the fastest
and slowest times? What was the average time?
- Using information from the online project, have students work
in groups to create their own Iditarod maps. Be sure they label
mountains, rivers and other bodies of water, major cities and
towns, and trail checkpoints. They should also include a legend
and compass rose.
- Using their notes, have each pair of students create individual
lists of questions they would like to ask real mushers or Iditarod
experts. Match two groups to work together. One pair will interview
the other, who will act as Iditarod "experts." Over
a day or two, the "expert" pair can research answers
to the other groups questions using information from the different
stations, library materials, Recommended
Books, and Additional Resources.