Follow the Iditarod


Before the banquet, we learn about PROBABILY. We discuss the likelihood that certain mushers will win. We predict who will win. We think about those who might not make it to the end and why. Then we choose about 40 mushers (we are a class off about 30 second graders for this event) that will be placed in a box. We choose those who we think might win, but we also put in some rookies that we would like to follow. And our girls alway like to have a good "girl showing!" Some children choose based on interesting names too. For example, one year we just had to follow "Fabrizio." The more you know about the mushers, the easier this is. Check the musher race archives and study hard!

During the banquet, with great excitement, each child chooses from a box their musher to follow. I choose the children's names randomly and they chose a musher's name without looking. In order to have some "suspense" it is important to get to know some of the mushers ahead of time so the children know who has been a winner before, who is new and a little of each musher's "story." If a musher scratches (drops out of the race), then the child chooses a new musher to follow.

Many children will begin to follow the race at home with their families. It is so much fun to see the children rush into the classroom in the morning to provide the latest race updates, especially when they want to tell another child that his or her musher is in the lead or has moved up in position. How many other times in the year to your children run into the classroom eager to share about what they are learning. And in the midst of the race updates, they are learning to read, understanding how to navigate a pretty-complicated Web site, learning how to log data on a chart, doing basic addition and subtraction, reading maps, and the list goes on. This is why I enjoy this project so much!


Here are some resources to help you track mushers in your classroom.

Musher Tracking Sheets for the Northern and Southern Routes: http://iditarod.com/pdfs/teacher/MusherDataSheets.pdf. Give one sheet to each child to use to record the progress of his or her musher. I have the children record each morning. They have to write down what position the musher is in, which checkpoint the musher had reached, the time and date the musher arrived, the number of dogs upon arrival, the time and date and number of dogs for departure. You will have to model this for the younger children.

24-Hour Time Conversion Sheet:
24 Hour Clock.doc
You might need this because time is recorded in 24-hour time. A great math lesson by the way! This is a bit difficult for some second graders (any younger children I would imagine), but most get the hang of it. Some will need help from an adult or classmate. And there are some children who just LOVE learning this.