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Iditarod Teaching Activities for the Classroom

Iditarod activities for the classroom

Iditarod Teaching Ideas

No matter where you are in the world, you may have heard about the Iditarod. I’ve put together a blog post detailing a handful of Iditarod teaching activities for the classroom. You can certainly create some of these for your own classroom, but I’ve created a convenient set of Iditarod bulletin board printables, musher tracking logs, Iditaread reading logs to husky and musher crafts with tons of other printables so you don’t have to. You’ll find free Iditarod teaching printables below as well. Feel free to check it out here and read more about what is included in the description.

Iditarod teaching activities

If you don’t already know this about me, I was born and raised in Alaska, and I still live here. My family came to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush and we’ve been here ever since! Ever since I was in 4th grade, I have been in love with the Iditarod. My 4th grade teachers taught an Iditarod unit that was so comprehensive, we even did an Iditarod relay in gym class. It was the unit of all units. THE Susan Butcher even visited our school (and her photo is still in the library where I went to school and my son now goes to school). For an Alaskan, that’s the equivalent of Michael Jordan (we don’t really have major league sports teams here–so many of us cheer on Iditarod mushers instead). So, needless to say, when I started my student teaching year (at that same school I went to), I designed a set of Iditarod teaching activities. Just as I had imagined, I saw the excitement and thrill in my students faces and knew I had hit a teacher jackpot. A topic I could get them engaged with, all the while integrating literacy, math, science, technology, and art.

To begin our Iditarod Unit, I like to start off by showing my students a slideshow. It includes some background info, history and vocabulary I know will come up in some read alouds and activities.

Iditarod teaching activities

Iditarod teaching activities adopt a dog journalAfter we watch the slideshow, I allow students to “adopt” an Iditarod dog during our unit. Every plush husky dog has a collar (a key ring with a name I wrote on it), and students randomly choose their dog from the kennel (a medium size dog kennel I hold all of my Iditarod stuff in that also doubles as a prop for this activity). Now, these plush dogs could easily become a distraction, so before they are adopted, we discuss what the expectations should be. They’ll be writing in a journal (either “to” their dog, or “as” their dog), so the dogs aren’t to be touched, cuddled, played with unless it’s journaling time. Any “dog” that can’t follow these rules goes back into the kennel (i.e. a doggy “time out”). The dogs live on top of their desks during the whole unit, and they earn time to play with their pups together by making good choices. Adopt a Dog writing is something they really look forward to, and seeing them get excited about writing is something I really look forward to.


I also use this printable dog sledding words handout (you can blow it up and print it on 4 pages to create a larger poster). This is an easy word wall for students to reference when writing. This anchor chart is particularly helpful when students are writing in their Adopt-a-Dog Journals. They constantly reference the words on this page for spelling help, so I keep it up for the entire Iditarod unit.

free Iditarod teaching activities

You can get the dog sledding printable word wall list free by signing up for my newsletter here:

Iditarod crafts for kids husky and musher


My students ABSOLUTELY LOVE making these Iditarod crafts (a husky craft and a musher craft). They seriously can’t get enough. The writing prompt portion is editable, so you can type whatever writing prompt or title you want on the top. They are easy cut and paste crafts (also included is a girl musher, not shown), which means your students won’t be wasting time tracing on construction paper and cutting and can focus on the writing instead (something your Admin will probably appreciate). These make great bulletin board pieces to display everything from writing about a book we’ve read, to point of view writing or even poetry. I really appreciate how versatile they are so they can be used at any grade for really any topic.

Iditarod coloring pagesAnother fun activity I like to do during our Iditarod unit is coloring. Except, this isn’t your grandma’s coloring page. These husky coloring pages are purposeful. They are editable, which means you can add your own equations, sight words, etc. to them so they can easily be differentiated. Grab the editable husky coloring page in the Free Teaching Resource Library here.

Iditarod teaching activitiesThe Red Lantern Award is given to the last musher to cross the finish line in Nome, so of course, I had to have one to stress the importance of hard work and determination by awarding this one to a student that shows those same characteristics each day during our unit. You can get a red lantern for your own classroom here. I also brought in a pair of fleece dog booties to show the class what the dogs in the Iditarod wear to protect their feet from the ice! You can find the booties here. They loooved these 2 artifacts. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that get them excited.



Iditarod teaching activities musher tracking logWe begin our week by learning about the mushers that are in this year’s race (I printed off their biographies). Students are responsible for writing about their musher and personalizing a mini musher to keep track of each day on the checkpoint bulletin board.

I keep all of the biography pages in clear page protectors in this binder for future reference as well.

Then, we color Musher Trading Cards, added neat facts we found (think Pokemon power info, but mushers) to the back of each card, and let the exchanges begin! I even made dog trading cards because they really got into the Adopt-a-Dog journaling and developing characters out of their dogs this year.

After students learn a little about mushers, I assign them one to follow during the race. I set up a bulletin board and they move their mushers once a day when we check their checkpoint status. You can find these printable bulletin board pieces in the same Iditarod teaching activities unit.

Iditarod teaching activities bulletin board printables

Iditarod teaching activities printable bulletin board Iditaread

If you don’t want to create a checkpoint map bulletin board, you can also just have students follow a linear set of checkpoints like this one. What I like best about this style is you can put it low enough for smaller students to easily move their pieces. You could even create both bulletin boards and have students follow a musher and move their own musher along as they read in a class reading race (sometimes called an “Iditaread”). The good news is students will love either Iditarod bulletin board you choose.



Iditarod bulletin boardAnd YOU HAVE GOT TO CHECK THIS OUT! A super sweet volunteer made this whole thing for us to hang up! You can’t tell from the photo, but each of those flags are cut out construction paper, not printed from the internet! And the letters are all bordered with black and layered on top of yellow…it looks A-MAZING in real life. Trust me. I was speechless when I opened up the delivery! I promptly cut it out and laminated it so I could hug it all night hang it up in the hallway with our other Iditarod stuff.


I’ve also compiled a list of Iditarod books and these are some of my favorites. You can see the ongoing and updated list by clicking below.

Iditarod read alouds

So that’s it! I hope you have found some Iditarod teaching activities you can use and your class has a wonderful experience learning about the Iditarod this year. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!



  1. March 11, 2015 / 7:10 pm

    I found you resources just in time! We are tracking the race each day in my small group class as well as researching the Iditarod race. We will use this research to complete the cute little husky craftivity at the end of our study. We are so excited about this little unit of study! Thank you Jen.

  2. Diana Marie Ginesi
    February 17, 2019 / 4:24 am

    I LOVE all of your creative ideas! What an inspirationyou are to me!

  3. Jamie
    March 12, 2019 / 5:19 pm

    Hi! Do you have printable red lantern award available separate from a bundle?? Thank you!!

    • Jen
      March 12, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      I don’t, sorry!

  4. Lindsey
    January 19, 2020 / 8:30 am

    Do you recommend doing pre-teaching of this unit in February and then track the race in March, or do it all in March?

    • Jen
      January 19, 2020 / 2:06 pm

      I’ve done it both ways, but I didn’t have a preference and the kids enjoyed it both times.

  5. Lauren Medlin
    February 28, 2020 / 6:45 am

    What do you have your students write about in their adopt a dog journal??

    • Jen
      February 28, 2020 / 9:31 am

      Hi! I include a list of ideas and prompts in the journal for them to choose from. It’s in the Dog Sled Fun resource.

  6. Loran B.
    March 11, 2020 / 2:51 pm

    Hey there!! I stumbled across your post/blog while looking for supplemental activities for my Alaskan homeschooled kids, who are learning all about the Iditarod this year!! I had to say I LOVE your stuff, and thank you for making it available for everyone!! 💜

  7. Liz B.
    March 13, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    Thank you so much for putting all of this together and offering it to others. We just finished an entire week long study using your Iditarod curriculum and my kiddos loved it every step of the way. I got more participation out of them with this study than our regular curriculum. 🙂 What made it even more exciting is we have a family friend mushing in the Iditarod this year and we’ve been tracking him each day, while using your curriculum. It’s been great!

    • Jen
      March 13, 2021 / 1:02 pm

      You’re so welcome and I’m so happy to hear they enjoyed the activities! Thank you!

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