Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Iditarod...Alaskan teacher style!

As you probably already know (or maybe you don't, that's cool too!), I live in Alaska. Which means I am super fortunate in the fact that we have some pretty sweet scenery right in our backyard.  For instance, last year I took my class on a whale watching cruise (thanks to one seriously awesome family of a couple of siblings I've had in my class in the past) and we saw a ton of orca, humpback and some loud seals. FUN!
The Iditarod started on March 1st this year, so buckle yourself in and get ready for a sled ride because this post is a biggie!  Being the Alaskan that I am, the Iditarod holds a special place in my heart. When I did my student teaching (4th grade), my required integrated unit was on the Iditarod. I lived, breathed and dreamed Iditarod for 6 whole weeks. Craziness.

Fast forward 6 years later and I'm still slightly obsessed. If you live here in Alaska (907 holla!), chances are you know all about the Iditarod and it's hardcore-ness (or maybe you don't and could care less?), and if you're a "lower 49er" you might also know a lot about the Iditarod and be a fan of the fun! This dogsled race is called The Last Great Race for a reason!  It also happens to make for some highly engaging content and literacy/math/science/social studies for teachers worldwide. Enter: my Iditarod unit. 

I used my MEGA Alaska clipart to create this laminated anchor chart and as we learn, fill it up with important info we could refer back to throughout the unit. 
I also made this checkpoint map with both the Northern (even years) and Southern routes (odd years) so students could have easy access to the names of each checkpoint of the race.
 And of course, we have to have a word wall anchor chart!
Here the majority of my Iditarod books...I buy any I can find!
 We're waiting for the snow to melt a little so we can collect rocks to make our Iditarocks!  This is my sample from 2008 when I taught about the Iditarod during my student teaching...had to reglue some of those eyeballs on fo sho!
 Aren't these fingerprint doggies adorable?! Another page from my unit:
I printed out my entire unit and store the masters in page protectors in this binder for easier copying.

After searching 3 different stores for a paper tray that wouldn't be a lot of storage (I have lots of rubbermaid totes in various sizes already) and that I could put at each table group, I realized I already had what I needed. For the centers we used this day, I put one page in the front sleeve (so they knew what center it would be at that table group) and then put the rest inside in the time I'll just run them in the copier with the hole punch option so they stay put better (pockets don't work so well when they're turned upside down!).  Anyway, you might be able to try this out sometime...let me know how it works for you if you do!
 Each table group got a binder and students rotated through the centers when they finished each one.
 Digraph sorting and unscrambling sentences:
Story writing and labeling:
Adopt-a-Dog Journal writing has been a huge hit! They looove it! Each student has a Webkinz plush husky (I use the same ones each year) and they can choose to write to their dog, or write as their dog...either way is fine with me!
 This pack is included in my Iditarod Unit, but you can also purchase it separately in case you don't have time for more than a little bit of Iditarod!
 We made our Iditarod Husky Craftivity dogs (available separate, but also included in my Iditarod Unit)! They'll be in the hallway soon with the musher biographies *hopefully* soon!
The 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! I bought this one on eBay a few years ago. 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! They loooved these 2 artifacts!
 We began our week by learning about the mushers that are in this year's race (I printed off biographies from the official Iditarod website). Students were responsible for writing about their musher and personalizing a mini musher to keep track of each day on the checkpoint bulletin board.
 Then, we colored these 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!
This is a new page added to the Iditarod Unit, so if you already bought this unit, go download your updated version for free (go to My Purchases in TpT)!!! I stuck mine in a page protector and update it in the morning when we move our mushers.  Sadly, 2 of the mushers that were assigned scratched (dropped out), so they live in the "Scratched Zone" now!
Money games!
Multiplication and division is much more engaging when puppy food is involved!
 Brushing up on our expanded form skills again:
 Doubles and doubles +1 practice:
 We used these number bonds to practice our splitting of tens and ones:
 Reading Iditarod books and working on Adopt-a-Dog journals (available separate, but also included in my Iditarod Unit):
 Ohhh the importance of 10's Friends!!!! We can't practice this enough!
Solving for an unknown and fractions!
And 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 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.
 Terrible lighting in the hallway, as you can see from the difference in the photo below.
I printed my bookmarks, laminated them and used pawprint ribbon from JoAnn's to make them extra special and fun.
Each of these activities comes from my Iditarod: An Integrated Unit. Click below to check it out!
We still have a couple of weeks of Iditarod fun left...I'm crossing my fingers for Aliy Zirkle to win this year...she has been so close this whole race! Do you have a musher pick? Tell me! Who would you like to see win?!

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