The Iditarod is a dog sled race held annually in Alaska. It runs over the Iditarod trail between Anchorage and Nome on the first Saturday in March. Racers travel more than 1,000 miles of snowy, freezing terrain behind teams of sled dogs.
The original Iditarod wasn’t a sport — it was done out-of necessity to carry medication to Nenena, Alaska to Nome where there was a fatal outbreak of diphtheria. Now the race is just a ten-day vacation experience for Alaskans. Here are some ideas for exciting Iditarod activities for your children or classroom.
Be a Musher
Scholastic.com has a number of fun activities related to the Iditarod races. In a single activity, kids study a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure fashion scenario, using a photograph and then get to make a decision. Do you give your pets some slack, or keep on for the gate? Should you turn left or right? Each click results in a fresh circumstance and a myriad of choices for a fun journey.
Toughest Race on Earth Iditarod 02 Surviving the Alaskan Range
Alaska Kids.org includes an exciting audio/visual game called Serum Run. Kids can select a group leader and run the race, making choices as they go.
National Geographic has an interactive quiz, complete with audio and marks for accurate solutions.
Read about It
Your kids may enjoy exploring many different publications linked to the competitions. Gary Paulsen wrote about his experiences in Iditarod in his book called The Woodsong.
Julie of the Wolves is a popular book for elementary and middle school students. The book is about a girl who gets lost in the tundra and a pack of wolves protect her.
Younger readers might enjoy The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford. It’s the true tale of a dog who led a team through 53 miles of snow and ice to deliver medication during the diphtheria outbreak in the 1920s.
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Grandier uses the tale of a young boy who enters a dogsled race to win cash to truly save his grandfather’s farm.
Iditarod Dream by Ted Wood is a picture story of the fifteen-year-old Alaskan kid as he prepares to perform the 158 mile Junior Iditarod.
There are many films linked to the Iditarod races. For realistic portrayals, PBS offers several: Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic, and Martha – Sled Dog. The animated Balto follows a fictionalized story about the actual history of the first Iditarod race.
Balto – The Dogsled Race
The Iditarod races are a fun chance for your young ones to master about indigenous cultures, dog-sledding, Alaska and history because they explore the many activities linked to the annual races.