February 18, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman

Iditarod 2013

The Iditarod is starting in less than two weeks! Every year, kids from our school participate in the eIditarod, an online project that helps us learn more about this fascinating race. You can read about last year’s project here.

This year, we started learning about the race back in December, when we Skyped with a ranger at Denali National Park to learn more about sled dogs.

We made a map to track the Iditarod route. First, we traced a map of Alaska and wrote the names of all the checkpoints on the route. Then we colored it white using oil pastels.

Next, we did research to choose the musher our class would follow this year. We divided up the list of this year’s mushers and each one of our project groups researched 10-12 mushers.

Each group decided on one nominee to present to the rest of the class. All of our nominees were great mushers with lots of experience, and the groups did an excellent job of presenting their choices. However, we could only choose one, and the winner of our class vote was: Lance Mackey!

Now, all we have to do is try to be patient as we wait for the race to start on March 2! We’ll be tracking Lance’s progress on the trail every day.

This video was made by Dallas Seavey, last year’s Iditarod champion.

Does your class follow the Iditarod?



December 7, 2012
by Mrs. Hamman

Science of Sled Dogs

Our class participates in the eIditarod every year. It gives us a chance to learn about a world that most of us don’t have much experience with, the world of sled dog racing in Alaska. Although the Iditarod doesn’t happen until the spring, we have been reading a little bit about dogs and their environment to prepare for the project.

We read that the rangers at Denali National Park in Alaska actually use sled dogs for transportation in the winter. A large part of the park is protected and closed to motorized vehicles. Dog sleds are the only form of transportation that are allowed. We wanted to find out more about the dogs that live at Denali.

Sometimes the best way to find out information is to ask an expert! On Thursday we Skyped with Ranger Rachel, a park ranger at Denali. She taught us all about the sled dogs that live there and the adaptations they have that make it possible for them to live in the subarctic environment.

After the Skype session we all wrote about something we learned and posted it on our Exit Ticket board. Here’s what some of us wrote:

  • The dogs have tough paws to protect from cuts and scrapes.
  • There is extra fat in a sled dog’s paw.
  • They have two kinds of fur: an inner fur to keep them warm and an outer fur to keep them dry.
  • A dog curls up and puts his tail over his nose to keep warm at night.
  • Panting helps them cool off after a long run.
  • There is bristly fur between the pads on their paws to keep snow out.
  • The dogs have a special blood flow that helps them stay warm.
  • The dogs try to avoid other wildlife.
  • The dogs eat extra fat at as a snack for energy.
  • The dogs in Denali live in dog houses that look like mini log cabins.
  • You can visit the dogs in the summer.
  • When they train a puppy they put him with an older dog so the older dog can teach him.
  • Yesterday at Denali the temperature was 37 degrees below zero!
We learned so much during our Skype session! Thank you, Ranger Rachel!

Here are some pictures of our Skype session.

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Have you ever been to Alaska?

What adaptations do you think Arizona animals might need?

March 4, 2012
by Mrs. Hamman

It’s Iditarod time!

UPDATE: Our musher, Ramey Smyth, came in third place! The first place musher was Dallas Seavey. He is the youngest winner in the history of the race! Congratulations to all the participants. We had a great time following you this year. 

Attribution: Gates, Michelle. swingley02.jpg. 8-Mar-98. Pics4Learning. 4 Mar 2012 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>

The 2012 Iditarod Sled Dog Race started on Sunday. This is the 40th annual running of the race. The race starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome, a distance of about 1,049 miles. It’s a real endurance test for both the musher and his or her team of dogs.

Anchorage is over 2,500 miles away from our school in Arizona, but our fifth grade classes still follow to learn about the Iditarod race every year. We’ve read a series of stories in our reading book about the Iditarod and its history, and we enjoy researching and learning more about the exciting world of sled dog racing. We always like reading about places that are cold, especially as it starts to get really hot here!

This year we are participating in the eIditarod, a project where we track the progress of a musher and leave virtual messages for him at various race checkpoints. “Our” musher is Ramey Smyth. We researched all the musher profiles on the Iditarod site and then voted on the one we wanted to follow. We liked Ramey because his profile says he is “running under the banner of abstinence from drinking, smoking, and drugs”, and that goes along with the things we learned in DARE. We look forward to following his progress along the trail. Good luck, Ramey!

Students traced a map of the race trail onto butcher paper.

This is the finished trail map.

This is our eIditarod bulletin board, where we will be tracking Ramey's progress along the trail.


 Do you know anything about the Iditarod?


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