Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's Iditarod Time!

I was so excited to teach about the Iditarod this past week!  Unfortunately, we lost two days this week due to unexpected snow :( so I still have my Tuesday groups to catch up, but hopefully we'll be able to do that this coming week!

I decided to teach it a little early because last year, I taught right before the race, and felt I could do a better job without feeling so rushed and trying to cram everything in at once.  Since this is our second year doing it, I was really pleased that my kids were so excited for it this year!  I had finished my display the week before and felt that it wasn't getting noticed....well, not anymore!

I pulled all my books on Alaska and sled dogs (fiction and non) to put in the case.  As students began checking out books from the display, I started filling in with some of my own about Alaska and the Arctic, from a unit I did in second grade.

I love the Iditarod and look forward to it myself every year.  I happened to get observed on Friday with my 2nd grade group and got an "excellent lesson - I thoroughly enjoyed it" from my administrator.  Wow!

So, what did I do?

First, you need to check out our wiki page:  There I have the videos I use with each group set and ready to go.  All students watched the "short intro" which is really cute.  The one I used last year was pulled from YouTube, so I found this one and while it's less of a "news footage" about the Iditarod, it's funnier and catches the students' attention.

While my goal is to get more books about this topic, I used the following books and videos with each grade:

K/1:  May Finds Her Way:  The Story of an Iditarod Dog by Betty Selakovich Casey
videos: short intro/huskies/ride with Jeff King
Image result for may finds her way

2/3:  The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy
videos:  short intro/mushing terms/huskies
Image result for the incredible life of balto

4/5:  Togo by Robert J Blake
videos:  short intro/packing the sled with Dallas Seavy
I also included links on the wiki page, as well as bonus videos so students could visit on school or home time to explore more.  We also subscribed to, so that we can track the mushers using GPS.  (map skills!!!)

As for activities, this year we used the following:
K:  used husky cards to put in order from 1-20, then find a way to split the 20 huskies into 2 sled dog teams; coloring sheet with a dogsled team from a coloring website
1:  husky cards, but students ordered them in 2 teams using skip counting, even/odd numbers, or a designated pattern; coloring sheet; "mixed up sentence" sheet that students could also color

For 2-5, I created the following activities:
*scavenger hunt
*mileage cards:  students put in order using a map of each checkpoint and its mileage to Nome
*matching game with Alaskan culture as well as public domain photos I used for my window display (I used the matching with my PreK/Autism students as we did an abbreviated version of the Iditarod)

I put this in a bundle on my teacher stores if you're interested in looking at them closer!
Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook

So, now it's onto preparing for Read Across America Week!  Then, women in history (I'm focusing this year on Jane Goodall, Lucille Ball, and Malala Yousafzai).  Be sure to look for posts about those soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Service Dogs

We had a service dog come visit and its handler (a former student of mine!) talked with the students about what a service dog is, its job, and what to do (and not do) when you’re around one.  After our brief presentation, we rotated students to different stations/activities that were all dog-themed in some way. 

 Station #1:  Reading:  We pulled nonfiction dog –themed books from the library on all different breeds of dogs, stories about rescue dogs, service dogs, special dogs, etc.  Students could either
picture walk or read more about dogs. (As you can tell, it was our 100th day!).
Station #2:  Coloring:  Students had a choice of 2 color sheets:  a generic dog sheet (that students could decorate to look like our guest) and another that reminded students to let service dogs do
their jobs.  I downloaded this from and added a frame.  These could be shared with family members as students taught others about service animals.
Station #3:  Measuring:  Students used cubes, pawprints, and blocks to measure heights and widths of dogs on both an activity sheet and dogs on laminated card.   Students also had the
opportunity to play with a balance with the cubes, plastic dogs, and other related materials.
Station #4:  Puzzles:  I printed out, laminated, and cut the sheets apart.  I intentionally left them blank for use, but you can record numbers, letters, etc. of what you want students to put in
order, or you can simply leave the bottom blank and have them focus on the picture.
Station #5:  Students go to meet Halligan up close and, with his vest off, they knew they could pet him and maybe read a story to him during this station.

The math stations were a big hit with the students and teachers, so I uploaded them to my TPT store.  You can check them out {here}.