The 2016 Iditarod teams are being led by some of the greatest athletes in the world. A lead dog for the Last Great Race on Earth is a strong, thoughtful, and intelligent animal, and students all over the world have been learning about the qualities that make a great lead one. I was curious about the process a musher has to take to find the best husky for the job. At my school, Eanes Elementary, Shannon Lojo and her wonderful 2nd graders, studied the characteristics and qualities of a lead dog, and then filled in job applications to be hired to take a team to Nome!
Finding the perfect Iditarod lead dog in your kennel is a very important task for a musher. For help, I turned to 2016 rookie musher Sarah Stokey. Sarah and Travis Beals own “Turning Heads Kennel” and she was happy to share what she looks for in a great lead dog:
The “applicants” for Iditarod lead dog also had to write a cover letter and have references to be considered for the job. The applications had to include what great lead dog characteristics they personally possessed that would make them the best qualified to lead a team 1,000 miles across Alaska. After they were edited, the students took their own pictures, added ears, snow, and pompom noses to complete their required application photo.
Print out the lead dog application and cover letter and have your students learn about their characteristics and see if they “qualify” for the job! What about swing dog, team dog, or wheel dog positions? This is a great formative assessment for your class to test their knowledge of the adaptations of these incredible canine athletes.
Check out Turning Heads Kennel and learn more about Sarah and Travis their incredible journey to live in Alaska and be Iditarod mushers:
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Don’t forget to print out your very own Iditarod children’s map for your classroom! Track the race with this special poster created by children’s author and illustrator, Erik Brooks: