Ode to Iditarod

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An Iditarod Valentine’s Day

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the Iditarod, my students and I worked together to write a special form of poetry called an ode.  An ode is an exaggerated poem that celebrates something ordinary as extraordinary.  They are great fun to write because they use figurative language, vivid verbs, expressive language, personification, and can be over-the-top and a little silly. 

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Ode to a Husky

An ode does not have to rhyme, but some of my students decided to take up the challenge.  We read some mentor text in Writer’s Workshop, and noticed that odes sometimes repeat phrases and have an over-the-top exaggerated voice.  Our first ode was written from the point of view of a devoted musher to a husky.  

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Oh Iditarod!

We wrote another ode from the point of view of a fan of the race.  How would we all feel if there was no Iditarod?  Would huskies lose their joy?  We had many giggles exaggerating our writing for this project.

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Ode to Iditarod

We were inspired by our odes of gratitude for the Last Great Race on Earth®, so we decided to make our own compliment booklets to each other in honor of Valentine’s Day.  Peter Cameron, an innovative educator in Ontario, Canada and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, has a wonderful blog called Mr. C’s SharesEase that is a great resource for teachers.  He shared his friendship booklet idea, and I knew that would be a wonderful way to end our day.

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A friendship compliment booklet

Christine Hinkle, my friend and 4th grade teammate, created a blank 11 X 14 page of strips for each of our students to fill in with a compliment for someone else.  This activity could be turned into an Iditarod-themed booklet very easily.  Students could use Iditarod facts to write a compliment or a thank you note from a different point of view as a short formative assessment.  How would a musher compliment his team?  How would a husky dog compliment a dog bootie?  The possibilities are endless!

Each year, Eanes Elementary School students bring in a decorated “mailbox” for our Valentine’s Day parties in the classroom.  Boxes are lovingly decorated with creatively engineered openings for students to deliver cards.  Many students save them and reuse them from kindergarten through 5th grade.  It is a lovely tradition.  Several of my students chose an Iditarod theme for their cards and treats this year!

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Blank Compliment Booklet Sheet – 11X14

Oh Iditarod!

Ode to the Great Race

Ode to a Husky

Ode to Iditarod Lesson Plan

Ode to Iditarod Checklist

And now…take a moment to see the Valentine’s Day fun in the 2016 Iditarod classroom this year as we delivered our notes and treats to our friend’s mailboxes:

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The perfect Valentine’s Day card for me!

Follow my journey this year as 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. We have partnered with Skype as a virtual field trip experience, and I will be sending recorded video messages daily along the trail to classrooms around the world.  Sign up for a free Skype account first, and then join the “Iditarod Classroom Club” to follow along.  Remember, you must have a Skype account first, or you only be in my club for 24 hours as a guest!  Click the link below:

Iditarod Classroom Club

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20 Lucky Huskies

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We love our kennel name!

The Iditarod Summer Camp for Teachers is a remarkable opportunity to meet mushers at the volunteer picnic as they sign the dotted line and enter the Last Great Race on Earth®.  

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Photo courtesy Iditarod

I had the pleasure of meeting rookie musher Mary Helwig that day.  I remember Mary casually mentioning to me that she had lost her home and belongings in the Sockeye fire that affected so many mushers last summer, and I could not believe her amazing attitude.  Her team and dog sled survived the wildfire.  To lose almost all you own, and yet still be dedicated to bringing your beloved dog team nearly 1,000 miles to the burled arch in Nome…was simply inspiring.  

In my last post about puppies, we learned about newborn huskies, made our own, and named each one, lovingly, using a Texas theme.  We followed a special and time-honored tradition within the musher community to name puppy litters.  Now it was time to create one kennel name to bring us all together as a class.  For help, I turned to Mary and I asked her how her kennel, “Bravo Kennel”, came about.  She was so gracious and created a video for all of us to see, answering our question while very busy in the middle of training.  We were surprised by her answer!

We loved meeting Bravo, Mary’s special sled dog, and learning that his attitude and hard work inspired her to name her kennel after him.  A vote was in order!  My students had many ideas for our kennel name, but we needed to find one that was personal for us and our journey this year.  A great way to narrow down votes in a classroom is to use Tap Roulette, a fun, game-formatted app that helps a group make decisions through the process of elimination.  We decided to use Poll Everywhere on the web to give everyone a chance to express their passionate view of what our kennel name should be.  I added every name choice from my class, created a QR code for my students to find my poll online easily, and then we voted together online.  

After our initial vote, I edited and narrowed down the choices to our top 4, and we voted again.  Poll Everywhere allows you to change your choices easily, without having students enter a new poll all over again.  The results of our vote were in real time:

Our new kennel and class name became “20 Lucky Huskies”, and we celebrated.  What a perfect designation for our amazing journey this year.  We certainly are fortunate to have this unique opportunity to share our learning with the world, and sometimes we feel just like huskies on a team… working hard together for a common goal.  It is perfect for us!  

Now, it was time for some math activities to bring the lesson all together.  I created a kennel fraction activity for my students based upon what we learned in my post about dog house design.  Students had to color and decorate a kennel following fraction rules.

In our whole group lesson, I created a kennel glyph.  Glyphs are a fun way to gather and create data using pictures.  First, I created a form with Iditarod-themed questions for my students to answer, and their responses told them how to color and create their individual husky dog house picture.  Put all together, we had one, big, kennel bulletin board that represented all of our answers from the glyph.  We then looked at our pictorial data, analyzed it, and created fractional representations from it on a chart.  We also challenged ourselves to reduce the fractions to their simplest form.

 

Below is video of Mary, taken by her father, as she took her team out for a 50 mile practice run over the Christmas holiday.

Fraction Dog House

Fraction Dog Yard Student Sheet

Fraction Dog Yard Glyph

Fraction Dog Yard Directions

Dog House Glyph Lesson Plan

Dog Yard Fraction Lesson Plan

 

 

Follow my journey this year as 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. We have partnered with Skype as a virtual field trip experience, and I will be sending recorded video messages daily along the trail to classrooms around the world.  Sign up for a free Skype account first and then join the “Iditarod Classroom Club” to follow along.  Remember, you must have a Skype account first, or you only be in my club for 24 hours as a guest!  Click the link below:

Iditarod Classroom Club

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Want to know more about Mary Helwig and other 2016 Iditarod mushers and their teams?  The name says it all.  The ULTIMATE INSIDER ultimate-school-300x300 gives a school access to everything!  All of the benefits of the INSIDER VIDEO combined with the ability to “Track the Pack” with the GPS INSIDER!  Access to all of the commercial-free video.  Spotlight up to 5 of your favorite mushers and receive email alerts when they enter and leave a checkpoint.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • GPS Tracker
  • Commercial-Free access to all video content
  • Highlight 5 Mushers with email alerts
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Get to know Mary Helwig with her Insider video – http://www.iditarod.com

How Does Your Puppy Grow?

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Meet our pups; future Iditarod champions!

Puppies are the future for an Iditarod kennel.  As the 2016 Iditarod draws near, we have been spending a great deal of time talking about husky dogs and learning all about them.  We fell in love with veteran musher Matt Failor’s puppies this year after his Insider interview when Iditarod veteran “Cool Cat” gave birth to her litter of adorable, squealing newborns.  We wanted to know more about Iditarod husky puppies and how they are raised to prepare to one day be Iditarod champions.  I reached out to Matt and he shared some personal video with us so we could learn more:

Matt gave us some interesting information about newborn puppies.  “They are born with their eyes shut (fused shut).  The eyes usually do not open until around 10-12 days.  This is one of the reason a dogs nose is sooooo much stronger than ours (humans), because they rely on it from day one, since they are blind.  The whining from the puppy will release a chemical in the mom’s brain, to begin the flow of milk.  The pups instinctually go for the belly to find food.  The RACE is on!  They will fight for position and latch on to her.  Truly fun to watch and educational.”

Of course, my students wanted puppies of their own, but since that was impossible, we made our own rice and sock version to learn some husky puppy math and start a dog diary about them.  Our source of inspiration was a wonderful lesson from 2007 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Kim Slade.  I loved this activity, and since we wanted to learn more about husky puppies, I brought it back out of the Iditarod archives and updated it this year for my class.

Husky puppies are born weighing 12-16 ounces.  Since we are learning about measurement in math class, I decided to test my students and see how close they could make their husky rice puppies weigh 16 oz (1 pound) on a scale with estimation.  First, we measured out 1 ounce on a scale to see what it looked like, and feel it in our hands.  From there the challenge was to see if we could first estimate, then fill our sock with exactly 16 ounces with rice.  We chose a men’s sock we liked out of white, black, or gray, then used funnels to fill our sock.  Students went back and forth to the scale to measure them until they reached exactly 16 ounces.

Now for the fun part! We used little rubber bands to tie off the head, paws and tail.  Some students added a muzzle with an extra rubber band.  Then we added a black pom pom for the nose, felt ears, google eyes, and a little pink felt tongue.  Students could add extra felt for special markings for a personal touch.

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Time for a husky puppy name!

We fell in love with our puppies, and when we were all finished it was time to name our litter.  Mushers have a special tradition when naming a litter of puppies in their kennels.  We read a great Iditarod post about how this is done, and we talked about what our theme should be.  Can you guess?  From that theme, each student gave their puppy a unique name.  Read our husky puppy names below, and see if you can guess what it is:

Our theme is “Texas” of course!  Our puppy names were inspired by the Lone Star State: wildflowers, food, spices, places, and even NASA.  What would your theme be?  Kim’s original lesson plan had a puppy birth certificate, so we created our own.

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Puppy Birth Certificate Word

Puppy Birth Certificate PDF

How Does Your Puppy Grow? Lesson Plan

Matt’s puppies have grown up quickly in the last few months.  Matt shared with us how he starts to train and prepare his puppies for the Iditarod in the future.   In the video below he walks around his kennel with the 14 puppies from Cool Cat who are now 3 months old and weigh 15 to 20 pounds.  He explains how he starts walking with the puppies and mom when they are young, but then he walks them alone so they can bond with him.  The jingle of a bag of dog kibble keeps them running to him and not wandering off.  It is amazing to see them all stay close together and trust him. 

 

 

What is more fun to watch than Matt Failor’s puppies?  Matt Failor’s puppies in slow motion:

 

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We wish we could have had the real thing – but we learned a lot with our sock version!

Follow my journey this year as 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. We have partnered with Skype, and I will be sending recorded video messages daily along the trail to classrooms around the world.  Sign up for a free Skype account and then join the “Iditarod Classroom Club” to follow along.  Click the link below:

The Iditarod Classroom Club

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Want to know more about Matt Failor and other 2016 Iditarod mushers and their teams?  The name says it all.  The ULTIMATE INSIDER ultimate-school-300x300 gives a school access to everything!  All of the benefits of the INSIDER VIDEO combined with the ability to “Track the Pack” with the GPS INSIDER!  Access to all of the commercial-free video.  Spotlight up to 5 of your favorite mushers and receive email alerts when they enter and leave a checkpoint.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • GPS Tracker
  • Commercial-Free access to all video content
  • Highlight 5 Mushers with email alerts

 

Gee! Haw! Hike! with Musher Larry Daugherty

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2016 Iditarod rookie musher Dr. Larry Daugherty and Bumper

 

“How do sled dogs know where to go?”  This simple question has been asked often in my classroom this year as my students learn more and more about the Iditarod.  Mushers and their teams have a very special and trusting relationship, but how do they communicate on the trail with each other?  For help I turned to 2016 rookie Iditarod musher, Dr. Larry Daugherty.  

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Photo courtesy of Iditarod

Larry is living his childhood dream of leading a dog team to Nome in the Last Great Race on Earth®. His grandparents were global adventure seekers which inspired him early in his life to one day mush in the Iditarod.  He is now a respected doctor at the Alaska Cancer Treatment Center in Anchorage, bringing the same loving care to his dog team as he does to his patients.

I met Dr. Daugherty this June at the Summer Camp for Teachers, when he signed up to be a musher at the volunteer picnic.  He is an Iditarod rookie…just like me!  His enthusiasm and positive attitude are contagious!

Larry is under the tutelage of veteran Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey this year.  Larry took some time on the trails of Willow, Alaska to show us how unique verbal commands help a musher and sled dogs communicate and work together throughout the race.  As Larry explains in his video, sled dogs understand when to turn left or right, stop, and go, with special words from their musher.  

There are a few basic mushing commands that help guide sled dogs and let them know what to do.  He began the video by telling his team “Whoa!” which means to slow down and come to a halt.  His dogs understood just what to do!  When he said “Hike!”, they started trotting up the trail.  

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Larry’s team turning right after hearing “Gee!”

He helped guide his team on the Willow trails with “Gee!”, which is the command for a right turn and “Haw!”, the command for a left turn.  There are times on the trail where there may be several paths to take.  What does a sled team do?  When a dog team is well trained, they listen and follow the correct command from their musher to guide them the correct way, so they won’t make a wrong turn.  It truly is teamwork at its best.  Larry also does a wonderful job of showing how even the pacing of the dogs is watched carefully by the musher to ensure the team moves along the trail safely.

We watched Larry’s fascinating video in our PE class, and we put together our own activities using the mushing commands he shared.  Stephen Presley and Jeannette Michael are our amazing PE teachers here at Eanes Elementary School, and they love bringing the Iditarod into their classes each year for all our students.  They created a high-energy warmup activity using the basic commands in mushing.  Watch “The Iditarod Shuffle” in the video below:

In the warmup, students shuffled to the right when the teachers yelled, “Gee!”.  They shuffled to the left when they heard, “Haw!”.  When the teachers gave the command “Whoa!”, they made a deep lunge to the floor, and when they heard “Hike!”, they jumped up and ran in place.  This was a fantastic warmup, and soon the students had their hearts racing and were ready for some real sled dog racing with scooters and mats!

The Iditarod Shuffle Lesson Plan

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A Texas sled dog team!

For “The Main Event” lesson, an obstacle course was set up in the gym using numbered cones to represent checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail.  Mrs. Michael first reviewed the mushing commands they had seen in the video from Dr. Daugherty and discussed the rules for our Iditarod lesson before the fun started.  For this PE activity, students were also expected to use responsible social behavior and sportsmanship towards their teams.  

Small scooters were placed under large mats and 3 students at a time created a dog team.  A “lead dog” pulled the “sled” with ropes, the “musher” yelled the commands around the course, and a student in the back helped guide the “sled” to Nome.  This was especially helpful as many sleds took a spill on the trail! 

The Main Event Lesson Plan

Students had a fantastic time in the gym using the commands, working as a team, getting their heart rates up, and showing great sportsmanship in our own version of the Last Great Race on Earth®.  See the video below of all the fun:

Dr. Daugherty took some time on the beautiful Willow trail recently to introduce us to some of the members of his dog team.  You can tell they are ready and excited for the Iditarod!

Larry is living his dream with the support of his wonderful family including his wife, Prairie, and and his five children: Bailey, 15, Calvin, 13, Azalea, 9, Conrad, 6, and Charlie, 4.  He loves inspiring children, and he is a big supporter of the Teacher on the Trail™ program, his Boy Scout Troop 29, and the organization Radiating Hope improving cancer care around the globe.  He believes that “Success is possible through hard work, dedication and perseverance.”  I hope to see Larry and his team under the burled arch in Nome this March.  I know his family, friends, and his patients will be cheering him on the whole way there!

Get to know rookie musher Dr. Larry Daugherty a little better.  Read his Q & A from the 2016 Iditarod class below:

Q & A with Rookie Musher Larry Daugherty

See the articles and information below about mushing commands from the Iditarod site:

Mushing Terminology

Libby Littles Article

 

Our PE teachers, Stephen Presley and Jeannette Michael, were inspired by musher Larry Daugherty, and they created these lessons for the students at Eanes Elementary School.  Our students had a great time, learned a lot, and we hope you can share this activity with your school too!

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Want to know more about Larry Daugherty and other 2016 Iditarod mushers and their teams?  The name says it all.  The ULTIMATE INSIDER ultimate-school-300x300 gets access to everything!  All of the benefits of the INSIDER VIDEO combined with the ability to “Track the Pack” with the GPS INSIDER!  Access to all of the commercial-free video.  Spotlight up to 5 of your favorite mushers and receive email alerts when they enter and leave a checkpoint.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • GPS Tracker
  • Commercial-Free access to all video content
  • Highlight 5 Mushers with email alerts

The 2016 Winter Conference for Educators is an amazing week for educators around the country to come together and learn best teaching practices surrounding the theme of the Iditarod.  Check out the Iditarod site for more information about this unique professional development opportunity.

Sled Shopping with Musher Kristin Pace

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The sled and mandatory gear for rookie Iditarod musher Kristin Pace

Reading the actual 2016 Iditarod rules is a fascinating learning experience for any classroom teacher, and it is a very important process to understand how the Last Great Race on Earth® is successful all the way from Anchorage to Nome.  

There are many interesting questions from students about the requirements for an Iditarod musher, especially the section about mandatory gear for the race.  We are far from the life of a musher here in Austin, so my students wanted to know more about making it to the starting line.

For help, I turned to 2016 Iditarod rookie musher Kristin Knight Pace from Hey Moose! Kennel in Healy, Alaska.  Kristin, a fellow Texan like me, was born and raised in Ft. Worth and moved to Alaska in 2009.  She fell in love with the beautiful, wild landscape of the north and is now a wilderness planner for Denali National Park.  She feels, “There’s no better way to see and experience the country than on the back of a dog sled.”  

I was curious to see what the mandatory gear for the Iditarod looks like and what kind of expenses mushers have in order to meet their requirements.  This looked like a great math lesson to me!  Kristin shared pictures with my class of some of her gear for the Iditarod, along with the costs of the individual pieces of equipment below: 

According to the Iditarod rules, a musher is required to have a harness for every dog on the team, and from the harnesses they are all connected together to the sled.  A system of cables, or lines, give the dogs freedom to run and move, but in sync, as a team.  All of the dogs with their lines work in tandem to keep them moving along the trail safely.  See the diagram below to understand how it all looks from above:

 

Kristin was kind enough to take some video of her Hey Moose! Kennel team preparing for the 2016 Iditarod.  She said, “This was taken about 4 miles from our training camp. We are on the Denali Highway heading east toward the Maclaren River.”  In the video, you can see the tow line, necklines, tuglines, and harnesses helping her stay in control and keep the team together, but with flexibility and comfort for the dogs.

 

Let’s go shopping!  With all of this great information and video, students can pretend to be mushers preparing for the 2016 Iditarod by going shopping for mandatory sled gear.  Using the Iditarod official rules, review the section about what is required on a sled and discuss why they are important. The health and safety of the dogs is always the top priority for race officials and the mushers.  Using the lesson plan and spreadsheet, students should estimate costs of the mandatory gear required and find a total amount due for a sled with 16 dogs.  The inspiration for this lesson came from 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™, Jen Reiter.  Her math lessons can be accessed on the Iditarod site in an extensive PDF booklet called, “Mathing Down the Trail”.

The 2016 official Iditarod rules state that a musher must have 12-16 dogs at the starting line.  For this lesson, we will pretend to start with the maximum number, 16.  Mushers will carry extra tow lines, necklines, and tuglines on their sleds, but we used the required amount for our math.  Have a conversation with your class about having extra supplies on your sled.  What would be the benefit?  Hint: the safety of the dogs is the most important factor in the Iditarod, and dogs can sometimes chew their lines!

Iditarod Official Rules 2016

Let’s Go Shopping Catalog

Let’s Go Shopping Spreadsheet

Sled Shopping Lesson Plan

Kristin, and her husband Andy, also took a few moments on the trail to stop and introduce their dog team to us!

 

The life of a musher is a fascinating one.  Do you want to know more about Kristin Pace and her life as a musher?  My students created questions to get to know her a little bit better.  Read her Q & A to find out more about Kristin and her rookie Iditarod musher journey:

All About Kristin Pace

 

Training changes throughout the seasons for a musher and sometimes requires moving to a more remote location in the north for the best snow and weather conditions for the dogs.  Kristin said this is, “a picture of our winter training camp at Alpine Creek Lodge in the middle of the Denali Highway. The highway is not maintained in the winter, so we are 65 miles down the trail from our trucks and about a 7-hour trip to town one-way.”

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Winter Training camp for Andy and Kristin Pace and the dogs

Kristin and Andy have a wonderful site and blog about their kennel.  Their writing is deeply personal and emotional.  Check it out below: (you are leaving a secure site)

http://www.heymoosekennel.com

Coming Attractions

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Join in a live Twitter chat with sled dogs!  Mushers will pretend to be their sled dogs as students send in questions through Twitter.  The sled dogs will answer in first person…live.

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Want to know more about Kristin Pace and the other 2016 Iditarod mushers and their teams?  The name says it all.  The ULTIMATE INSIDER ultimate-school-300x300 gets access to everything!  All of the benefits of the INSIDER VIDEO combined with the ability to “Track the Pack” with the GPS INSIDER!  Access to all of the commercial-free video.  Spotlight up to 5 of your favorite mushers and receive email alerts when they enter and leave a checkpoint.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • GPS Tracker
  • Commercial-Free access to all video content
  • Highlight 5 Mushers with email alerts

The 2016 Winter Conference for Educators is an amazing week for educators around the country to come together and learn best teaching practices surrounding the theme of the Iditarod.  Check out the Iditarod site for more information about this unique professional development opportunity.

 

Iditarod S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d Art

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An old calendar gains new life in the Iditarod classroom

As the year comes to a close, we have been organizing, cleaning up, and preparing our classroom for the new year.  One of these tasks involves bringing down our 2015 Iditarod calendar from the wall.  Old calendars can be recycled into a fantastic art project I like to call “stretched art” using basic art supplies and a lot of creativity.

Optical illusions hold a special fascination for my students.  I have a collection of these types of books in my classroom that are continually checked out and shared throughout the week.  I decided to combine our interest in this visual phenomenon with our calendar art project in 10 easy steps.

Step One:

Share optical illusion books from the library with the class and discuss the visual trickery involved.  Some of my favorites are:

Xtreme Illusions by National Geographic

Optical Illusions by DK Publishing

Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at the World by Marc Grossman

Step Two:

Tear apart your out-of-date calendars, and let your students choose their favorite month and picture for the project. Turn it over and lay it on a larger piece of standard, white construction paper; any length will do.  Lay the picture exactly in the bottom left-hand corner of the paper.

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Step Three:

Using the top of the calendar as a guide, draw a line all the way across the top of the white paper.  Cut off the excess strip and recycle it.

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Step Four:

Use the daily grid lines on the back as a guide, and have students simply cut the calendar page into long strips.  I find it best to number the strips across the top, so they can be put back in order easily when they are flipped over.  For a mathematical challenge, you can require different measurements across the page with a ruler.

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Step Five:

Turn over the strips and make sure they are in the correct visual order.  Keep the first strip on the far-left side, then stretch the last strip all the way to the end on the right.

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Step Six:

Now simply stretch the other strips equally between the ends of the paper.  When you have them evenly spaced apart, glue each strip down.

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Step Seven:

Now the fun begins!  Students should use a regular pencil to draw in the missing picture between the strips first, then add color.  Use any medium you want to fill in the blank spaces between the strips as accurately as you can.  We found colored pencils and oil pastels worked well together.

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Step Eight:

Oil pastels bring a bright pop of color to the design.  They also add a little realism to the optical illusion when students blend the color with their fingers.

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Step Nine:

It’s helpful to let students see their project from across the room as they work.  Viewed up close the picture may look a bit strange, resulting in some giggles from the class.  Held up a few feet away, the optical illusion comes together, and they can see their added design brings the strips into a cohesive image, resulting in many “oohs” and “aahhs”.

Step Ten:

The stretched art project makes a wonderful bulletin board display in the classroom.  I used a black background to make the illusions stand out for the viewer.

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For an extra challenge, have students remove more strips to leave larger empty spaces.  More creativity and problem solving will be needed to fill in the blank areas with their drawings.

This activity is also a great beginning for a writing lesson.  My students wrote similes and metaphors about their pictures since we are learning about figurative language in class.  An Iditarod themed narrative story is a great choice or a how-to procedural text about the entire art process: the possibilities are endless.  We had great fun creating our optical illusions, but the Iditarod stretched art project has the added bonus of recycling and reusing obsolete calendars destined for the trashcan.

Iditarod S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d Art Lesson Plan

View our slideshow to see our gallery of Iditarod illusions:

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Get your gear for the 2016 Last Great Race on Earth™.  Be prepared for the upcoming school semester by ordering your new Iditarod calendar from the online store now.

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Later this week we will celebrate the holidays while learning about some special features of the Iditarod race.  We will be comparing and contrasting two books with a unique take on the Christmas classic, The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.

Musher’s Night Before Christmas, by Tricia Brown, tells the tale of a team of determined Iditarod huskies who must help Santa deliver gifts to Nome during a snowstorm.  Texas Night Before Christmas, by James Rice, is a Lone Star State version of the classic tale with southwest themed imagery; cowboys, cowgirls, and a sled pulled by eight longhorns.

The 2016 Winter Conference for Educators is an amazing week for educators around the country to come together and learn best teaching practices surrounding the theme of the Iditarod.  Check out the Iditarod site for more information about this unique professional development opportunity.

I will be joined this year by a few talented teachers from my school, Eanes Elementary, here in Austin, Texas.  We will be sharing STEM and STEAM hands-on lessons based upon the Iditarod theme with conference attendees.  We hope to see you there!

A Turkey on the Trail

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Turkeys in disguise while training for the 2016 Iditarod

In honor of Thanksgiving this year, my class disguised paper turkeys as husky dogs and mushers preparing for the 2016 Iditarod.  They wrote about their plans for escape from the farm in first person narratives. This time-honored school tradition involves a lot of creativity, humor, and great writing.  What a perfect way to save a turkey from a horrible fate.  The farmer would not suspect a thing!

We brainstormed other ideas for our turkey disguises as well.  How about a moose on the trail?  Some of my students created polar bears, and snowflake disguises for their turkeys.  All of these creative ideas have a great tie-in to the study of Alaska and the Iditarod race.

If you are a teacher with an Iditarod Insider subscription, now is a great time to watch the musher videos preparing for the race.  This is a great source of inspiration for the writing project.

A Turkey on the Trail Narrative

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Turkey in Disguise

The Turkey on the Trail Lesson Plan

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Make your turkey digital by using an app like Chatterpix for Kids to create a voice-over for an image of their finished project.  Students can record themselves reading their plans of escape in 1st person that allows the beak of the turkey to move.  This can be shared with parents or embedded on a teacher website.

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The 2016 Winter Conference for Educators is an amazing week for teachers around the country to come together and learn best teaching practices surrounding the theme of the Iditarod.  Check out the Iditarod site for more information about this unique professional development opportunity.

I will be joined this year by a few talented teachers from my school, Eanes Elementary, here in Austin, Texas.  We will be sharing STEM and STEAM hands-on lessons based upon the Iditarod theme with conference attendees.  We hope to see you there!

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