20 Lucky Huskies


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®.  


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


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.


  • 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

Filling the Dog Yard!

One more idea for room set up as the summer starts to wind down….

I am calling my classroom the 3A Dog Yard these days…. for reasons that I am sure you can understand!  To get my students in the Iditarod Spirit from day one and as a way to get to know each other, we create these puppy glyphs on the first day of school.

Glyphs are a pictorial form of data collection.  You might be reminded of “hieroglyphic” and think about picture writing.  My kids are always interested in “real life” examples of glyphs – like dentists who record cavities on a a picture of teeth or a chiropractor who records aches on a skeletal picture.  The glyphs allow doctors to record and analyze data more quickly.

My hallway bulletin board greets my students looking like this:


The students create the puppy glyphs by answering questions about their interests and study habits and then cutting and pasting the pieces according to their answers. When they are finished, they get added to the bulletin board.

Following a discussion about how mushers and kennel owners sometimes name their litters in themes, we choose a litter theme, name the puppies and then create an information sheet about the puppies that gets bound together in a classroom book.  You can see our book about the Breakfast Cereal Litter from last year here:  http://www.youblisher.com/p/482033-Meet-the-Puppies/ 

Here are hints you might want to know:

1. I didn’t create the image for my bulletin board!  I borrowed it from the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. coloring book you can find here:  http://leppro.com/portfolio/pdfs/source/MusherBook.pdf

2.  The online version of our book was made with Youblisher:  http://www.youblisher.com/

kerpoof pic3. My friend, middle school science teacher Laurie Starkey, did the same project with her kids digitally using Kerpoof Studio:  http://www.kerpoof.com/

illustmaker pic4.  Older kids might enjoy making a digital musher avatar instead of a puppy.  Illustrator Maker has a lot of good choices. They could use types of headgear, items held, and even accessories as the responses to the questions:  http://illustmaker.abi-station.com/index_en.shtml

5,  You could also use these activities to show answers to a set of problems instead.  In that case, the design of the picture would be determined by the correct answers to the problems.  It could be a fun way to review a topic!

6.  Click here for the full lesson plan:  Filling the Puppy Yard 2.  Click here for the glyph pattern:  Puppy Glyph Patterns.

Hope your room setup is going well!  I am headed in on Wednesday to get mine started!