As the Trail Turns

Meanwhile Back at School:

Rule Number 6 deals with timing on the race:

Rule 6 — Race Timing: For elapsed time purposes, the race will be a common start event. Each

musher’s total elapsed time will be calculated using 2:00 p.m., Sunday March 2, 2014, as the starting

time. Teams will leave the start and the re-start in intervals of not less than two minutes, and the time

differential will be adjusted during the twenty-four (24) hour mandatory layover. No time will be kept

at the Saturday event.

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And, a lot of the data generated by the race deals with time – time on the trail, time in the checkpoints, required resting times, starting times, differential times, and so on.

So we are all about time, military time, and elapsed time these days in math class.  We started the week by reviewing telling time.  We talked a lot about how accurate the checkers have to be in recording the in and out times of the mushers because every minute counts!  I gave each student a sticky note to keep on their desk and periodically throughout the day I rang a bell and yelled out things like “Monica Zappa just checked in to Unakaleet.  What time is it?”  “Ken Anderson is pulling out of Safety.  What time is it?”  “Dallas Seavey just arrived at Shaktoolik.  What time is it? He wants to stay ten minutes.  What time is he leaving?”  The students recorded the answers on their sticky notes and later in the day we checked their results.

Something you will need to teach your students about time in order for them analyze the timing information they find on the Iditarod paperwork is military time.  The time is reported on the official reports in military time to avoid confusion.  Here is an assignment you can use for converting military time to conventional time:  Time on the Trail CW

We also delve into calculating elapsed time, which traditionally is a challenge for some of my third graders.  Here is an assignment for calculating elapsed time:  Passing Time at the Checkpoints Classwork

To wrap everything up, I challenge the students to calculate their musher’s average time on the trail for the first seven legs of the race. This requires them to convert military time to standard time, calculate the elapsed time, and find the average.  We compare our results and discuss whether this information is helpful in predicating the outcome of the race.  After the first seven legs it is really tough to tell what is going to happen!  As the Trail Turns Lesson Plan

And finally, here is a homework assignment to review elapsed time.  Ken Anderson Homework

Money, Money, Money!

Rule Number 11 deals with the race purse:

Rule 11 — Purse: A purse of $650,000 will be shared among those placing in the top thirty

(30). Every effort will be made to supplement this baseline purse. In addition, beginning with 31st

 place, $1,049.00 will be paid to each remaining finisher.

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But of course the race purse isn’t the only money involved.  Before the racers can even hope to get to the finish line to collect a part of the purse they will have spent thousands of dollars in preparation which provides students with lots of opportunities to practice their money skills.

We always begin with a review of counting money, but for us, our new learning is making change. Here is a classwork assignment Starting Line Snacks and homework sheet Iditarod Shop page 1  Iditarod Shop page 2 to review those skills.

Our big project with this skill is shopping for supplies for the race.  This project takes us at least four days to complete. It’s based off an assignment entitled Musher Mall Math that was originally published in Iditarod Activities for the Classroom.  I have edited, chunked, and streamlined the project for my third graders:  Supplied for Success and Survival

What’s Your Angle?

What do you call an angle that is adorable?

Acute angle!

This week we are all about angles in math class! This is a new skill for us… it appears in the new version of our math book, and is something we haven’t taught before.

DSC_0357So, I started by thinking of where on earth I have seen angles…. And it finally came to me – dog sleds and sled dog harnesses!

So here is two days’ worth of lessons for you about angles.  On day one, the students will classify angles as acute, obtuse, and right and then practice measuring angles they find on a dog sled using a protractor.  On day two, the students will review, and then create an original design for a sled dog harness that includes a set of required angles.  Along the way, they will gain insight into how both sleds and harnesses are designed and constructed.  There is even a homework assignment included!

What’s Your Angle Lesson PlanDSC_0356

What’s Your Angle Classwork

Harness Maker Classwork

Harness Maker Outline

sled dog angles – homework

Dog Yard Dilemma

This week we are focused on calculating area and perimeter… and what better tool to do that with then dog yards!

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This week the students are presented with a scenario where they have been sponsored by a local fencing company who offers them fencing for their dog yard.  Instead of traditional sled dog yards, the students will use the fencing material to advertise for their sponsors and create individual dog pens for their dogs.  In this three day unit, they will experiment with area and perimeter and discover how you can have many different yard shapes and still maintain the same area.  They will ultimately design their dream dog yard with spaces for all of their team dogs and possibly puppies and ill dogs as well.  The homework assignment seeks the students’ assistance in setting up the White Mountain checkpoint while testing their understanding of area and perimeter.

Dog Yard Dilemma Lesson Plan

How Big is That Yard Classwork

Dog Yard Dilemma Classwork

White Mountain Checkpoint Design Homework

A Word about Golovin

I’ve had some questions about my use of Golovin on the Homework Iditaopoly Gameboard.

No, it’s not technically a checkpoint.

Yes, I decided to include it on the gameboard. The simple reason why is because it appears on every single trail map that my kids use during our studies!

I did some more research, talked to some people, and here’s what I discovered.

Golovin isn’t a checkpoint anymore, although it used to be one.  It has a population of 148 people, one store,  and the checkpoint was located in the checker’s home!  It is only about 18 miles from Elim and 28 miles from White Mountain.  With the required eight hour rest in White Mountain, mushers pretty much just checked in and out of Golovin and kept on moving.  There was no need to pick up supplies in Golovin as they were headed to a long break in White Mountain.  At  some point they lost their official checker and mushers no long have to check into Golovin.

So, it probably would be best to not have the Golovin square be  checkpoint square to land on, but more a square to be passed through!

Here’s an updated version of the game board that reflects that change (if the students land on Golovin, they are directed to move right to White Mountain):  Iditaopoly Gameboard 2

Hope that helps!


I have been yearning for an Iditarod Monopoly game for several years now.

Then I started seeing all of the Homeworkopoly games on Pinterest… and I really wanted to combine that with the Iditarod Monopoly game.

I searched Ebay every couple of weeks or so… but they were always going for close to $100.

Then I saw one going for about $40.  In the description, the seller mentioned that the game pieces and cards were all sealed but that there was some writing on the board.

Well, that was okay, I really only wanted to see what was on the board and cards… a little writing wouldn’t be too bad.

When the game arrived, I was in for a surprise. The “writing” on the board is signatures from Doug Swingley, Jeff King, and Dee Dee Jonrowe!  Amazing right?

The idea behind Homeworkopoly is to encourage kids to complete and turn in their homework!  I just tweaked that idea so that it is Iditarod themed!  By playing the game the students will become familiar with the checkpoints on the race course.

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Every Friday afternoon, students who have completed and turned in their assignments for the week will be able to take a turn.  When it is their turn they will roll the die, move the appropriate number of spaces, and deal with the space they land on.  The game could be played for the entire year or just a semester.

Here are the details:

  1.  To make the gameboard, just print the PDF, cut out the pieces, and assemble the board.   It could be mounted to a bulletin board or mounted to cardboard to use on a table.  The title can be printed, assembled, and mounted in the middle of the board.
  2. Print the Community Sled Dog Cards and cut them out.
  3. Make game tokens.  I plan to take pictures of my students with winter or kennel hats to make my pieces.
  4. You can decide what to do with the special spaces. My ideas are below, but feel free to make it your own!


  1. Players start in Anchorage (GO) and move clockwise around the board.
  2. When the kids land on any checkpoint space, their turn is finished for the week.
  3. Community Sled Bag:  Draw a Community Sled Bag card and follow the directions on the card (cards direct movement on the board –move forward, backwards, or to a specific space)
  4. Equipment Spaces (Snow Shoes, Dog Booties, Sled, Dog Kennel):  These spaces are a good place to award privileges.  For example, land on the Dog Kennel and get to keep a stuffed dog on your desk for the week.
  5. Race Trivia Stop:  Challenge the player to answer a trivia question about the race to win a small prize
  6. McGrath – Spirit of Alaska Award:  land here and win an Alaska sticker (the first musher to McGrath wins a Spirit Mask)
  7. Trail Route Splits:  This is where the trail splits between the Northern and Southern Route. The halfway prizes are awarded in the split.  Land here and earn a chocolate coin (the halfway prize for mushers is gold nuggets)
  8. Nome to GO! :  Each time the students pass GO they could earn a prize such as a homework pass or some other privilege.

Have fun with it!

Downloads here:  Community Sled Bag Card Backs   Iditaopoly Gameboard  Community Sled Bag Card Fronts a