Iditarod Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Are your students familiar with the Iditarod? This lesson plan uses a text lesson that presents information on the race, its history and participants. An animated film engages students in its presentation of a key historical event.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what the 'Iditarod' is
  • summarize the purpose and history of the Iditarod
  • outline the events of the diphtheria serum run
  • map the routes of the Iditarod and the diphtheria run


  • 30 minutes for instruction
  • 1.5 hours for the movie

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.


Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).


  • Paper copies of the text lesson Iditarod Lesson for Kids
  • Copies of a detailed map of the state of Alaska
  • The quiz associated with the text lesson
  • Red markers
  • Blue markers
  • Photos of Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies
  • The 1995 animated film 'Balto'
  • Photos of the real 'Balto'
  • Coloring sheets of Alaskan or Siberian Huskies
  • Crayons

Key Vocabulary

  • Iditarod
  • Musher

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