Letters of the Iditarod

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BSSD Standards Addressed

WR 03.02 Sentences Stay on Topic

WR 03.07 Student proofreads for CUPS

WR 03.10 Student revises work


Varies with student age and abilities.

Material Needed

Instructions for Mailing Letters to Mushers

Media: Iditarodletterwritinglesson2008.pdf Iditarod Letter Writing Lesson 2008


1. Iditarod Trail Mail Educational Project

2. Official Iditarod Website

3. Iditarod National Historic Trail

And other websites

Research Books including:

1. Iditarod Dream Dusty and His Sled Dogs Compete in Alaska's Jr. Iditarod

   By: Ted Wood   ISBN: 0-8027-8406-2

2. Akiak A Tale From the Iditarod

   By: Robert J. Blake   ISBN: 0-399-22798-9 


1. Media:MusherKWL.odt - NeoOffice Writer.pdf

2. Media:CUPSSheet-NeoOfficeWriter.pdf

3. Media:Writing Outline.pdf


Iditarod Explanation Video


The student will write a letter with ideas that form a logical sequence, proofread, and make a final copy of a letter to a musher of the Iditarod. These letters (if selected) will be carried in the mail bag of the musher that the students' letters were written to.


1. Read Iditarod Trail Mail Educational Project Instructions. It takes time to be able to have your school selected, so begin planning many months in advance!

Letter Writing Process

1. To give students a brief background, preview the race by watching the 2007 Iditarod youtube video teaser in this wiki page (below).

skills and format for letter writing. Discuss/teach skills students will be using and share the rubric that will be used to assess student progress. KWL Chart, Letter Writing Format, Rubric, and Hints are listed below this document.

1. After identifying a musher (or others) students wish to communicate with, fill out a KWL Chart about the musher.

   K- Students should write first what they already know about that person in the K section of the
   W- Then, they should list 3 or 4 questions they would like to know in the W section of the 
   L- Using the Official Iditarod web site, books about that particular musher, identified musher 
      websites, news articles from ADN.com, and other resources, students should then fill out
      information learned about the mushers from the resources PRIOR to writing the letter.  
         ** This step is essential because it assists students in identifying good discussion and
            possible questions in their letter and helps them to avoid writing questions that are 
            general information and will go unanswered by the musher.

Note: Questions may be left unanswered, so it should be stressed that the purpose of letter writing is communication of thoughts and not necessarily to get a response from the musher.

2. With a partner or in a small group, brainstorm ideas that students would like to share ABOUT themselves, their school, community, and what they are doing as far as activities using Iditarod as a theme in the classroom. (For example, students can write about a book they are reading or tell about maps of the trail that they are creating.) Students can share what they have learned and why what they have learned is important. Students can share good wishes for a great race or emotional support for the musher’s attempt to achieve goals. Help students recognize that although getting a response from someone you write to is nice, the ultimate goal is communications from the writer to the reader. Mushers sometimes do respond, but it is not always possible for them to do so and some are not interested in responding to the letters. For hints on successful letter writing, see the document below.

3. Write well thought out and planned letters using the best handwriting or type the letters on the computer and print them off for mailing. Place a self- addressed envelope with correct return postage on the envelope for mushers wishing to respond.

Adapted from the Official Iditarod Website

Evaluation/ Rubric


Teacher Notes

Please add/edit anything that you have done in your classroom that may be helpful to others teaching this lesson.




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