Lesson Plan Ideas

stuffed animal sled dogs with art project for kids

Art Lesson Ideas

Dog Sleds – Shoe Boxes
posted by Kelly Souza
The kindergartners made their own “dog sleds”, and then made pictures to send in Trail Mail.

Popsicle Stick Sleds
posted by Nancy Kent from Vermont and Mark Ostazeski
With just a little preparation and some imagination – the kids can make their own sleds and be a musher!

Instructions: Popsicle Stick Sleds – Instructions

trail mail sent by dog sled

Language Lesson Ideas

Letter Writing – Trail Mail
Posted by Mark Ostazeski
Use trail mail as students write to convey information in the friendly letter format. Students include details in their letter to tell pen pals about themselves. Trail mail could include thank you notes for a holiday gift, letters to pen pals, or even letters to themselves! This is a great activity for the first week in January when students return from winter break. Teachers can explain about the journey their letters will go before reaching the final destination. Letters must have sufficient postage and are sent to the Beargrease office at 218 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 no later than January 21st.

Make Inferences Activity
posted by Rebecca Cross

Look at the Beargrease photos like the one to the left of Blake & Nathan from the 2014 Beargrease Marathon. Generate a class list of adjectives that describe these athletes. Ask students what they can infer from the photos. Scribe their answers. Focus on good character traits and sportsmanship.

Trail Mail – Valentines to Veterans
posted by Rebecca Cross

An 8th grade class from Five Mile School is using Trail Mail to send Valentines to Canadian veterans. It ties nicely with Seven Grandfathers’ Teaching of respect. The students made the valentines themselves.

dog mushers shaking hands with their sled dog teams

Math Lesson Ideas

Story Problems
Posted by Rebecca Cross
Create meaningful story problems using the Beargrease data like the one to the left.

Social Studies Lesson Ideas

Teams and Character Education, Guest Speaker, Role of Dogs in Sled teams
Posted by Rebecca Cross
Invite in a local musher to explain the different roles and positions held by dogs in dogsled teams. Explain each dog has a different role and strength…. Yet they must work together as a team in order to be successful! For example, a wheel dog is often a source of great physical strength and endurance. A lead dog possesses leadership qualities and is a good listener and able to infer and sense where a trail may be. Musher Paul Amano of Boreal Journeys Dogsled Kennel in Kamanistiqua, ON, visited Vance Chapman School to explore dogteam roles with students. Paul also shared the story of T-Bone, one of his best and favored team dogs. T-Bone was blind. The students discuss and infer how a blind dog could be an influential and important team member, and how a team would need to work together to compensate for her physical disability but draw on her strengths (good listening, calm, instinctive).

View PDF to download >

Compare Races, Read Aloud, Map Skills, Coloring
posted by Kelly Souza
I brought Trail Mail envelopes for my child’s 1st grade classroom. I read Painter and Ugly by Robert Blake, got out an atlas, talked about the Iditarod, and how the Beargrease is something much, much closer to home for us. I left some coloring sheets for the kids and they were later sent via Trail Mail.

Reading Incentives, Read Aloud, Map Skills, Recording Data
posted by Kelly Souza
On a second classroom visit, I read Gary Paulsen’s Dogteam to the first graders, showed short video clips of our dog-sledding experience in Wisconsin, and presented them with a homemade map of a Junior Iditarod route (had fun explaining that when there is enough ice, you can mush across the water). The teacher tied the map in with their reading homework – they advanced along the route by reading – one minute equals one mile. At the overnight stop, they earned an Iditarod pencil, and those who finished the route earned an Iditarod keychain. I am just now making plans to bring the Beargrease to the Kindergartners and 1st/2nd grade combo class.

Guest Speaker, How to care for a dog
posted by Kelly Souza
On my third classroom visit, we talked about how far they had “mushed” on their map, and Suri, a Siberian Husky puppy from the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl last year, was the guest. They loved seeing a dog up close and giving her treats. Carl Bromberg, her human, talked to them about how to care for a dog.

Meeting John Beargrease by Analyzing Sources
Created by: Jen Reiter
In this lesson, students will analyze artifacts associated with John Beargrease in order to determine what the artifacts tell us about him, the trail and the race.

Beargrease Analyzing Sources Lesson Plan >

The “goodest” dogs
Need your help

What a sled dog looks forward to most after a long day of racing is a nice bed of straw! But guess what happened at last year’s race? Someone stole all our straw right before the race start! Thankfully, great fans like you helped us out during the final hour to provide this vital supply for our amazing dogs.

These dogs simply are the best – and we want to be able to continue treating them that way! Donations from fans like you make that possible. Would you find it in your heart to help us out? No amount is too small in sled dog world!

Support the Beargrease

Thankfully You Don’t Have to Wait For a Dogsled to Get Your Mail These Days

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