The learners will be able to:
This game is designed for fourth to sixth graders and will most likely be used in a social studies class. Playing this game is a fun and interesting way for students to practice map-reading skills. It is also a great game to include during a social studies unit about Alaska. Educators should teach students how to read a map legend and find directions on a map before introducing this game. After the students play, there are many useful topics to discuss, including problems they encountered with the map-reading questions, a discussion about situations they encountered along the trail, the terrain in Alaska, and what it would be like to race in the Iditarod.
Be the first "musher" to cross the finish line at the end of the Iditarod, a race that captures the spirit of Alaska!
First you will carefully select the Supplies that you will need as you navigate your way across the rough and cold terrain. You'll advance across the board by first correctly answering a Map Card and then by spinning the Distance Wheel. You'll need your Supply Cards to help you face the various Situations that the trail will throw your way.
Are you up to the challenge of "The Last Great Race on Earth"?
This game is designed for 2-4 mushers or mushing teams. The size of the mushing team will vary based on the class size. The board will take approximately 5 minutes to set up. Game playing time with take 20-30 minutes and should be completed in one sitting.
Spin the Distance Wheel.
Mushers carrying 4 or fewer supplies, use the outer distances on the Distance Wheel. Mushers carrying 5 or more supplies, use the inner distances on the Distance Wheel. If the musher spins a Situation or Chance, the appropriate card will be read to him or her. The musher must follow the guidance given on the respective card.
Once a musher has moved their sled or fulfilled a Chance or Situation card, their turn is over.
Rules of the Trail
We started out with two broad topics: the Iditarod race and navigation. No one in our group knew much about the Iditarod except that it was a dog sled race across Alaska and that the mushers relied on basic navigation skills to navigate their way across a 1,049 mile trail between Anchorage and Nome.
Each team member researched navigation and the Iditarod. A week later, we brainstormed as we decided how to focus Kat's original idea to have a navigation game and a game about the Iditarod. Then we divided the topics and searched the internet again. We met several times during the process to discuss our findings and play other games similar to what we had envisioned for our final product. One game we particularly liked was a card game called Mille Bornes.
In our first prototype we created navigation cards that included a distance and direction, similar to the Mille Bornes cards. We used the navigation cards as the means of moving across our board rather than using a spinner or dice. We thought this was a unique and creative way to incorporate navigation into our game. We played the game with people in our class, friends, and family. When we tested our game, we encouraged our testers to talk aloud as they played, took notes, and made necessary changes mid-game to check out how the changes worked. We rejected many ideas along the way, including using a movable game board, a real compass to navigate across the board, a topographical board, navigation cards with directions and distance, and Iditarod trivia questions.
The Iditarod is a great context to teach navigation because the racers use "natural" navigation without technology, like GPS. However, we found that most types of navigation are better learned in activity games where you have to move about the three dimensional world and navigate! A board game, being two dimensional, is a perfect fit for learning two dimensional map reading skills, so we decided to drop the other aspects of navigation and focus on map reading.
In our internet searches we found several Iditarod games. The Iditarod board games we found were based on knowing trivia about the Iditarod race, which wasn't our educational goal. We wanted kids to feel the excitement of the Iditarod as they played, so we included many factually based adventures on the trail in the form of Situation Cards.
We learned many important lessons throughout the process such as, set clear educational objectives, listen to the feedback from your testers, be open to all ideas and change, work with a team, and play the game with many different groups. For us, the most creative and original ideas came out of brainstorming sessions with each other and our testers. If we were to create a board game in the future, we would be sure to test it with our target audience. It took a lot of testing, revising, and hard work to discover the best way to make the game fun and educational, but it was also a very rewarding experience.
Books & Journals
Last updated October 14, 2004