Alaska for Travelers & Teachers
Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, video clips, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Alaska? Included are links to wonderful worksheets and lapbooks, book suggestions for children, YouTube videos, and more -- all related to the state of Alaska! Whether you're a school teacher, homeschooling parent, involved parent, librarian, lifelong learner, or a student searching for ideas and books on Alaska, look no further!
What makes Alaska special...
Alaska's Iditarod is an annual sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome.
Our Overall Favorite Picture Book on the Iditarod
Before reading about the Iditarod, you need to read about how it all started -- a sled race against time to deliver medicine to cut off a diphtheria epidemic in Nome. All of my children (ages 2, 4, 6, & 9) enjoyed this version about Balto. It is an easy reader book so there is just the right amount of text for everyone to enjoy. The illustrations are delightful as well!
More of our Favorite Picture Books on the Iditarod
Togo by Robert J. Blake is about the sled dog team who delivered the serum most of the way, and unfortunately has received little credit. Again, all of my children loved this book. It did a great job of showing how huge of a sacrifice this was for the whole dog sled team. Robert J. Blake has written a number of other great books about heroic dogs in Alaska, all of them true stories. We enjoyed them all! Kiana's Iditarod by Shelley Gill does an amazing job of really giving you a feel for what the modern Iditarod race is like for the musher and the dogs. We especially liked that the author has actually participated in the Iditarod races. It has adorable illustrations and plenty of animals so that even my youngest daughter (age 2) was delighted with each page. Shelley Gill has written a number of other picture books on Alaska, and we have enjoyed each of them! We also enjoyed reading Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake, Dogteam by Gary Paulsen, Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race by Libby Riddles, and The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller.
Highlights of the Iditarod
What makes Alaska special...
Alaska is home to many breathtaking glaciers and snow topped mountain ranges.
Photo credit: http://www.photography-match.com/wallpapers/7000_the_long_journey_home_pika_glacier_alaska/
What makes Alaska special...
The Northern Lights, also know as the Aurora Borealis, occasionally illuminate Alaska's nighttime sky with dancing shades of green, pink, and blue. They are caused by solar winds hitting the Earth's electrically charged magnetic field.
Our Favorite Children's Book on the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
If you and/or your children are wondering what causes the Northern Lights, this is the perfect book for you! It is filled with whimsical illustrations and is filled with plenty of educational tidbits, all relayed using an alphabet book theme. It includes both factual information and legends. We learned the most about the Northern Lights from this book!
More of our Favorite Picture Books on the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller does a wonderful job of discussing all that children (and adults) need to know about the Northern Lights as its goes through an Alaskan year. Animals are also included, which kept the attention of my 2 year old. Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights by Mindy Dwyer is a cute tale explaining how the Northern Lights came to be from a young girl collecting colors as she follows a caribou. It is nice to read simply as a fun book. This was especially appealing to my 4 year old daughter. The Fiddler of the Northern Lights by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock is a charming story about a grandfather who tells tales. One tale is about an old man who plays his fiddles, which is what causes the lights to dance in the Alaskan sky. One day an old man with a fiddle does show up. After that everyone begins to question if the grandfathers tales may have some truth to them. My children and I enjoyed this fun tale. Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek and SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose are also good picture books that include the Northern Lights.
Breathtaking Footage of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) - Not all of these clips were taken in Alaska.
What makes Alaska special...
Alaska is home to a diverse variety of wild animals including polar bears, walruses, eagles, arctic wolves, salmon, eagles, musk oxen, orcas, and many more!
Photo Credit: http://wikitravel.org/shared/Image:Bald_Eagles_Homer_Alaska_USA.jpg
What makes Alaska special...
Alaska is the only state in the US where you can find polar bears living in the wild.
Photo Credit: http://www.celsias.com/article/projected-losses-arctic-sea-ice-and-polar-bear-hab/
Our Favorite Book on Animals of Alaska
Using the simple "Over in the Meadow" type of rhyme, this book goes through some of the animals native to Alaska. It also mentions things like the Northern Lights. It has nice illustrations. This is the book I used to give an introduction to state of Alaska during our class/co-op as it touched on what I wanted to highlight about the state.
More of Our Favorite Books on Animals of Alaska
We also enjoyed Alaska ABC Book (PAWS IV) by Charlene Kreeger and Shannon Cartwright, which is a simple ABC book that goes through many of the animals of Alaska and includes some vocabulary as well (qiviut, ulus, etc.). My daughters (ages 2 and 4) were especially delighted with the adorable illustrations. Prince William by Gloria Rand and Ted Rand is a sweet picture book about a girl who rescues a baby seal after an oil spill. She takes it to a rescue center where the baby seal is cleaned up and released back into the wild.
Wildlife of Alaska - Some clips contain animals eating other animals.
Our Favorite Worksheets and Lapbooks on Alaska
Great Worksheets & Lapbooks on Alaksa
All About Alaska provides great links to printable worksheets, book suggestions, and activity ideas about Alaska.
Alaska for Teachers includes wonderful printable worksheets, activity ideas, and book suggestions.
Alaska Unit Study offers many helpful links and book ideas for Alaska.
Alaska Natives Unit Study contains a 10 lesson unit study on the various native tribes of Alaska.
Lapbook for "Three Snow Bears" offers free lapbook pages and activity ideas for "Three Snow Bears" by Jan Brett.
Lapbook for "Baby in a Basket" includes free lapbook pages and activity ideas for "Baby in a Basket" by Gloria Rand.
Lapbook for "The Year of Miss Agnes" provides free lapbook pages and activity ideas for "The Year of Miss Agnes" by Kirkpatrick Hill. Click and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/year_of_miss_agnes.php
Salmon Unit offers a fun, free thematic unit on salmon that includes books suggestions, lapbook pages, and activity ideas all related to salmon. Click and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/salmon.php
Free State Lapbook Pages contains a variety of free, printable lapbook pages on Alaska and all 49 other states. Click and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/united_states_geography_resources.php
Our Favorite Picture Books on Alaska
Overall Favorite Picture Books on Alaska
This is my favorite series on individual states! Each page has a simple rhyme about a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet (perfect to read if you have younger children). Then it includes a bit more about that particular regional animal, location, etc. It provides a wonderful overview of what makes each state unique. Both modern and historical aspects of the state are includes. Plus, the illustrations are beautiful!
While this is sprinkled with evolutionary language (which I skipped over), I did think this did a great job of giving a nice overview of the various aspects of Alaska. It includes nice illustrations as well. The text was a bit too much for my 2 year old, but my 4, 6, and 9 year old children enjoyed it and learned from it.
More Great Picture Books on Alaska
There are a number of excellent picture books written on life in Alaska. Alaska's Three Bears (PAWS IV) by Shelley Gill is a cute twist on "The Three Bears" that features the 3 types of bears from Alaska and provides information about each of them. It has really cute illustrations! My children (ages 2-9) enjoyed this cute book. The author, Shelley Gill, has written a number of other delightful books that provide information about Alaska in picture book format. How to Draw Alaska's Sights and Symbols (A Kid's Guide to Drawing America) by Jennifer Quasha combines state geography with art. Each page contains something about Alaska (a state artist, the state flag, bird, tree, capitol building, areas of interest, and animals.) A photograph will be included along with a brief explanation about that item. Then the page opposite of that includes step by step directions on how to draw that symbol or site. Even my 6 year old is able to follow the drawing directions, and I've been amazed at how well my 9 year old has been drawing each of the state flags as he follows the instructions in the book! Recess at 20 Below by Cindy Aillaud is a children's book with photographs that was created by a school teacher in Alaska to show what her children do to prepare for recess and what they do outside when it is 20 degrees below zero. My children found it fascinating!
Chapter Books Related to Alaska
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is about a girl who is adopted by a pack of wolves in Alaska. I remember reading this book when I was a child. I loved it! It is a well-written Newberry Award winner book, though it does contain slight adult content in my opinion as she is married at age 13 and then runs away from her husband. Also look for Julie by the same author.
More Chapter Books Related to Alaska
The Call of the Wild by Jack London is a classic book about a sled dog who is forced to survive in the wilds of Alaska during the gold rush. My 9 year old son did read this while we studied Alaska. He enjoyed it, though he agreed that it does have some graphic descriptions "in a National Geographic sort of way." Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen is a longer YA book (272 pages), but it is filled with humor and entertainment as Gary Paulsen describes what it is like to race in the Iditarod.
Good YouTube Video Clips Giving an Overview of Alaska
The States Documentary by History Channel - Alaska starts at 30:30.
Excellent On-line Tours of Alaska: Hidden Alaska
Things to do in Alaska's Inside Passage
Have you visited Alaska yet?
Looking for more resources?
- Best Resources on Teaching the 50 States - Included are links to my favorite resources (books, video clips, lapbook pages, etc.) for each individual state in addition to my favorite resources for teaching all 50 US States.
- Alaska and Hawaii Lesson - This is part 7 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the U.S. States & Regions. Construct sugar cube igloos, host a luau complete with grass skirts and hula dancing, carve soap scrimshaw, dramatize the Iditarod, sample regional foods, and more!
- Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies - I have posted over 35 hands-on unit studies that focus primarily on science and social studies. In each lesson plan I have listed the activities that we did (and included photos), the books we read, YouTube video clips that we watched, and lapbook links that pair with the lesson.
Where is Juneau, the capital of Alaska?
© 2012 Shannon