The Launch of How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in 1st Grade

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom began as an eight-week after-school program with only four children. As I’ve grown and expanded this program to become a full-year school curriculum for 2nd grade, it wasn’t long before teachers and parents began asking, “Why isn’t there a program like this for 1st grade?”

My answer? The reality is that I was so deeply grateful and surprised by the amazing results we were getting with the 2nd grade program that I wondered how on earth I would ever come up with something that could even remotely compare to it for 1st grade.

I struggled with this for a long time as I visited 1st grade classrooms, marveling at the imaginations of six-year-old children and working to understand how their minds worked, what they loved, what made their eyes light up and say, “Oh I love this! More, please!”

I struggled with what exactly might capture these children’s imaginations and hearts, while developing an innovative and solid curriculum that would meet Common Core Standards in English Language Arts.

I pondered this, that is, until sweet Dozer visited my imagination on my morning walk one day. The idea for Dozer came to me with startling clarity, and I fell in love with him instantly. And then his story tumbled out of my mind faster than I can even describe it. That’s when I knew I needed 1st grade children to help him to solve his big problem…

On Monday morning, January 9, 2017, nearly 500 children will meet sweet Dozer in classrooms across the Coachella Valley in our first pilot of this exciting program.

One adorable, plush Dozer will arrive in classrooms as a surprise gift for each class of students, along with his shiny, red Doggone Awesome Puppy Postal Service Mailbox and a mysterious letter, letting the students know that he has lost his family in an earthquake.

Would they be willing to help him by going on an adventure around the world with his two best friends, Buddy and Daisy, to solve the mystery of where in the world his family has gone?

The students won’t be alone in solving this mystery, of course! With the help of super under-cover animal agents from the C.A.R.E. (Compassionate, Appreciative, Responsible, and Encouraging) Animal Team from around the world, the students will receive videos from Dr. Lori, Buddy, and Daisy, viewed on Dozer’s Doggy Detective Video Blog, to learn clues that will help them to solve this mystery.

What does this have to do with literacy, you ask? Well, although dogs are very, very cute, the problem is that they have a really hard time with reading and writing. 🙂 Each letter the students receive via the Doggone Awesome Puppy Postal Service from Buddy or Daisy is riddled with punctuation, capitalization, and spelling errors. Once the students re-write each letter to help them fix their mistakes and fill in the missing letters, a secret word is revealed that tells the students which country they will be exploring next for clues!

Once students unlock the mystery of the next country they will visit, they fill in a graphic organizer for each country while watching a video with Dr. Lori and Buddy or Daisy from Dozer’s Doggy Detective Video Blog. As they view the video, students chart information about “What can we see? What can we do? What do they speak? What do they eat?” in each amazing country.

Then, students learn three new clues about which country they think Dozer’s family might be in next. After students make predictions about which country they think Dozer’s family could be in based on the new clues, they use Doggy Detective Magnifying Glasses to find the country using a world map.

This first grade adventure is designed to teach the writing process in a fun and meaningful way. The graphic organizers serve as pre-writing for related writing projects for each country. For example, after visiting Mexico with Daisy to discover more clues, the students create flip-books to plan what they would see, do, and pack for a trip to Mexico. Students participate in drafting, revising and editing, publishing, and of course, Author’s Chair with Dozer. 

Throughout the entire program, students learn important lessons about respect and compassion for animals around the world as they learn alongside Buddy and Daisy in each incredible country they visit.

Students learn how to care for their own pets with kindness and compassion, and learn about larger issues such as how the growing global population affects the homes of animals and the health of our oceans.

Meanwhile, parents are included throughout the entire program with weekly at-home Doggy Detective Challenges in which Dozer challenges the students to read for 30 minutes each week and learn five new sight words. Parents are provided with weekly tips, ideas, and strategies for how to practice sight words with their children at home, as well as a weekly strategy for how to help their child in reading.

When students bring their completed Doggy Detective Challenge back to school each week, the students earn a paw print on Dozer’s Special Surprises! chart in a group effort to earn a class reward from Dozer and their teacher. What a fun way to encourage the home-school connection, all while supporting parents to help their children in literacy!

At the end of the program, of course, Dozer finds his family (but the location is top secret information)! The only problem is – his family is at an animal shelter, and there are all of these other pups who need good homes… so would each child be willing to “foster” and then “adopt” one plush dog each when they come back to school in 2nd grade?

When students come back to school in the fall, their new adventure begins….!

Needless to say, I guess I didn’t have to worry about coming up with ideas to motivate and inspire children in 1st grade. I can’t wait to share the results and feedback from teachers, parents, and kiddos in the spring!

To learn more about this program and get your school involved, click on the links below:

If Your Child Hates Reading, This Could Change Everything

When I was teaching elementary school, parents often asked me two questions:

  1. How can I get my child to read more?
  2. How can I get my child to actually enjoy reading?

My program, How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom, answers both of these questions. Having taught elementary students for over two decades and completing my PhD in education, here’s what I know for sure about children:

  1. Kids just want to have fun.
  2. When they are having fun, they want to do more of whatever it is they’re doing.

Let’s break this down. What does a child mean when they say an activity is “fun?” Think of the last time your child described something this way, such as playing their favorite game. Often, when children use the word “fun,” they mean:

  1. I feel happy.
  2. I feel confident.
  3. I feel challenged, though safe enough to take risks.
  4. I can be successful and set my own pace.
  5. I have the freedom to make choices.
  6. I feel loved, secure, and connected to others.

So what does that have to do with reading, you might ask? Well, in the most recent NAEP (National Association for Educational Progress) survey, researchers found that children who read for fun read more often and enjoy much higher scores in national test results in reading. It all begins with fun. When we enjoy doing something—whether it be participating in a particular sport or hobby—we find ways to fit it into our lives, and we find ways to practice it and therefore become better at it. It’s really no different with reading. The problem is that too often at school, we have made reading practice feel more like “it’s time to take your medicine” rather than “it’s time to play video games.” When designing my program, I asked myself: How can I help children to enjoy reading, and therefore choose to read more often—to read for FUN—especially when they are surrounded by high-stimulus, exciting options like video games and movies? kids0364-13-13 I created a learning system that allows children to have fun in the way children understand it: feeling happy and confident, being challenged but safe enough to take risks, learning at their instructional reading level while reading text of their choice, all the while feeling loved and in connection with others. How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom helps the struggling reader re-define their experience of reading. As one parent whose son participated in my program this fall said to me: “Reading with Diego used to feel like pulling teeth. He hated it and saw it as work, something he couldn’t do well and didn’t have any interest in. But now, he brings books to read to me, and has recently asked me to help him read chapter books! It’s all because he sees that he can do it now and that reading can be fun.” – Catherine, Parent Participant 110 children who participated in this program answered survey questions about their experience:

IMG_509698% of the students said that reading with their stuffed animal or pet made reading more fun for them.

94% of the children said that reading with their stuffed dog at school made them feel happier and more confident about reading.

99% of the children said that they enjoyed participating in this program.

IMG_501095% said that the program helped them become a better reader and that reading is easier now for.

87% said that they enjoyed doing the weekly BoneWork (homework) assignments. (When was the last time your child said they enjoyed doing homework in a subject area they had previously struggled with?)

98% said that they think kids in other schools should do this program.

In the next five articles, I will share the five core elements of the program that not only made reading fun, but helped all the children make great gains in their reading progress. In the meantime, click here to read more about what teachers are saying about this program! With joy, Dr. Lori “The ability to read is one of the skills most highly correlated with success in life—yet by first grade, many children already lag behind. Thankfully, Dr. Lori Friesen has discovered an innovative way to get kids interested and excited about reading at the second-grade level, demonstrating the potential to lift our educational system to a whole new level. Improving reading skills and teaching kids how to love and care for animals—Dr. Lori, you’re brilliant!”

—Jennifer Read Hawthorne, coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 

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When Kids Read with REAL Dogs :-)

How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom 10What you might not know is that the idea for this program, How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom, was born nearly thirteen years ago when I brought my puppy Tango into my own 2nd grade classroom to meet my students. I wasn’t intending to have the children read to her, but some of the young boys spontaneously began bringing books to read to her during their precious 10 minutes of “Tango Time,” which they earned by being kind and respectful to themselves and others each week. I was shocked by what happened next. I overheard the boys arguing during recess about which books Tango liked most, which then resulted in a “Tango’s Recommended Books” section of our classroom library.

How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom 6Unfortunately, these days it is very difficult to bring live dogs into classrooms for various reasons. Some children have allergies, others are quite fearful of dogs, school policies sometimes do not allow dogs on school property, and some cultures view dogs as being unclean. So I needed to find a way to bring this learning into all classrooms without bringing in live dogs. Therefore, during this program, the students learn and practice skills with “adopted” stuffed dogs, and then go home and practice with their own pets and/or stuffed animals. Bringing in a live dog (who has been pre-screened for being safe around children) for the children to read to is a wonderful way for the students to showcase their learning towards the end of the program.

It has been quite awhile since I’ve brought my little Tango into classrooms, but this morning was a wonderful reminder of why I do this work. The children just lit up when they saw my little dog, and demonstrated all of the important skills and knowledge they have been learning about being appropriate and loving around dogs throughout this program. They showed me how to meet a new dog safely. They were careful not to run, make quick movements that might scare her, or speak in loud voices. They didn’t crowd her, and took turns petting her so she wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. They read to her in voices that reminded me of a parent’s heart as they read a bedtime story to their child, all the while petting her and nurturing her gently and with great care. What a loving, compassionate, and intelligent group of children, and I feel so grateful to have been able to spend this time with them. A treat for all of us!

How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed 7

 

 

What One Teacher Said that Surprised and Thrilled Me

IMG_1346When I first designed this program, How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom, my intention was to help children become stronger, more confident readers while learning to be kind, safe, and compassionate towards dogs and other animals. We are now rounding the corner to enter our sixth week of the program, and on Friday I had a lunch meeting with the teachers to check in with them and see how everything was going. They told me that “The kids absolutely love this program” and that things were going really well. I was happy to hear all of this, of course, but something one teacher said next took me by surprise.

51tej6UL-lL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This teacher looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, this program has certainly taught me to be kinder to my dog.” I looked at her. “What do you mean?” I asked. She explained that she had just taught Lesson 5, which features a wonderful book called Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts. This book tells the story of a little boy’s wonderings about what kind of a life his dog had before his family took him home from the shelter.

The teacher explained that she too had adopted a dog from a shelter, and that he had all kinds of undesirable behaviors that frustrated and annoyed her. But then she explained that not only this book, but all of the lessons the children had been learning, had given her new insight into her dog’s behaviors and gave her some context for why, perhaps, her dog didn’t behave in ways that we would hope for. Sadly, especially when an animal has been abused, the fear and trauma from the abuse can lead to excessive chewing, barking, and other anxiety-related behaviors that are sometimes transferred (often temporarily) into their new home. This is not unlike adopting a child who has spent time in foster care and may suffer from separation anxiety or have other special needs. (But certainly, the many benefits of adopting a dog from a shelter outweigh the risks – most of these dogs are already house-trained, and are through the challenging “puppy phase” of their development). Having empathy for what so many of these poor animals have been through before they come into your home can often mean the difference between responding with kindness and love or anger and punishment (which just makes things worse), when your dog exhibits some of these behaviors.

As this teacher explained the shift in her understanding about the life and “special needs” of some shelter dogs, I began to think about the 125 or more parents who have been participating in weekly “BoneWork” (homework) assignments with their children each week during this program. Although I believed that this program would help children to become increasingly compassionate around dogs, I hadn’t really considered the impact it would have on the adults in these students’ lives. It is my hope that these activities and challenges have inspired conversations between children and their parents at home in which these children, now armed with increased knowledge and insight about dogs, can help their parents to learn to interact with increased empathy and compassion around their family pets, just as this teacher was learning. This is especially important because parents of children this age are generally the primary care-givers for family pets.

Stay tuned and I will be able to share more once I send home surveys for the parents to complete at the end of this program (in only a few more weeks) to find out what their learning and their experience has been!

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“Just” Stuffed Animals?

IMG_1343When I first designed this program for classrooms to help children learn to demonstrate more kindness and compassion towards dogs while also teaching them to read, I received some skepticism because these were “just” stuffed animals. Even the children themselves, just before they received their new adopted little buddies, were asking when the real dogs were coming to visit the classroom.

But then the children each received and named their dogs, and made them their own name tags and collars. They began to cuddle and pet their dogs as they participated in lessons. They turned their dog to face the book so their dog could “see” the pictures as they read, and they practiced their spelling words with them, lovingly patting their dog on their head.

IMG_1363We are now mid-way through the program, and today was Crazy Hat Day, so of course all of the children ran over to where I was, asking to have their pictures taken with their dogs and their Crazy Hats (pictured above on the left). And then I realized that it wasn’t just hats that these dogswere wearing – many of them had their very own outfits. I asked the teacher about this.

“Well, I’m not sure how it started, exactly,” she said, shaking her head with a smile on her face, “But before I knew it, they were all going to the dollar store and buying dolls just for the clothes – then throwing the dolls away so they could dress up their dogs!”

The bond that these children have formed with their dogs is clear by the way they nurture them, talk to them, cuddle with them, and care for them. As was so eloquently expressed by Alan T. Beck:

“Companion animals are our children’s children.

The best thing we can do for our
children is to help them be better parents.”

IMG_1366Especially for children who are unable to have a pet of their own due to allergies, family financial challenges or family circumstances, having a little stuffed animal to love and care for can offer valuable lessons for children. Young children are rarely in the role of nurturer or “caring for” (instead of being cared for), and pets (both real and imagined to be real) can provide valuable opportunities for children to learn responsibility, empathy, and compassion.

IMG_1371Research suggests that young children have one foot permanently placed in reality and the other in imagination. What a wonderful gift for a young child to know that such an unconditional and loving friend exists for them when they are at school; a place where teachers have been warned against hugs, yet a place where so many children desperately need this form of comfort. I wonder if these kids would describe these dogs as “just” stuffed animals to them?

 

 

Word Study Strategies when Kids Read with Dogs

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One of the biggest challenges children face when they are learning to read is knowing what to do when they come to a word they don’t know. Too often we tell children to just “sound it out,” which is often difficult or even impossible when they come across words that we refer to as “sight words.” Click here to see a list of the 300 most common sight words in children’s books. Teaching children strategies they can use to determine unknown words (we call them “Tricky Trouble Words” in our How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom program), can help children to feel empowered to figure out tricky words when reading independently.

When children read with a dog (or stuffed animal, or other pet – I’ve even had kids who have read to their goldfish and lizards!), the animal serves as a non-judgmental audience for their reading efforts. Brian Cambourne, an Australian educational researcher who has developed a model for the Conditions for Literacy Learning, notes that children need to feel safe to take risks in a warm and accepting environment in order to learn. Because animals don’t tell children when they are making mistakes and accept children where and as they are, reading with animals can be a wonderful alternative to practicing developing skills with adults – who at times, lovingly interfere perhaps more than we mean to. 🙂 Positioning the child as a “partner” or even at times as a “teacher” in learning with their pet or stuffed animal empowers the child to acknowledge and celebrate all that they do know. Saying things like, “I don’t think (Sparky) knows that word either – do you think maybe we could teach it to him together?” will help the child to realize that they already know quite a bit!

Here are some word study strategies you can share with your child when they get stuck on a word they don’t know. Learning these strategies will help children become increasingly independent when reading aloud with their pet or stuffed animal:

1. Stop: Sometimes just waiting 3 seconds before doing anything will help a child to make sense of what they are reading, and figure out the word on their own. We are often too quick to jump in and help, when in fact children are already processing what that word could be.

2. Point to the first letter in the word and say its sound.

3. Read to the end of the sentence, skipping the word.

4. Think about which word might make sense.

5. Look for little words in the big word.

6. Look at the picture for clues.

7. If your dog still doesn’t get it, it’s ok to TELL him the word. (Ask for help)

I hope these strategies help to enhance your child’s reading experience!

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Take This Quiz to Find Out if Your Child is Dog-Safety Savvy

Why Is It So Important to Teach Young Children to Be Safe Around Dogs?

“The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that of the 80,000 Americans seeking medical attention for dog bites each year, half are children. The rate is highest among children aged 5 to 9 years, and that rate increases the younger the child. By the time children turn 12, half of them have been bitten by a dog, the overwhelming majority of which belong to friends or family. Sadly, many injuries may be the result of inappropriate behavior on the part of the child, as most children have not learned how to act around dogs. Teaching children appropriate behavior around dogs can significantly help reduce their chances of being bitten. By learning appropriate ways to act around dogs, children will not only be safer, but will also develop respect and responsibility for their actions. Finally, by understanding how dogs feel in certain situations, children will hone a sense of empathy for the feelings and needs of others.”

– Excerpt from American Humane Association, 2009

Take This Quiz With Your Child to Find Out if He or She is Dog-Safety Savvy:

IMG_1329Part of what we teach children in the How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed program is to become aware of which behaviors are good and kind around dogs, and what kids might be doing that could cause their dog to become scared, nervous, or sad (and often without kids even realizing it). Take this 12 question quiz with your child to find out your child’s behavior could be triggering your dog to defend himself:

Ask your child to answer true or false to each question below:

1. When you meet a new dog, it’s ok to run over and pet them.

2. If a dog chases you and you’re scared, run.

3. It’s all right to pick up a dog you don’t know.

4. You should never pet a dog you see in a car.

5. It’s a good idea to share your toys with your dog.

6. You should always ask before petting a dog you don’t know.

7. Dogs like it if you run, yell, and jump around them.

8. Dogs usually like it if you stare into their eyes.

9. It’s not ok to pull a dog’s ears or tail.

10. You can take your dog’s toys away from him or her whenever you want to.

11. It’s ok to wake up a dog by yelling or poking him or her.

12. If a dog is shaking, licking his lips, and panting, he’s probably feeling stress.

Answers:

1. When you meet a new dog, it’s ok to run over and pet them.

False: Just like us, dogs have personalities. Some dogs may be shy or sick and might not like to be touched by strangers. Instead of running over and petting a dog you don’t know, first ask its owner if the dog is friendly. If the answer is yes, then ask if you can pet the dog. Put your hand out slowly and gently for the dog to sniff before reaching out to touch them, and then pet them under the chin or on their chest. Reaching out over a dog’s head can be scary for them!

2. If a dog chases you and you’re scared, run.

False: If a dog is chasing you because he wants to play, he will see this as a game if you run away from them. If a dog is chasing you and (s)he seems unfriendly, still don’t run. Instead, act like a tree and be very still and quiet. If the dog still keeps bothering you, roll up into a little ball on the ground and don’t make any noise. Usually dogs will become bored with you and will go away if you do this.

3. It’s all right to pick up a dog you don’t know.

False: Many dogs don’t like to be picked up, especially if (s)he doesn’t know you, is in pain, or is afraid for any reason. It’s best to ask the owner if this is ok before picking up a dog that you don’t know well.

4. You should never pet a dog you see in a car.

True:  Dogs who are in cars can be territorial and therefore may not be friendly to strangers who approach them.

5. It’s a good idea to share your toys with your dog.

False: This can be confusing for your dog. Instead, give him or her toys and stuffed animals of their own, and put your toys away.

6. You should always ask before petting a dog you don’t know.

True: See explanation in #1.

7. Dogs like it if you run, yell, and jump around them.

False: Quick movements can scare dogs, and when dogs are scared, they will defend themselves. One of the ways that dogs defend themselves when they are scared is by fight (growling or biting) or flight (running away). Either way, yelling or jumping around dogs can make them afraid to be around you.

8. Dogs usually like it if you stare into their eyes.

False: Staring into a dog’s eyes can be scary for a dog, while other dogs may see this as a challenge However, if you know a dog really well and they feel comfortable with you, looking into their eyes can be a really nice way to connect with your pet. But if you see your dog beginning to lick his or her lips, pant, and blink a lot, they are feeling nervous and uncomfortable so you should stop.

9. It’s not ok to pull a dog’s ears or tail.

True: This hurts a dog and can make them not trust you.

10. You can take your dog’s toys or food away from him or her whenever you want to.

False: This can be dangerous because your dog will try to protect his food and toys. When a dog is protecting his or her food or toys, one of the ways they do this is by growling or even biting.

11. It’s ok to wake up a dog by yelling or poking him or her.

False: If you frighten a dog, they might bite because they are trying to defend themselves.

12. If a dog is shaking, licking his lips, and panting, he’s probably feeling stress.

True: If you see your dog exhibiting these behaviors, remove him or her from the situation that you think is causing him or her stress. Crowded places, loud noises, and sometimes even other animals around can cause your dog to feel stress. Learning these signals will help your dog to stay calm, happy, and relaxed – and keep you safe!

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Goal Setting and Comprehension Strategies when Reading with Pets!

IMG_2470The Importance of Goal Setting

In addition to teaching children fun and effective reading skills to help them become more confident, stronger readers, students who participate in How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom also learn important skills for success not only in learning, but in life. I (Dr. Lori) was trained by Jack Canfield, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Success Principles. As part of this life-changing, year-long training, I recognized the necessity of bringing these principles into children’s lives in an age-appropriate way, thereby giving young students the tools they need and a roadmap for success as early as possible. Reading Goal Staircase

Therefore, as part of this program, the children are asked to “think big” and to deeply consider what their reading goal is by the end of the program. Asking children to set a goal and then take one small step every single day towards reaching their goal helps students learn to break down a big dream into bite-sized pieces that can feel much more manageable. Just like looking up a large staircase and wondering how they are ever going to make it to the top, the children are reminded to record how many new words they have learned each week as a way of tracking their own progress on their way to reaching a much larger goal. They learn that each effort, each day, brings them one step closer to meeting their goal, no matter how big it may seem at the beginning!

Jack Canfield Endorsement

Reading Comprehension with Stuffed Animal Buddies and Pets of All Kinds!

If you have a dog or another pet at home, you can involve him or her in reading activities with your child in fun and creative ways to help improve your child’s comprehension, or understanding of what they are reading. One way you can do this is by teaching your child to do a “picture walk” with your pet. Begin by explaining to your child that reading is very, very difficult for animals. In contrast, children are so smart, and they are so good at this that sometimes they need to spend some extra time to help their pets to understand the story.

IMG_2485Before you begin reading with your child, place sticky notes every three pages or so in the book to serve as a “marker” to pause and do a picture walk with your child. As your child reads aloud to your dog or stuffed animal, each time you come to a sticky note say to your child, “Do you think you can re-tell or review for (your pet’s name) what has happened in the story so far, using your own words?” Positioning the book so the pet can “see” the pictures, speaking slowly and clearly, and being gentle and loving are all latent lessons you can teach to help build empathy and compassion in your child. What a fun way to help children to not only become stronger readers, but to learn the value and skill in being patient and kind teachers to others – the best way to learn!

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A Doggone Wonderful Beginning!

IMG_1331What a fun and inspirational morning! Today was the launch of the pilot program, “How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom” in five 2nd grade classrooms at Rio Vista Elementary School. The classrooms buzzed with excitement as the students walked in their rooms, noticing all of the new things that had “magically appeared” over the weekend. “Hey! All of the books that were on our shelves have changed, and they’re all DOG books!” said one little girl. An excited, high-pitched voice of another boy could be heard from across the room, “Hey that’s a board game about dogs! I want to play!” The teacher responded, “Well, we’re going to play that game together, as a class.” A collective “Ohhh!” rippled across the room.

As the students settled in, their teacher engaged them in a discussion about dogs, asking “What do you know about dogs?” A sea of hands shot up, ready to share stories and ideas. As I watched it all unfold around me, all I could think about was this: Today, one of my dreams is coming true. In just one morning, nearly 150 children learned how to meet a new dog safely and kindly. In only one morning, every single child was learning about what it meant to “adopt” and “foster” a little dog that needed love and companionship. And in only one morning, these children had learned 8 fun and effective reading strategies they could take with them on all of their reading adventures with their new puppy buddies. I’d say that was one productive morning.

And the icing on the cake? One little girl walked up to me with a smile in her eyes and said, sparkling, “Finally, I like school!” A very, very good morning indeed, and I am so deeply grateful. Thank you to the incredible teachers who are playfully and enthusiastically embracing and teaching this program with such professionalism and love. You make such a difference in the lives of your students, and they are so lucky to be in your classrooms! I’m already looking forward to next week.

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This little girl is holding her “Tricky Trouble Words” bookmark, which helps children learn strategies they can use when the come to a word they don’t know. These word study strategies are part of Lesson One in the program.

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This is a photo of the interactive wall game the class will play throughout the program to learn safe and kind ways to take care of and be around dogs. This teacher has also set up an adorable little dog house where the students’ stuffed buddies can rest when they need a break. 🙂 Just love it!