When the weather gets a little cooler and you start craving the delicious flavors of fall, why not surprise your students with a whole-class cooking project? Model a practical reason for reading and writing as your students write the ingredients for this recipe, and then write, read, and follow the directions to create these mini-masterpieces. I used to think I didn’t like anything gluten free, but I promise you that there won’t be a speck left over when you make this recipe – they are absolutely DELICIOUS!
If you or a family you know is considering adopting a new dog,
this book is for you!
In Claire Buchwald’s wonderful book for children, kids are asked to consider the many aspects of acting responsibly when they get a new dog. Told from a dog’s perspective, children are asked to think about whether or not they are ready to care for a new dog daily, including ensuring their pet has fresh food and water, daily walks, regular veterinary visits, and making their dog a priority by giving them daily love and attention.
What a great story to help children and their families to think carefully about making the big decision to adopt a new furry family member!
“Are You Ready for Me” is featured in the program,
“How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom” with Dr. Lori Friesen.
To learn more about what district administrators, teachers, parents, and students
are saying about this literacy program, click here.
Are you looking for a fun and creative way to teach your students Halloween vocabulary?
Why not sing along with Dozer and Dr. Lori in our new song, “Halloween Stew!”
To access the video and FREE PDF downloads of the song lyrics and a cloze reading activity for your students, just click the image below. Happy Halloween!
Although How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom is able to make a great difference with increasing reading engagement and teaching children the tools they need to read at school, sometimes kids just don’t have the level of support we’d like them to at home in order to practice developing skills.
That’s why we have designed and launched the NEW How Dogs Help Kids YouTube Channel, which features a weekly video to reinforce and support each lesson within the program, while also providing FREE reading instruction and support for all kids at home.
In addition to the weekly featured video, we will be releasing read-alouds of favorite books we feature throughout the program, as well as Quick Literacy Tips for parents so they can continue to work with and support their children in reading and writing at home.
Part One of this series, Dozer in Space, is designed to support the 2nd grade program.
This series features a little dog named Dozer who, as a doggy astronaut, travels to imaginary planets in his dreams. On each planet, with the help of Dr. Lori, he learns five Tricky Trouble Words (featured in the at-school program), as well as reading strategies and success principles to help him learn to believe in himself – and follow his dreams!
Part Two of this series, which will be launched in January, will be designed around supporting the 1st grade program (which begins in January in classrooms).
To check out this channel and subscribe today, just click the image at the top of this page!
We look forward to seeing you again on YouTube very soon 🙂
Dr. Lori Friesen
I was thrilled and honored to be invited to another exciting Adoption Ceremony at Bubbling Wells Elementary School, one of three California Gold Ribbon Schools in Palm Springs Unified School District that are participating in How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom. After leading the students in their Love Pledge for their plush pups, another 133 students became official “pet parents” and got to take home their pups to become part of their forever families. And the best part? Well, aside from the beaming faces of the graduates, it was the wonderful comments by the principal, Omar Tinoco, who explained how this program has positively impacted student reading engagement and achievement. Congratulations on all of your hard work, Bobcats!
How dogs could make children better readers
Issues around children learning to read are rarely out of the news. Which is hardly surprising – becoming a successful reader is of paramount importance in improving a child’s life chances. Nor is it surprising that reading creates a virtuous circle: the more you read the better you become. But what may come as a surprise is that reading to dogs is gaining popularity as a way of addressing concerns about children’s reading.
There is a lot of research evidence indicating that children who read extensively have greater academic success. The UK Department for Education’s Reading for Pleasure report, published in 2012, highlights this widely established link.
Keith Stanovich, an internationally eminent US literacy scholar (now based in Canada) wrote a widely-cited paper in 1986, describing this virtuous circle as the “Matthew effect” (a reference to the observations made by Jesus in the New Testament about the economic propensity for the rich to become richer and the poor, poorer). A downward spiral impacts upon reading ability and then, according to Stanovich, on cognitive capability.
Underachievement in groups of children in the UK is recognised in international studies – and successive governments have sought to address the issues in a range of ways. Reading to dogs, so far, has not been among them, but it’s time to look at the strategy more seriously.
Many children naturally enjoy reading and need little encouragement, but if they are struggling their confidence can quickly diminish – and with it their motivation. This sets in motion the destructive cycle whereby reading ability fails to improve.
So how can dogs help?
A therapeutic presence
Reading to dogs is just that – encouraging children to read alongside a dog. The practice originated in the US in 1999 with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) scheme and initiatives of this type now extend to a number of countries. In the UK, for example, the Bark and Read scheme supported by the Kennel Club is meeting with considerable enthusiasm.
The presence of dogs has a calming effect on many people – hence their use in Pets as Therapy schemes (PAT). Many primary schools are becoming increasingly pressurised environments and children (like adults) generally do not respond well to such pressure. A dog creates an environment that immediately feels more relaxed and welcoming. Reading can be a solitary activity, but can also be a pleasurable, shared social event. Children who are struggling to read benefit from the simple pleasure of reading to a loyal, loving listener.
Children who are struggling to read, for whatever reason, need to build confidence and rediscover a motivation for reading. A dog is a reassuring, uncritical audience who will not mind if mistakes are made. Children can read to the dog, uninterrupted; comments will not be made. Errors can be addressed in other contexts at other times. For more experienced or capable readers, they can experiment with intonation and “voices”, knowing that the dog will respond positively – and building fluency further develops comprehension in readers.
For children who are struggling, reconnecting with the pleasure of reading is very important. As Marylyn Jager-Adams,a literacy scholar, noted in a seminal review of beginner reading in the US: “If we want children to learn to read well, we must find a way to induce them to read lots.”
Reading to a dog can create a helpful balance, supporting literacy activities which may seem less appealing to a child. Children with dyslexia, for example, need focused support to develop their understanding of the alphabetic code (how speech sounds correspond to spelling choices). But this needs to be balanced with activities which support independent reading and social enjoyment or the child can become demotivated.
Creating a virtuous circle
Breaking a negative cycle will inevitably lead to the creation of a virtuous circle – and sharing a good book with a dog enables children to apply their reading skills in a positive and enjoyable way.
Research evidence in this area is rather limited, despite the growing popularity of the scheme. A 2016 systematic review of 48 studies – Children Reading to Dogs: A Systematic Review of the Literature by Hall, Gee and Mills – demonstrated some evidence for improvement in reading, but the evidence was not strong. There clearly is more work to do, but interest in reading to dogs appears to have grown through the evidence of case studies.
The example, often cited in the media, is that of Tony Nevett and his greyhound Danny. Tony and Danny’s involvement in a number of schools has been transformative, not only in terms of reading but also in promoting general well-being and positive behaviour among children with a diverse range of needs.
So, reading to dogs could offer many benefits. As with any approach or intervention, it is not a panacea – but set within a language-rich literacy environment, there appears to be little to lose and much to gain.