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Literacy & LearningTeacher Resources


The Nor’wester organization strongly encourages teachers to think of their therapy dog team as a “teaching tool” to be used to help meet academic and instructional goals.  Tanya Mahon, a teacher at Davis Elementary in the Centennial School District shared two successful lessons used while her therapy dog team was visiting. 

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: VENN DIAGRAM Tanya began class by reading the story Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman to her students.  Her goals included listening skills, literature appreciation, compare and contrast, and learning to use a Venn diagram. After the story was over, Tanya  asked each child to label the 3 sections of the diagram. The therapy dog, Molly, was the left circle portion, Gloria was the right portion, and the center overlap represented how both dogs were the same. They then had a discussion about the “differences” between Molly and Gloria, recording the specific differences in the corresponding circle portions. For example, Gloria is a police dog and Molly is a therapy dog.  Gloria was a German Shepherd and Hannah is a Portuguese Water Dog. Some of the similarities the children identified were that both dogs had a job and both were girls. It was amazing how the presence of a live dog really made the lesson come “alive!” 

MEASURING:  Using the book Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy, Tanya set forth the goals of listening skills, literature appreciation, following directions, interpreting measurement in a variety of ways, and         recording the findings. This lesson took 2 weeks, and the second week incorporated compare and contrast since both Hannah and Heidi visited the class. In the story, Lisa has an important homework assignment– to measure something in several different ways. She has to use standard units like inches/centimeters and nonstandard units like paper clips to find out height, width, length, weight, volume, temperature, and time. Lisa decides to measure her dog, Penny, and finds out … Penny’s nose = 1 inch long  Penny’s tail = 1 dog biscuit long, and Penny’s paw print = 3 centimeters wide … and that was only the beginning! Lisa learns a lot about her dog and about measuring, and even has fun doing it. The students measured both Heidi (week 1) and Hannah the following week with inches, centimeters, Lego blocks, paper clips, and magic markers to find out how long their ears, legs, tails were and how tall each one was. They had lots of fun comparing and contrasting the differences between Heidi and Hannah.

THANK YOU to Tanya Mahon for sharing these wonderful teaching ideas!