Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dog Days Part 3: Literature

Add Photo by Z is for Zebra; Digital Papers by Connie Prince & Trixie Scraps.

Sometimes my students cry. It's unintentional, but I make them cry.  My two favorite fictional stories about dogs MAKE KIDS CRY. In fact, these stories often make teachers cry as well. I thought you should be prepared. Have tissues handy.

Tear-jerker #1:
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Little Willy must take over the farm when his grandfather becomes ill. When things get really desperate, Willy competes in a sled dog race. His hope is to win the prize money and save the farm. His one and only sled dog is his beloved pet Searchlight. There's SO much in this short novel. The characters are well-developed, and there are so many themes that will get students having higher-level, rich discussions about the text.  I'm not telling you the end! You'll need to read it for yourself. Remember the tissues.

Favorite Activities and Resources for Stone Fox:
Literature Circles
Laura Candler has some excellent resources for literature circles. There are literature circles printables and more information about how to implement literature circles on her website. Many of her resources are free.

Character Chit-Chat Tic-Tac-Toe

After reading a passage or chapter, students circle three choices from the menu to create a tic-tac-toe. Then, partners take turns discussing the questions with one another while referring to the text. Often, students ASK if they can write their thoughts down. So, I break out the sticky notes and cheerfully say, "Go ahead! Use details from the text!" This activity sheet is included in my Describing Characters product, which can be used with any fictional text.

End of Novel Activities

Agree or Disagree?
The characters in Stone Fox make some big decisions. Students can work in small groups or with partners to discuss whether or not they agree with the characters' decisions.  I always circulate around listening as students share their opinions, I prompt them to use specific evidence from the text to defend their responses.  Grab a copy of some FREE discussion cards by clicking here or on the image below.

As an end-of-book celebration, I like to use the Stone Fox Word Work materials created by Stephanie of 3rd Grade Thoughts.  Stephanie always includes vocabulary that stretches 3rd graders, and I like that.

There's also A SONG by Open Books Open Doors that my students LOVEIt does reveal the ending of the book, so you can't play it for students until the end!

Tear-Jerker #2:
The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal
A young boy named Cody patiently wins the trust of a homeless dog who has lost his owner. Cody knows what it is to miss someone, because he lost his dog Teddy

Favorite Activities and Resources for Blue House Dog:
Examining Illustrations
The illustrations in The Blue House Dog are gorgeous. This book has been perfect for getting students to explain how illustrations contribute to the story (Common Core State Standard RL 3.7).

A sneak peek at some of the illustrations:

Grab these free sheets to get students writing about illustrations.

Another book that is perfect for examining illustrations is Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School. The good news is that this one does NOT make students cry.

The full-color images in this text depict what life is ACTUALLY like at obedience school--luxurious, relaxing, and cushy. The black and white images are the HORRIBLE, FALSE view that Ike communicates to his owner, Mrs. LaRue.

One of my colleagues found a free story online that ties in perfectly with The Blue House Dog.  You can have students read it online, but I type it so students can annotate it.

The story is called A Dog for Jenny, and my students really enjoy it each year. Visit to find it.

The next Dog Days Literacy post will focus on opinion writing using source material. Thanks for stopping by! 

If you missed the last two Dog Days Literacy posts, click on the links below.

Dog Days Literacy Part One: Informational Text

Dog Days Literacy Part Two: Poetry and Figurative Language  


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