Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Subject: Language Arts
Grade Level
: 4-6

In this lesson students will view the film Dogs: The Early Years. They will use critical thinking skills to determine which breed of dog would best fit their personality and living situation. They will also write a short story from a dog’s perspective.


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Use critical thinking skills to make a decision on the choice of a dog
  • Analyze information about breeds of dogs
  • Write a children’s book from a dog’s point of view

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Language Arts

Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

Level 2 (Grade 3-5)

    1. Uses descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas (e.g., common figures of speech, sensory details)  

    2. Uses paragraph form in writing (e.g., indents the first word of a paragraph, uses topic sentences, recognizes a paragraph as a group of sentences about one main idea, uses an introductory and concluding paragraph, writes several related paragraphs)

    3. Uses a variety of sentence structures in writing (e.g., expands basic sentence patterns)

Level 3 (Grade 6-8)

    1. Uses descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas (e.g., establishes tone and mood, uses figurative language, uses sensory images and comparisons, uses a thesaurus to choose effective wording)  

    2. Uses paragraph form in writing (e.g., arranges sentences in sequential order, uses supporting and follow-up sentences, establishes coherence within and among paragraphs)

    3. Uses a variety of sentence structures to expand and embed ideas (e.g., complex sentences; parallel structure, such as similar grammatical forms or juxtaposed items)

    4. Uses explicit transitional devices

Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 6 Applies decision-making techniques

Working With Others
Contributes to the overall effort of a group

Procedures for Teachers

Background Activities

Activity One

The purpose of this activity is for students to activate their background knowledge of dogs.

    • Famous sayings that contain the word “puppy” or “dog”
    • Books/poems whose main character is a dog
    • Songs that refer to dogs
    • Jobs that utilize a dog’s skills
  • 1. Break students into small groups and have them think of as many items as they can for the following categories: 

    2. After the groups have finished, have them share their results.

    3. Discuss why dogs have such an important role in people’s lives.


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is for students to use their critical thinking skills to select a breed of dog that would best fit their lifestyle.

    1. Read the following scenario to your class:  

    Because of the number of dogs that are put to sleep each year, a new law has been passed requiring anyone wishing to get a puppy to go through a screening process in order to receive a permit to own a dog.

    2. Tell the students that they are each going to apply for a puppy permit, and will need to submit the following information to the Puppy Permit Board.

Part A
Write a brief statement explaining why you want to own a dog.

Part B
Answer the following questions:

  • What is the inside of your house like?
  • What is the outside of your house like?
  • How many people live in your house?
  • Do you have young children living in your house?
  • Is anyone in your house allergic to dogs?
  • Do you have many strangers coming to your house?
  • How much time do you have to spend with a dog?
  • How much money do you want to spend on a dog?
  • How much time do you want to spend training a dog?
  • How much time do you want to spend grooming a dog?

Part C
Send students to the Dog Breed Info Center Web site (http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/abc.htm) to read about various breeds of dogs and to select the breed of dog that would best fit their lifestyles. Tell students to write an explanation of why this particular breed is a good match for them.

    • Do you think this breed of dog is suitable for this person’s
      living area? 
    • Do you think this breed is a good match for this person’s personality?
    • Do you think this person has enough time to spend with a dog?
    • Do you think this person is ready to own a dog?
    • (The board may choose to add questions of its own.)
  • 3. Select a group of students to sit on the “Puppy Permit Board.” 

    4. Allow time for every student to present his or her case to the board. (You may alternate members on the board so that the board members will be able to present their case to the board.)

    5. Board members will either issue or deny the permit based on the following criteria:

Activity Two

The purpose of this activity is for students to write a picture book from a dog’s point of view.

    • Spend 10-15 minutes sharing dog stories
    • Return to some of the stories and discuss how the story would be different if told from the dog’s point of view
    • Select one of the stories to turn into a children’s picture book
    • Work as a team to write and illustrate the story
  • 1. Discuss the following quotation from “Dogs: The Early Years”: 

    “Puppies learn from us, but they also teach us. One of the principle pleasures of raising a puppy is learning to think the way they do. Viewing the world through their eyes shows us ourselves from a new perspective and reveals our own quirks and foibles as the unique behavior of the human species. Our world widens when we see it through a puppy’s eyes.”

    2. Break the students into groups of two or three students.

    3. Give each group the following tasks to complete:

    4. Share the completed books with a younger class.

Extension Activities

Have students contact their local Humane Society to gather information about unwanted pets. Ask students to create a school information campaign to educate the student body on this topic.

Organizers for Students

The following links will open a new window. Each new window will contain a Student Organizer or Activity sheet for you to print out. Close the new window to return to this page.

Background Activity | Activity One | Activity Two


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  • jalahn

    I love because they are cute and I wish I had a puppy!

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