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Next Level Reading

Therapy Dog Takes Teaching a Reading Strategy to Another Level

In my last blog, I described how incorporating our dog therapy into the topic of visualization created a more engaging learning climate for children which resulted in richer and more thoughtful children’s answers describing their book scene visualization. As a result, for this week, we decided to extend the activity a bit.

Our visit started as usually. I came in with Carmel and took her around the classroom to allow all children to greet her by petting. Children are always so excited to see her. Then, the teacher told them that I would be reading my book From Unruly to Therapy Dog again and they would visualize again. This time, however, after verbally visualizing, they would also draw a picture of their visualizations. 

As I was reading, the teacher was taking Carmel around the classroom. When I came to the visualization part, I asked children to visualize by closing their eyes when I was reading the scene. The part I asked them to visualize talked about the time when our new dog trainer came to our house to help us train Carmel for the purpose of being able to walk her with less pulling on her part. With the trainer’s help, we started using a special harness inside the house and then went outside to practice more. After children visualized, they told me all their ideas. It was evident that almost every child added more details to the details mentioned in the scene. For instance, one child said how Carmel was looking at the trainer or how I was worried that Carmel was going to ruin some flowers outside as we tried to walk her with her new harness. Some children even raised their hands for the second time to offer more visualization to what they already said. 

Then, I asked them to draw their visualizations. While they were drawing, I was walking around the classroom, checking their pictures, and having conversations about their choices. It was clear that they were adding their own and creative details. For instance, one boy drew the trainer with a big hat and green outfit. 

The next step was to allow children to write about their visualizations based on their verbal recalling and pictures. I cannot wait to debrief about the results with the teacher. 

This is one of the many ways I hope to inspire children in the Carmel Therapy Dog App. Children can write stories with dog characters or even with Carmel as a character. Since Carmel and I can only be at one place at a time, we published the app as a way to allow children to interact with Carmel and get creative. The app can also be used as a tool by teachers who want to incorporate writing and creativity into their classroom – a way to inspire stories and creativity in children in a manner similar to the way Carmel inspires children in the classroom. If you are a parent or a teacher, or know a child you believe could benefit from the app in this way, feel free to check it out at the link below and come write with us!

Get the Carmel’s Therapy Dog App 

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  • Barbara

    And something incredible happened in the classroom this week. I’m going to include it in my next blog. I just have to mention that here!!! It was amazing !!! Which proves how much more therapy dogs can really help in the classroom.

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