My therapy dog engages children in conversation and writing!
In my last blog post, I mentioned how, together with the second grade teacher I have been working with, we are embarking on unique and creative ways to incorporate therapy dog visits into the second grade curriculum.
I think we just had the first success!
During our last visit, the second grade teacher and our therapy team successfully incorporated a therapy visit into the theme of kindness the second grade has been exploring. After I entered the classroom and let the children interact with Carmel a little bit, the teacher announced something exciting is going to happen and asked the children to listen to me. I then spoke to the students and asked them to tell me some of the ways they believe Carmel is a kind dog — what she does which make the children think she is a kind dog. Many children raised their hands and gave me the best ideas they could think of. Some of them mentioned how Carmel helps children by letting them pet her. Some other children talked about how she never barks and is always acting nice, which makes her very kind. Just this part alone was very successful.
Then, a more complex part of the activity occurred when I needed to make a connection between how Carmel acts as a kind dog and how her kind behavior can teach children to be kinder to one another and to their family at home. So I asked them about how they can apply what they learned from Carmel’s kindness to their own kinder behavior. To my surprise, the second graders thought very deeply about what I asked, understood, and started coming up with answers. One child mentioned how Carmel’s hugging can be used and how they can hug their family at home to show kindness. Another child mentioned how Carmel helping others can be applied by helping other child who need help. These answers were really amazing. After Carmel and I left, the children also wrote their answers.
But I didn’t have the full scope of children’s quality answers until I debriefed with the teacher. What the teacher said really made me think about what happened in the classroom and what kind of effect it had on children. The teacher said that usually when she asks the children a question, someone gives an answer and then the rest of the children just say that they had the same answer. But that’s not what happened in this situation. In the case of teaching children what they can learn from Carmel about kindness, each child who wanted to speak gave an authentic answer — a thoughtful and unique answer, reflecting their sincere interest in the topic. The children wanted to speak, as opposed to being urged to speak, about how they can display kindness based on what they learned from Carmel.
After this success, we planned another activity and hope that we’re going to have just as much engagement from children as last time.
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 who are inspired by Carmel to interact with her and exercise their creativity from anywhere. 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!