Nobody’s Dog Activities

Nobody’s Dog

Written by Jennifer Beck

Illustrated by Lindy Fisher

Published by Scholastic, 2005

Set in rural New Zealand farmland, this story tells of a young boy who admires a painting of a dog which sits above his grandfather’s fireplace. The grandfather shares with his grandson his childhood memories of meeting and forming a strong bond with this dog, who would eventually become his rescuer when he needed it most. This story reinforces the relationship between man and his dog, as well as the intergenerational bonds which exist in families. Vivid watercolour illustrations by Fisher show New Zealand farming scenes.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

Activity 1: EXPLORING LAYOUT (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity This book contains fantastic examples of how language and images can be arranged for effect.

1. After reading, look back through the pages and notice how the text is organised. Notice how Jennifer Beck (author) and Lindy Fisher (illustrator) have arranged the words. Ask

  • why do you think they have done this?
  • how do you think they would like us to read these words?

2. Look at their use of

–       text within the pictures

–       text layout – including use of space

–       use of large and small font

–       multiple images on the same page – some appear to be in the background eg. the calendar, spider web, tyre tracks, foot print, compass

some images appear to overlap each other

–       use of colour – one illustration is in black and white – why could this be?

  • At Level 1, work together as a class to ‘hunt for’ different ways text is placed – for example “let’s find some text that’s been put on a wiggly line.” Support children as they discuss why the author has chosen to present the text in this way.
  • At Levels 2 and 3, students can work in groups to discuss ideas about text layout. After group discussions, report back to the class.

3. Children working at Levels 2 and 3 can go on to create their own books. Use an existing story, or a piece of their own writing (see Activity 2 for possible link). Try to use some of the layout techniques that have been identified in Nobody’s Dog.

They will need to decide what text goes on each page and how it will be set out, for a particular purpose. Try using overlapping images and some shadowy images to enhance the story’s message. Think about how to vary the size of the text for effect.

Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise that texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 1)
  • recognise and begin to understand how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 2)
  • show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts(Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 3)
  • show a developing understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts(Level 3)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • recognise how to shape texts for  purpose and an audience (Level 1)
  • organise texts, using simple structures (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences (Level 2)
  • organise texts, using a range of structures (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences (Level 3)
  • organise texts, using a range or appropriate structures (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This activity could be used at any Level. It would be expected that students could use increasingly complex layout features to enhance the messages in the text. They should show increasing understandings of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences and of how organisation of text can contribute to and affect text meaning.
Links to other books in NZPBC Tahi, one lucky kiwi

Every Second Friday

– both these books contains interesting layout and visual language

Dad’s takeaways – this book uses images of shells on the inside front and back covers to enhance the story’s meaning

Activity 2: A SPECIAL PET (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In the story, Grandad talks about a dog which became very special to him. He formed a strong bond with the dog and it eventually saved his life.

We know the relationship between this man and dog was special because

  • at the beginning of the story, Grandad said that he wished the dog was his own
  • he sneaked scraps of food to feed the dog
  • although afraid at first, the dog allowed Grandad close after a while, and let him pat it
  • when he looked into the dog’s eyes, Grandad could see that he trusted him
  • Grandad made the dog a ‘makeshift kennel’ (talk about what this means)
  • Grandad was very upset when he thought his dad had killed the dog – he cried himself to sleep
  • after the dog had gone, Grandad was lonely and missed him
  • when Grandad was in trouble, the dog saved his life – he kept him warm and safe

1.After reading, look back through the story and identify how we know that Grandad had a special relationship with the dog.

2. Ask children to think of an animal that is special to them. It may be a pet or other animal.

Allow 10-15 minutes for children to go away and draw a picture of this animal.

3. With a partner, talk about this person:

  • what do you love about this animal?
  • how do you know that this animal loves you?
  • talk about one special time you can remember with this special animal – where were you? What were you doing? Do you remember how you were feeling at the time? What made you feel that way?
  • At Level 1, children will use this sharing time to plan their writing.
  • At Level 2, have partners scribe the main points of each others talk. Ask questions to get details about the special person.

4. Students can go on to write about their special person. At Level 2 and above, the following template could be used:

Paragraph 1: description of special animal

(Some micro teaching on adjectives may be required)

Paragraph 2: how I know I am special to them

(Refer to examples given in the story)

Paragraph 3: remembering a special time together
Taking it further
  • Draft writing can be edited and published (English)
  • Bring a photo of their special animal and use it to create a piece of portrait art (see link to Activity 3) (Visual Art)
  • Write and present a speech about their special animal  (English)
  • Turn their writing into a book about special person (see link to Activity 1) (English)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • organise texts, using simple structures (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
  • organize texts, using a range of structures (Level 2)

Activity 3: WATERCOLOUR ART WORK (The Arts)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and texts
Activity In this book Lindy Fisher creates some beautiful illustrations using watercolour paint and charcoal.

1.After reading, look back through the illustrations and talk about how the illustrator has used these techniques in the art work. Talk about the detail and emotion in the illustrations.

2.Pause on the watercolour image of the dog, towards the end of the book. Look at how the illustrator has used light pencil/ charcoal lines to get the detail of the dog – fur, fingernails, eyes, and then the colours have been filled in using watercolours.

Talk about the ‘messy’ look of the colours – there are no straight, even lines, the colours blend into each other, they look quite ‘murky’.

3. Give children time to practise using watercolour paints – practise using soft charcoal lines to get the details, then blending in colour using water colour paint.

4. When they feel confident to begin their own masterpiece, have children choose an animal image they would like to paint. It would be helpful to have a picture to copy – this could be found in a book or magazine, or from the internet. Students could also bring a photo from which they would like to paint.

5. Sketch using charcoal first, using soft, short lines. Get the shape and detail. Then paint in the colours using water colour paints.

6. Share and talk about art work when it is finished. Reflect on the process – what did I do well? What could I improve on next time?

Materials
  • paper
  • pencils
  • watercolour paints
  • animal images – from magazines, books, internet
Taking it further
  • Try using some of Lindy Fisher’s other art techniques, as seen in the book – collage, oil paint, pencil sketch, print – find these in the book and have a go at imitating her style (Visual Art)
Curriculum Links The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value and context (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 1)
  • share the ideas, feelings and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate and develop visual  ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued (Level 3)
  • explore some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes (Level 3)
  • develop and revisit visual ideas, in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination, supported by the study of artists’ works (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This activity could be done at any level. Students working at higher levels would be expected to develop and refine their work to an increasingly high standard.
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