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RedRover Readers activities

This unique social and emotional learning program program is aligned with academic content standards and helps children explore the bond between people and animals through stories and discussion. Teachers and educators trained in the RedRover Readers curriculum read to children and lead discussions – helping children increase their level of empathy for people and animals. More information

RedRover offers online and in-person professional development training to prepare educators to help children share their thoughts, feelings and experiences in the context of the stories using specific question strategies and discussion techniques. Take the training

The RedRover Readers curriculum includes high-quality children's literature and discussion guides with art, writing, role play and science activities. Below are a few of the activities that are included in the RedRover Readers curriculum. 

Happy and Healthy Service Project

Happy and Healthy Service Project

Materials needed: Poster or butcher paper, paper, something to draw or write with, scissors, additional materials decided on by class

This activity was designed as an extension for Nobody’s Cats: How One Little Black Kitty Came in from the Cold by Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff, but may be adapted to any of the RedRover Readers program books.

View full activity

Imagine a story activity

Imagining a story

Materials needed: Pictures of animals from a local shelter, paper and something to draw and write with 

Bring photographs of dogs from a local shelter. Ask students to imagine a dog’s life before arriving at the shelter. Invite students to tell the stories aloud to each other or compose a story about one dog as a class. Have children divide their paper in half. On one side of the paper, ask students to draw what they they think the dog's life was like before arriving at the shelter. On the other side, have students draw what they think the dog's life will be like after they leave the shelter.

Dog body language activity

Dog body language

Materials needed: Dog body positions (below), paper and something to write or draw with

Ask students how a dog uses body language to communicate. Teach students a "play bow." Then, have students use their hands and bodies to make the movements of ears, tail and body in response to the emotions you describe (curious, happy, scared, sad, tired).

For students in third and fourth grades, share the labeled illustrations of dog body language from the link below. Ask students what each behavior communicated. Provide handouts of the dog body language (several on one large sheet of paper). Have students draw pictures of what they imagine the dog is responding to. Encourage students to write a one-sentence description. Ask students to share what they have drawn and why.

Dog body language coloring page via dog expert Sarah Wilson

Role play activity taking the perspective of human and non-human characters

Imagine a conversation

Materials needed: Lucky Boy by Susan Boase (or other book with human and non-human animal characters)

Show the story’s final illustration of Mr. Miller and Lucky Boy on the porch swing. Ask students to imagine a conversation between Mr. Miller and Lucky Boy (if Lucky Boy could speak in words). What would Lucky Boy say to Mr. Miller? What would Mr. Miller say to Lucky Boy? This conversation can take several forms:

• Ask two students to volunteer to role play each character in front of the class. After the role play (two minutes) ask the class what they would add to the conversation.
• Ask students to form pairs and role play.
• Ask students to write down a conversation working individually or in pairs.
• Write the conversation as a class with you or another adult writing on the white board or chart paper.
• Have students pretend to be Mr. Miller’s voice and you pretend to be Lucky Boy as you respond to their statements and questions.

How People and Animals Communicate class book

How People and Animals Communicate Class Book

Materials needed: Paper for each student and something to write and draw with

Invite students to brainstorm the many ways animals communicate their needs to humans and the many ways humans communicate with animals. Have each student choose one communication method and illustrate it on a piece of paper with a written description of their drawing. Bind the finished pictures together to create a class book and work together on a cover page. 

What do dogs need?

Materials needed: Large pieces of construction paper, dogs of different shapes, shapes of things dogs need: collar, tag, toys, treats, food bowl, water bowl, leash, soft bed, people to teach him and play with him, friends, ribbon, cotton balls, sparkles, markers and other decorations and glue.

Have students choose a “house” and a “dog” and create a collage of “their” dog in a home with a family. Allow time for students to describe their collages aloud as a story. Have students explain who each character is and what they like to do. Or have students write a poem starting each line alternately with “In this house lives….” and “She (or he) needs…”


Pet Care Class Book

This RedRover Readers activity was modified and translated into Spanish by Leticia G. in south Texas.  The title of the book she created with her students was "Pasos para cuidar Mascotas" (Steps to take care for a pet).  As a class they came up with these five things that pets need: 1. Carino (kindness/love) 2. Respeto (respect) 3. No hacer mucho ruido (do not make too much noise) 4. Cuidarlo (care for him) 5. No molesarlo (do not bother him).

Materials: Folders with dividers, sheets of paper, glue, crayons and/ or markers. Duncan and Dolores by Barbara Samuels

Process: After reading and discussing the book Duncan and Dolores, invite each student to draw pictures illustrating how to take care of a pet. Leave space for their sentence or word that will describe what they drew and their signature. Glue the drawings into the folder to create pages in the book. Add this book to your classroom library. 

Practicing cat postures with students

Cat Act

Materials: Ginger Finds a Home by Charlotte Voake and an area that students can be on the ground with space to move around. 

After reading and discussing Ginger Finds a Home and highlighting Ginger the cat’s body language throughout the story, invite students to get on the ground and act like a cat with you.Bend and stretch like a cat would. Ask students what a cat likes like when they are sleeping, nervous, content, etc. and then act out each posture. This activity is great with younger learners. Read all about RedRover’s President and CEO Nicole Forsyth’s visit to a preschool classroom and her experience doing reading and doing this activity.



People and Dogs

Materials: Max Talks to Me by Claire Buchwald along with pictures of animals (one per child if possible), paper, crayons or markers.

After reading Max Talks to Me, ask students what they have learned or already know about dogs. Ask students what dogs have learned about them or will learn in the future. Ask, “What do you say to dogs to praise them?” Ask, “What are some ways to play with a dog?” Ask and discuss, “What can do you do when you see a dog who may be in need of help?” Invite students to draw a picture of themselves with the dog you have furnished a picture of and write a few sentences describing their picture. Ask students to name and label their emotions and any emotions they think the dog would have in their picture. Display pictures and encourage ongoing discussions about people and dogs.


Animal Story Sequencing Activity

Materials: Humane-themed children’s picture book (Choose from RedRover’s Recommended Books with Humane Themes book list), one sheet of paper folded into four squares, crayons or markers.

After reading a humane-themed book with your students do a picture walk back over the book from beginning to end. Ask the students what happened first, second, next, and last. Invite students to then illustrate the main points in the book and draw them in the correct sequence using the four squares on the paper. When the students are done ask them to retell what happened in the story and describe their pictures. This activity works well for Kindergarten through third grade students.