How a Mini Story Opens Up a World of Learning

Anna Starecheski

Here at Storyworks Jr., one of our missions is to open doors of curiosity in your students’ minds. Even our short pieces are great jumping-off points for further exploration.  We were especially taken with our February 2018 Word Power feature on Stubby, the World War I hero dog that captured the hearts of Americans. The topic is a springboard for further exploration about working dogs, World War I, and America in the early 1900s. We also find that learning extensions such as these are a great way to incorporate self-directed constructed learning environments into your classroom. We love giving students the opportunity to focus some time and energy on things that fascinate them. Here are a few resources that will get your students started.

TO WATCH: The video “Into the World of Military Working Dogs”

TO DO:  Write a compare-and-contrast essay

Check out this video from the Storyworks archives about military working dogs.

LEARNING TASK: Ask your students to describe how being a military dog now is different from Stubby’s day. 


TO READA historical fiction book about a rescue dog

TO DO: Write a letter

Kate Messner’s delightful series of books, Ranger in Time (grades 2-5), centers on a time-traveling golden retriever named Ranger. Trained as a search-and-rescue dog, Ranger goes on all sorts of fun adventures and always saves the day. Your students are sure to be captivated by this spunky pooch!

LEARNING TASK: As a fun assignment, have them write letters to Ranger telling him what his next adventure should be and how he could use his special skills to save the day.

TO READ: A biography about Stubby the war dog himself

TO DO: Make a poster

If your students want to know even more about the courageous and charming Stubby, they can check out this immersive nonfiction book: Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog by Ann Bausum. This book tells the full story of Stubby and is chock full of fascinating photographs.

LEARNING TASK: If your students were inspired by the photographs in this book, have them find more online and make a poster about Stubby telling the story of his life. 

TO EXPLORE: Two wonderful websites about World War I

TO DO: Identify fascinating facts about WWI

To learn more about World War I, check out two great websites for kids: National Geographic Kids and the BBC's website for kids.

LEARNING TASK: Have each student create a list of at least five of the most surprising or interesting aspects of the war. 



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