My Dog

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					                                      My Dog
              By John Heffernan, Illustrated by Andrew McLean

A heart-touching story about a child in the midst of a war-torn country, who sees his
father and then his mother taken from him. His only friend is a stray dog who joins
him after his owner dies of starvation.

Music: Duration / Structure
Ask the children if they have a friend who is always
there for them, who will be with them no matter what
happens. Sometimes this friend can have four legs!
Find out how many children have a pet dog that they

Listen through to the song My Friend, from ABC
SING! 2002, pages 78 – 79. Clap the beat to the
verse and click the beat to the chorus as the song is

Read through the words and learn to sing the chorus, as well as clapping the beat to
the verses.

Discuss how this song could apply to the boy and his dog in the story.

Sing the whole song through, showing the difference between the verses and the
chorus, by doing one type of body percussion to the verse and a different type to the
chorus, ie, slap thighs to verse, and tap shoulders to chorus. Note that the song ends
with a Coda. This is a closing section which is often different from both the chorus
and the verses. Show this by using a third type of body percussion.

Music: Dynamics
Look through the lyrics and discuss which lines could be sung loudly and which ones
could be sung softly. Sing the song through using these dynamic levels. reflect on
how effective they were in expressing the lyrics. Make any changes and sing through
the song again.

Music: Pitch
Ask the children what they can tell you about the pitch of the first three words of
the chorus (high – low – high). Ask them what they can tell you about the pitch of the
rest of the chorus, ie. when do the notes go high and when do they go low.

 D.Russell-Bowie and J.Thistleton-Martin, 2002                                      1
Have them show the highs and lows of the melody with their hands in the air. Which
note is the highest note? Which is the lowest note? (You can see this is you look at
the printed music; the highest note will be the note which is the furthest up the five
staff lines, and the lowest one is that which is the lowest down the five lines.)

The highest note (high D) occurs on the word ‘our’ in the third line of the chorus and
    on the second syllable of ‘very’ in the first line of the Coda.

The lowest note (low B) occurs on the second word of the chorus (‘and’) and on the
     word ‘me’ in the last line of the Coda.

Dance: Student Compositions
Using the lyrics and music of this song, have children create a dance which shows how
important good friends are, eg.

     Form a circle and face outwards
         Walk 8 steps away from the circle, turn,
         Walk 8 steps back to form a circle.
         Link right arms with partner and skip round in a circle,
         Link left arms with partner and skip round in a circle.
         All hold hands and walk into the centre of the circle for 8 beats,
         Walk back holding hands to form circle, 8 beats.
         Link right arms with partner and skip round in a circle,
         Link left arms with partner and skip round in a circle.

Alternatively, have children create a dance with free movements to show the meaning
of the lyrics in each verse.

Drama: Role-Playing
In groups, have children select a scene from the story and present a role play to it as
the text is read aloud.

Drama: Hot Seating
Select some of the main characters in the story and have children discuss how they
might be feeling and what they might have been doing before and after they appear
in the story.

 D.Russell-Bowie and J.Thistleton-Martin, 2002                                      2
Ask some children to take on these role and have the rest of the class ask them
questions relating to the story, and what happened before and after it.

De-brief the children after this activity, as some may have become quite involved in
the characters and need the chance to talk about this.

Music: Duration
How did your children feel while role-playing characters and events in the story?
Were they glad that they were living in a safe country?

Listen to the song, Lay Down Your Arms, from ABC, Sing! 2000, pages 44 – 45.

This song was written by a soldier in memory of his friends who died in the war. It is
a sad sounding song, but finishes with a bright chord at the end, indicating that there
might be hope in the future.

Clap the beat to the song as it is played again. Listen for the last chord of the song
on the word ‘free’. Discuss how this makes you feel.

Work out a two beat body percussion pattern, eg. Slap thighs, clap hands, and do this
throughout the song as you listen to it and sing along.

Music: Structure
There are four sections to the song:
    Introduction              (Dear God…)
    Verse 1                   (Every hand…gun)
    Verse 2                   (Every hand … sword)
    Bridge                    (The road is long…)
    Verse 3                   (Somewhere deep inside…)
    Coda                      (Every wound…)

Divide into four groups and give one section to each group. Have each group devise a
body percussion pattern for their section.

Sing the song through and have children add their body percussion patterns to show
the different sections of the song.

Drama: Storytelling
Take the main character, the young boy, and in groups devise a story which shows how
his life was five years before the story and five years after it. Where was he living?
What were his parents like? What were his brothers and sisters like? Did he have
any pets? What was his house like? What did he eat? Did he go to school? What were

 D.Russell-Bowie and J.Thistleton-Martin, 2002                                      3
his dreams for the future? Did he find any of his family after the war ended? How
long did he live with the people who looked after him after his mother was taken
away? What were they like? How long did the dog stay with him?

After this activity, encourage each child, or children in pairs, to write and draw about
their own lives, five years ago, now and five years in the future. Compare this with
the stories they have told about the young boy. How are they the same? How are
they different? Where would they prefer to be living – in war torn Eastern Europe,
or in Australia? Why? Is it fair that we live in a peaceful country when so many
people are experiencing war and destruction every day in other countries?

If applicable and appropriate, ask children who have been refugees to share some of
their experiences. Maybe their parents or relatives could also come into class and
share their experiences.

Drama: Debate
Divide the class into two groups and have them debate the topic: Refugees from war-
torn countries should be allowed to live in Australia.

Visual Arts: 2D Painting
Look at the illustrations in the story. Discuss how they are used to represent the
feelings and events in the story. Discuss the use of line, media, colour, detail (or lack
of detail), mood, etc. that the artist has used to create the pictures which illustrate
the text.

Using similar media and techniques, have children create their own picture about
living in the midst of war, and another one about their own living conditions.

Write a paragraph about each picture, word process it and display the paragraphs
under their completed artworks.

 D.Russell-Bowie and J.Thistleton-Martin, 2002                                        4

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