17 Feb 2020

Reading Dogs Bhalu, Wasabi and Ramadi

We made some new reading dog friends over the last few weeks. We were lucky enough to welcome Bhalu, Ramadi and Wasabi to our library. All students in Grades 1 through 5 have now had the opportunity to read and interact with a dog buddy. And, students in K1 and K2 are having their experiences this week.

Sweet Bhalu, the Australian Shepherd. Do you know what Bhalu's name means in Nepali?

Gentle Ramadi, the Saluki. Do you know what Ramadi means in Arabic? 
Fluffy, little Wasabi loves to listen to stories.

We asked students to reflect on their experiences with the Reading Dogs. We asked them questions such as, "How did the experience make you feel? What did you think about? What do you want to know next?" We gathered responses and feedback in a variety of ways - some with sticky notes, some drawings, and some through a survey.

Here's what some of our students had to say:
Grade 1 and 2 reflections.

K1 drawings of Tess, Ginger and Wasabi.
Grade 2 Valentine cards for Ginger, Tess and Millie.
And, straight from our Grade 4 and 5 survey were some comments that show what the reading dogs experience has meant for many of our students:

What did you like about the Reading Dogs program?

  • I loved how Ginger was all calm and quiet while we were reading to her.
  • I loved the dog reading session because Millie was very calm and friendly.
  • I like that we get to touch the dog while we get to read.
  • I liked how you could pet and feed the dog
  • The dog was very calm.
  • What I like is we got a long time with the dogs!
  • I liked how at the end you could do tricks with them and they would listen to you when you read.
  • What I liked about the time was that we got to pet the dog and read witch is an awesome combo.
  • I liked how the dog listened carefully to us and that the dog was calm. I really enjoyed it.
  • I really like reading dog session because its fun!
  • Bhalu is very huggable and relieved all my bad thoughts.
  • How they didn't judge us😁 GO WASABI🐶🍣

How did the program help you?
  • I felt comfortable reading in front of other people.
  • They actually made me more confident in my reading.
  • In reading calmly.
  • It made me read more fluently.
  • It helped me because when i was reading it payed attention . Another reason is Ginger did not judge me if i got something wrong.
  • Ginger made me more comfortable to read because he was very calm.
  • Bhalu helped me calm down☼
  • Because now I feel like I could read to my dog.
  • It helped me boost up my confidence with reading in front of a lot of people.✦❤︎
  • I think it helped me because I was not good at reading aloud but it made me feel better.
  • He warmed my heart and relieved my stress.
  • Helped us encourge reading, GO TEAM WASABI🐶🍣
  • I have never read to a dog before. I have had a dog but I didn't think my dog would understand. But When I read to ginger, It was really fun!
  • It helped me keep calm and focus.

29 Jan 2020

Welcome, Hershey!

Grade 1 and 2 welcomed a new reading friend this week, sweet Hershey the Basset Hound! In addition to being a wonderful, affectionate reading buddy, Hershey also knows many clever tricks. Grade 1 was amazed to watch Hershey balance a treat on her nose as we quietly counted to 14. Very impressive! And, all her reading buddies got to give her a treat when she sat and shook our hands.

The students have selected a variety of interesting and fun books for our dogs - a mix of fiction and nonfiction, many about dogs or including dog characters. We continue to learn that when we are calm with our bodies and voices, our dog friends are also calm and relaxed.

Students are asking smart questions and observing the dogs closely. We are learning so much from our special visitors. We look forward to Grade 3 and 4 sessions next week with some new reading dogs!

21 Jan 2020

Welcome Reading Dogs Tess, Ginger and Millie!

We had our first Reading Dogs sessions this week! Thank you to our Grade 1 and 2 classes for being our first groups and helping us learn all about how Reading Dogs work. The students had a wonderful time and did a super job reading and interacting with the dogs. We were very proud of our students reading skills, compassion and model behavior.

Each class visited the library and divided into three groups. The students selected two or three just-right books to read and came ready with their books in hand. Each small group was made up of six or seven students. We sat in a small circle on the floor and our reading dog and the handler joined us. The first five minutes were spent getting to know our new reading buddies. Students asked questions about the dogs' likes and dislikes, age, diet, experiences and travel. For example, “Is Ginger a boy or a girl? How old is Tess? What does Millie like to do for fun? How long has Ginger been a reading dog?”

When then began our reading. Working in partnerships, students read to the doggie companions. Students instinctively turned their books toward the dogs inside the circle. While their friends read, the other students in the group gently pet and enjoyed the dogs. We asked each other some questions about our reading and then moved to the next partner group - all students got a chance to read. Students were relaxed and attentive, happy and focused.

The last 5 minutes of our session were for asking more questions, petting, snuggling and saying thank you and good-bye! A couple of the dog handlers also gave treats for the students to give the dogs as a reward for their good behavior.

We can't wait for our next visit with our adorable reading friends. All grade levels will gave an opportunity to participate in January and February. Stay tuned for more information on the detailed schedule of classes.

Learn more about the benefits of the Reading Dogs program from Dubai-based company, The Animal Agency. An article from the Washington Post shares some experiences of students in a reading dog program in the United States: Baltimore children practice reading with dogs, learn compassion for animals

13 Jan 2020

Reading Dogs to Visit ES Library

ASD’s Elementary Library is excited to share our first Reading Dogs sessions in partnership with The Animal Agency. Grades 1 and 2 will participate from January 21-28, 2020.

Research supports that reading to a dog helps children relax into reading, open up, try harder and have fun reading.  Specially chosen, child-friendly, extremely calm dogs are the perfect reading companions.  
Reading sessions will take place in our ES Library. During the 30 min session, each child will have the chance to read to a dog.  Classroom teachers will divide the class into three groups of 6-7 students and select a just-right book for each group.
The Animal Agency supplies the canine companions.  Each dog has completed an assessment with a qualified dog trainer and behaviourist and awarded a certificate of suitability based on temperament, obedience and patient nature.  Each dog also has a clean bill of health by their vet, an up to date vaccination book and pet passport. 

ASD’s reading dogs will be Tess, Millie and Ginger. Please find out more about our reading dogs! We can't wait to read with our new friends.

Read more about the benefits and research on reading with dogs.

4 Nov 2019

The Pumpkin Challenge

The challenge: ASD students, can you build a structure to support the weight of a pumpkin?

The response: YES, of course we can! And, we can do it in so many different and creative ways!

Students used Keva planks and legos to build their structures. Some worked individually, some worked in pairs or small groups. Some went for height, some went for design. Highlights included a suspension bridge, a tower with inclosed pumpkins inside and a lego village that supported the weight of four pumpkins. 

Challenge accomplished and exceeded! Well done, ASD builders, engineers and architects. A new question for you, what will be our next design challenge?