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Clifford the Big Red Dog: Lesson Plan & Thinking Activities

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/30/2013

What is a big red dog doing in the classroom? Anything he wants! Let Clifford help you teach your young students about cause and effect, rhyming words and story problems in math. Clifford will be a BIG hit!

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    A Dog For All Seasons

    Clifford The Big Red Dog is a well-known book for very young children and beginning readers. Clifford can now be found in a book series, on television, in learning games and on the shelf in the form of a stuffed animal. Not bad for a big red dog! Clifford the Big Red Dog thinking activities will give you ideas to use the book in your classroom.

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    Read the Book

    Objective:Meet Clifford the Big Red Dog

    Students will practice listening skills while they listen to a book being read to them.

    Students will be able to discuss the events and details of the book.

    Read the book with your children gathered close by to see the pictures. Then ask the following questions:

    1. Who is telling this story? Emily Elizabeth, the girl who owns the dog

    2.When she throws a stick for Clifford to fetch what happens? He brings back a policeman who is carrying a stick.

    3. Why is she always able to find Clifford when they play hide-and-seek? There isn’t a place big enough for him to hide behind.

    4. Why doesn’t she need a tent? Clifford provides enough shelter.

    5. Why can’t they go to the zoo anymore? Clifford’s size scares the animals.

    6. What happens at the shoe store? Clifford chews on the big shoe sign.

    7. How does Emily give him a bath? In the swimming pool

    8. How does Emily feel when Clifford did not win first prize at the dog show? She still loves him and is proud of him.

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    Cause and Effect


    Students will be introduced to the concept of cause and effect.

    Explain to the young children that when you do something, something else usually happens. For example when a phone rings, what happens? You pick it up. When it rains, you stay inside to play. This is called cause and effect.

    Have fun with the children by having a “Cause and Effect" brainstorming session. Children should raise their hands to contribute ideas.

    Think about Clifford.

    What could happen if:

    1.You throw a stick? (ie. He could bring back a whole tree)

    2. Clifford hides in hide-and-seek?

    3. You tell him to “roll over"?

    4. You tell him to “shake hands"?

    5. Clifford was in a race?

    How would this be different if Clifford was a “tiny" red dog? Use the same cause-and-effect situations and imagine that Clifford is so tiny that he fits in the palm of your hand.

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    Rhyme Time


    Students will recognize rhyming words.

    Students will use prior knowledge of beginning consonant sounds.

    Write the word dog on the board. Tell students that you are going to change the first letter to make a new word that rhymes with dog. Remind them that if they know how to read one word they may be able to use that word to learn other words.

    Here are the words to use: dog, log, jog, bog, fog, hog

    Do the same with the word red.

    Words to use: red, bed, fed, led, Ned, Ted, wed

    Do the same with the word big.

    Words to use: big, dig, fig, jig, pig, wig, zig

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    Addition and Subtraction


    Students will use listening skills to follow oral directions.

    Students will use manipulatives to solve addition and subtraction problems.

    Prepare copies, one for each child, of a simple drawing of a doghouse. Give each student ten counters: (buttons, plastic chips, plastic animals).

    Then instruct students to listen to each story problem and move the counters appropriately. Here is an example:

    There is one dog in the doghouse. Three more join him. How many dogs are in the doghouse?

    When students answer, write the number sentence on the board: 1+3=4

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    Clifford the Big Red Dog thinking activities will give you several ways of using the book across the curriculum. It will be a BIG hit!


  • Bridwell, Norman. Clifford The Big Red Dog. Cartwheel Books, 2010.