So, Let’s Go…
P.D. Eastman’s classic, Go, Dog. Go! has provided beginning readers simple reading fun for five decades. Teachers also find the book perfect for practicing basic sight words, since it contains only 75 unique one-syllable words. It also provides material for teaching opposites, color words and prepositions and, less obviously, about detail, diversity, traffic safety and pet care.
Eastman worked for a time with Walt Disney Studios in his early career. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and served in the film unit headed by Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Later, when Geisel and his wife started the Beginner Books series, they recruited Eastman to write easy readers, including Go, Dog. Go! and Are You My Mother?
Go with the dogs on the journey to exploring antonyms, activity and friendship.
Let’s Go Learn Sight Words
Most of the words in Go, Dog. Go! are found on traditional sight word lists, including the Dolch list. Make practicing those words more exciting with the silly antics of the dogs.
Select about 10 of the words from the book to introduce to your students. Print the words on index cards or sentence strips and laminate them. Attach one side of hook-and-loop tape to the backs.
Print sentences from the book on sentence strips, leaving a blank for the targeted words. Laminate the strips and put the other half of the hook-and-loop tape in the word blanks.
Display the word cards where your students can see all of them; the chalk rail on your blackboard or dry-erase board works well for this purpose.
Ask students to read the sentences and choose the correct words to fill the blanks. Let them affix the word cards to the blanks.
Allow students to copy the new words onto small shipping tags and to hook the tags onto a binder ring labeled “My New Words." As they practice, children make a tally mark on the cards when they read the word correctly, without help. When there are 10 marks, they move the card to a ring labeled “Words I Know." Students should practice the cards on the new words ring every day, while the second ring’s words get a quick review every other day.
Extend the lesson by asking students to make new sentences about the dogs, using the sight words in new ways.
Go! Play With Color Words
Eastman’s story provides a tool to connect some of the colors kindergarteners have learned with their textual representations.
Use the story to introduce or review the colors red, blue, green and yellow. Introduce the words that stand for those colors; print them on an overhead transparency or board in the color named.
Provide crayons, markers or chalk in several shades of each color.
Have students print the word with the darkest (or lightest) shade, leaving extra space between the letters. As they write, ask them to say the letter name and to read the word aloud when they’ve written all the letters.
Switching to the next darkest shade, students then trace around each letter, again spelling and reading the word. They repeat this five times, until they’ve used all of the shades. If you can’t find five different shades, provide at least two and allow students to alternate them.
Go! Stay! Learning About Opposites
The story contains at least eight pairs of antonyms–just right for a little opposites practice. If used prior to reading the book, this activity piques the students’ interest and makes them eager to dive into the story.
Print the words on brightly colored dog shapes and cut them out.
Display the words so that students see them as they enter the room. Mix them so that you separate antonym pairs.
Ask students to read the words with you. Make sure that they know what each card says.
Group the children in pairs or triads and ask them to sort the words in any way they think appropriate. You may want to provide small cards sets for them to manipulate.
Discuss the grouping strategies chosen by the students. Elicit that one way to match them is as opposites, reviewing what that means.
Give each student a copy of the matching puzzle template, on which you’ve printed the targeted antonym pairs. Ask students to illustrate the words and then to cut out the puzzle pieces. They then mix them up and play a matching game, using the center cuts to self-check.
Let’s Go Looking for Detail
Show the pictures of the dogs who meet and discuss their taste in hats. Ask how they are the same and how they are different, including not only how the hats themselves change, but also that the male dog starts with no hat and then exchanges for an increasingly elaborate embellishments, as does the female.
Show students the picture of the dogs sleeping and ask, “What is different about one of these dogs?" (There is one small dog that is wide-awake.) Repeat with the one sleeping dog in the next picture.
You can also use the pictures in the story to teach students about how an illustrator indicates motion in still pictures, using the parenthetical shapes and other indicators as examples. Prompt them with “How do we know that the cars are going? How do we know that the dogs are moving?" and other examples.
Go Green! Stop Red! Learning About Traffic Safety
Use the scene with the bird and the traffic lights to introduce a lesson about traffic safety and traffic signs. After discussing the lights in the book, share common safety signs with the children and discuss what they symbolize or warn about.
Go, Dog! Take Care of Pet Dogs
Discuss the dog party picture. Ask students to describe what they see in the picture.
Ask: “What do you see that dogs would not do?" Elicit that, among the other activities, dogs should not be eating cake and ice cream. Talk about some of the physical activities that dogs would not perform, including climbing the ladder.
Steer the conversation to what pets need to thrive, like appropriate food, water, shelter and exercise. Allow students to make mini-posters or dioramas about how to care for a pet dog.
Extend the lesson by sponsoring a pet “food bank" collection. Have students make posters to solicit donations of food, bedding, toys and other needs for a local pet shelter.
Go With Diversity and Hat Fun
Talk with students about how all the dogs in the story are different from one another, but they still play and work together. Show how looking for things in common–like the hats–helps build friendships.
Collect scraps of ribbon, fabric, yarn and fiber, feathers, beads and other embellishments. Add paint markers to the box and let students decorate ball caps or foam visors to create a look of which the two hatted dogs might approve.
With these kindergarten activities to go with the book, Go, Dog. Go! may well become your class’s new favorite story time selection.
Eastman, P.D. Go, Dog. Go! Random House Children's Books, 1961
For more information about P.D. Eastman, check out:
The Official P.D. Eastman site: https://www.pdeastmanbooks.com/
The activities for this article come from the author's many years of classroom teaching and tutoring experience.