Summary of Dog Wants to Play:
An enthusiastic brown and white dog wants to play. With great vigor and glee, he approaches each of the animals on the picturesque farm. The text follows this pattern:
Dog wants to play.
The animals make excuses. The first one says:
“Oh, no,” says the kitten.
“I might get bitten.”
Another one answers:
“I don’t dare,” says the hare.
“I’m too easy to scare.”
Each encounter ends with the phrase, “Poor Dog.” The adorable canine also invites a lamb, a chick, a pig, and a calf to play. They all turn him down in a similar manner. Finally, he meets a boy and receives the response he is longing for:
“Yes,” says the child.
“I love to be wild.
I’ll play…ALL DAY!”
In the final picture, the dog is ecstatically licking the smiling boy.
I picked up Dog Wants to Play because of the cover art, featuring the smiling protagonist holding a ball. Jeff Mack’s illustrations are charming and animated. He captures the enthusiasm and playfulness of the dog as he approaches each character. In all the pictures, the pup has a ball. Sometimes it is balancing on his head or feet while other times he has it on his back or paw. He is clearly ready to play ball. The illustrations also reveal his temporary disappointment when he is turned away—sad look in his eyes, low posture. Every page is a delight to look at!
I also chose this book for the story structure by Christine McDonnell. Its enthusiasm and disappointment stimulates voice inflection and liveliness. The patterned text will quickly become familiar to young children. The repetitive phrases invite youngsters to become involved in the reading process which is essential in creating life-long readers. I urge parents and teachers of children ages birth to 7 to add Dog Wants to Play to their libraries.
- Rhyme—Identify the rhyming words and brainstorm other words with the same ending
- Character—Discuss how the dog is disappointed but he is also determined; he does not give up until he finds a playmate
- Unit Study—Add to a unit study on farm animals or dogs
- Punctuation—Point out the different punctuation marks highlighted in the first three sentences—period, question mark, and exclamation point; discuss how they help the reader understand and read the story
- Types of Sentences—Older students can learn about the three types of sentences—declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory
- Journaling—Ask the students to finish this sentence, “If I were the main character, I would want to play ________.” Then, allow them to draw a picture of the activity.
- Reading—Rotate this story into your reading time regularly; encourage your children to “read” along with you
- Choral Reading—Teach small or class groups to read the repetitive parts in unison