This storytime practically does itself. The classic tale of Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, published in 1956, is just as appealing to kids today as it was then. What child can’t relate to not wanting to take a bath, and going to great lengths to avoid it? Harry’s antics are illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, and their simplicity lends itself perfectly to this successful project.
Supplies: Black construction paper, white construction paper, black Crayons, white crayons.
Prep: I cut out 4 shapes at a time, using a pattern made from photocopying the book cover.
Set up: Each student chose a place setting at the table with either a black or a white dog, and the opposite color crayon, and could make them as dirty or clean as they wanted.
All of the classes made a small Harry, which can be used as a bookmark, but I asked one class to also make a large Harry that I could keep and display on a bulletin board, and they were happy to oblige. It generated some conversations, as students, parents and teachers walked through the library.
“Can our class make those too?” (No, sorry, you’re in 5th grade, and I won’t be doing this with your class, but you are welcome to come back at recess and make yourself one.)
“Oh! I grew up reading Harry the Dirty Dog!”
Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a storytime with no glue to scrub off the table, and no paper cuttings on the floor to pick up.
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Have I mentioned I always put a tag on the back of anything we make in the library? I learned this technique during an art docent training years ago. The trainer told us to always put a note on the back of any artwork done by the students, so that parents can read what they’ve done, and it can be a conversation starter. Otherwise it can just get lost in the jumble of backpack detritus. It’s also an effort at library promotion — I would like parents to have the opportunity to see that their students are doing something fun and engaging in the school library. The parents are on the PTA board, the PTA pays for part of my salary, and the PTA is the sole source of the library book and supply budget. It’s just my way of communicating, “Here’s what your children are getting for your generous contribution.”
I use an Avery label template, 30 per page, but I use regular printer paper, cut it out and glue it on the back with glue sticks, because it’s less expensive. Sometimes, I can give the job to some upper graders who are happy to help at recess.
Today we went to the library,
and Mrs. Foote read
Harry the Dirty Dog
Written by Gene Zion
Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Listen to Betty White read the story at