Hairy Maclary is a series of children's books, by author Lynley Dodd, that tell the adventures of the Scottish Terrier Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy. The books are geared for children ages 3 to 7 and are written in rhyme and colourfully illustrated. The books can be used to teach a variety of lessons, focusing on language, direction, rhyming, rhythm and drama, to kindergarten and younger primary age children.
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Scatter Cat Scatter
This activity is appropriate for kindergarten children and for children in first grade. It helps to illustrate basic position concepts and gets children to use descriptive terms such as "on top of" and "inside" in their own writing. Read the book "Hairy Maclary Scattercat" to the children. Have the children describe precisely where the cats are sitting. For example, Pimpernel Pugh is next to a wall, on the grass, near a ball. Have one student move to a part of the room and ask students to describe where the student is standing as precisely as they can. Set up an obstacle course. Have students work in pairs, with one student directing the other through the obstacle course using as many direction words as he can.
Thinking up Descriptions
This activity can help improve reading skills for first- and second-grade children. Read the story "Hairy Maclary Showbusiness" to the children. Do not show them the pictures in the book. After each sentence, pause and have the children imagine a picture describing the sentence. Ask the children to describe what they are imagining. Children should also draw what they are imagining. Students then use their pictures to retell the story. At the end of the lesson, read the story again, this time showing the illustrations in the book. Have the children show the pictures they drew and discuss the way that descriptions help to tell a story.
This activity can help students through third grade in learning to rhyme. Read the story "Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy" to the children. Discuss how the author chose names for the dogs and then described each dog using rhyme. For example, "Bottomly Potts, all covered in spots." Have the children use their names, the names of friends or made-up names to create describing rhymes. For example, "John Doe, who likes to row." Older students can be challenged to make a rhyming story or to illustrate their rhymes.
A Hairy Maclary book makes a great short play or drama exercise for younger students. You can do this activity with any of the Hairy Maclary books. Read out the story and have children act out the action as you read. You can also have children embellish the action by adding a new character or scene. Children can make costumes by cutting pieces of thick string and attaching fake fur or yarn to make a tail. Children should imagine how each dog or cat in the story moves, and they should try to think up movements that illustrate the personality of the animal. For example, Muffin McLay might take all day to move from point B to point A, because she is as large as a barge.
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