Help Me, Mr. Mutt! Teacher Tips
1. Newspaper ads
- Study classified ads and internet ads
- Have students write their own ad for a service they could provide
2. Looking for detail
- Notice the shadow and the paws--who circled the ad?
- Notice small ad with dog wearing watch--he's a WATCH DOG!
- Notice dog tag ad--a little more Janet humor
3. Dog Breeds
- Study the various dogs depicted in the book
- Identify the particular breeds and/or the mutts
- Have students bring in pictures of their own dogs (or dogs they know or want)
- Pick out Janet's two dogs--Violet (leash) and Houdini (red bandana)
4. Making connections
- What do Janet's dogs have to say to Mr. Mutt?
- In what other stories have Janet's pets appeared?
5. Graphs/ Diagrams
- Have students find the various graphs and diagrams in Mr. Mutt's letters and use as a springboard to discuss, interpret, and create their own.
- Each dog letter to Mr. Mutt is written in a different voice, as each dog has a different personality that usually relates to the problem.
- Have students discuss what that voice might sound like (i.e. Golden Retriever--hyper, panting; Cattle Dog--Texas accent; Basset Hound--snooty, proper British accent)
- Then let students read each letter in that voice!
7. More "looking for detail"
- Have students find (in the book) the things listed on the back cover--(HINT: the real dog hair is Houdini's)
- Have students find the various dog and cat shadows throughout the book (notice Mutt's shadow on letter and the Queen's shadow on the carpet)
8. Creative Letter Writing
- Have students become their own "dog with a problem" and write a letter to Mr. Mutt--following the same format as the letters in the book. Finish with a catty remark. Then have them write Mr. Mutt's response with a graph or diagram. Finish off with a cat letter
9. More Creative Letter Writing
- Pair 2 grade levels (2nd and 5th graders?). Have a 2nd grader write to the 5th grade "authority" about a problem (more recess time, too much homework, food in cafeteria). Have 5th grader respond with good advice and statistics--real or made up!
10. Details in the numbers!
- Write down all of the street numbers beginning with Mutt's 100, 81, 64, 49, 36 . . . .they form the sequence of perfect squares
- Write down all of the zip codes--they're palindromes!
- Write down the dates on the letters--here are some of our family birthdays--can you find them? Janet (January 17) ; Susan (March 3) ; Susan's kids--Courtney (May 19), Jason (July 19), and Christie (June 7); Janet's kids--Lindsey (February 23) and Blake (November 1); Our mother Frances (June 14)
11 . Exploring the art
- View a PowerPoint show that demonstrates the process Janet used to create a page of Mr. Mutt. Janet drew most of the images, scanned them in (along with digital images of a can of dog food, paperclips, piece of carpet, a desktop), and then used Photo Shop to compose the page. She printed it out on a huge printer using a piece of watercolor paper, then painted back into it.