Learn more than you ever thought possible about the men who have
served our country and the pets that served them. Which pet: Was
descended from the first dog in space? Sang along as the president
played his violin? Starred in a movie? Find out how hundreds of
animals have brought love and devotion to our first families from
dogs to badgers and snakes to hippos!
Set the Stage
Begin with a discussion of the role of the First Family. Ask them
who or what else can be considered to be part of a family. Then
ask who among them has now, or has had a pet. Have students share
how they got their pets and what types of pet they have.
one of the illustrations of unique presidential pets from the book.
Have students share any stories they know of people having really
Have students offer four reasons that pets have been important
in the lives of our First Families.
Discuss with your students the story of Lincoln and the Thanksgiving
turkey (page 14). Explain what it means to "pardon" someone (or
something). Ask students why they think this tradition has persisted.
Have your students discuss which presidential animal they
think is the strangest. Have them explain why they think this.
Ask your class what animal they would like to have as a pet,
if they could have any animal in the world.
Have students recall what President had the most pets, who
had the most dogs and who had the most cats?
Comprehension questions will test student's knowledge of measurement
systems from the book.
and Copy the Classroom Activity Now (PDF)
- Many of
the anecdotes in the book discuss letters that people wrote to
the presidents' pets. Have your students choose a president and
one of his pets. Have them write a letter to the president and/or
Kennedy's dog, Pushinka, was a descendent of Strelka, the dog
the Russians sent into space. The United States sent a monkey
into space before Alan Shepherd took flight in 1961. Have students
research one or both of these events. Why were these animals chosen?
How did people react to news of these animals being firsts in
space? Have other animals been sent into space? If so, why? For
what purpose? What animals?
- The pets
of Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both contributed to war
efforts. Discuss with your class why animals are used in promotions
and advertising. Have students brainstorm other instance where
pets have been used to promote or sell something. Have students
invent a new product and create an advertisement that uses animals
to sell their new product.
- Warren Harding's
pet terrier, Laddie Boy participated in a "mock interview" with
a major newspaper, offering positions on a variety of subjects.
Ask your students to choose one of the pets in the book to "interview";
then have them write a newspaper article based on the interview.
- Give each
student an index card and have them draw a picture of their pet.
If students have more than one pet, have them draw their pets
on separate cards. Use these cards to create a class graph, showing
which pets are the most popular.