Camp Wannalaffalotta: Gone to the Dogs

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Summer days can slip by before you know it. Make the most of it by planning a few enrichment activities to enjoy with your children through out the next few weeks and months. After all, all of life is learning. And summer learning can be the most enjoyable, especially since the pressure’s off.

Photo Source: bobmarley753

Camp Wannalaffalotta is a great way to combine summer fun and learning. This week we take you to a Dog’s Life. It’s amazing how many books, movies, and activities surround Man’s Best Friend. Not only can your kids learn about zoology, but there’s a wealth of understanding in human relationships to be found in dog stories. Not to mention just plain fun.

Practically Free Fun

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun and enjoy learning and playing with your kids. Make the internet and the library serve you well this summer. Enroll your kids in their summer reading program and explore the world of books together.

Many of the following craft suggestions involve regular household items. If something is out of reach, in terms of budget or availability, there is almost always a reasonable substitute, just think outside the box.

Photo Source: alicejamieson

Get Reading!

Make library days a regular part of your summer. We usually choose one day of the week to make Library Day. Sometimes I’ll pack a sack lunch, then we can take our time, not hear rumbling tummies, and not succomb to fast food on the way home. Ask your children’s librarian to point you to the reference books, like A to Zoo. They should have a whole section on books about books. These are directories, organized by age, theme, and author, to help you find books your children might be interested in. Teachers know about these books, but I’m not sure all parents do. This kind of book will help you help your children choose good books.

Picture Books and Easy Readers – we love all these series featuring dogs!
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
McDuff Moves in by Rosemary Wells
Mr Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

non-series books:
Go, Dog, Go! by PD Eastman
The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins
Only One Woof by James Herriot

Nonfiction Books
Dogs by Gail Gibbons

Chapter Books and Read Alouds
Hank the Cowdog by John R Erickson
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

Books for Older Kids
(As always, use discernment and perhaps preread books with more mature themes and situations.)

Old Yeller and Savage Sam by Fred Gipson
The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Photo Source: Laertes

Get a Movie On!

Different families have different standards when it comes to movie viewing. If I haven’t personally seen a movie listed, I’ve checked it through the Dove Foundation’s Movie Reviews or heard good things about it. But our standards may not be yours. Please use discernment in choosing what your children will watch.

Old Yeller
Because of Winn-Dixie
The Shaggy Dog
Air Bud
Lassie Come Home
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Homeward Bound, The Incredible Journey
Where the Red Fern Grows

and for parents, because it might be boring for kids: Marley and Me

Photo Source: Family Fun

Get Crafting!

How to Draw Dogs
Make a Puppy Portrait Frame using Dog Biscuits (via Family Fun)
Craft a Cheese Dog

Get Out and About!

Visit your local animal shelter, dog breeder, or pet store. Ask lots of questions and get hands-on experience with dogs if you don’t own one yourself.

Get Cooking!

Bake up some Paw Print Dog Treats (via Martha Stewart Living)
Decorate a Go, Dog, Go Party Cake (via Once a Month Mom)
Make a Pink Poodle Cake

Get Thinking of More Fun!

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Got a Great Idea for Dig-Sized Fun?

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  1. Another great theme! We ended up spending two weeks on the Outer Space theme. Right now we’re looking into Seasons, but this dog theme will be good for next week, since we have two dogs of our own. You should publish these ideas in a Camp Wannalaffalotta book!

  2. I recommended the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” in a comment to your recent post on four movies. I’m sure it’s still available in redbox dispensers.

  3. I agree with Kirstin. We just saw that movie about 2 weeks ago. It was wonderful! 😀

  4. Great tips! I need to get my kids out doing more, thanks!

  5. Don’t forget, making puppy chow to eat for snack! Mmmmmm.
    And, if you have a dog, supervising a kid-run dog wash is always fun for the kiddos and ususally pretty amusing for Mom too.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Annie, do you have a recipe? I assume it’s like chex mix?

      • @Jessica Fisher,
        Puppy Chow:
        6 cups Crispix cereal (or Chex, whatever combination you’d like)
        1/2 cup peanut butter
        1/2 cup butter
        12 ounces chocolate chips
        2 cups powdered sugar
        Melt peanut butter, butter and choc. chips together in the microwave. Stir into cereal. Put powdered sugar in a paper sack. Put cereal mixture in an shake until coated.
        Tasty, tasty!

  6. Lorrie B. says:

    Cool!! We were just at the library this morning. I was looking for books to read to the 5 and 31/2 year old boys. It seemed we ended up with a lot of “doggie” books like the ones you mentioned. We have a sort-of new family doggie – so I was thinking of focusing on dogs for a while. We have a new dog park in our town. We could help raise some change for that. Also, our local Pet Supplies Plus encourages you to bring your pet into the store for a visit. That would be a good field trip for kids and puppy.

    Great minds think alike!!!

  7. I have a couple suggestions:

    ~ If you have a neighbor or know someone who has a dog and doesn’t always have the time everyday to take the dog for a walk/run/to the park, etc. volunteer to help them out. Not only are you helping your neighbor. Your also helping out yourself as well as the dog with a little bit of exercise.

    ~ If you can’t own a dog volunteer to walk the dogs at a local animal shelter. It get’s everyone a little extra exercise and also helps with socialization on some of the “tougher” cases. I know for a fact that the shelter employees are VERY thankful for their volunteers (well at least the couple of shelters we’ve dealt with have anyway.)

    Movie wise another “adult” type movie that I suggest anyway is: Turner and Hooch

  8. I recommend Disney’s “The Ugly Dachshund”. It is a great movie about the antics of a Great Dane and 4 dachshunds. Suzanne Pleshette and Dean Jones are the human stars. 🙂

  9. The dog buddies have a whole series of movies — “Snow Buddies” might be a nice way to cool off in the summer heat. There’s also “101 Dalmatians” — or, as my daughter insists on calling it, “100 Dalmatians” (I don’t know what happened to the other one in her mind).
    Our library also has some “I Can Read” style books about Marley that tell the story in a way that’s entertaining for kids — and the pictures are actual photo stills from the movie, so the kids are seeing a real dog, rather than an illustration.

  10. We need to get some summer reading going soon!!

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