Teaching Responsibility With Clifford the Big Red Dog
The focus of this lesson is to help children learn how to be responsible at home and school through meaningful reading and language experiences.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
Woof! Woof! The focus of this lesson is to help children become aware of how important it is to be responsible at home and school through meaningful reading and language experiences.
Clifford’s Big Idea: Be Responsible
Children learn about the importance of responsibility early in life through observation and practice. When children are given opportunities to be responsible, they develop good habits and pride in themselves.
The following activities nurture essential:
- Language and literacy skills
- Social and emotional skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Creative expression skills
- Clifford Gets a Job by Norman Bridwell
- Whiteboard or chart paper
- Whiteboard markers or markers for chart paper
- Plain white paper printed with the following headings, one sheet of each per student plus teacher copies
- I'm Responsible at Home!
- I'm Responsible at School!
- Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
- Magazines for finding photos of responsibilities or chores in the home and the classroom (for example, a home improvement magazine to show photos of bedrooms or kitchens to represent chores in those rooms)
Day 1: An Honest Attempt at Being Responsible!
Step 1: Introduce the word "responsible" in print on the whiteboard or chart paper, identifying letters and letter sounds. Guide children through counting syllables by tapping with their fingers on the opposite wrist while pronouncing "re-spon-si-ble."
Step 2: Ask children what responsibilities they have at home and school.
Step 3: Read aloud Clifford Gets a Job by Norman Bridwell to the class.
Step 4: In the story, Clifford finds himself in a circus, on a farm, even catching robbers! But why is Clifford trying so hard to have a job? Help children conclude that Clifford feels responsible for helping the Howards pay for all of that dog food he eats. Truth is, the Howards love Clifford, and they wouldn’t change a thing about their big red dog.
Step 5: Ask the children to think of other ways that Clifford could be responsible and help the Howard family around the house instead of leaving to find work in other places.
Day 2: I’m Responsible at Home and School!
Step 1: Before class, create two I'm Responsible pages that illustrate through pictures (hand-drawn or photographs) how you, the teacher, act in responsible ways at home and school. These pages will give children ideas and a visual reference.
Step 2: Briefly review the concepts of responsibility that you discussed yesterday.
Teaching Tip: Gathering for an early morning "camp meeting" to share thoughts, review concepts, and restate expectations can help everyone’s day get off to a good start! It’s important to let children observe that they can depend on you for guiding them through the day. This time also provides you with insight into what thoughts and concerns they brought in the door with them that might enhance, or hinder, their learning experiences.
Step 3: Cooperatively list the ways that one could show responsibility at home and school. Write students' ideas on the whiteboard or chart paper, divided into Home and School responsibilities.
Step 4: Share your example I'm Responsible pages with the students. Explain that the students will be making their own versions of the pages that will reflect their responsibilities.
Step 5: Set out the materials for the pages, including the I'm Responsible pages (one for Home and one for School for each student), writing materials, scissors, glue, and magazines. Explain to the students that they can illustrate their responsibilities by hand or with magazine cut outs.
- I’m Responsible at Home! Ideas: Illustrate or cut out from magazines pictures that show how students can be responsible in their bedroom, the kitchen, family room, bathroom, yard, etc.
- I’m Responsible at School! Ideas: Illustrate or cut out from magazines pictures that show how students they can be responsible during learning time, playtime, center time, quiet time, lunchtime, music time, etc.
Step 6: When pages are finished, encourage children to practice what they have learned about being responsible and to share their great work with others at home and school.
Finding ways to grow in responsibility gives everyone a chance to bloom!
- Bring nature inside during cold winter months by using plant lights to grow small container plants. Provide charts for children to record when they plant, water, and feed the plants. Incorporate this planting experience into springtime science and math lessons.
- Have children color the "R is for Responsibility" Reproducible.
- Play the BE BIG: Be Responsible Video Clip for students.
These books support Clifford’s Big Ideas and reinforce valuable early literacy skills:
- Oops, Clifford! by Norman Bridwell
- The Big Leaf Pile (A Big Red Reader) by Norman Bridwell and Josephine Page
- Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry G. Allard
Also check out the Clifford the Big Red Dog Book List.