Discover lesson plans and classroom activities for teaching about community, seasons, language, friendship, and more, all featuring Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Clifford has a big heart, but when he tries to help Emily Elizabeth and Tim do good deeds, things keep going wrong. First, they help a man rake leaves and load them into a truck, but the leaves make Clifford sneeze. Then the leaves—and the good deed—are blown away.
Nothing seems to go right for Clifford until he passes a building on fire. It takes a big red dog to save the day! Clifford rescues two little kids and puts out the fire. At the end of the book, the town’s mayor rewards the big red dog with a big gold hero medal.
This classic Clifford book is part of Scholastic’s “Be Big” initiative, which invites everyone—big and small—to take action to make the world a better place.
About the Author
Norman Bridwell was always drawing while growing up. He knew he wanted to be an illustrator some day, but he never dreamed he would create a famous children’s book character—Clifford the Big Red Dog. When an editor suggested that Bridwell write a story about one of his illustrations, he created Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, who was named after his young daughter. The rest is history. Scholastic published Bridwell’s first Clifford book—and many more. Today, there are over 44 million copies of Bridwell’s books in print.
Bridwell describes Clifford as an “all-around dog” that anyone would want as a pet. “He’s red and he’s warm,” Bridwell says, summing up Clifford. “He always tries to do the right thing,” Bridwell adds, “but he does make mistakes.” Perhaps that’s why everyone loves Clifford so much. Read more about Norman Bridwell.
Teaching the Book
Clifford’s Good Deeds teaches young readers a lighthearted lesson about the value of helping others. The book provides an opportunity to teach students to connect illustrations and text, to identify cause and effect, and to explore vocabulary related to helping others. Activities will engage students in creative storytelling, community service ideas, and a personal hero project.
Theme Focus: Helping Others
Comprehension Focus: Cause & Effect
Language Focus: Helping Others Words
Get Ready to Read
Clifford’s Big Ideas
Show students this animated clip from “Clifford’s Big Ideas,” Scholastic’s program for teaching social values. The clip features Clifford modeling good behavior by helping his friend. Ask children to discuss how Clifford helps his friend. Does Clifford think about whether he should help? Does he ask for a favor in return? How do you think Clifford feels about being a helping friend? Wrap up the discussion by asking the children how they might help a friend in a similar way.
Preview and Predict
Preview the first three pages of the book with students. Read the text on the third page as students study the illustration of Clifford carrying Emily Elizabeth and Tim off to do good deeds. Then ask the children to predict the sort of things Clifford might do to help people in the neighborhood.
Helping Others Words
Introduce students to these words about helping others. Ask them to watch for the vocabulary words as they read and use clues in the words around them to figure out their meanings.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know
Read each of the following sentences that has a missing word. Ask students to hold up the vocabulary card that can finish each sentence and retell the story.
- Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and Tim want to help people by doing good _________. (deeds)
- Tim thinks that he and Clifford can _______ a lot of people. (help)
- Clifford helps two kids get out of a burning house __________. (safely)
- Clifford puts out the fire and the firemen __________ him. (thank)
- The mayor gives Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and Tim each a ________. (medal)
- Clifford’s medal says that he is a _________. (hero)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read the book aloud with fluency and expression. Have students follow along in their own books, looking carefully at each illustration as you read a page. Guide students to connect the pictures and text by asking them to listen carefully for words read aloud that might appear in the pictures.
Reread the book, and ask students to read their copies at the same time. Cue them to read aloud certain words and phrases that you omit from your reading. If students are able, encourage them to read the text aloud along with you.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Why is it important to help others?
Cause and Effect
Remind students that Clifford’s attempts to help don’t always work out. Sometimes, his big size causes problems. Explain that looking for what causes these problems and what the effects are helps to understand the story. Have students look at the illustrations on pages 5-6 as you model the cause and effect relationship.
What goes wrong when Clifford helps rake leaves? In the picture, I see a big “AH-CHOO.” That means that Clifford has just sneezed a Clifford-sized sneeze! The sneeze is the cause, and the effect is that all the leaves are blown out of the truck.
Use the cards on Resource #2: Cause and Effect to help students identify more examples of cause and effect relationships in the story. Pass out copies of the cards and ask students to cut them apart and mix them up. Have students match a cause and an effect and then find the pages in the book that the cards describe. Then have partners tell what happened, explaining the cause and effect.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
Why is it important that Clifford didn’t give up helping people after things go wrong? (Because he helps save the kids from the burning house.)
2. Cause and Effect
How did Clifford’s size help him put out the fire? (He was able to use the water rom the swimming pool to spray on the house.)
3. Helping Others Words
Find the pictures of the medals on the last two pages. What other medals have you seen? Why are people given medals? (People are given medals for doing a good job at something—from running races to doing good deeds.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
If you could have Clifford help you do a good deed, what would it be?
2. Text to World
What good deeds do people do in your community?
3. Text to Text
What other stories have you read that are about people helping each other?
Content Area Connections
Too Much Air
Talk with students about the story scene in which Clifford tries to help the man whose car has flat tires. What does Clifford do that turns out wrong? Discuss what happens if you put too much air inside a tire or even a balloon. All the air gets pressed together and eventually blows up whatever is holding it.
Doing Good Deeds
Talk with students about people in their community who help others. Ask for examples of people who help others as part of their job; for example, doctors, firefighters, police officers, crossing guards, etc. Then ask for examples of people who help others as volunteers; for example, little league coaches, Girl Scout or Boy Scout leaders, etc. Discuss how each person helps others.
My Good Deed
Ask students to share a story about when they did a good deed. Prompt them with the following questions: Who did you help? What good deed did you do? How did doing the good deed make you feel? Make a list of the good deeds and then ask students to add more ideas of good deeds they could do.
Design a Hero Medal
Ask students to think of someone they admire and design a hero medal to thank them for something special that they do. Have them look at the medal Clifford receives on the last page of the book for ideas. Then encourage them to come up with their own design for a hero medal that they would give to a hero of their own.
Add a Good Deed to Clifford’s Story
Pair students with a partner to write a scene to add to Clifford’s “good deeds” story. Explain to students that they can add a scene to the first part of the book when things don’t work out right for Clifford or they can create a scene where Clifford does a good dead that works out just right. Conference with partners to support them as they choose a good deed and decidehow it turns out. Rotate around the room to guide students as they write their extra scene for Clifford’s story. Encourage them to share what they created with the group.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student a turn to answer the big question. Encourage students to give examples from the story or their own lives to support their answers. Why is it important to help other people?
Clifford Comes to Help
Have students look at the illustration of Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and Tim on page 4. Then ask them to imagine that Clifford is their dog for a day—and he will help them do whatever good deed they want. Pass out the Big Activity: Clifford Comes to Help and explain to students that they will be drawing an illustration of Clifford helping their school or community by doing a good deed. They should add themselves to the picture as well.
Post everyone’s drawing in the room and have the group discuss how Clifford is helping out their school or community.
© 2012 SI ALL RIGHTS RESERVED