Madlenka's Dog

Teachers' Guide


Madlenka's world is as small as a city block, but as big as the wide world. And although Madlenka lives in one of the busiest cities, her block is like a small town. Whenever something special happens to her, she reaches out to all her friends to share it with them. When it's her loose tooth, they stop their work to listen; when she shows them her invisible dog, they are reminded of their own dogs when they were Madlenka's age.

The Madlenka books can be used in kindergarten through grade 3 throughout several curriculum areas: social studies, art, creative writing, science, communication skills, reading, language arts, comprehension skills, and cooperative learning. The books also offer plenty of opportunities for children to exercise their imaginations.

Reading and Language Arts Activities

Madlenka's friends and neighbors have come to America from countries all over the world, and Madlenka knows many things about them and their cultures. Organize a chart with your students to show some of the things that Madlenka knows. For example, see chart above.

Language Arts:

  • Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (K3)
  • Creates mental images from pictures and print (K2)
  • Uses meaning clues to aid in comprehension (K2)

Madlenka is excited that her tooth is loose, and she rushes out of the house to tell all of her friends. Explore the sequence of events with your students, asking questions such as: Whom did Madlenka see after she saw Mr. Singh? Before going to Mrs. Kham, whom did she meet? Which friend did she go to first?

Language Arts:

  • Makes simple inferences regarding the order of events and possible outcomes (K2)

Madlenka wants a dog more than anything else, and when her parents say no, she makes up an imaginary one. Her dog might be invisible, but everyone Madlenka meets has an opinion about what the dog looks like. What do your students think? Each can write a description, draw a picture of her dog, or cut out a picture from a magazine. Have fun comparing the results.

Language Arts:

  • Relates stories to personal experiences (K2)
  • Makes inferences about characters' qualities (3)

Social Studies Activities

Learn more about the countries or regions from which Madlenka's friends come, and find similarities and differences with your country. Make a KWL experience chart ("what I know; what I want to know; what I learned"). What do your students know about the countries? What did they learn from the book? What would they like to learn? Great Internet Web sites that you can access for lots of information on the countries that Madlenka's friends come from are (Encarta Encyclopedia) and (Atlapedia).

Social Studies:

  • Recognizes that the world is made of many peoples and there are similarities with and differences from the student's own country (K3)

Language Arts:

  • Summarizes information found in texts (K3)

Madlenka visits most of the stores on her trip around the world, but not all. She does not visit the coffee shop or the clothing store. Have the children find these stores on the block. The children should speculate why Madlenka might have skipped them.


  • Understands the characteristics and uses of maps (K3)

Language Arts:

  • Makes simple inferences regarding the order of events and possible outcomes (K2)
  • Makes inferences or draws conclusions about characters' qualities and actions (3)

Create Madlenka's block in your classroom or gymnasium. Collect cartons and construct the buildings and the stores. Divide the class into six groups, one for each neighbor. With the help of parents, make costumes to represent the nationality of each person. Invite other classes in, and as they go around the block, your children can say "hello" in the language of their character and tell something about their country. For example, Mr. Ciao could say, "Buon giorno. I am Italian. Pizza comes from Italy." Mr. Eduardo could say, "Hola. I am Latin American. Tapirs, parrots, and jaguars live in the rain forests of Latin America."

Social Studies:

  • Identifies people and their roles in the neighborhood (K2)

Visual Arts:

  • Knows the different kinds of media, technique, and processes that are used to create works of art (K3)

Foreign Language:

  • Uses appropriate vocabulary for greetings (K3)

The children in your class, like Madlenka, feel that they are in the center of the world. Have your children make a photo exhibit of their world. Each child should bring in a photo or a drawing of the house in which they live. Each child should place the picture in the center of a piece of art paper. They should then create a frame of words that puts each house at the center of the larger world. Use Peter Ss's opening pages of the Madlenka books as a model.

For example, a word frame might read: My name is _____. I live on the planet Earth, on the North American continent, in the United States of America, in the state of Massachusetts, in the town of Lee, on Summer Street, in house number 770, on the second floor.

Paste the picture in the center of the frame. (The children should plan the words so that they fit around the entire frame.)

You might begin this activity by modeling a frame based on your school.


  • Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of the Earth's surface (K3)

Research Activity

Look at the pictures of the dogs at the end of Madlenka's Dog. Each one is a purebred dog. Discuss what that means. Match the dogs of Madlenka's friends to the pictures. (Ms. Grimm Dachshund, Mr. McGregor West Highland White Terrier, etc.) Using the encyclopedia, library books, and the Internet, have your students do research to find out more about these dogs. Make a chart showing the dog, country of origin, fact, characteristics, etc. For example:

Dog Country of origin Fact Characteristics
Cairn Terrier Scotland likes to dig Working dog,   small, hairy, likes to bury things

A resource for information on purebred dogs is the American Kennel Club. You can find them on the Internet at

Writing Research Skills:

  • Uses a variety of sources to gather information (K2)
  • Uses the encyclopedia to gather information (3)
  • Uses electronic media to gather information (3)

Communication Skills Activity

After reading Madlenka's Dog, do an oral history project on the pets that the staff in your school had when they were children. Discuss with your children what kinds of questions they can ask. For example: What kind of pet did you have when you were a child? What was its name? What was the best time you had with it? What do you miss most about your pet? Teams of children can go out to interview the staff. The children can write down the responses or use a tape recorder.

Communication Skills:

  • Obtains information about a topic using a variety of oral sources such as conversations and interviews (3)

Cooperative Learning:

  • Contributes to the overall effort of a group (K3)

Cooperative Learning Activity

Have the children create plays based on the imaginings of Madlenka and her friend Cleo. Look carefully at the scenes in both Madlenka and Madlenka's Dog that depict the places and adventures Madlenka and Cleo share. With those as starting points, the class should brainstorm stories that are set in those imaginary places. Teams of children can then work together to flesh out the stories and perform them for the rest of the class.

Theater Arts:

  • Demonstrates competence in writing scripts (K3)

Cooperative Learning:

  • Works with others to produce a common goal (K3)

The Curriculum standards following each activity have been culled from a variety of sources; among them are McRel, and the state education departments of Texas, New Mexico, Delaware, North Carolina, and Utah. The numbers following each standard refer to the grade level.

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