Classroom Activities for Hairy Maclary

The Hairy Maclary children's adventure books, by New Zealander Lynley Dodd, tell the story of Scottish Terrier Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy. With rhyme and colorful illustrations, the series appeals to children ages 3 to 7. The stories can be used to teach a variety of lessons, focusing on language, direction, rhyming, rhythm and drama, to kindergarteners and early primary-school children.

1 Scatter Cat Scatter

Use this activity to engage kindergarteners and children in first grade. It helps to illustrate basic position concepts and gets children to use descriptive terms such as “on top of” and “inside." Read the book “Hairy Maclary Scattercat” to the children, then ask them to describe precisely where the cats are sitting. For example, Pimpernel Pugh is next to a wall, on the grass, near a ball. Choose one student to stand in a particular spot in the room, then ask the others to describe that location as precisely as they can. Then set up an obstacle course. With students working in pairs, have one student direct the other through the obstacle course using as many directional words as possible.

2 Dreamy Descriptions

This activity can help improve reading skills for first- and second-grade children. Read the story “Hairy Maclary Showbusiness” to the children. Do not show them the pictures in the book. After each sentence, pause and have the children imagine a picture describing the sentence. Ask the children to describe the pictures in their minds. Children should also draw their ideas. Students then use their pictures to retell the story. At the end of the lesson, read the story again, this time showing the illustrations in the book. Have the children show the pictures they drew and discuss the way that descriptions help to tell a story.

3 Rhyme Time

This activity can help students through third grade in learning to rhyme. Read the story "Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy" to the children. Discuss how the author chose names for the dogs and then described each dog using rhyme. For example, “Bottomly Potts, all covered in spots.” Have the children use their names, the names of friends or made-up names to create describing rhymes. For example, “John Doe, who likes to row.” Older students can be challenged to make a rhyming story or to illustrate their rhymes.

4 Dramatic Interpretation

A Hairy Maclary book makes a great short play or drama exercise for younger students. You can do this activity with any of the Hairy Maclary books. Read the story aloud and have children act out the action as you read. You can also have children embellish the action by adding a new character or scene. Children can make costumes by cutting pieces of thick string and attaching fake fur or yarn to make a tail. Children should imagine how each dog or cat in the story moves, and they should try to think up movements that illustrate the personality of the animal. For example, Muffin McLay might take all day to move from point B to point A, because she is as large as a barge.

Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries. Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.