The nursery is part of Hacton School, Hornchurch, UK. It is made up of 32 children aged between 3 – 4 years of age. The teachers requested that local veterinarian, Ray Butcher, come to speak to them about the Blue Dog. Ray agreed and visited the school earlier in the week to chat to the teachers to find out what they thought was the best strategy for this particular group of children.
In the event, the day before the visit the teachers showed the children parts of the children’s corner of the Blue Dog website on the interactive white board. They enjoyed playing the games and it helped to introduce Blue as a character.
At the visit, it was agreed that smaller groups (8 children each) would perform a drama about Blue going to the vet.
The whole class was shown the brief power point presentation about Blue going to the vet that is part of the Teachers’ Toolbox of the Blue Dog website. This helped to explain what they would be doing in the rest of the lesson.
The class was split into four groups of 8 children (there were 8 parts in each drama) and the teachers helped to select the pupils for the particular parts – Blue had to be particularly extrovert.
The theme for each drama was similar, but the children were allowed flexibility to adapt their roles. We took the opportunity to discuss how the characters might be feeling as the story developed.
All in all it was a very successful and enjoyable morning - and nobody was injured!!
A previous blog highlighted the successful development of the Blue Dog (Plavi pas) programme in schools within Belgrade. This is supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Social and Children’s Welfare.
Just recently the Blue dog team participated with workshops in manifestations “European days” in Belgrade, organized by EU Info Center and in the Dog Adaption Day organized by “People for Animals” Society.
Both workshops were well attended and raised public awareness of The Blue Dog Project and importance of such and educational program for the whole society.
The Blue Dog Schools’ programme in Serbia
The Blue Dog arrived in Serbia a few years ago and since then we have done lots of interesting activities with it. The programme is promoted by the Serbian Association of Small Animal Practitioners, and step-by-step, we have developed a unique educational program based on The Blue Dog with the professional help of experienced children’s educators.
At the moment our Plavi pas program (Plavi pas means Blue Dog) is supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Social and Children’s Welfare. Children aged between 3 and 7 years in several kinder gardens are participating, together with their teachers, and parents in the final stages of the programme.
Our “Plavi pas” program consists of three phases:
1. In the first phase, trained educators of the Blue Dog team perform workshops with children. These are organized as follows:
They start with an introduction activity – talking with children about pets, the veterinary profession, teaching children our “Plavi pas” song and singing it with them.
Using the Blue Dog flash cards (downloaded from the website) we divide children in three smaller groups.
- The first group is a drama section with one of our team members. We try to reproduce real life situations and to teach children a proper behavior both with both familiar and unfamiliar dogs. Teaching children how to behave when meeting stray dogs is emphasized in this section, as this is a particular issue in Belgrade.
- The second small group plays the Blue Dog game on the computer with the active supervision of one of our team members.
- The third group does some craft work based on the Blue Dog with another team member. This may be coloring the Blue Dog pictures downloaded from the website, making the Blue Dog out of cardboard, or making a Blue Dog head model out of colored pastry. During this activity the children also talk about some basic facts about dog’s habits, behavior, body language etc.
Each of these group sessions lasts 15 min after which the children change places. So after 45 minutes, all the children participate in all three workshops.
Throughout, the teachers from the kinder garden observe the activities and are encouraged to participate. Finally, the children are all together and are asked to repeat and show the key points on safe behavior towards dogs. The activity finishes with singing the “Plavi pas”song.
2. In the second phase of our programme we have workshops specifically for teachers, where they are introduced to The Blue Dog, its goals, ideas and teaching methods. They learn the important concepts of the Blue Dog programme from our team members so they can continue the Blue Dog mission in their every day work with children.
3. In the third phase, children, teachers, team members and parents have a workshop together. The goal is not only to show the parents what their children have learned, but also to educate them on a proper behavior towards dogs. In this way they will be encouraged to re-enforce the message in the home.
April sees the World and European small animal veterinary congress hosted by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) in Birmingham. The Blue Dog has a stand in the exhibition to demonstrate the new website to delegates - especially the children's corner and the Teachers' Toolbox which will be launched at this conference.
The April edition of the monthly BSAVA Companion magazine features an article on the Blue Dog which we hope will help to increase the profile.
The Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE) is an umbrella organisationof National veterinary associations from 38 European Countries involved in all animal species. The newly elected President is Cristophe Buhot from France. He recently met Blue Dog chairman Tiny De Keuster in Istanbul.
Cristophe is very supportive of the Blue Dog programme, especially as this fits well with the FVE theme on "one medicine" - stressing the close links between human and animal health.
The Federation of European Companion Animal Veteranary Associations (FECAVA) held their recent annual conference in the beautiful city of Istanbul. Not only did the delegates enjoy the sun and wonderful architecture of the city, but were brought up to date with the developments of the Blue Dog website.
Chairman Tiny DeKeuster and Board member Sarah Heath are seen taking a well earned break.