The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is a new, innovative program that builds on children’s affinity for animals and highlights the unique characteristics and desirability of Mutt-i-grees®, or shelter pets. The goal of the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is to enable children to grow up to be calm, confident, and caring.
The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is more than an educational curriculum. It sets in motion the fundamentals needed to help transform the classroom and school climate, enhance teacher-student interactions, and engage parents and the community. The inclusion of real-life scenarios and dog-related activities captivates students, educators, and parents and promotes reflection and compassion.
The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum was developed by North Shore Animal League America/The Pet Savers Foundation, in collaboration with Yale University’s School of the 21st Century, and is funded by The Millan Foundation. link to top of page
The Curriculum teaches social and emotional skills and is unique in its bridging of humane education and the emerging field of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL is the process by which children learn to manage their emotions, get along with others, have empathy and compassion, and discover essential teamwork skills. These skills are important in life, but also in academic achievement. Studies show that children do better in school when they are socially and emotionally competent.
In a series of easily implemented lessons, children learn these critical skills that will help them in their interactions with people (and animals) in school, at home, and later on in the workplace. The lessons are presented in five themes: Achieving Awareness, Finding Feelings, Encouraging Empathy, Cultivating Cooperation, and Dealing with Decisions. Integrated throughout the Curriculum are feature lessons on dog behavior developed with renowned dog behavior expert Cesar Millan, from National Geographic WILD’s The Dog Whisperer.
Research has shown that there are many positive effects of dog-human interactions. The presence of a dog invokes positive emotions, laughter, conversation, and excitement in humans. Dogs also increase the expression of oxytocin, a bonding hormone which lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and stress in humans who pet them. In fact, even the vicarious presence of a dog (in the form of a puppet or toy) or simply thinking about dogs has been shown to be effective in commanding attention, improving cognitive abilities, and contributing to happiness. link to top of page
The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum does not require the presence of a dog in the classroom. However, developmentally disabled children especially benefit from and are drawn to dogs. Children struggling with literacy problems often read to reading assistance dogs in some schools and public libraries. The therapeutic value of animals for socially isolated individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, and prisons has been documented. People in the presence of animals are often perceived to be calmer, happier, healthier, and less stressed. Teachers report that the dog-related stories and activities in the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum engage students and promote learning.
It is possible for Mutt-i-grees® schools to work directly with local animal shelters or rescue organizations in their community. Students may be involved in fundraising projects, internships, or service learning and volunteer opportunities. The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum focuses on parent and community involvement and a number of activities encourage shelter employees or volunteers to visit classrooms and introduce students to Mutt-i-grees®. Field trips to local shelters can also provide students with opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning. If teachers or facilitators need assistance connecting with local shelters, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
How can the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum be used?
• Mainstream classrooms
• Special education classrooms
• After-school programs
• Service learning
• Character education programs
• Health education
• Preschool, childcare, and Head Start programs
• Parent education programs
• Title I Schools
Lesson Plans in the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum include:
• Hands-on activities
• Role play
• Readings and resources
• Family and community involvement activities
The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is a Pre-K to Grade 12 program.
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