Teachers' notes: Sergeant Stubby

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These classroom suggestions provide ways for pupils to actively explore the life story of Sergeant Stubby and to find out more about the period during World War One.

Pupils will have the opportunity to conduct their own research using primary source material.

Who was Stubby?

Stubby leading parade Stubby admired by crowds as he leads a Royal Legion parade after the war. With thanks to the Smithsonian Institution.

Subjects: English, history

Pupils could create a profile card about Sergeant Stubby. On this, they could put key details of his life and death, and note what he is remembered for.

Profile cards could be created for other famous figures from World War One, such as Edith Cavell, Lord Kitchener and Wilfred Owen. The class could be asked to compare the different roles they each played during the war and also explore the public's opinions of them, both at the time and after their deaths.

Life map

Corporal Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby Stubby and Corporal Robert Conroy. With thanks to the Smithsonian Institution.

Subjects: history, geography, mathematics

The class could use information from the article (and other sources such as books and websites) to plot Stubby's travels on a sketch map of the world, with notes to show where he lived and arrows leading from one location to another.

Can the pupils calculate the total distance Stubby travelled?

Pupils could also be asked to look at Stubby's country of origin (America) and explore the role that this country played during the war.

Stubby portrait

Subjects: art, history, English, MFL

Sergeant Stubby illustration

Pupils could draw a picture of Stubby, or make a model of him from clay. Around their artwork, the children could add labels noting Stubby's remarkable skills.

For example, on a label attached to his ear, the pupils could write about Stubby's ability to tell the difference between English and German. The label could give phrases in English, with their German equivalents, alongside the pupils' theories about how Stubby might have distinguished between the languages. A label attached to Stubby's nose might explain how his sense of smell saved lives in the trenches.

Medals

Subjects: art, design and technology

Corporal Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby photo portrait Corporal Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby, 1919. With thanks to the Smithsonian Institution.

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Pupils could design their own medals for Sergeant Stubby or for another animal caught up in the war.

The children might choose a celebrated creature such as Cher Ami, the carrier pigeon credited with saving the so-called 'Lost Battalion' of the US 77th Infantry Division. Alternatively, pupils might choose to commemorate one of the many anonymous horses, donkeys and dogs put to work on the front line.

The children could use modelling dough to create their designs. If pupils use a dough made of flour, water and salt, they can later bake the medallions in a low oven (or in a microwave on a low setting) to harden them. When cool, their creations could be finished with metallic paints.

Stubby's tale

Subjects: English, history

Sergeant Stubby Sergeant Stubby wearing his decorated jacket. With thanks to the Smithsonian Institution.

Pupils could read the obituary of Sergeant Stubby carried by the New York Times on 4th April 1926.

The children could go on to write and draw their own versions of Stubby's life story, perhaps as a series of comic-strip images.

Members of the class might research and write obituaries for some other animal heroes of the trenches, such as Cher Ami, using the Stubby obituary as their model.

This activity will help children learn how to select material for a particular purpose and how to distinguish fact from opinion.

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