My Dog is a Cat

poem by Maura Pierlot , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Learning intention:

I am learning to interpret ideas expressed in images and to create my own images to express ideas.

Success criteria:

  • I can analyse illustrations to consider the ideas they express.
  • I can create an illustration to represent my ideas.
  • I can compose a poem to express the ideas represented in illustrations.


Display a copy of My Dog is a Cat, covering the poem so the words cannot be seen. Read the title and discuss the subject matter. Steer students’ towards concluding the poet believes their dog is similar in nature to a cat or that is possess traits most commonly associated with cats.

Inform students that they will be using the illustrations that accompany the poem to predict what comparisons the poet makes between their dog and cats. Use the see-think-wonder strategy to analyse the illustrations.

Discuss what can be seen in the first image. Ensure students note, the green grass, the birds in the sky and the dog standing on its back legs. Discuss what this makes students’ think, providing examples such as that the dog is playing outside trying to catch birds. Finally, discuss what this makes you wonder, for example why the dog is trying to catch birds when this isn’t something dogs usually do.

Place students in pairs or small groups and instruct them to repeat this process with the remaining two illustrations. Those with a digital subscription can complete the interactive activity now.

Discuss students’ responses before reading the poem. Reflect on which comparisons students were able to accurately predict, based on the illustrations. Discuss the fact the illustrations directly represent the ideas in the poem, emphasisng examples such as the dog trying to catch birds. Highlight in each image the dog is shown acting in the ways expressed in the poem (catching birds, wearing a straw hat on sunny days, or curling up like a cat to sleep).

Discuss ideas for additional illustrations that could be used to express ideas shown in the poem, such as showing the dog scratching, knocking things over or running away from a chair that is tumbling in mid-air after it’s been knocked over.

Inform students that they will be creating illustrations to show animals acting like humans. View the video Best Of Funny Animals Acting Like Humans. Identify examples of ways the animals engage in actions commonly associated with humans. Sample responses include, the bear using a hose, the red panda using gym equipment, the dog balancing on the back of a motorcycle.

Provide students with art materials such as paper and coloured pencils or oil pastels. Alternatively, they may create their illustrations in a digital format, using programs such as Microsoft Paint. Instruct students’ to select their favourite example of an animal acting as a human and create a sketch depicting it. Remind students that their sketch should capture the animal in action. Provide an example such as sketching the bear with the hose in its paw, water spraying out, rather than showing the bear and the hose alongside each other in the image.

Once students’ have completed their sketches, compile them into a whole-class visual story. Tell students that they will be composing a poem to capture the ideas expressed through their illustrations. Refer back to My Dog is a Cat, to identify the style of poetry used by the poet (rhyming couplets).

Select one of the students’ images and collaboratively discuss vocabulary to describe it. For example, for an image of the bear with a hose, identify vocabulary, such as, ‘spraying’ and ‘splashing’.

Use a rhyme dictionary such as RhymeZone to identify rhyming words for the vocabulary identified and note these on the board. Collaboratively compose a poem, featuring the rhyming words, based on the ideas in the students’ illustrations.  Provide students with the title, ‘Animals who are humans’, for their poems.

A sample response is provided below:

The brown bear loves the hose,

Splashing a friend on their nose.

The panda is a regular at the gym,

Leaping and climbing, on equipment he swings.

Place students’ in groups. Instruct them to select three of their favourite illustrations, before composing their own poems to outline the ideas expressed in the images.