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Strange Happenings in a Museum

Build literacy skills with this fun role play activity! Students read a play script and answer key questions with followup activities


Grade Level: 3-6

MaterialsPrintable Student Handout Script

Story Preview: Two students on a class field trip to an art museum accidentally get separated from their group. They find themselves in a strange gallery with two unusual guides who teach them some fascinating facts about first pets!

Roles: Narrators 1-2, Allie, Scott, Mr. Canvas, Ms. Watercolor, The Voice, Millie the Springer Spaniel, Macaroni the Pony, Socks the Cat, Buddy the Labrador Retriever, Liberty the Golden Retriever, Fala the Scottish Terrier, Sheep, Alligator, Five French Hounds

Additional Resources

Many sources provide information about U.S. presidential pets. Invite students to start their research with the following Web sites.
* First Pets and White House Pets contain information, photos, and activities about current and former first pets.
* Factmonster.coms Presidential Pets chart lists animal friends of presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Setting: present day, art museum

Theme(s): White House pets; U.S. presidents


  • distracted: attention turn away from original focus; diverted; sidetracked
  • exhibit: an area or space where items or paintings are on display
  • gallery:a hall or group of rooms often used to show works of art
  • Golden Retriever: dog breed with a long, thick golden-color coat
  • Labrador Retriever: dog breed with a brown, yellow or black
  • portrait: likeness in a picture or photograph
  • Scottish Terrier: small dog breed from Scotland with a wiry coat
  • silkworm: caterpillar that produces a fiber used to make silk
  • sociable: friendly, outgoing
  • Springer Spaniel: dog breed that is a medium-sized type of spaniel

Props: (Optional) toy or student-made microphone (paper, cardboard or other available materials) for Ms. Watercolor; student-made picture frames for the gallery; student-researched pictures of numerous White House pets including Millie the Springer Spaniel, Macaroni the Pony, Socks the Cat, Buddy the Labrador Retriever, Liberty the Golden Retriever, Fala the Scottish Terrier, and Woodrow Wilsons sheep; pictures of an alligator, silkworm and hounds.

Follow-Up Questions:

  • Where was Mr. Canvass class going?
  • Why werent Allie and Scott looking forward to the trip?
  • How did Allie and Scott get separated from the class?
  • What led them to the strange gallery?
  • What was the name of the gallery? Who were their guides?
  • Which pet had a secretary?
  • Why did Woodrow Wilson have sheep?
  • Name two presidents who did not have pets.
  • Which presidents had many pets?
  • Name three unusual pets that lived at the White House.
  • Why do you think Allie and Scott didnt tell Mr. Canvas about the gallery?

Follow-Up Activities:
Have students work in small groups to research information about the pets noted in the play, as well as about other White House pets. You might want to group students by period or by presidents: for example, from 1789 to1865, or from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln. Ask groups to draw pictures of their assigned pets and write short paragraphs to caption their illustrations. Compile all the drawings to create a first pets gallery for your classroom or for your school Web site.

Additional Notes:
The book Wackiest White House Pets by Kathryn Gibbs Davis (Scholastic Press) features out-of-the-ordinary pets of 15 past U.S. presidents.

Article by Lois Lewis
Education World®
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