Skills Building: Sterling, Best Dog Ever (PK-2)

Written by Aidan Cassie 

Pre Reading Questions

  1. Did you ever feel like you did not fit in? If so, who made you feel comfortable being yourself?
  2. What does it mean to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes?”
  3. When did you not show someone empathy? How did it make the other person feel?
  4. Think of a time that you were really sad or hurt and someone showed you empathy. What did they do, and how did it make you feel?

Post Reading Questions

  1. Why did Sterling sneak into the folk box to be shipped off to a family?
  2. When Sterling saw the family, why did he want to pretend to be other things rather than being a dog?
  3.  How do you think the family felt when Sterling was pretending to be something that he was not?
  4. What did the little girl do to show empathy towards Sterling? Did Sterling ever feel like it was okay to be himself?

Creative Enrichment Activity: Congratulations on Being You! (Pre-K-2)

Overview: In the book Sterling, Best Dog Ever, all Sterling had ever wanted was to be in a loving home, but no one had ever wanted him! After trying time and time again to be something and someone that he was not, he finally learned that his new family loved him just as he was. You are the only you in the world and it is important to find people who love you for who you already are. When you think hard, what do you like about yourself? Are you awesome at soccer? Are you a speedy runner? Are you an expert artist? Maybe you are a whiz at math or can read all the best books! Maybe you are the best brother, sister, or friend. Make yourself an award for what you’re best at and for being yourself!


● Beads (optional)
● “Best at…” template printed on cardstock. Download template.
● Hole puncher (more than one depending on group size)
● Marker/color pencils
● Stickers/star stickers
● Glue sticks
● Foam sheets (various colors)

Duration: 40-50 minutes (for staff: 5 pre-activity set up and 15-20 minute prep)

● 5 minutes: Introduce the activity using the book and examples
● 10 minutes: Draw what they are “Best at…” on the circle template
● 5-10 minutes: Cut out a foam circle and glue to the back of their “Best at…” circle. If the foam is precut, glue the foam circle to the template. 
● 5 minutes: Decorate their foam cutout with stickers
● 10 minutes: (Can be done while students decorate the foam) Hole punch and thread ribbon or yarn through the hole to make a necklace. 
● 5 minutes: Clean up activity
● 5 minutes: Reflect


  1. Before the activity, the staff should print out the templates and cut the templates so that each student has one “Best at” circle. Foam sheets can be pre-cut to match the size of the paper template cutouts or can be cut into squares to allow for student cutting of the foam. Pre-cutting the foam will save project time but create more staff prep time. 
  2. Introduce the activity. Use the book to let students start to think about who they are and loving themselves. 
  3. Students draw what they are “Best at…” on the template. 
  4. Cut out a foam circle and glue to the back of their “Best at…” circle. If the foam is precut, glue the foam circle to the template. Older students may be able to cut the circles themselves but younger students will need assistance. 
  5. Students decorate their foam cutout with stickers. 
  6. Staff assists students in punching a hole through the foam/cardstock circle and threading the yarn or ribbon through the hole to make a necklace. Students can also thread a bead or two on to their ribbon to sit at the base by the award. This step can be done while students decorate the foam. Older students may be able to do this step on their own while younger students will need assistance. 
  7. Clean up. 
  8. Reflect.

Reflection Questions

  • What makes you, you?
  • What skills are you most proud of?
  • Share your award with the person sitting next to you.
  • How does it feel to celebrate yourself for something that you are good at? 
  • How do you think people feel when they are loved for being themselves? 
  • Have students stand in a horizontal line facing the teacher. Have each student who wants to share come up to the teacher. The staff will then say the student’s name and what they are best at. For example, “Presenting Aldo, best at soccer!”. While the student is being presented, all the rest of the students should clap and cheer. Do this for each student. Create a quiet signal to quickly stop the cheering between each student.