The Mutt-i-gree Curriculum Program
Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees:
Animal-Themed Activities that Encourage Physical Fitness and Social-Emotional Competence
How is the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, with its focus on social and emotional skills and shelter pets, relevant to physical health and fitness? It’s an accepted fact that being physically active strengthens muscles and bones and reduces the incidence of obesity and other health problems. Less well known is the fact that physical activities contribute to optimal social and emotional development and improve students’ behavior and their ability to learn. Active students–and adults, too–are better able to handle everyday stresses and challenging circumstances at school and at home. Physical fitness also contributes to our ability to regulate moods and maintain a positive mindset; exercise is an essential component of a balanced lifestyle and a powerful tool to alleviate stress and help us cope with difficult situations. Being active is also critically important to dogs and cats; the anxiety and destructive behaviors we see in some domestic animals are often rooted in inactivity and our failure to provide them with adequate opportunities for exercise.
Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees contains fun physical activities and games that are easily adaptable for various age levels. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and its ancillary publications or as a freestanding program in schools, YMCAs, afterschool programs, or summer camps.
Themes & Core Concepts
All games and activities in the Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees binder correspond to the five themes of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum that reflect key principles of social and emotional learning and resiliency: Achieving Awareness, Finding Feelings, Encouraging Empathy, Cultivating Cooperation, and Dealing with Decisions.
Moving with Mutt-i-grees Activities
Many activities in Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees are already familiar to children; what gives them a new and exciting twist is the role that cats and dogs play in how they are presented and used. The activities and games included generate excitement, surprise, and laughter, while encouraging social interaction and teamwork.
Educators may use Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees in several ways:
- To extend the lessons in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. The activities presented provide teachers with materials they can use to extend implementation. Some activities may be used to transition children from one activity to another during the school day.
- To accompany implementation of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum; for example, by devoting a regular time each a week specifically for Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees.
- To expand afterschool programs at your school or community-based agency.
- To create a freestanding physical education or health program at school, afterschool, or during summer camps.
- As a classroom management tool when students’ behavior becomes a problem. Using the signal, “Paws down!” will alert children to immediately stop what they’re doing and redirect their attention.