Soaring Soren in the Classroom

School visit in Craven County, NC

School visit in Craven County, NC


If you are a teacher, librarian, school principal or PTO interested in bringing Soaring Soren to your classroom or library ...

Soaring Soren makes a wonderful lesson for elementary school children. On this page you will find lesson ideas, links to helpful media to use in lessons, as well as information on author visits. Please see Awards  and Reviews on this website for book reviews and awards.


In addition to the lesson ideas on this page, visit this link for AKC Public Education for lesson plans based on Soaring Soren. There are three lesson plans, all tied to Core Curriculum Objectives and geared for age groups K-1st Grade, 2nd - 3rd Grade and 4th - 5th Grade. 

Lesson ideas:

1. Watch the book trailer in advance to build excitement:


2. Read the book

3. Watch the video "Meet the Real Soaring Soren" to see the real Soren in action:

4. Discuss the book

Some possible reading comprehension questions:

  • What did Soren think he would become when he first set out for the United States?

  • What changed Soren's plans to be a show dog? How did Soren feel about not being able to be a show dog in the beginning of the story? How did his feelings change by the end of the story?

  • What does "potential" mean? What potential did Deb think Soren had and why did she think that?

  • Why do you think Soren liked agility? What made him want to learn agility?

  • Why did some people think Soren could not do agility? How did that make him feel? Why do you think he kept trying anyway?

  • Why was agility more difficult for Soren than for some other dogs?

  • Name some agility obstacles. What agility obstacle was the toughest for Soren to learn?

  • What did Soren and Deb do to overcome the challenges they faced?

  • What was Soren's favorite treat when he got something right in training? What food did he like even better than that?

  • What two things did Deb tell Soren he needed to do to earn his championship?

  • What did Deb get Soren as a gift for earning his championship? Why do you think Deb got Soren a collar with flying pigs on it?

  • What was Soren's job on their agility team? What was Deb's job? What made Deb and Soren a successful team?

  • What is a memento? What memento did Soren and Deb get to keep to remember their championship?

Some topics for additional discussion or for a writing project:

  • What goals and dreams have you achieved or do you hope to achieve in the future?

  • What obstacles have you faced, or do you think you might face?

  • How did you or will you overcome those obstacles?

  • Who supports you in reaching your goals? How do those people make you feel?

  • Have there been times when others have not supported you? How did that make you feel?

  • How can we be supportive of others as they try to achieve their goals?

  • What sports or activities favor certain physical attributes? (e.g., Basketball favors tall players)

  • Can you succeed in a sport or activity if you don't have the ideal traits required? What would help you succeed?

  • What sports or activities can we do with animals?

  • Have you ever trained an animal to be a good pet or for an activity or sport? How?

  • How is trust important in training an animal? How can we build trust with an animal?

  • How is teamwork important in sports and in other activities, like school and work?

  • What are the ways we can be a good teammate?

5. Use this coloring page as a class activity or a take home activity for students.

Other ideas

Help children learn about agility with this fun overview of the sport: "Soren Explains Agility" (click to open a pdf file)

Soren Explains Agility


Create your own art project. Some ideas ...

  • Draw Soren doing your favorite agility obstacle

  • Draw a picture of yourself with Soren doing something you enjoy

  • Make a poster of Soren with a slogan that highlights an important message from the book

  • Create a cover for a children's book about your own dream or goal

  • Learn about how authors and illustrators collaborate: Working with a partner, students each write a brief story. Then they exchange stories with their partners, and each partner illustrates the other partner's story. Teams should work together to agree on the illustrations and ensure the illustrations capture what the author hoped to convey.

Create your own writing project. Some ideas ...

  • Write an essay based on any of the discussion questions listed above, or your own related topic.

  • Write a book report on Soaring Soren.

  • Learn about how authors and editors collaborate: Working with a partner, have each student write an essay. Exchange with their partners, who will read the essay and comment, with attention to making the story better or more clear, ensuring the story flows, deciding if the characters are interesting and realistic, recommending improvements, noting any errors in spelling or grammar, etc. Then each partner rewrites his own essay based on feedback.

Oy, Elephants! in the Classroom

Lesson ideas:

1. Watch the book trailer in advance to build excitement:

2. Read the book

3. Discuss the book

Some possible reading comprehension and discussion questions:

  • What was Joel looking forward to on his visit with his grandparents? What was he worried about?

  • How do we feel when we move to a new place, or begin the year in a new school? How do you think the elephants felt moving to a new neighborhood?

  • How did the neighbors react when they saw elephants moving in? Why do you think they reacted that way? How do you think their reaction made the elephants feel?

  • How did Grandma Gussie, Grandpa Morris and Joel change the way the elephants felt about their new neighborhood?

  • What made the other neighbors change their opinions about the elephants? What can we learn from that?

  • In real life, elephants don't use sun screen. How do they protect themselves from the sun?

  • What things did Grandma, Grandpa and Joel do to welcome the elephants to the neighborhood? How can we make new people feel welcome in our neighborhood, school, etc.? Why is this important?

Some topics for a writing project:

  • Write a story about a situation where you were "new" and how you felt. Include how others made you feel.

  • Make a list of ways you can make others feel welcome.

  • Write about a visit to your grandparents or another friend or relative. What did you expect it to be like? How was it different from what you expected?

Some topics for an art project:

  • Draw a picture of your family doing something fun with a family of elephants.

  • Create an elephant mask and decorate it with things that remind you of friends and family.

  • Create a book cover for a story about a time when you were the "new person" in a town or situation.

Please feel free to download, print and share these coloring pages based on the book--created by illustrator Morgan Spicer (c). Enjoy!

OyElephants_ColoringPage_1 copy.jpg

OyElephants_ColoringPage_2 copy.jpg

The Last Rhino in the Classroom

The Last Rhino is a chapter book, ideal for grades 2 - 5. It is a fictional story about animals, but addresses the very "human" emotions of loss, facing fears and the need to connect with others like ourselves. It also teaches children about rhinos, poaching and the importance of protecting rhinos and other critically endangered species. Without our help and urgent attention to this dire situation, future generations may never know a live rhino.

Lesson ideas:

1. Watch the book trailer in advance to build excitement:

The book makes a perfect complement to a lesson on conservation. There are some excellent workbooks here, suited to various age groups and with an answer key for teachers. Please consider downloading and completing the workbook best suited to your class's age group, and combining it with reading and discussing the book:

Conservation Project Ideas:

  • Have your classroom adopt an orphaned rhino or elephant. For as little as $50, you can sponsor a baby rhino or elephant. Have your class read about rhinos, adopt a baby, and create a scrapbook throughout the year about your baby rhino and rhinos in general. Please see The Last Rhino page on this website for organizations that offer adoption opportunities.

  • Consider a fundraising event to help rhinos.

Reading comprehension and discussion topics about the book:

  • Why do poachers hunt rhinos? Why do people want rhino horns? Are their reasons valid?

  • How did poaching affect Ayubu's life?

  • How did Imari and Raziya help Ayubu deal with the loss of his family?

  • Why was it so important to Ayubu to make a stand to save Raziya from poachers?

  • Why do you think seeing the brightest star made Ayubu feel both comforted and sad?

  • Why is it so important to stop poaching? What would it mean to you if there were no more rhinos in the world?

  • How do rhinos protect themselves from the sun? What is a group of rhinos called? Which is better: a rhino's sense of smell or its eyesight?

  • What is symbiosis? How are rhinos and birds symbiotic?

Art projects:

  • Create a poster of a mother and baby rhino. Include a slogan that captures an idea from the book.

  • Draw the five species of rhinos. Label each and include a fact about that species.

  • Create a rhino time capsule. Fill it with facts about rhinos and drawings of your favorite things about rhinos.

School or Library Visits

I reside in NJ and I'm happy to discuss school or library visits if you are in the area. Please contact me at and let me know your location, the number/length of sessions you'd like, ages/grades of participants and if you would like:

  • A reading of the book

  • A discussion about the book

  • A presentation on the process to create a children's book (writing, editing, rewriting, collaboration between an author and editor/illustrator, book design)

  • A presentation on training dogs in general, and/or training and competing with dogs in agility

  • Pre-order signed books for delivery at the event

  • A book signing at the event (an order form can be provided in advance of the visit to facilitate this)

  • Would you like a dog to visit as well? Please let me know and I can try to arrange this.