Package 3-4: Vocabulary

This lesson focuses on developing vocabulary knowledge using the article Delightful Dogs by Emma Heyde.

Things your child will need

Have these things available so your child can complete this task.


  • Vocabulary: Delightful Dogs video
  • Activity sheet 1: Image brainstorm
  • Activity sheet 2: Frayer model
  • Activity sheet 3: Our pet dog
  • Delightful Dogs article
  • Pencil or pen

Back up

Before your child starts

This lesson focuses on developing vocabulary knowledge using the article Delightful Dogs by Emma Heyde.

Your child will learn how to use contextual clues within the text to determine the meaning of unknown words.

What your child needs to do

Your child will watch a video of a lesson about the vocabulary in the article. The teacher will guide your child through activities as they learn new vocabulary.

Throughout the lesson, your child will be asked to pause the video to complete activities.

By the end of the lesson, your child will have completed activities to support them to be able to:

  • analyse a word to understand how to use it
  • use clues in the text to help understand what a word might mean

What your child can do next

Your child can further explore the vocabulary in the rest of the Delightful Dogs article.

Options for your child

Activity too hard?

Work with your child to read the article.

Your child might like to complete the vocabulary exploration orally.

Activity too easy?

Your child might use the information about wolves and dogs to compare and contrast the characteristics of the animals.

Extension/Additional activity

Learning new vocabulary is fun and can support reading comprehension. As you and your child read books, make a note of new and interesting words. Have your child explain how they could use contextual clues to determine the meaning of new words. For words that can’t be determined using contextual clues, have your child look the words up in the dictionary and find some synonyms and antonyms to help build their understanding.

Activity sheet 1: Image brainstorm

  • Brainstorm some words about the dog image.
  • Display words around the image, using space to build on your ideas later.
  • You may like to include details about the physical features of dogs, adjectives to describe dogs such as ‘playful’ or ‘curious’ and verbs such as ‘howl’ or ‘inquire’.

Activity sheet 2: Frayer model

Complete the Frayer model using the word descended.

Dogs are descended from the small wolves that once roamed across Asia. Wolves are social creatures. They live in big family groups with a powerful leader in charge of lower-ranked, less powerful, and younger animals. Wolves are intelligent and loyal animals. They form strong bonds of trust and affection with one another, which is important to their survival as they hunt for prey in a pack.

Activity sheet 3: Our pet dog

  • Read the section with the sub-heading Our Pet Dogs in the article below.
  • Find three words to target.
  • Decide if the words can be understood by the context clues or whether you will have to ‘dig deeper’ and research the meanings of the words.
  • Use the strategies you have explored so far to help you understand the meaning of your three target words.

Delightful Dogs

Article by Emma Heyde.

Dogs have been our companions for thousands of years. In fact, they were probably the very first species that human beings domesticated. Read on to find out more about these devoted companions, loyal workers and favourite friends.

Doggy ancestors

Dogs are descended from the small wolves that once roamed across Asia. Wolves are social creatures. They live in big family groups with a powerful leader in charge of lower-ranked, less powerful, and younger animals. Wolves are intelligent and loyal animals. They form strong bonds of trust and affection with one another, which is important to their survival as they hunt for prey in a pack.

Why did people thousands of years ago take an interest in wolves, and try to tame them?

Over time, generations of wolves that lived near human settlements became used to human food scraps and human company, and were tolerated by people because they kept away vermin like mice and rats. Their puppies were kept as pets—for warmth in winter, for food, and as hunting companions.

As time passed, humans selected the animals they liked the best: the gentlest and friendliest dogs, the ones with the softest fur, or the best hunters. Gradually, as these selected dogs interbred, the shape and size of these semi-wild animals began to change. Their thick pelts became softer, their long muzzles got shorter, and the shape of their bodies changed.

Our pet dogs

Our pet dogs are completely different from their wild wolf ancestors. Even though today’s dogs are all descended from wolves, they are domesticated animals: animals that depend on us for survival. Most dogs are completely dependent on us for all their needs.

Most dogs would die if we didn’t feed them, provide fresh water and take them to the vet when they’re sick. But even the most pampered pooch does share some behaviours that show it still belongs to the canid (dog) family—even if it does prefer dinner from a tin, rather than ripping into the hindquarters of a freshly-killed deer!

Dogs have territories, just like wolves do, although most dogs have a backyard, instead of hundreds of hectares of forest or desert. Many dogs are also prepared to defend their territories from other dogs, just like their wild ancestors did.

Anyone who has taken a dog for a walk knows that dogs will stop and sniff at everything—particularly telegraph poles. Male dogs will lift their legs and ‘mark’ the poles. Why do they do this? It’s another of those behaviours that stretches all the way back to the time when dogs weren’t dogs at all, but wolves!

Like many wild animals, wolves use scent to mark their territory. Wolves from one pack mark trees and rocks to let wolves in other groups know the boundaries of their territory—and that they are willing to defend that territory if necessary. That’s what dogs are doing—letting other dogs know who has passed by.

Dogs use other forms of communication that they have inherited from wolves. Pet dogs wag their tails wildly when they’re pleased to see their owners or another dog they like. Wolves also wag their tails when they greet one another.

Some dogs also dig holes to bury bones to dig up later. This might just seem like an annoying habit or a funny game, but it’s another wolf-related characteristic. Wolves (and other members of the canine family, such as foxes) bury meat that they can dig up when there’s less food about. Dogs also hide their tails between their legs to show that they’re being submissive, just like wolves do. And, just like wolves, dogs whine, whimper and howl, although wolves don’t bark as loudly or as aggressively as dogs.

The true-blue Aussie dog

Australia has its very own native dog—the dingo. Dingoes are not domestic dogs; they are a wild native species. They are our largest carnivorous (meat-eating) predators.

Dingoes probably came to Australia about 4000 years ago, although some researchers think that it might have been much longer than that—perhaps up to 18 000 years ago. Dingoes came with people from Asia who travelled here by boat.

No-one is sure why these long-distance sea voyagers brought dogs with them. Perhaps it was for food. Perhaps it was for company on the long and dangerous trip south. Dogs are excellent hunting companions, and so they may have been brought as skilled assistants to help search for food. Whatever the reason, dingoes soon became part of the mainland Australian landscape.

Dingoes are usually a ginger colour, with white paws, but in desert areas their fur is golden. In forested areas, dingoes have darker fur. They can even be black.

Dingoes look very much like dogs, but their canine teeth are longer and they have long muzzles. They usually look ‘skinny’ compared with domestic dogs. The leading pair in the dingo pack are usually the heaviest, fittest dogs, with lower-ranked dogs in the pack looking very lean.

Dingoes are active animals, running up to forty kilometres a day hunting for food and patrolling their territory. They eat berries, insects, dead animals and birds, fish, reptiles, wallabies and kangaroos.

Only the lead pair in a dingo pack mate and have puppies. Unlike domestic dogs, dingoes have only one litter a year. In winter, when the pups are born, females need to hunt to feed themselves and their puppies, and they become protective and aggressive. The whole pack helps defend the newborn pups.

The dingoes of Ludawei

Aboriginal people have shared their land with dingoes for thousands of years. For many Indigenous people, the dingo is a very special animal.

The Kenyon family are the traditional carers of Ludawei, the highest hill on the Adelaide River flood plains, 60 kilometres south of Darwin. The Kenyons are Limilngan-Wulna people. The Limilngan-Wulna tell the story of how the dingo helped form their land. The story is called Wayirnima Dingo Dreaming.

How far back does your connection with dingoes go?

The dingo is part of our creation story, from a time when animals were humans, and vice versa. In our language, the dingo is wanami.

This is the story we tell to very small kids as they’re growing up:

When time began a pair of wanami—a male and a female—moved across the landscape. They created special places as they went. They had pups, which also became part of the landscape.

Are there many dingoes on your land?

There are still lots of dingoes around. They’re mainly goldy-brown, not so yellow. Mostly they’re really shy, not aggressive at all. They’re scared of people. They take off when you shoo them away. They mostly stay 500 metres away from people. They eat dusky rats, little wallabies and small pigs. When they’ve got pups, you can hear them howling.

What do dingoes mean to your family?

The dog is highly respected. I tell people, ‘Leave them alone. Don’t touch them.’ They’re part of our cultural connection to the land. They’re a sign that something’s happening.

Dog breeds

Here are some of the more popular dog breeds in Australia ...


Labradors are one of the most popular breeds of pet dogs because they are easy-going, intelligent, loyal and friendly. They are also used as working dogs: their keen sense of smell makes them useful as bomb detection dogs in the armed services, and they are often used as guide dogs for people with impaired vision. Labradors love swimming, playing with children and running after balls. Labradors come in three colours: their coats can be golden, black or chocolate.


Most people can recognise a dachshund, even if they can’t pronounce its name. (You say it dax-hoond.) The elongated shape of the dachshund’s body is a result of centuries of breeding. Dachshunds are designed to dig out prey, such as rabbits and badgers. That’s why Dachshunds have long snouts (for an acute sense of smell); long, thin bodies (to squeeze down burrows); and large, thick chests (to accommodate big lungs—lots of digging is hard work). Dachshunds can be stubborn (digging takes patience and endurance—you have to be stubborn to dig out a rabbit!) but they can also make loyal and intelligent pets.

Australian cattle dogs

These smart, active dogs are also known as blue heelers or red heelers, and were originally bred from dingoes crossed with dogs. Cattle dogs were used by drovers in the 19th century as they moved mobs of cattle across inland parts of the country. They are stocky, agile dogs who are known for their intelligence, energy and determination. Blue heelers are mainly kept as pets these days, but they still require a lot of activity and exercise to keep them fit and happy.

Maltese terriers

The Maltese terrier is a ‘toy’ dog—a small dog bred solely for its appearance. Maltese are affectionate, playful companions and don’t need a lot of exercise. They do need regular grooming, however, as their long coat, which is hair rather than fur, can quickly become matted and soiled. Like all dogs, Maltese terriers thrive on love and attention and become depressed if they are left alone for long periods. They love to be loved!


Kelpies are highly intelligent working dogs that are bred for mustering on sheep and cattle properties. An experienced working dog can handle a mob of animals with little guidance from its handler—driving, rounding up and blocking sheep and cattle. Kelpies can be black, fawn, chocolate-brown, tan or cream—appearance is much less important than agility, intelligence and obedience. Many kelpies adore riding on the back of motorbikes with their owners, but for most kelpies, mustering animals is their favourite activity.

Article used with permission from The School Magazine.

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