Passing the Bone: America’s Next POTUS By Heather Patterson
First Grade Reading & Writing Lesson, Compiled by Heather Patterson
Common Core State Standards
Language Arts-Reading Literature, Grade 1
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
Writing, Grade 1
Write opinion pieces, in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing
about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions
from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather
information from provided sources to answer a question.
Students will listen to Passing the Bone: America’s Next POTUS and discuss key details provided
in text and illustrations.
Introduce author Heather Patterson to students and share information about her by using her
website www.heathernpatterson.com. Explain that we will be reading a book written by
Heather Patterson about the Presidential Pup requirements, told from the First Dog’s
perspective during the 2016 election season.
Pre Reading Conversation
- Do you think there are requirements to run for President of the United States?
- How might a dog become the White House Pup?
- Define and explain a presidential election. Discuss what an election season is, including
campaigns, candidates, and voters.
- Define POTUS (President of the United States) as a known political acronym, First Family, First
Lady, and First Dog.
- What character traits do you think make a good President?
- What character traits make a good First Pup?
- What is your character like?
Post Reading Conversation
- How did Bo’s point of view influence your opinion?
- You read some requirements to run for President (ex: must be born in the U.S.A.) Is there
something else you would require in order for someone to be President?
- Discuss how children can be good citizens of the United States.
International Dignitary Pets
Air Force One
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
Barney and Miss Beazley Bush
“Off the record”
Chief of Staff
Download the Vocabulary PDF
Other Points to Discuss
- Bo talks about making peace with cats, which are normally considered dog’s enemies. Why is it important for our nation’s leader to be peaceful?
- Bo warns that swimming in the President’s pool is strictly forbidden; however, Bo is comfortably laying on a pool float and sun bathing with an ice cold drink. Notice the Secret Service agents and their expressions. Does Bo look concerned? How did he know that the President’s Pool was off limits? (Infer) The author did not come right out and tell us.
- Servant hearted
- Have students draw a picture of their dog as the White House Pup.
- Write a letter of why or why not their dog would make a good “POTUS” (Pup of the United States). If students do not own a dog, then can think of a dog they know, or use their imagination.
- Allow students think time to formulate ideas.
- If their dog would make a good POTUS, give positive examples.
- If their dog would make a bad POTUS, give negative examples.
- Students may reread the story to remember examples of Bo’s character and requirements. Use these clues to remember the attitude and character a Presidential Pup should have.
- “Only the President lands on the South Lawn.”
Bo says in the book, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn,” referring to an honored tradition reserved for the President; however, these are true words spoken from former President George H. W. Bush. Before George H. W. Bush was President, he served as Vice President to Ronald Reagan. While President Reagan was in office, he was shot and rushed to surgery. His advisors wanted Vice President George H. W. Bush to land on the South Lawn as a public symbol of leadership while Ronald Reagan was in surgery. However, Vice President George H. W. Bush refused and said, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn,” showing an immense amount of respect not only to President Ronald Reagan, but the office of the President of the United States.
- “Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.”
At a talk show, Bo sends “warm wishes to the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, our friendly ally across the pond.” (“Across the pond” is a saying that means across the ocean.) What a long nickname for a cat! Bo is talking about sending friendly greetings to the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The cat’s real name is Larry, who lives at 10 Downing Street (head quarters of the executive office of the British Government). Larry is to the United Kingdom, what Bo is to the United States of America.
P.S. – Bo has appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “Ellen” starring Ellen DeGeneres.
- British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Illustrated in the book is a picture of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in the White House. In the illustration, Prime Minister David Cameron is holding a bone wrapped with the United Kingdom flag. Bo Obama actually was given a bone shaped chew toy, decorated with the England flag, as a gift from Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House.
- Former First Dogs
Bo is seen walking through a hallway of former Presidential Pups, or, First Dogs. On the wall, you can see former President Bush’s dogs, Mr. Barney Bush and Miss Beazley Bush. “43” is written above their portraits because they were the dogs of the 43rd President of the United States. Also in view is former 42nd President Bill Clinton’s dog, Mr. Buddy Clinton.
- Five Living Presidents
In the White House dining room, you see five men illustrated around the table. What you might not know is these men are our nation’s five living Presidents! Pictured from left to right are: Jimmy Carter (39th President), George H. W. Bush (41st President), Bill Clinton (42ndPresident), George W. Bush (43rd President), and current President, Barak Obama, 44th President of the United States. Also, did you notice George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush have nearly identical names? That’s because they are father and son! George H. W. Bush, the 41st President, is the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President. The only other father/son duo to be elected President is John Adams, the 2nd President and John Quincy Adams, the 6th President.
- Passing the Bone
On the last page, Bo “passes the bone” to his canine successor, by leaving a bone for him or her to find in the White House when he or she takes office. Bo’s act is an allusion to the traditional departure letter written by the outgoing President to the incoming President, left on the Oval Office desk.