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April 2022 - Year 24 - Issue 2

ISSN 1755-9715



From the Editor

Twice a month, Jamie Keddie sends out the LessonStream Post – a story or storytelling idea for the classroom. It's free to sign up and you can do so here:


Here is an example of what you might get:


The poem

Once upon a time, there was a little street dog.
A short-haired mongrel.
A sweet little thing.
She had a white body and a brown face.
Dark pointed ears and big black eyes.
A white stripe running from the top of her head to her nose.

She grew up on the cold streets.
Spending her days looking for food and keeping warm.
Hanging out with her canine friends; avoiding fights with her enemies.

One day, the little dog was searching through some garbage bins, looking for something to eat.
A car pulled up and a woman got out.
The woman walked over to the bins.
She knelt down and held out her hand.
In her hand, there were some biscuits.

She called out to the little dog.

The little dog had never had an owner.
Never had a name.
She didn’t know any Russian words.
But the woman had a kind voice.
So cautiously, the little dog walked over and accepted the gift.
The woman patted the little stray, picked her up and put her into the back of the car.

As they drove away, the little dog wondered if this was the beginning of a new life.
A life of regular meals and a soft bed.
Love and affection.


The little stray became one of the most famous dogs in history.

  • Do you know what year this was?
  • Do you know what city we are in?
  • Do you know what happened next?

"A song for Laika" by Gecko 

Personally, I knew very little about this story until last year when we had a guest entertainer in the LessonStream community.

His name is Gecko and he's a London-based singer-storyteller. One of the songs that he performed for us was titled A song for Laika.

Click here to hear the song on YouTube 

It is often thought that Laika was the first dog in space. But that is not the case. Other animals had gone up before her. Laika was the very first animal to orbit the Earth.

Sadly, Laika was also the first cosmonaut guaranteed not to survive the trip. Although she had enough food and oxygen to last a week, there was no strategy or plan for her return to Earth. 

 This is the only LessonStream lesson plan that carries a "may cause tears" warning!

I'm surprised that Laika's story hasn't yet been turned into a Hollywood production. It has so much to offer.

In the lesson plan, I suggest that you chop up the story and ask students to research different aspects of it. These include:

  • A history of animals in space: Reasons for using them; notable examples; the Soviet Union’s space dog program
  • Laika's training process: Why Laika was the ideal candidate; how she was prepared for the mission; her relationship with the researchers
  • Laika's legacy: How the world’s media reacted to the mission; attitudes to animal welfare and cruelty past and present; Laika in popular culture
  • The space race: Reasons for competition between the USA and the USSR; the Cold War; major events and achievements prior to the first moon landing
  • Orbits and satellites: Newton’s cannonball thought experiment; Sputnik 1; modern-day manmade satellites


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Creativity Group