Dogs don’t do Ballet by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Reading to children is such an interactive process and doing voices as well as facial expressions can help tell and story, with young children, getting them involved in the story brings it to life.

Here’s how I would use this book for development in the EYFS.

A little synopsis from me- Biff is a dog who is not like any other dog, he doesn’t do dog things. He likes moonlight, music and walking on his tiptoes! He thinks he is a ballerina. This is a great story for talking about holding on to your dreams and breaking down stereotypes.

Personal, Social and Emotional development

Throughout the book, Biff is told that dogs don’t do ballet- he doesn’t touch his food, he howls at the moon at night, his tail drops and his ears droop, and on stage he turns bright red.

Ask your children how Biff is feeling, this can help your children acknowledge different feelings. This is great to open up a conversation with your little ones about if they have ever felt like this and you can discuss what they can do to feel better.

Understanding the World

Ballet Dancers

People and communities looks at the lives of people close to them, this can be looking at different jobs that people do, such as ballerina, dance teacher etc

Using this to break down the barrier of what girls should and should not do, boys should and should not do! Or Dogs! Remember, dogs do do ballet! Haven’t you seen Britains Got Talent?

Physical Development

Sugar Plum Fairy

This book lends itself to a ballet lesson, doesn’t it? Have some fun with plié, jeté, arabesque, pirouette, first position and even practise your curtesy’s. Did you know that your gross motor skills can help fine tune your fine motor skills so doing these big movements can in turn help their mark making skills. Using the Sugarplum fairy music by Tchaikovsky from the Nutcracker, after dancing, have some paper and coloured pencils and encourage them to mark make with the music. WriteDance is an amazing way to support your children in early writing.

Creative development

The orchestra in the book

Make your own musical instruments and play along with the music or use a triangle to tap the beat. Have a look at the picture of the orchestra and see if they can name the instruments?

Design a new tutu for Biff so he can have one all to himself.


Day and night

Time- there is mention of different parts of the day in the book. Our really little ones have no concept of time so reading a clock is not the goal here. Talking about night and day/days of the week (she goes to Ballet on a Saturday) and that birthdays happen once a year!

Using the picture of the ballerinas, you can add counting into your reading. How many ballerinas are there? Counting in 2s? How many feet are there?

Communication and Language

Hot seating is where you interview them, and they answer as a character

This book lends itself for hot seating. Support your children in forming questions and then pretend to be one of the characters from the book. Be it Biff, the little girl, the father, Miss Polly or the Lady in the front row. by modelling first, they can take over and you ask them questions, it is brilliant for opening up answers in sentences and helping them think from a different point of view.


“Mirror mirror on the wall”

Depending on the age of your child, I love to give them the book and let them seek sounds or High Frequency Words. From my teacher days, with the whole class we would say “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all, who can find….” So, start with sounds such as ‘t’ or ‘o’, move on to digraphs (ee, th) and trigraphs (igh) and words that are used a lot (HFW) such as I, to, and, in, the.

Newspaper article

A lovely activity for our older children is to write a newspaper article from the back of the book; the title is “Sugar Pug Fairy takes ballet by storm!”

Share pictures of your activities with your children! Email

Thank you, Kat x

Published by moretobooks

Award- winning author of the book: “There’s more to books than reading- how to help your child bring stories to life” With a Masters in Education, I have taught as a School teacher across Northern England and have worked as a Nanny/Governess in London and across the world. I support parents and nannies to bring learning into the home in an exciting and purposeful way. Also a speaker at events such as NannyPalooza and the International Nanny Day 2017 and featured in the Nanny Magazine (USA) and Childcare Magazine (UK)

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