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Owney Curriculum

Owney the Dog! A Curriculum Guide for Teachers- a cartoon dog on top of a mail bag

The National Postal Museum is proud to provide this curriculum and supporting materials based on our beloved Owney the Dog. May the lessons provide inspiring and meaningful interdisciplinary experiences for students in your classroom.

This curriculum would not have been possible without the generous and thoughtful expertise of these educators: Katie Biechman, Heather Kurtz, Sharon von Schrader, Chris Huygen, Nancy Fenstemacher, Julia Godwin, Danielle Hickey, Julia Clark, Alexandra Roosenburg, Betsy Wendt, and Margaret M. Bustos.

a smiling cartoon dog

Curriculum Overview

This 60-page full-color curriculum guide features 4 different units that use the story of Owney the Dog, to meet reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and art standards.

a blue and purple-colored map of the United States

Unit 1: Maps

Join Owney’s railway adventures as he criss-crosses the United States. Use his journeys as inspiration and historical evidence to teach about geography today and in his day.

a cartoon man holding a dog with mail bags in the background

Unit 2: Jobs

Owney was loved by the Postal clerks who worked with the mail in the 19th century. Learn more about the jobs postal employees do today for the community. Lessons in this unit also address the important jobs animals do for the community.

a cartoon medal 'First in Everything Office Supt. Railway Mail Service'

Unit 3: Tags

Owney’s tags create a rich opportunity to introduce the concept of history and primary sources to young children as each tag represents a moment in Owney’s life and journey in 19th century America. Key lessons also integrate key math, art, and writing skills.

a cartoon scrapbook with images of a dog

Unit 4: Our Stories

Learning to write an autobiography is a challenging but rewarding experience.  Owney can serve as a narrative inspiration for the students in your class as you guide them through this 5 lesson unit on Autobiography.

The “Our Stories” unit is derived from “Telling a Story About Me: See the Young Children Write Autobiographies” lesson by Melissa Weimer, provided by, a Thinkfinity website developed by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and in partnership with the Verizon Foundation.

a cartoon dog and medals in front of a light blue United States

Companion Lessons for Special Education Classrooms

Three lessons (ReadingWriting, and Math) are designed to support students with IEP’s in these areas and can be done as standalone lessons or alongside the main classrooms’ work in the “Tags” and “Our Stories” units.

a cartoon dog in front of a bright yellow cog

Additional Lessons

The following lessons were created by Nancy Fenstemacher, a 2nd grade teacher from Massachusetts. These lessons are provided as examples of active, hands-on experiences that will help your students develop a sense of time, compare and contrast postal service practices, and gain exposure to United States regional geography.

a cartoon of a mail carrier, a small boy, and a dog looking at a scrapbook


Illustrations of Owney the Dog enliven these worksheets developed to accompany the Owney Lessons.

a cartoon man and a dog on the ramp to a boat

Further Resources

Want a good warm-up Owney exercise?  Need a static map of Owney’s Journeys? Want to see every Owney tag we have at the National Postal Museum?  How about the lyrics from the Owney song?  Find these additional resources and more in this section.

an cartoon open chest with various items inside


Lessons in both the “Maps” and the “Our Stories” units have accompanying rubrics to help you in assessment of these units.  If you develop rubrics for other lessons in these Owney Units, pass them along so we can share them with other teachers.

a cartoon sleeping dog on a mail bag

Standards Of Learning

Our teacher-consultants on this project developed standards of learning from DC, MD, VA, and Common Core.  If you identify other standards of learning for your state, pass them along so we can share them with other teachers.