Anyone who knows me can tell you that otters are my favorite animal. They have been ever since I was little growing up in Missouri visiting the St. Louis zoo. I could stand and watch that cute, playful river otter for hours. And we had a family friend who worked at the zoo, so I knew that otter's name was Emmitt. Then as I competed in gymnastics, my good luck charm that I took to every meet was a stuffed otter named (what else) Emmitt. Even now, when I recently ordered a Melonhead from Melonheadz Illustrating, I asked her to add in an otter. After laughing, she did a phenomenal job, don't you think?
So, of course, I was going to gravitate toward a book with an otter pun as the title! And after reading the book, I was hooked. What a cute and clever storyline! Mr. Rabbit is worried because he has new neighbors, and they are otters. Mr. Rabbit knows nothing about otters and is terrified that they will be bad neighbors. So, Mr. Owl teaches Mr. Rabbit about The Golden Rule.
Students love when I read this book... probably because I am one of those wacky teachers who uses silly voices and makes faces while I read. I also use lots of hand gestures. I've been know to pull a muscle when reading. Ha! But because the students love it so much, it becomes part of my classroom management. When a conflict arises, often I simply ask, "Did you do unto otters?" And that can open the discussion of what happened and what different choices could be made the next time. "Do Unto Otters" becomes my classroom mantra.
When I read any book, I always start with a little pre-reading prior knowledge activation. I show the cover and ask for predictions of what the book is about and why they think that. I ask what they know about treating others. And sometimes I even use a graphic organizer such as a Bubble Map or a KWL Chart.
During reading, I reinforce what is said, pointing out some things they may not notice in the pictures and text. We can also clarify any unknown vocabulary words to assist with comprehension. After reading we discuss what we just read, relating it to other things they know, they have read, or they have done (Text-to-World, Text-to-Text, and Text-to-Self connections). Then you can have the students do some sort of comprehension reinforcing activity.
I created a free packet to use with this book. It has six activity suggestions, although there are so many more you could choose. And I created reproducibles for five of those activities. One is a simple reader's response of recalling how I want others to treat me and how I want to treat others.
This one is my favorite. It is a writing prompt for students to write times in their life when they showed "otterly" good manners. As a fun added bonus, you can cut out 2 1/2" circles of students faces to glue on the otter body. I know! Cute, right?
The Remember a Time When Sheet helps reinforce the vocabulary in the book and also encourages students to remember when they showed those good manners.
Also in the packet is a blank Venn diagram and suggestions of things for the students to compare and contrast. And there is a blank poster template for students to create a poster showing one of the manners demonstrated in the book. You can hang those posters in the hall to show your class follows the Golden Rule.
So, get reading to help your students learn good manners.