June 14, 2010

Feelings: Do Unto Otters

Inspired by Katherine Marie, I'm going to try weekly themes for our books, crafts, and activities this summer. Summer is stretching out in front of me as one long, hot and humid day, and I need to add a little structure to our lives. (Katherine Marie, by the way, is one of my blogging heroes. Her ideas are phenomenal and her pictures are pure eye candy!)

This week I'd like to teach my younger child to recognize basic feelings and help the older one learn a little empathy. Toward this goal, we created a "Happy Jar" for the family.

Together we brainstormed ways we could help spread happiness to each other. E came up with ideas like "share one of my toys" and "do chores without being asked." I added a few fun things like "bake chocolate chip cookies" and "give hugs". Every now and then we'll pull a slip from the jar and do what it says for someone in the family, serving each other and spreading joy!

A great companion to this activity is this silly, but very useful picture book on the right way to treat others... or otters:

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller

Do Unto Otters: A Book About MannersThe title of the book was just too clever for me not to pick it up! When a rabbit learns that otters have moved in next door, he becomes worried. Will he like them? Will they get along? Mr. Owl tells Mr. Rabbit simply to treat otters they way he would like the otters to treat him. Mr. Rabbit thinks about it and begins listing all the things he'd like the otters to do - be kind, considerate, polite, friendly, etc. - and not do - lie, cheat, tease. When he's done thinking it through, Mr. Owl reminds him: just do all those things you listed!

I'm not a huge fan of the artwork in this book. It reminded me too much of Ren & Stimpy, with it's googly-eyed characters and hand-written subtext. The message of the book is great, however, and the book gets the point across without being preachy. When reading to preschoolers, you can skip much of the extra text, but kindergarteners and up will probably enjoy the silly additions.

I'm linking up to:
- SOYS @ Fireflies and Jellybeans


  1. Great idea. We have read that book a few times. I agree with you about the illustrations and the message!

  2. Oh, I also ADORE Katherine Marie...but I don't think your site is too far off from hers, either!

  3. awesome idea--and I love the title of that book!

  4. ahhh shucks... you are too kind!!! I'm elated that you'll be doing a theme-a-week this summer!!!! Whoooo hoooo!!! I know you'll come up with some new and exciting ways to create, learn and explore with books and art. I can't wait!!!!! Your HAPPY JAR is terrific. :) WE should plan to do the same theme one week and go crazy. :):)

  5. oo love this idea!!

  6. Apparently my daughter's school is adopting a "bucket-filling school" theme next year. They will all discuss how everyone has buckets and learn about how they can either fill another's bucket or empty it depending on what they say and do. I'm interested to see how the philosophy works out.


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