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Weston Woods
For 50 years Weston Woods Studios has been the principal innovator in the translation of picture books into the audiovisual media. Our adaptations are faithful reflections of classic children's picture books designed to motivate beginning, struggling, reluctant and limited English language proficient readers to WANT to read.

Do Unto Otters Discussion Guide

In Do Unto Otters , Mr. Rabbit's new neighbors are otters. Mr. Rabbit has never met any otters before. He has never talked with any otters before, and Mr. Rabbit is nervous. What if they don't get along? What if the otters are rude? Mr. Owl helps Mr. Rabbit calm down by offering him some sage advice: "Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you." So Mr. Rabbit begins to think about how he would like the otters to treat him. As he treats the otters with kindness and respect, they do the same. This humorous and light-hearted book will highlight that the easiest way to be great friends and neighbors is simply by following the Golden Rule.


  • Students will identify ways to be good friends, neighbors, and citizens.
  • Students will make text-to-self connections.
  • Students will practice following the Golden Rule.

Before Reading Activities

Brainstorm with students about the qualities that make a good friend and neighbor. Guiding questions:

  • What sorts of things do good friends and neighbors do for each other?
  • How do good friends and neighbors speak to each other?
  • Why is it important for people to be good friends and neighbors?
  • What happens when people don't care about others' feelings?

Record students' responses on a brainstorming list or web. Tell students that they will be reading a book about a rabbit who gets new neighbors. Encourage them to listen for the qualities of good neighbors that they identified in their brainstorm activity.

Discuss friendship with the students. Ask students if they have ever had a friend who has done something that they didn't like. How did they solve the problem? Next, ask students if they have done anything to a friend that angered or upset their friend. How did they solve that problem? Have students share their experiences with a partner. After sharing, have each partner share the story told to him/her by the other student. Tell students that they are going to read a book about someone who encourages his friend to try new things.

After Reading Activities

Review the advice that Mr. Owl gave to Mr. Rabbit: "Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you." Explain to students that Mr. Owl's advice comes from an old saying, known as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Use the ideas that Rabbit came up with (be friendly, be polite, be honest, be considerate, be kind, cooperate, share, apologize, and be forgiving) and write each one on a piece of construction paper or poster board. Have students recall examples from the book of how people (or otters) could act on these characteristics. Once students have identified ideas from the book, have them add to each list with ideas of their own. Use these lists to focus on one aspect of the Golden Rule each day of the week. For example, on Monday, everyone will focus on being polite. For each day, organize an activity that highlights the quality you are focusing on. Students can write thank you cards, practice making eye contact, and play games where they have to share and cooperate. Stress to students that even though we need to always practice all aspects of the Golden Rule, it is also important to be especially mindful of one or another each day.

Have students continue create comic strips that show people following the Golden Rule. Provide them with paper that is broken into boxes, as a comic strip. Number the boxes to aid the students in sequencing. After students have drawn the illustrations, have them tell the story orally to a partner. Then, students can add character dialogue or thoughts, or, they can write a one sentence caption for each picture. Students should color their comic strips. These can be displayed on a classroom bulletin board, or in a special library of student work.

Show students a power point presentation or educational video about otters. Provide facts about otters such as, where they live, what they eat, and what behaviors they exhibit. Do the same for rabbits. Culminate the lesson by having students make shoe box dioramas that show the habitats of each animal. They can make paper cut-outs of the animals and put them into the habitats.

Video programs about friends and manners available from Weston Woods include:

Do Unto Otters

Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller.

Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson, ill. by Jane Chapman.

Danny and the Dinosaur, by Syd Hoff.

Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae, ill. by Guy Parker-Rees.

Happy Birthday Moon, by Frank Asch.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, ill. by Mark Teague.

The Happy Lion, by Louise Fatio, ill. by Roger Duvoisin.

Will I Have a Friend? By James Marshall.


For Public libraries sales call 800-243-5020 / For School Library sales call 800-621-1115.

This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.

Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.

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