Short Story "The Fortune Cookie" Explores Respect, Building Community and Friendship (From Squid And Octopus: Friends for Always)
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Short Story "The Fortune Cookie" Explores Respect, Building Community and Friendship (From Squid And Octopus: Friends for Always)

Book Title: Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always

Author: Tau Nyeu

Illustrator: Tau Nyeu

Book Summary:

Through four short stories, we follow the adventures of two friends, Squid and Octopus. Even though they are quite different, and even though they often don’t always agree, Squid and Octopus, through words and actions, show us the true meaning of friendship. The importance of community is further enhanced as all the creatures work and play together, share ideas, and befriend one another.

Topic(s) Addressed:

Build Community, Welcome New Friends, Show Respect, New School Year

Activities engage: Critical and Creative Thinking Skills, Cooperative Learning, Problem Solving

Students will enjoy this book at anytime, however, the beginning or the year is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to one or more of the engaging short stories included. Through activities that foster cooperative, critical and creative learning opportunities and problem solving experiences, students, begin to build their classroom community of learners.

It is recommended that you begin with the first short story "The Quarrel" as it provides the background knowledge needed for the other three stories.

Story 1: “The Quarrel”
Story 2: “The Dream”
Story 3: “The Hat”
Story 4: “The Fortune Cookie”

This book unit is based on the short story “The Fortune Cookie” that tells the tale of when Squid brings over a fortune cookie, the two of them imagine and worry about all the good and bad things the fortune in their cookie will bring them. Finally, together, they open the cookie to discover what the future holds!  

Enduring Understandings:

  • A community is a group of people who share activities and ideas; a classroom is a community of learners. 
  • The best communities are those where different voices are welcomed, encouraged, and respected. 
  • Learning, working, and playing together help to build a sense of community.
  • There are many ways that we can get to know new people, make new friends, and build community- kehilla.

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


Class sign: Large piece of poster board, pictures of each student

Fortune Cookies :
small slips of paper, markers with non-toxic ink, flour, sugar, almond extract, egg whites, cookie sheet, oven, for directions, watch:

Discover, Explore, and More Activity:
Octopus Balloons: Pink balloons (1 balloon per pair of students ), pink paper, googly eyes, marker, glue
Classroom Band: Materials for student created musical instruments--you may wish to view the following website which includes materials and procedures, and select the instruments in which you’re interested:

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Introduce Chapter 4, “The Fortune Cookie” from Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always.
Read the title of the chapter.


  • Have students ever seen or eaten a fortune cookie? How would they describe it?
Give each child a fortune cookie-have them examine it- touch it, smell it, open it, take out the fortune, and finally, taste it. What words would they use to describe the fortune cookie? Post these on the board.

Give them a chance to share their fortunes (or, as appropriate, read each student’s fortune aloud). Based on what was read, what do they think the word “fortune” might mean. Provide guidance with this as needed. 

Save the fortunes in a special place for use later in the lesson.

Reading The Story

Read the story aloud, stopping when appropriate to explore illustrations, address comments, clarify, predict and guide students’ understanding of the story and the values of community -kehillah, to Welcome New Friends- Hachnasat Orchim, and Respect- Kavod.

Discussion Questions May Include:

  • Why was Squid so afraid of opening his fortune cookie? 
  • What makes a fortune a “good” fortune? What makes it a “bad” fortune?
  • On the page which illustrates fortunes that are “tricky,” such as “Everything is coming your way, ” have students determine whether each idea depicted would be a “good” or a “bad” fortune and why.

“I Wonder Why” statements. Pose the following “I Wonder Why” statements and give students the opportunity to discuss them and other related “I Wonder Whys” that they have. Encourage them to research answers depending upon interest.and provide time for them to share their findings.
  • I wonder why fortune cookies are shaped the way they are…
  • I wonder why fortune cookies are given out in Chinese restaurants…
  • I wonder where the most fortune cookies are made….

After The Story

True Friends Are Friends for Always
Our Kehillah: Put the message from Squid and Octopus’s fortune cookie on a large poster piece of board. Take pictures of students working, talking, sharing, and playing together in pairs, small groups, as an entire classroom community (catch them in moments that reflect their personality, interests, etc.).

Finding Fortunes (to prepare to make cookies):
Share some common phrases used in fortune cookies, or consider sharing sacred quotes from Jewish texts, Pirke Avot or Proverbs can provide many examples such as:

“Say little and do much” Talmud, Avot 1

“The greatest hero is one who turns an enemy into a friend” -Talmud Avot 23:1

"If a person gives his friend all the gifts in the world with a sour face, he has given him nothing. But one who receives his friend with a cheerful face, even if he has given him nothing else, has given him the greatest gift in the world." Talmud - Avot R.N. 33:4

"Do not do unto others that which you would not have them do unto you. That is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary." (Hillel) Talmud - Shabbat 31

“The highest of wisdom is kindness”- Talmud, Brakhot 17A

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.- Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

Remind students about the fortune that Squid and Octopus found in their cookie and how it made them feel. Discuss the difference between a “good” fortune and a “bad” fortune.

Have each student select two or three special “good” fortunes and write each on small pre-cut slips of paper using non- toxic ink (with scaffolding as needed).

Baking Fortune Cookies
Watch the video below to learn to make custom fortune cookies so that your students can share their good fortunes with community members. Consider sharing the video with your students, too.

Involve students in working together measuring, pouring, and mixing, to create the dough (give each child a special role in making the dough). 

When the cookies are finished (either that same day or the next), reread the chapter, “The Fortune Cookie.”

Invite students and guests select their fortune cookies, open them up, share what they say (help with the reading as necessary) and enjoy. 

Familiarize yourself with the steps in making fortune cookies, purchase the ingredients you may wish to try this at home first. (Be sure to familiarize assistants with the way the cookies are baked, folded, paper fortunes are inserted, etc. )

Step 1: Create messages
Cut six pieces of paper into 16 2- by ½-inch strips and write a fortune on each with a nontoxic pen.

Step 2: Preheat oven
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

Step 3: Whisk egg whites
Whisk egg whites in a medium-size bowl until they’re just foamy.

Step 4: Add remaining ingredients
Add the flour, sugar, and almond extract to the egg whites and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Step 5: Drop the batter
Drop four separate tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spaced far apart. You have enough batter for about 16 cookies, but don’t attempt to bake more than four cookies per sheet—they need room to spread.

Step 6: Spread the batter
Use a butter knife or the back of a spoon to spread the dropped batter into circles about two inches in diameter.

Step 7: Bake
Bake the cookies until the edges just begin to turn brown: about six minutes. The centers should remain pale.

Step 8: Remove the cookies
As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, lift them off the cookie sheet with a spatula and place them on a piece of wax paper.

Step 9: Fill and fold
Place a fortune in the center of a cookie, and fold the cookie in half to form a semicircle. Pick up the cookie and place the straightedge across the rim of the measuring cup. Fold the pointed edges down, one on the inside and one on the outside of the cup. Put the cookie in a muffin tin so it retains its shape as it cools.

Tip: Work as quickly as you can! Once these cookies cool, they will be impossible to bend.

Step 10: Enjoy!
Enjoy the looks on your loved ones’ faces when they read fortunes written just for them.


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Octopus Balloons:
Involve students in creating Octopus balloons. Use them to decorate the room and as a reminder of the importance of good friends. Involve pairs of students in working together to make their balloon. Learn how here:

Child’s Play:
To foster the importance of cooperation, encourage activities that require pair or group effort:
Relay Races
Wheelbarrow Races
Scavenger Hunts (working in teams)
Parachute Games- for cooperative activities with the parachute

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students are able to explaining the meaning and importance of kehilla and friendship. 
  • Students are observed cooperating with one another on various tasks to achieve a common goal. 
  • Students are observed forging new friendships-each student has found his/her place in the classroom community.


Lesson Contributors

Dr. Anita Meinbach