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

Additional value:

     Community,Friendship,Welcome Guests,Respect

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.

Story1: “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 Hat.” In this story, when a boot finds its way to the bottom of the ocean, Octopus puts it on his head and thinks it’s a hat. But each of his friends think it’s something completely different.

Carl thinks it’s a flowerpot. Margot thinks it’s a soup bowl and Arnold thinks it’s a doorstop. Squid, finding the matching boot, visits Octopus and he’s wearing the boot on his head too!  

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


  • unusual objects that students may not be familiar with: (i.e. colander, tulip bulb, plastic juicer, etc.) 

 Explore, Discover, and More:

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Bring in several items with which students are probably unfamiliar, such as a colander or strainer, a plastic juicer, ” a tulip bulb, etc. Pass the items around (one at a time) and have students, in groups, talk about and imagine what the object is and what it is used for. Give time for each group to share ideas. Encourage the following components of creativity - for more information regarding each component visit Imagination Jr.
Fluency - The number of ideas you have
Flexibility - The different categories for your ideas
Originality - Thinking of ideas that others don t
Elaboration - The details you add to your ideas

Explain what the object was originally intended for and acknowledge their very creative ideas!
Discuss the reasons why we may all see things differently. (Each of us has a brain and an imagination that allows us to see things in different ways.)

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 do you think each of Octopus’s friend thought the boot was something entirely different? Which did you think was the funniest? The strangest? The most unusual?
  • Imagine that you had never seen a boot before, what things would you think it could be? Brainstorm and list suggestions. Encourage the four components of creativity (see “Before” activity above.)
  • Encourage students to examine the pictures in this chapter carefully. In what ways do the creatures in the sea show community? (How do they work together, play together, share ideas, show kindness, etc.?)

After The Story

What Could It Be?

  • Put students in groupings of 3 so that students have an opportunity to work with new partners. Provide each group with an everyday item (the same item) such as a slinky, a bar of soap, a comb, etc. Have each group imagine that they have never seen anything like it before in their lives--what could it be???? 
  • Let them look at the item carefully, hold it, play with it, and come up with ideas of what it would be. From their list, have each group select a favorite idea. 
  • Provide a variety of craft items (pipe cleaners, plastic flowers, stickers, paper clips, yarn, etc. that groups can use to turn the item into the creation they envisioned. 
  • Have each group give their item a name, share it with the class--how it works, what it can do, etc., Take a photo of each group with their new creations. Display items and photos in the classroom. 


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

“Let’s Go Fly a Kite”
The illustrations in Chapter 3,“The Hat,” reflect a variety of ways to involve a community of students in activities that involve cooperation, sharing, and supporting one another. In one of the illustrations, eel and fish are flying a kite, “the current is perfect….” During indoor recess time, involve students in making their own kites, and when the weather is perfect, take them outdoors:

  • Play the video from the movie Mary Poppins that features the song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

  • Have students sing along-especially during the repetitive verses. 
  • You can buy several kites ready-made and have students decorate them and make the tails, or you can make your own and ask for some assistance from your community members to help assist in the classroom. The following website provides step-by-step directions for making kites, at little cost, and it only takes minutes:how to make a kite out of a plastic bag
  • Take students outside to try their kites (working together to get them “... up to the highest heights...”). 

School Scavenger Hunt:
Divide students into small groups ( give them the opportunity to be with students with whom they have not yet had a great deal of interaction). Create a Scavenger Hunt in which they can find specific items in the classroom, playground and other areas of the school. For sample Scavenger hunts that focus on the classroom, back to school or that target different areas of the school, check out:
Follow Tiffany Robinson Moore s board Scavenger Hunt Ideas For Kids on Pinterest.

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students are observed sharing ideas and materials. 
  • Students are respectful in their reactions to other students’ ideas.
  • Students ideas and responses reflect the components of creative thinking.
  • Students problem solve and find ways to help one another as they fly their kites.


literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Zoom Istvan BanyaiDebbie TilleyOn each page of this wordless book, which imitates a zoom lens in reverse, the focus moves back to reveal a little more. Nothing is quite what it seems.
Duck! Rabbit! Amy Krouse RosenthalTom LichtenheldDuck! Rabbit! is about perception and how we see things. This tale offers a unique take on the how we all have different viewpoints and when to stop arguing. Duck! Rabbit! asks the reader, “Is it a duck or is it a rabbit?” and addresses the answer to this question whimsically, while also sharing the profound message to children that everything is based in perspective.
Just Look Tana Hoban Children view familiar objects through a peep hole and identify what they think they see. When they turn the page, they see the object from a different perspective and notice what they did not see through the peep hole.
The book is a great way to help children understand the importance of re-examining familiar materials, a great addition to learning about Torah study.
Seven Blind Mice Ed YoungEd YoungSeven tiny blind mice attempt to discover the “Something” they find by the pond. An argument ensues as each gives different reports of what it is. When the last mouse runs up and down the object in its entirety, they are able to identify the object.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Dr. Anita Meinbach