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

Jewish Value: Community,Friendship

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 a short story “The Quarrel” in Squid and Octopus: Friends For Always. In this story, Squid and Octopus have a different use for the “mittens” that Octopus is making, and begin to quarrel. Each thinks their idea is best--but is it? 

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- kehillah

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

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Introduce students to the book, Squid and Octopus: Friends For Always

Share the cover. Introduce them to the two main characters, Squid and Octopus. Determine what students know about these two sea creatures-- what are they, where do they live? Encourage students to look at images of both the squid and octopus provided (in materials section, abovee):

  • What do they notice? 
  • How are these creatures alike? 
  • How are they different? 
Create a class Venn Diagram to record responses. Add to the class Venn Diagram to illustrate similarities and differences.

Discuss the topic of friendship. Could a squid and an octopus be friends? Why or why not? Allow them to talk about their friends--how are they different and similar.

Discuss the concept of community-kehillah. Give examples of community (i.e. school community, family, religious community. Ask, “What is a community? What creatures could make up a community under the sea? How are we a community? (We learn together, share, play together, help each other, etc.)

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:

  • What are Octopus and Squid quarreling (arguing/ fighting) about? “What are some of the things you and your friends quarrel about?” (see The Shema in The Mezuzah and Duck! Rabbit! in Literature Connections, below, to extend this conversation about respectful disagreement) Why did each creature (Squid, Octopus and Old Turtle) have a different idea about where to wear the mittens? (Each creature has a different type of body and different needs.)
  • Who is right? Who is wrong? Can they all be right? Explain.
  • How did the characters treat one another? Were they kind? Did they treat one another with respect ? (sharing, playing, listening to one another’s ideas, etc. ) 
  • What is meant by community -kehillah
  • How did the characters in the story show how they are part of special community? 
*Consider utilizing Welcoming Guests lesson plan to extend the learning about building community, the content of that program could be highly relevant to the discussion that emerges.

After The Story

Involve students in a Story Retell, of the chapter “The Quarrel”

Remind students that they just read about the ways Squid and Octopus used the “mittens” that Squid knitted. Brainstorm a list of all the things humans can do with a pair of mittens (pick up something hot, cover hands in the cold, make a sock puppet out of it, etc.). Divide students into pairs and distribute a single mitten to each pair of students.

Each pair can use the materials/craft items available and together create either an Octopus or Squid or Turtle sock puppet. Put 3 groups together so that each larger group has a puppet of Octopus, Squid and Old Turtle. Using their puppets, have students work together to retell the story of “The Quarrel.”

After the story retell, have a class “tea party” -- give them time to just talk to one another and enjoy their new friendships and classroom community.

Note: Save the puppets in case students would like to use them to retell the other Squid and Octopus stories in the book (see lessons for Chapters 2, 3, and 4).

Creating a Class Brit:
A fundamental aspect of Judaism is the brit, or covenant, between humanity and G-d. Numerous covenants were established between humanity and G-d in the Torah, including with Noah (Genesis 9:1-17) and Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). In modern contexts, the brit can be understood as a reciprocal agreement between two or more parties- which is often simply understood as the norms or rules in a classroom. As a way to establish a kehillah, community, based on respect (kavod) and inclusivity through welcoming strangers (Hachnasat Orchim), the class can create their own brit. We suggest narrowing your brit to five principles that best define your community.

Understanding Conflict:
In this story, Squid and Octopus are quarreling. For students having difficulty with this concept and ways that they can be solved, share the Sesame Street video entitled, “Conflict,” featuring Robin Williams


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Underwater Garden:
Together, students will research the plants and animals that live under the sea in order to create a class “Underwater Garden.”
Play a music video to introduce them to the Beatles’ song, “Octopus’s Garden.” While many such videos are available, this one features the Muppets:

Place students in small cooperative groups, each with the task of creating their own underwater classroom garden. Be sure that students understand the “goal” of the task and that each individual student is given a role that is necessary to the success of the entire group. To ensure interdependence, have only one pair of scissors and one glue bottle available to each group so that they have to work together and share.

Provide a variety of print materials that reflect underwater creatures and plants (picture books, magazines, etc.) Have students look through the collection and select creatures and plants they find most interesting. You may have them volunteer to be responsible for selecting certain types of items (fish, whale, turtle, squid, octopus, lobster, plants, etc.).

Have each group of students determine the placement of their pictures, and glue their creatures/plants to a large piece of construction paper. As appropriate, have them place their sea creatures in ways that they can interact and add their own detail illustrations (i.e. paying checkers or eating a snack as did Squid and Octopus, playing ball, dancing, etc.).

Allow each group to tape their garden to a larger piece of blue butcher paper to create a classroom underwater garden. What else would students like to add to the garden? Help facilitate as appropriate.

Have students “showcase” their garden, play the Beatles’ song and encourage students (and guests) to sing along and move as one of their favorite sea creatures!

Involve students in the discussion of the following quotes, especially as it relates to the activities they were involved with in Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always (scaffold understanding of these concepts as needed):”

  • “Life is full when you share it with a friend.” 
  • “Who is the greatest of all heroes? One who turns an enemy into a friend.” -Pirke Avot, 23:1

Ask students to finish the sentence: “Our classroom Kehilla is important because….” .

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Teacher observations of students working cooperatively on activities such as their sock puppets and Underwater Garden. Are they sharing, discussing, listening to one another’s ideas, learning and working together towards a common goal? 
  • Students demonstrate the importance of community and friendship in the ways in which they support, respect, and encourage each other.
  • Story Retell of the chapter indicates their understanding of the ways friends interact respectfully, even when they don’t agree.


literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
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.
The Shema In the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso Joani Keller RothenbergIn a divided world, where the one who shouts the loudest often gets the most attention, a story about compromise and listening. "Standing UP!" "Lying DOWN!" What were the people to do? They decided to ask the rabbi of the town. “What are we to do?” they asked. “Shall we put the mezuzah standing up or lying down?” The townspeople have mezuzahs but cannot agree on how to put them up on their doorways. Should they place them horizontally or vertically, standing up or lying down? To end their arguing, they consult the wise rabbi of the town, who advises them to carefully read the Shema in the mezuzah to find the answer. With this lively tale, based on a twelfth-century rabbinic debate, best-selling, award-winning children's author Sandy Eisenberg Sasso helps young people discover that there is often more than one solution to a problem, and that living together and creating “home” requires cooperation and listening to one another.
Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story Martin SpringettIsobel Springett (Photographs)When Pippin, a fawn abandoned by her mother, cries out for help, she is found by author Isobel Springett. After carrying the tiny fawn back to her home, Isobel places Pippin next to Kate, a Great Dane who has never had puppies of her own.
What follows is a remarkable and unlikely friendship. Kate successfully raises Pippin to be an independent deer, and Pippin always returns from the forest to visit her best friend.
With simple text and stunning photographs, Kate and Pippin, and their one-of-a-kind friendship, come to life in an irresistible way!
Frog and Toad are Friends Arnold LobelArnold LobelFrom writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be.
Friends (Mostly) Barbara JooseTomaso MillianHenry and Ruby.
Ruby and Henry.
Best friends.
(Most of the time.)
They give the best gifts and know the best games and are the best at keeping secrets.
(Most of the time.)
But even when Henry and Ruby don't get along, they know one thing: nothing is the same without your best friend.
Henry and Ruby.
Ruby and Henry.
They belong together.
All of the time.
George and Martha James MarshallJames MarshallTwo lovable hippos teach the meaning of friendship in five separate vignettes: "Split Pea Soup," "The Flying Machine," "The Tub," "The Mirror," "The Tooth."
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Dr. Anita Meinbach