Starting out a new school year can be an overwhelming and sometimes a scary time for students. They have a new teacher, a new classroom, and new classmates to get used to. Making new friends when you are young can be challenging for many children. It is important to help students understand the importance of acceptance and how easy it can be to make new friends at the beginning of each new school year. One of my favorite beginning of the year books is We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins. I’m excited to share this book and some of my favorite We Don’t Eat Our Classmates book activities.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a fun story about a T-Rex, Penelope, in a classroom full of children. She is set on making new friends but can’t seem to stop eating her classmates. This story helps students learn about fitting in, behaving in the classroom, and making new friends at the beginning of school. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates puts a funny spin on the importance of getting along with your classmates and following the rules. These are all crucial lessons that I like to teach in my classroom. They are great for the beginning of a new school year when everyone is trying to find their place and make new friends. But they can be used any time too! It also teaches students that we are all the same on the inside, even though we may look different on the outside. I don’t know about you, but this is a great lesson I’m happy to teach in my classroom all year long!
As with any book study, the very first thing we do is read the book!
Start with an Interactive Anchor Chart
I love using anchor charts in my classroom, and when using a read aloud as part of our lesson is no different. In my classroom these Interactive Anchor charts are an almost daily occurrent. The students love being part of the process of building the chart and it really helps them to remember the lesson.
We start this anchor chart with our main character, Penelope. We add our giant Penelope to the chart and then label her as the main character. This gives us a great opportunity to talk about characters and the part they play in a story. On the first day we will stop here on the anchor chart. We will then spend some time focusing on character traits.
The next day, before reading the story again, we come back to the anchor chart. We focus on two story elements that are very prominent in this story – problem and solution. Once students have been introduced to the concepts of problem and solution, it’s time to read the story again. This time I ask them to think about the problems Penelope faces and the solutions.
After reading the story again, we finish up our anchor chart. We begin by identifying a problem Penelope had in the story. We add that problem to our anchor chart and then we talk about the solution. The students love drawing the problems and solutions and adding them to the chart.
As we identify the problems Penelope faced in her new class, we can move the discussion and add in some self-reflection. The students are able to identify the Penelope and the feelings she had. We are able to talk about what we can do when we have the same feelings.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates Character Trait Activity
After reading the story for the first time our focus is on Penelope, the main character. We spend some time talking about characters and character traits. The students really love describing Penelope and they can see through her scary appearance to the person she is on the inside.
After we have talked about Penelope, the students create their own character traits chart of Penelope. This is an engaging activity that gets students thinking about different ways to describe a character.
The students love coloring Penelope and describing her with a variety of adjectives. Since we have already brainstormed this as a class, the students are able to work fairly independently on their character traits activity. You will be amazed by how many different traits the students can list!
Sequence of Events
When trying to get students to truly understand a story, it is important for them to understand the sequence of events. This activity allows students to go through everything that happened in the story and list them out in chronological order. I generally use this activity after we have read the story 2 or 3 times as a class. The students are very familiar with the events of the story which is important. I love to use this activity as an informal assessment so I can check to see how my class is doing with understanding the story and the sequencing skill.
This is cut and paste activity is super engaging and helps with those fine motor skills too. Students can color each block that shows a different event in the story. Then they will cut and paste them in the order that they happened in the story. This activity helps them grasp the story and its lessons!
Penelope Craft Activity and Skill Review
Towards the end of the week, we wrap up our book study making our very own Penelope! Students LOVE this and it’s a great way to reinforce the learning from the week. Students will identify the main character and then choose one problem that Penelope faced in the story.
Then they will focus on problem and solution. Depending on the skill level of your students, they can write out or draw their problems and solutions. I encourage students to use the anchor chart we created to help them with this part if they are unsure what problem they want to choose.
Once done, we add our creations to a bulletin board or hallway display. The students love seeing their creations and remembering this wonderful story.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates Activity Bundle
If you love these We Don’t Eat Our Classmates activities, then make sure you check out this bundle to grab all of them, and more! This bundle includes all of these activities, plus a few more! It’s a fun way to dig into this book over the course of a week. And, it’s a great way to have some quality discussions about some important topics.
The great thing is, you can use this book and these activities at any time throughout the year! While I love it at the beginning of the year, if your students aren’t ready for characters or problem / solution, save it for later.
There are great lessons to be learned in the book We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Students will enjoy how fun and silly it is. Make sure to pick up the book and these activities for a quality of reading and social emotional learning instruction that your students will love.
Save These We Don’t Eat Our Classmates Activities
Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back and find these engaging book-based activities for your classroom.