Do Unto Otters, the Perfect Book for Teaching about Manners

Do Unto Otters, the Perfect Book for Teaching about Manners Featured Image

Are you finding the excitement of the holidays has your students losing all sense of manners? Self control is challenging this time of year, isn’t it? Well, I have the perfect book for you! Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller is just what you need. In this post, I’ll share with you lesson ideas that will take that wild crazy class back to the class of your dreams.

introducing do unto otters to your class:

Do Unto Otters is all about the Golden Rule, and certainly, this is something students of all ages can understand and practice. Before beginning the story, you might use prereading activities to talk about some of the main concepts and work on key vocabulary included.

One of the activities in this unit is a brainstorming activity where students will make a list of manners and share when they need to practice them. You might use Think, Pair, Share and create an anchor chart to post in the room. The second activity includes brainstorming words and phrases related to good manners, and from here, you can move on to introducing vocabulary words.


Teaching points within the story

As you share the story, I suggest marking stopping points for discussion. Here are a few places you can use.

  • Introducing Yourself: Mr. Rabbit goes over to the otter family and introduces himself politely, showing good manners when meeting new neighbors.
  • Sharing and Cooperation: The book emphasizes the importance of sharing and cooperating with others, as Mr. Rabbit and the otters learn to share the space around their homes and garden.
  • Saying “Please” and “Thank You”: Throughout the story, characters use polite phrases like “please” and “thank you” to demonstrate good manners in their interactions.
  • Respecting Personal Space: The characters learn to respect each other’s personal space, reinforcing the idea of treating others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Problem Solving with Kindness: When conflicts arise, the characters in the book work together to find solutions, promoting problem-solving with kindness and consideration for others.

These examples illustrate good manners and can be added to the introductory activities or pointed out during reading.


Having comprehension questions to use as you’re sharing the read aloud can help keep your students engaged during the read aloud. You can also use them for modeling the skills you’ve selected for the lesson. Here are a few questions to help you get started. I also have question task cards you can use for the students either during or after reading.

  1. What is the main message or lesson that the author is trying to convey through the story? How does the concept of “doing unto otters” apply to our interactions with others?
  2. Why do you think Mr. Rabbit is worried about having otter neighbors at the beginning? How do his feelings change throughout the book?
  3. In what ways do the characters in the book demonstrate good manners? Can you think of examples from your own experiences that parallel these situations?
  4. How does the author use humor and illustrations to make the book fun to read? Give specific examples that made you laugh or think.
  5. How do the characters communicate with each other, and how does effective communication help in solving problems?
  6. How do the characters show empathy towards each other? Can you think of a time when you demonstrated empathy in your own life?
  7. Why is it important to treat people the way you want to be treated, both in the story and in real life?
  8. How does the author use the otter characters to teach about diversity and acceptance? In what ways can we apply these lessons in our own lives?
  9. How do the characters work together to resolve conflicts, and what can we learn from their approach to problem-solving?
  10. How might the lessons from “Do Unto Otters” be helpful at home and with friends?

modeling comprehension skills with DO UNTO OTTERS:

If you’d like to have printables and digital pages to go with Do Unto Otters, check out what’s included in my unit below. The unit has 35 PDF pages as well as a Google Slides version of the same activities.

  • Brainstorming about Manners
  • Vocabulary organizers and word cards plus 1 follow up activity
  • Word Splash about Manners
  • BME organizer
  • Character Development Organizer
  • Compare/Contrast Mr. Rabbit and The Otters
  • Inferencing about story events
  • Text to Self Connections
  • Color by code…good and bad manners
  • 12 questioning task cards
  • 15 pages…Essay writing prompt and support materials
  • Manners sorting activity

work on essay writing with do unto otters:

Writing Lessons for Do Unto Otters

Finally, using Do Unto Otters provides an opportunity for introducing essay writing about the importance of using good manners. In this unit, you get a writing prompt as well as anchor charts, a writing checklist, four square writing organizer, and writing pages in both digital and PDF. This helps so much in trying to model for students.

In addition to the essay writing assignment, there is also a post reading activity where students can work in teams to sort examples and non-examples of good manners. Students also do a color by code activity with good and bad manners too. You have a LOT of options with this bundle.

grab your do unto otters resource:

other winter mentor text posts you might like:

Here on my site, you’ll find other snow stories you might like too. Here are just a few mentor text posts to check out.

Winter is a great time to review manners after the break and also when things get a bit crazy. I hope you find these ideas helpful as you use Do Unto Otters with your class. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.


Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.