"Book" to School: We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Get it??  BACK to school but with a Book since this will be a series about how I use picture books  during the back to school times?? ;)  I crack myself up.

This summer, I am going to be spending my time figuring out how I can take my old tried-and-true lessons and reconfigure them for the inevitability of hybrid or virtual teaching.  While we got a taste of it this spring, after school was shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we were at the tail end of school.  We were focused more on survival than learning.  So while what I did in my virtual classroom was valuable (in my humble opinion) it isn't going to cut it for when we go back in August.  So in this series I will be sharing with you how I will use several picture books at the start of school to engage my new students, get them working, and set out learning goals for the year.  

First up:  We Don't Eat Our Classmates

I used  We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (my Amazon affiliate link) last year as a read aloud on the first day of school with my third graders and it was a hit.  So I will be breaking it out again with my third graders. 

After reading the story (either in person or over Zoom), which deals with the ideas of being a good classmate to others, we will brainstorm how the main character showed she was a good classmate, and what she did that wasn't so great.  Then, we will add our own ideas of how to be a good classmate to those in our room.  I like using chart paper for things like this, as it is always great to reference later.  If we are fully online, creating the chart, and then taking a picture of it to display in Google Classroom or Schoology will work just the same.  I also created this one on Google Slides, so that if we have to, virtual or not, the option to just type as we are brainstorming is there too.  That makes for a clean, easy anchor chart to refer back to. (the example below is filled in, but if you click here you can get a blank version of the same template.)

Next, the students will create a "brainstorm picture" of themselves exhibiting the traits of a "Good Classmate".  It is very simple to make.  Kids take a picture of themselves and insert it into the blank space on the template provided here.  Then, using text boxes, the kids write all of the traits that they personally will show as they are becoming a good classmate in our room.  

Digital project for the first few days of school

Afterwards, we will work together to put all of the brainstorming into a paragraph.  I have this handy dandy communication guide (basically a paragraph frame) that I will use to scaffold for my third graders, since they are basically second graders, so that they can write a complete, coherent paragraph.  
Guided writing sentence frames to help scaffold back to school writing

The final product, which will include all of the traits that the kids can show to be good classmates, will be great to hang on the wall at the end of the week.  This is a wonderful way to get the kids eased into our digital work AND is easy to do both digitally and in person.  I think this is a winner for the first week of school!

Final writing project for the first week of third grade

You can grab all of the templates for this "Book" to School writing project for FREE here.

Be sure to come back for the next installment of "Book" to School, where I will be looking at another Back to School book and creating a lesson that I will use when we go back, either in person or virtually!


  1. This is great. Will be looking forward to more

    1. I'm so glad you are able to get something out of the post :) I hope your kids like it too!

  2. This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. ��

    1. Of course! I hope it is useful for you and your students :)

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  4. I teach 5th grade, and I'm positive this would be a great beginning activity for my students. Thank you for sharing.

  5. THANK YOU! I worked hard last year, but I was flying by the seat of my pants! This has been a helpful (and inspiring) start to next year's plans. You are appreciated!
    Laughter and Consistency

  6. I just want to say thank you to you a million times over! You single handedly saved my teaching life. I honestly would not have made it through distance learning without you! Your site is fantastic! I have purchased many items on Teacher Pay Teachers but my saving grace purchases were Paragraph of the Week and Essay of the Month that I purchased ages ago but cannot live without! Just wanted to say thank you bunches! :-)

  7. This looks great for my 4th Graders and I already own the picture book! Unfortunately, though, I can't get any of the links to connect. Would it be possible to post this in your TPT store or email me the link/docs?


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