The book “Hunter’s Best Friend at School,” written by Laura Malone Elliot and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, is about two raccoons who are best friends. The raccoons enjoy playing together and acting like one another, until Stripe makes Hunter do something that he doesn’t want to. Through the story, children will learn that while it is fun to do what others do, it is also fun to do what is right.
Copy Cat Day
At the beginning of the story, Hunter and Stripe do everything the same. The both wear striped sweatshirts, they both read the same book and they both played the same games at recess.
Encourage the students to wear similar clothing to school one day, so they can be like Hunter and Stripe. Depending on their age and the time of year, the students may wish to dress up in a particular color or sports theme. Take time to read one of the “Where’s Waldo” books, where Waldo blends into crowds of other people.
During art class, assign everyone a specific art project, such as coloring a sunflower; depending on the age group, you may have to show an example.
At the end of the day, point out to the students that while everyone was dressed similarly, there were still differences, such as their height or hair color. Even those students who planned to dress alike were still not exactly the same in their mannerisms and other factors.
Point out that even though the art assignment was to create a sunflower, not everyone’s flower was exactly alike. Some students may have had tall skinny flowers, and other may have had flowers with lots of leaves. Point out that even though things are similar, they are not exactly the same.
During the course of the book, Hunter discovers that he doesn’t have to act like his best friend Stripe all the time.
Encourage your students to show their individual personality by having a day where everyone dresses differently. Allow students to pick ideas out of hat, such as a color, pattern or unusual accessory, ensuring that that everyone shows up to school looking completely different.
For art class, ask the students to imagine a meadow or their favorite flower, and then draw it on paper. Give few specifics, and allow students to show their creativity.
At the end of the day, point out how much fun it can be to be different, and while they all completed the same art assignment, there were many differences.
Be Your Best Day
Towards the end of the book, Hunter realizes that being the best he can be is the best way to be a “best friend.” Explain that parents and teachers don’t expect perfection; they expect students to do their best in everything they do.
Teach students the short saying by St. Jerome–“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”
Have students make a list of things they can do to the best of their ability. Suggested activities would be be the best while on the school bus, during story time, while on the play ground or when completing school work. Allow students to participate in activities that will let them be their best and do what is right.
Re-read “Hunter’s Best Friend at School,” enabling students to see how Hunter became a best friend by doing what was right.