Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker - Teaching Ideas


Poor, poor Eula, she is one unhappy square cat. Eula really wants to be round, just like her friends, Patsy and Maude. She is so sad about being square that she looses her purr! Being the great friends that they are, both Patsy and Maude try to make Eula feel round. They give her hoop earring, round rosy cheeks and a fabulous beehive hat. Eula is starting to feel round until she tips over with excitement and can't get back up! Once again Patsy and Maude come to her rescue, they decide to become square! How you ask? Simple, they fit their round bodies into square boxes. Now that they are all square Patsy and Maude show Eula all the great things about being square, like, wearing checkerboard prints, the fact that square cats make excellent square dancers and being square is better for stacking on top of each other. Eula is starting to feel better about being square but what tops it off is when they all get stuck on their backs and gaze up at the big blue sky. As Eula is there gazing at the sky with her two best friends she...purrs!

This is a super cute story with a wonderful lesson about finding the good in others and yourself and also liking who you are. It is a great character lesson book as well as a book that you can easily find a reading skill or strategy to teach. 

Listed below are the skills and strategies that I think work best for this book as well as a packet I created to go along with it. 

The author, Elizabeth Schoonmaker, has given me 2 signed copies of this fabulous book to giveaway and I will be giving the packet to each winner so they can jump right in and start teaching with this book. Giveaway will start tomorrow!

If you love this book you will be happy to note that Elizabeth is coming out with another book ABC Square Cat, Aladdin Books, in the Fall of 2014, I know I can't wait!

Reading level: 1.9
Theme: friendship, individuality
Genre: fiction 

Suggested Vocabulary: longed, hoop earrings, beehive hat, rouge, pillbox hat, priceless, stack, natural, billboards, square dancers, gazed 

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is about. I wonder why the cat is square. I wonder what the cat's name is. {possible questions during} I wonder why cats need to stack. I wonder what billboards are.  {possible questions after} I wonder if Eula will still be happy when her friends are round again. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view - Third person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Author’s purpose - entertain {evidence} Cats aren't square. Cats don't wear skirts and hats and they don't wear earrings. All these things made the story very entertaining.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Eula was unhappy being square.  {most important event from middle} Eula's friends Maude and Patsy became square cats. {most important event from end} Eula was happy to be square.
  • Cause and effect - Why did Eula want to be a round cat? Because life wasn't easy for a square cat. Why did Eula loose her purr? Because she was so unhappy being square. Why did Patsy and Maude give Eula a beehive hat and hoop earrings?  So she could feel round. Why did Patsy and Maude get into boxes? So they could become square cats. How come square cats can stack easily? Because they are square. Why did Eula tip and get stuck like always? Because she was jumping with joy. Why were the cats gazing into the blue sky? Because they were stuck flat on their backs. Why did Eula purr at the end of the story? Because she was happy.
  • Character analysis - describe Eula. Describe Patsy and Maude {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes - Eula was sad at the beginning of the story because she was square and really wanted to be round. At the end of the story Eula was happy because her friends showed her how wonderful it is to be square.
  • Classify & categorize - Classify shapes. Categorize squares and circles.
  • Compare & contrast - Eula to Maude and Patsy
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Wanting to be like someone else. Having great friends. Being happy about how you look.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing - Do you think Eula will still be happy when her friends go back to being round? {text clues} Patsy and Maude showed Eula all the great things about being square. {what I know} When someone points out good things about me I become happy with whom I am. {my conclusion} I think Eula will still be happy even after her friends go back to being round because she now knows how great it can be to be square.
  • Fact & opinion - (facts) Eula was square. Patsy and Maude were round. It was hard for Eula to get back up when she tipped over. Maude and Patsy slipped into boxes and became just like Eula. Eula, Patsy, and Maude gazed at the blue sky. (opinion) Being round is better than being square. Eula didn't look good in a circle skirt. Checkerboard sweaters looked best on square cats. Life was easy for round cats. Eula thought red shoes made her look short.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} Eula wanted to be round like her friends. {details} she lost her purr. Circle skirts didn’t look good on her and when she tipped over she couldn’t get back up.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Patsy and Maude slipped into boxes.
  • Predict - What do you think the story is going to be about? Why do you think life wasn't easy for a square cat? Do you think Eula will get her purr back? If so, how?  How do you think Patsy and Maude will make Eula feel round? What do you think Patsy and Maude's idea was?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Eula wanted to be round like the other cats. {solution} Patsy and Maude decided to be square so they could show Eula all the great things about being square.
  • Sequencing - Eula was a square cat and wanted to be round. Eula lost her purr. Patsy and Maude tried to make Eula feel round. They gave her hoop earrings, a beehive hat and red rouge cheeks. Eula started to feel round and then tipped over. Patsy and Maude decided to become square. They showed Eula that square cats were easy to stack. Eula jumped with joy and tipped over. Patsy and Maude tipped over. Patsy, Maude and Eula all gazed at the blue sky. Eula purred.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought - Eula lost her purr because she was so unhappy being square. Tell Eula something great about being square.
  • Summarize - {someone} Eula {wanted} wanted to be round like her friends {so} so her friends decided to become square like her.  {when}When her friends became square they showed Eula all the great things about being square. Eula was {finally} finally happy being square.
  • Theme - There is only one of you, be happy with who you are. It is important to find the good in yourself and others. Friends always find the good in you. 
  • Visualize - Visualize yourself being square. What are some of the things you would or could do if you were square? 



Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. It is hip to be Square!
    Thank you, Shawna!

    Elizabeth Schoonmaker
    Square Cat
    Aladdin Books, In Stores Now!
    ABC Square Cat
    Aladdin Books Fall 2014


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