5 Ways to Teach Good Character With Pete the Cat®

© 1999, 2010 James Dean

Ahh, February. A time filled with candy hearts, teddy bears and valentines spreading messages of kindness. What better time to teach your young students what it means to have good character? And your library is likely already filled with books starring the perfect character to help you do just that — everyone’s favorite feline, Pete the Cat!

In his delightfully simple, feel-good stories, this groovy cat shows us that no matter what life may throw our way, we can always choose to look for the good in ourselves and in every situation. Read on for five ways that Pete and his friends can help show your students how to have good character — not only on Valentine’s Day, but all through the year.

  1. Create an interactive Good Character bulletin board. Reproduce Pete on page 4 of Upstart’s Celebrate Year-Round With Pete the Cat Activity Guide. On the book, write “We’re Good Characters!” or “Showing Good Character is Groovy!” On copies of the shoe from page 5 of the guide, write recurring phrases from the Pete books, such as “It’s all good!”, “Everything is cool!”, “Groovy!” and “Awesome!”, and use these to decorate the board. Then, every time a student demonstrates a good character trait, write the child’s name on a button from page 9 of Upstart’s Pete the Cat Reading Program Activity Guide, along with the trait they displayed, such as caring, cooperation or honesty. Have the student color the button, then display it on the bulletin board. Encourage students to be on the lookout for classmates showing good character, and help them write the name of the classmate and the character trait on a button.
  2. Talk about the meaning of each of the following character traits: Courage, Enthusiasm, Honesty, Patience and Perseverance. Then, read aloud Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. In this story, Pete discovers all the different things to see and do at school. When he is about to try something new, “Does Pete worry? Goodness no!” Ask students for words that they think describe Pete based on the story. Write each word on a copy of the shoe. Ideas include courageous, positive, patient, cheerful and easygoing. Display the shoes and talk about how each trait is linked to the character traits you discussed.
  3. Read aloud Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. After reading the story, ask students what they think it means when Pete’s beloved white shoes turn some interesting colors during his walk and the text says, “Did Pete cry? Goodness no! He kept walking along and singing his song.” (He doesn’t let little things bring him down; he doesn’t give up; he looks for the positive in everything that happens, instead of dwelling on the negative.) Can students think of a time they didn’t let a bad situation bring them down? Or, can they remember a time something that happened and they reacted negatively, but they could have turned it around and reacted positively? As an extension, write the following situations on copies of the shoe:
    • You forgot your lunch at home.
    • You lost your favorite toy.
    • You didn’t finish your homework on time.
    • The class field trip was cancelled because it rained.
    • You got a hole in your favorite shirt.

    Place the shoes in a bag. Divide the class into five small groups. Have each group draw a shoe from the bag, and have them discuss ways they can turn the negative situation into a positive one. Have groups share their ideas with the class.

  4. Read Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. When Pete is feeling grumpy, his friend Toad gives him a pair of magic sunglasses. When Pete puts them on, he suddenly sees the world in a whole new way. “The birds are singing. The sky is bright. The sun is shining. I’m feeling alright!” Make “magic sunglasses” with your students. Follow the instructions at FirstPalette.com. Encourage students to be creative. Then, when they are finished, tell students they now have magic sunglasses, just like Pete’s. Any time they are feeling down or upset, they can put on their magic sunglasses to help them “look for the good in every day.” They can also lend their glasses to friends or family members who might need cheering up.
  5. Have students write a valentine or simply a special note to a friend or family member who they think is groovy. On a copy of a heart from page 7 or a shoe from page 5 of the Celebrate Year-Round With Pete the Cat Activity Guide, write “You are groovy because you are …” Give each student a copy. Have them color their heart or shoe and write a good character trait that a friend or family member has shown on the back. Send the students home with the notes to give to their special recipients.

These are just a few of the ways Pete the Cat can help you encourage good character at Valentine’s Day or any time of the year. How are you using the Pete the Cat books with your students? Share your ideas with your colleagues in the comments below.


Elesa Swirgsdin

Elesa Swirgsdin

Upstart Editor at Demco, Inc.
Elesa is the editor for the Upstart brand at Demco and manages the content for the Collaborative Summer Library Program manuals. An avid lifelong reader, she is passionate about helping librarians inspire kids of all ages to love reading.