I usually begin the year by reading the chapter book "Walter the Lazy Mouse" by Marjorie Flack. This is an old book that none of the children have ever read, so the story is always a surprise to them. Walter is very lazy and never pays attention in school. He ends up getting lost, and meets three frogs. He tries to teach the frogs what he knows, but soon realizes that he only knows the wrong answers since he did not pay attention in class. He goes back home, returns to school, and becomes a good student himself, so he can come back and teach the frogs correctly. I think it's a great book to begin the school year. There are so many cute art projects using mice that it's easy to find a follow-up creative activity, too.