You'll have your students laughing and saying, "Aw gross!" if you use this book as a read-aloud in your classroom! Judy Blume writes as if Peter, the main character and narrator, is right in the room with you. Use this book as a springboard to activities across the curriculum.
Read and Enjoy!
You may choose to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to your students, have your students take turns reading aloud or use multiple copies in reading groups. My favorite way for this particular book is for the teacher to read it to the students. Even third and fourth grade students enjoy having a good book read to them. It is a time for them to relax and enjoy the book. It is also a time when reluctant readers realize that books can be fun. For those students who have younger siblings, they can certainly identify with Peter whose whole life is turned upside down by his little brother Farley Drexel Hatcher, better known as Fudge!
You can do this activity as soon as you begin reading the book because the turtle is mentioned on the first page of the book. Peter wins a turtle, Dribble, at a birthday party.
Take your students to the school library or use your classroom resources.
1) List the ways a turtle and a tortoise are different
2) Find out why small turtles are no longer sold in pet stores. (The sale of turtles less than 4 inches long was banned in the United States in 1975 because, turtles pose a high risk of spreading disease, especially to children.)
3) Do turtles make good pets? How do you take care of one?
If your students have access to a computer in the classroom or at the school library here is an activity for them to do independently. Judy Blume has a wonderful website (resource below). Have students find out how Judy became a writer, where she grew up and her dreams. She also tells an interesting story about how Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing became a book. What was the inspiration? A classroom discussion can evolve into what dreams the students have. What inspires them?
Because I Said So! Language Arts Activity
Use book sets. Students should scan the dialog and find at least eight words that take the place of the word "said". Some examples are: whispered, shouted, screamed, cried, and answered. Then students will write eight dialog sentences using the words they found. A review may be necessary on proper use of quotation marks, commas and exclamation points.
1. You may want to use this activity to practice handwriting as well.
2. Have students share their favorite sentences with the class.
Think of the situations that Fudge got the family into in the book! Remember the shoe store, the movie theater, the attempt to fly at the playground and making a television commercial?
Students need to use a 1/2 sheet of paper to write a story problem about Fudge. Students should put their name but not the answer to the problem. The story problem must involve time, money or making change. For example:
Dad bought three movie tickets-two were for children which cost $2.50 each and one for an adult priced at $4.25. How much did Dad pay for the tickets?
Place completed story problem on the floor face down. When everyone is finished, students should come up and choose a paper with a problem to solve. Allow time to solve and then return to the writer of the problem to compare answers.
Additional Teaching Ideas
1) Make some fudge! There are several ways to make "no bake" fudge.
2) Group or individuals use poster board to create a board game using Fudge's adventures.
3) Character Ed/Guidance activity: When Peter thought that Fudge was going to be a famous TV star, he called himself a "fourth grade nothing". Write down what you would say to Peter about why he should not feel like a "nothing". Have you ever felt like a "nothing"?
When read again and again, this book will turn out to be a class favorite!
Source: Author's twenty-five years of teaching experience
Blume, Judy. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Puffin Books, 1972.
Author website: www.judyblume.com