Arthur’s Teacher Trouble – Classroom Activities

Book Summary

Mr. Ratburn is the toughest teacher in the school, maybe in the entire world! Arthur and his friends have heard all of the terrible rumors of how “the Rat” gives homework on the first day of school and that he is a vampire. Arthur works hard on one of Ratburn’s spelling tests and ends up representing his class in the school spelling bee. DW then gets quite a surprise when Ratburn announces he will teach Kindergarten next year, which is the year she enters Kindergarten!

The Arthur Series by Marc Brown is the perfect fit for elementary students. Arthur and his friends struggle with the same types of issues that every child faces.


Brainstorm with the class a list of qualities that make a good teacher. Then make a second list of qualities that Mr. Ratburn possesses. Discuss whether they really feel Mr. Ratburn is such a bad teacher. Is he really that bad, or does he just expect his students to work hard? Have the students write a letter to Arthur to convince him that Mr. Ratburn is really a great teacher. Work on the proper format for writing a friendly letter.

Continue your discussion with other storybook teachers and how they compare with Mr. Ratburn. The list may include:

  • Miss Frizzle
  • Miss Nelson
  • Miss Bindergarten

Ask the class to share how each of these teachers differs from Mr. Ratburn, not how they are better…just how they differ. Have each child choose one teacher, real or fictional, and fill in a Venn Diagram to compare the characteristics of that teacher in comparison with Mr. Ratburn. Students can also make a poster of their favorite real or storybook teacher. They can pretend they are nominating the teacher for “Teacher of the Year” and the poster is to be used to convince voters to vote for their candidate. You can take it one step further and have the students share their posters and then hold a class vote for Teacher of the Year.

Since Arthur participates in a spelling bee, you can hold your own spelling bee in the classroom. Another favorite spelling game is “SPARKLE”. Students stand in a circle and the teacher gives a word. You go around the circle and each student gives a letter. After the last letter is given, the next student must say “SPARKLE”, the next student must then sit down and they are out. The game goes quickly, so when students are out, the next round is not far away.

This post is part of the series: Author Study: Marc Brown

A series of articles that will include activities to accompany Marc Brown’s famous Arthur series.
  1. Literature Activities: Arthur's Tooth by Marc Brown
  2. Literature Activities: Teacher Trouble by Marc Brown
  3. Literature Activities: Arthur's Birthday by Marc Brown