"How to Eat Fried Worms" Lesson & Book Activities

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Book Summary

“How to Eat Fried Worms” is a most appealing book about Billy and his friend, Alan. Billy is always taking on bets and dares and Alan decides to really challenge him this time. He dares Billy to eat 15 worms in 15 days, and the wager is $50! Alan has saved the money and his Dad will be furious if he hands it over to Billy. Billy wants the money to buy a mini-bike. Joining in the fun of the 15 day countdown are friends Tom and Joe. As the end approaches Alan will stop at nothing to thwart Billy’s efforts!


“How to Eat Fried Worms” lesson plans could begin with a discussion of: Who would be willing to eat a worm? If you decided to take a dare or a bet to do this how would you eat them — cooked, covered in chocolate, raw?

Read a portion of the book each day to the class and, after each reading, hold a discussion about what has happened so far in the story.


As you proceed through the book there will be many words that the students will want to know the meaning or explore in greater detail.


fricasseed — a form of cooking cut up meat. Make a list of all the ways Billy ate the worms. Can you think of any other ways that they could have been eaten?

piccalilli — pickle of chopped vegetables and hot spices. Bring a jar to the classroom and have a tasting. Would students be able to eat a worm if it was disguised by this strong flavor? Make up a recipe for a jar of vegetables and a sauce. What color would it be? What spices could you use?

glowered — stare or scowl. Show your best “glowering” face. Show another “scowling” face. Stare at your neighbor.

Choose three unfamiliar words from the book. Look up their meaning. Put each into a sentence.


Students will have many ideas and will want to vocalize their opinions. This will provide an opportunity to develop listening skills, to use language to present a point of view, share ideas, experiences and information, and to respectfully take turns.

Discussion topic suggestions:

How did Alan and Joe cheat? How do you feel about this?

How does Billy live his life? Does this get him into trouble sometimes? How?

Why does Billy’s mother help him? Would your parents help you in a similar situation? Give an example of why or why not.

What is your definition of a friend? Do you think that Alan is a good friend to Billy? Why or why not? Would your best friend make this kind of bet with you?

Do you think that Billy really likes worms and will he continue to eat them?


Make a bookmark in the shape of a worm and mark XL1 (41) segments on it — to match the number of chapters in the book. As you read or listen to each chapter color the next segment of the worm.

The author of “How to Eat Fried Worms” is Thomas Rockwell. Find out who his famous father was (Norman Rockwell the famed artist).

Cut paper into worm shapes and use for story writing. Pick out the beginning of the book, some of your favorite parts, and the end of the book. Write sentences and draw pictures to match each part. Then put in the correct order to make a long worm. Add an extra paper at the end cut into the shape of the worm’s head.

Research in books or on the Internet about earthworms. Make a report about your findings. Use your imagination to present the report creatively. (Make some worm puppets and tell about their lives, tape record your speech, make a diorama).

Billy’s bet was for $50.00. Make up a chart to show ways to make $50.00, e.g., $25.00 + $25.00 = $50.00 or $5.00 + $10.00 + $35.00 = $50.00.

Dessert Party

After all the discussions and activities, end your unit with a Dirt and Worms dessert party. Mix chocolate pudding powder and milk in a big plastic (new!) flower pot. When it is set crumble chocolate cookie crumbs on top, add “Gummy Worms” and serve to the students with a plastic shovel!

This will be one of those “memory making” times in class.


  • Author’s own classroom experiences
  • Rockwell, Thomas. How To Eat Fried Worms. Yearling Publisher, 1953