Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing will have your students rolling with laughter. The story tells about Peter Hatcher who lives close to Central Park in New York City with his parents and younger brother Fudge. The novel centers around the events that take place during Peter’s fourth-grade year. Most of Peter’s problems are due to the misbehavior of Peter’s 2/3-year-old brother. Chapters in the novel are individual episodes of Peter’s life.
Summary of the First Chapters
Peter goes to his best friend’s birthday party and wins a small turtle by guessing the closest number of jelly beans in the jar. Peter is super excited with his new pet and names the turtle Dribble.
Peter’s father works for an agency that makes commercials. One of his important clients, the maker of Juicy-O, comes to New York City to meet with Mr. Hatcher. Dad decides Mr. and Mrs. Yarby must stay at their apartment. The visit begins wonderfully with Mrs. Yarby making a fuss over Fudge. Problems arise when Mrs. Yarby gives Peter a picture dictionary like the one the family already owns. Fudge shows Mrs. Yarby the copy of their book embarrassing Peter. The visit then goes from bad to worse with Fudge’s mischief including covering Mr. Yarby’s suitcase with green stamps. Needless to say, Mr. Hatcher loses the Juicy-O account.
Fudge decides he is not going to eat. The family does everything to encourage him. Peter stands on his head making Fudge laugh. When his mouth is open, Mom sticks in a little food. After several doctor visits, Mom determines nothing is wrong with Fudge; he is just being mischievous. Eventually, Fudge gets under the table and pretends to be a dog eating a bite or two off a plate. Dad finally decides enough is enough. To discipline Fudge he places Fudge in the bathtub and pours the cereal Fudge asked for but refuses to eat over his head. Fudge’s new phrase becomes ‘Eat it or wear it.’
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Activities
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Unit Samples
Grab your free novel study samples including vocabulary, comprehension questions, and constructed response writing prompt here.
Teaching Idea #1 ~ Food
Make Juicy-O Smoothies
Peter’s dad helps Mr. Yarby sell his Juicy-O fruit drink. The story states that Juicy-O tastes like a combination of oranges, pineapples, grapefruits, pears, and bananas. Make classroom smoothies with a combination of some of these fruits.
Divide students into groups of 4. Give the group the following basic recipe. Students can be creative by adding additional fresh fruit to make a delicious drink.
- 1 cup frozen fruit
- a small banana
- 1 cup fruit juice
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Make Some Classroom Fudge
My students love classroom food activities. This one is super easy with little mess. It is also extremely delicious!
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces of softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Optional mix-ins: chopped nuts, candies, etc.
Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized zip-top bag. [You can easily divide the ingredients into quarters and place the smaller amount in quart-sized bags.] Place that bag in a second bag. Seal bags. Use your hands to mix the ingredients all together. With the ball of fudge still in the bag, flatten it out with your hand and then remove and cut it into squares.
Additional Activities to Do with Juicy-O
Turn this smoothie-making activity into a health/science lesson by having each group figure out the vitamins, calories, sugar content, etc. for each serving of the drink they mixed.
Have students create a storyboard for a commercial to advertise their drink or write jingles for marketing the product they create.
Teaching Idea #2 ~ New York City
Peter’s teacher divides students up into groups to create projects. Peter’s team creates a project about transportation. What other projects could students do about New York City? Have students brainstorm a list. If time allows, have students create a project on one of the topics. If class time doesn’t allow for this, have students select one New York City landmark to write a description.
Stop for a concert at Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell. Enjoy a game of Frisbee, flying a kite, or a picnic at Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre grassy field. Think of the Beatle John Lennon as you cross Strawberry Fields. Ride one of the 57 magnificent horses on the Carousel. Observe the panoramic views of Central Park from the Belvedere Castle. See polar bears and seals at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo and the Tisch Children’s Zoo. Finally put on your ice skates for a spin around the Wollman Rink. Central Park offers adventures for everyone.
Some New York Landmarks
- Empire State Building
- Statue of Liberty
- Chrysler Building
- Grand Central Station
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Bronx Zoo
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Yankee Stadium
- Rockefeller Center
- Ellis Island
- American Museum of Natural History
- Times Square
Teaching Idea #3 ~ Siblings
The main conflict in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the way Fudge interrupts Peter’s life. Brainstorm books that contain siblings that have conflicts with one another. Compare a different sibling pair to Peter and Fudge’s relationship.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie)
- The War that Saved my Life (Ada and Jamie Smith)
- From the Mixed-Up File of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Claudia and Jamie Kincaid)
- The Lemonade War (Jessi and Evan Treski)
Teaching Idea #5 ~ Learn about Pet Turtles
Peter wins a pet turtle in the first few chapters of the novel. The turtle which he names Dribble becomes an important part of the story. Students will enjoy learning about pet turtles. Check out this great video.
See the product that inspired this post.
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.