The Best School Year Ever
by Barbara Robinson, HarperCollins, 1994
Activities 1999 Nancy Polette

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ABOUT THE BOOK
No one is immune from the Herdmans' pranks yet the meanest kids in town never seem to get caught. The problem begins when the teacher assigns a class project...everyone must come up with a compliment for a classmate...including the Herdmans.
1. FLEXIBILITY
Stretching the mind beyond the expected response; finding new uses for materials; finding new categories for grouping
A. Name as many reasons as you can that the Herdmans were no longer allowed:
1. in the town hall
2. in the laundromat
3. at the Sonoco Station

B. Add missing words that you do not think anyone else will add:
"If anyone but the Herdmans had stolen a _________and scribbled all over ______________ and then charged people to ____________, they would have been ______ for the rest of their lives. But because it was the Herdmans, everyone said how lucky Mrs. McClusky was to get ___________back in one piece and that was that."
2. ASSOCIATIVE THINKING/ ANALOGIES
Seeing many ways things can go together. Finding like qualities among dissimilar things. On the first day of school Beth draws Imogene Herdman's name. She must think of more than one compliment to give Imogene by the end of the year. Beth is sure this is an impossible task. It was the Herdmans who put the frogs in the town hall drinking fountain; washed their cat in a laundromat machine, locked their little brother in the restroom at the Sunoco station, and wrapped a snake around the light cord in the teachers' supply closet.
Examine these analogies.
Chalk is to board as pencil is to paper.
Custodian is to furnace room as principal is to office.
How many school analogies can your team list in three minutes?
3. ORIGINALITY
Giving a response or solution that no one else will give. Use at least four of the following items in a excuse Ollie might give the station owner as to why he locked his little brother Claude in the restroom.
a raging fire a yowling cat a mouse
a crazed deer quicksand firecrackers
an alarm clock an open window a broken nose
4. TOPIC FOCUSING
List what you know and what you think you know (but aren't sure) about a topic.
Read to support or deny your guesses.
A. A young snake sheds its skin every _____days.
B. The fastest speed achieved by any snake is ______miles per hour.
C. The snake's body contains _____vertebrae.
Total the three numbers:___________

Leroy wrapped a snake around the light cord in the teachers' supply closet. The kindergarten teacher screamed and six kids dropped their finger paints. The snake finally disappeared after Leroy put it in the third grade pencil sharpener.
5. DECISION-MAKING/PROBLEM SOLVING
State the problem. List several solutions. Rate each solution with criteria.
Example: The Problem
How can the kindergarten teacher get rid of the snake around the light cord?
List ideas here fast low cost safe will work total
________________________ ____ _______ _____ _________ _____
________________________ ____ _______ _____ _________ _____
________________________ ____ _______ _____ _________ _____
________________________ ____ _______ _____ _________ _____

Score 1 = No, 5 = Yes
Total the score for each number. The highest score is the best solution.

6. ELABORATION: Adding to a product to make it more interesting or complete.

Imogene tries to convince everyone that anyone who enters the teachers' room disappears. She becomes a hero by rescuing four adults trapped in the teachers' room.

Draw: a closed door or pigtails.
A. What could Imogene add to the teachers' room door so no one would want to enter?
B. What could Beth add to her pigtails so Ollie would stop pulling them?
7. EVALUATION
Examining all sides of an issue. Weighing pros and cons.

At the eye test Gladys Herdman convinces Lester Yeagle that if you don't pass the test, they have to take your eyes out and put them in the other way.

Rank order these developments in eye care from the most beneficial to the least beneficial to society as a whole. Groups must agree on the ranking.
A. A surgical procedure that allows clear vision without glasses.
B. Contact lenses to correct vision without wearing full eyeglasses.
C. Eyeglasses to help those with vision problems to see more clearly.
D. An electronic device that restores vision in some people with eye disease.
8. ANALYSIS: Looking at the separate parts of an object or issue. Comparing with similar objects or issues.

When the Herdmans join the fire safety team all the other kids quit. The Herdmans are the only team members left to receive the Fire Department Speed and Safety Award.
Finish a proverb as: A. The Herdmans B. The teachers C. The other students D. The principal might finish it.
A. You can't teach an old dog_________________
B. The grass is always greener_________________
C. It's always darkest before__________________
D. Don't count your chickens__________________
9. FLUENCY
Giving as many responses as possible.

Work with a partner. For each letter below, list as many complimentary words as you can (Three minute limit)

C_________________________________________
O_________________________________________
M_________________________________________
P_________________________________________
L_________________________________________
I_________________________________________
M_________________________________________
E_________________________________________
N_________________________________________
T_________________________________________

10. ORIGINALITY

A KARAOKE SNAKE REPORT

TUNE: Herb Alpert: What Now My Love


Here are the facts, about a reptile
Called a snake, and it has strange ways.
It sheds its skin, in a big pile
In just about, every twenty days.

It moves four ways, under its power
Its record speed is eight miles per hour
Three hundred bones make up its spine
Stretching out in a long, long line.

A snake has scales and some have fangs, too
Its food to catch and sometimes to store
If you meet one, the thing you should do
Is say goodbye and show it the door.