Ready, Freddy! Tooth Trouble Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
Every student but Freddy has signed his or her name on the Big Tooth in Mrs. Wushy’s first grade room. Freddy is the only one who has not lost a tooth, and he is determined to do something about it. First, Freddy tries to tie a string around his tooth and around the doorknob in his bedroom. However, his inability to tie a knot foils the plan.
The next day in school, Freddy talks back to Max, the class bully, who tells him to get ready for a fight during recess. At first, Freddy is scared; then he realizes that it is the perfect opportunity to have a tooth knocked out. Unfortunately, Max aims for Freddy’s stomach rather than his mouth, and Freddy is sent to the principal’s office and then the nurse.
At home, Freddy talks over his tooth trouble with his mother who cheers him up with a trip to his favorite ice cream place. While enjoying his scoop of Strawberry Swirl, Freddy swallows something hard—a tooth! The Tooth Fairy leaves him a shiny silver dollar and, finally, Freddy is able to write his name on the Big Tooth at school.
Teaching the Book
Freddy Thresher has a problem—he’s the only one in his class who hasn’t lost a tooth! This humorous story about a first grader’s growing pains provides opportunities to discuss the challenges of growing up, the text structure of problem and solution, and the power of vivid verbs. Activities will engage students in counting teeth, reporting on animal teeth, and drawing their own toothy smiles.
Theme Focus: Growing Pains
Comprehension Focus: Problem & Solution
Language Focus: Vivid Verbs
Get Ready to Read
Ask students to show you and each other their teeth. Then encourage them to share stories that they have about teeth. These might include stories about losing teeth, about toothaches, or about tooth trouble that their family or friends have had. Ask them if they know how many primary or baby teeth they have. What happens when these fall out? Have the class generate a list of questions they have about teeth. Come back to the questions after reading and help students find the answers.
Preview and Predict
Project the cover of the book on a whiteboard or screen or have students view their own copies. Ask students what they think the title might mean. Can they see anything wrong with Freddy’s teeth? What kind of tooth trouble might he have? Ask students to predict what will happen in the book.
Introduce students to the vivid verbs that are found in Tooth Trouble. Explain that a verb is an action word, but some verbs are stronger and more powerful than others. A vivid verb is an action word that puts a picture in the mind of a reader. For example, “Robbie strutted proudly up to the front of the room.” What did Robbie look like when he “strutted?”
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students. Ask them to figure out the meaning of the words as they read and then check the definitions and write them on the cards.
- whine (p. 7)
- mumble (p. 15)
- strut (p. 16)
- bolt (p. 18)
- sniffle (p. 22)
- gulp (p. 34)
- shrug (p. 64)
- wriggle (p. 67)
Words to Know
Read aloud the following context sentences for the vocabulary words. Ask volunteers to give their definitions of each word. Then ask students to repeat the sentence, acting out the vivid verbs.
- “Great, just great,” I mumbled. (p. 15)
- Robbie strutted proudly up to the front of the room. (p. 20)
- I didn’t walk. I bolted to the bathroom. (p. 16)
- “I’m the only one,” I said, sniffling. (p. 23)
- I gulped. It was my mother. (p. 34)
- “I don’t know.” I shrugged. (p. 64)
- "I tried to wriggle free. (p. 67)
- “You always say that,” my sister whined. (p. 72)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud the introductory text on page 7 and then the first chapter of the book. Ask the class to follow along in their texts. Point out that the story is told by Freddy. He uses the pronoun “I” to tell what is happening. Ask students: What is Freddy’s problem? How do you think he feels about being the last one to lose a tooth? Remind students to look at the illustrations as they read for more clues about what is happening in the story.
Assign partners to read the book together. Encourage them to share questions and reactions with each other.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Can Freddy force his teeth to hurry up and fall out?
Identify Problem and Solution
The plot of Tooth Trouble develops as Freddy tries one thing after another to solve his problem of not losing a tooth. Explain to students that stories are often made up of problems and solutions. Often, it takes a few tries to find a solution that works.
Use the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Identify Problem and Solution to model for students how to identify problems and solutions in the story.
Freddy has a problem. What is it? He is the only one in his class who hasn’t lost a tooth. I’ll write that down in the top box. How does Freddy go about solving his problem? I remember that first he tried to tie a string to his tooth and the doorknob and pull it out that way. I’ll write that in the second box. Did that solution work? No!
Have students fill in the rest of the solutions on the organizer. Discuss students’ answers and what they tell about losing teeth.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Growing Pains
Look at the illustrations on pages 16–17. What is going on in the pictures? How is Freddy feeling? How can you tell? (Sample answer: Freddy has a sad, embarrassed look on his face because now he is the only one who has not lost a tooth.)
2. Problem and Solution
Freddy tried twice to make one of his teeth come out. Do you think his solutions were good ideas? Why or why not? (Answers will vary.)
3. Vivid Verbs
Describe a time when you whined. When have you had to wriggle out of something? Why might you bolt out of a place? (Answers will vary.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
How did you feel when you lost your first tooth? (How do you feel about the idea of losing your first tooth?)
2. Text to World
What other tooth troubles do you know about from other members of your family?
3. Text to Text
What other books or articles have you read about teeth? Were they made-up stories like Tooth Trouble? Or were they full of facts?
Content Area Connections
Take Care of Your Teeth!
Print or project the Keeping Terrific Teeth poster and discuss the tips for healthy teeth with students.
Print out a coloring page of the poster to give to students.
Invite the school nurse or dental professional to visit the class and talk with students about good dental care. Follow up by having students keep a log of when they brush their teeth and floss for a week.
Make tooth counters from heavy white paper cut in the shape of a tooth. Give partners twenty counters to arrange in two rows of top and bottom teeth. Have them play addition and subtraction games by "losing” teeth and then “growing” them back.
Freddy knows all about sharks—including how many teeth they have. Encourage interested students to learn more about animal teeth, including the teeth of their pets. This is a readers’ theater play about animal teeth that students can perform.
Find the Fins
A fun feature of Tooth Trouble is that the word “fin” is hidden in every picture. You might want to have a “Fin Hunt” contest or have partners work together to find the hidden word in each picture. The activity is not only fun but also a great exercise in visual discrimination.
A Letter to the Tooth Fairy
Freddy, like most kids, writes a letter to the Tooth Fairy after he loses his first tooth. Ask students to pretend they have just lost a tooth and have them write a letter to the Tooth Fairy. Guide students to use Freddy’s letter on pages 83 and 84 as a model. Make sure that the letter has a greeting or salutation, a body, a closing, and a signature. Consider asking them to add a heading including their address and the date. Encourage students to share their letters with a partner or group and provide feedback to each other.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student a turn to answer the big question. Encourage students to give examples from the story or their own lives to support their answers. Can Freddy force his teeth to hurry up and fall out?
Have students draw their teeth to fill the smiling mouth on the Big Activity: Smile! By school age, most children have twenty baby or primary teeth that have grown in between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. These teeth begin to fall out, on average, around age 6. Ask students to draw their top row of teeth first, leaving a dark space for any that are missing. Then have them draw in their bottom row of teeth. Then students can fill out their teeth statistics below the smile.
This Storia e-book has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Word Scramble (2)
- Word Twister (3)
- Do You Know?
- Who Said It?
About the Author
Abby Klein teaches in the same public elementary school in the Los Angeles area that she attended as a child. She has been a kindergarten and first-grade teacher there for more than fifteen years and is very involved in the school community, as both a teacher and a parent. Her two young children also attend the school where she teaches. In addition, she is a “teacher-leader” in her district and has been a presenter at national, as well as, local conferences.
Klein brings just the right amount of true-to-life humor and drama in her first published series, Ready, Freddy! Her books provide young readers with a fresh voice, a great sense of humor, and a unique perspective on the trials and tribulations of first grader Freddy Thresher. Utterly authentic and drawn from real experience in the classroom, Abby Klein knows exactly what first graders are thinking.
She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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