101 Ways to Bug Your Students - -Creatively!

A Curriculum Guide for 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher

(Includes cross-curriculum web links, resources, thematic activities and discussion topics.  Check back frequently; new lesson plans to complete the list are on the way!)

1.  What Do You Do, Dear?  (Career Exploration)

Have students make a list of all the characters in the story and answer the following questions:  What career does each adult have?  What career do you think each child will have when he/she grows up, and why?

Sample Careers:
Dr. Barbara Wyatt – Microbiologist
Dr. David Wyatt – Philosophy Professor 
Mr. Barker – Business Owner                
Mrs. Barker – Engineer                        
Fierce – History Teacher                       
Tony – Rodeo Cowboy/School Nurse            
Mr. Garrett – School Principal 
Mr. Noel – Restaurant Owner
Sneeze – Inventor/Writerr
Hayley – Business Manager/Golfer/Wrtier
Hiccup – Cartoonist/Doctor/Nurse
Pierre – Chef
Ace – Secret Agent
Goldie – Journalist
July - ?

Next, have students choose a favorite character and research his/her career.  Then, answer one or more of the following questions:  What are the qualifications, requirements and future job opportunities for this career?  (For example, will the character have to attend a university or training program? What subjects will he need to study?  What special skills will she need to develop? Would your character need to live in a particular part of the world, or could she live anywhere?)  Would he think his career is worth all this work? Why or why not?  What do you think your character will enjoy most about his career?  What do you think your character will enjoy least about his career?  Why? 

What do YOU want to be or do when you grow up?  Why?  What sorts of training or studying will you need to reach your goal?  Why do you think Tony switched careers, even though he was a successful rodeo cowboy?  Why do you think Sneeze almost gave up inventing?  Have your career goals changed over the years? How?  What could change your career goals in the future?

2. Ya Do What?  (Career Exploration/Language Arts)

Give students a list of the following job titles, and ask them to circle those that are NOT real careers: 

Ice Cream Taster                 
Underarm Odor Judger          
Alligator Wrangler                 
Potato Chip Fryer                  
Wrinkle Chaser
Laughter Therapist               
Roller Coaster Engineer
Golf Club Trimmer
Apron Cleaner
Cirtus Fruit Colorer
Soda Jerk

Answer:  All of them are real! Discuss as a class what each job might be, what duties might be required, and what salary the job might offer. Research those jobs you find unfamiliar.  Next, have each student write a classified ad for one or more of the jobs.  (Use the classifieds from your local newspaper as a guide.)  Then, have each student create a character description of the type of person who might apply for such a job.  Put this character into a short story.

Career Web Sites of Interest:

3. H is for Hypochondria  (Vocabulary/Use of Language)

Ask students to make a list of the bizarre illnesses and disorders Hiccup has had, thinks he’s had, or fears he might get. (You may want to continue your research using 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents.)  Even if you are unfamiliar with the illnesses, can you figure out from the context of the story what they might be?  Research three of them then describe what each one is, along with its causes, symptoms, and cures.  Is it possible for Hiccup to really have – or have had - these illnesses?  Why or why not?  (Additional questions:  Why do you think Hiccup hiccups all the time? What could be causing this?  Why do you think he’s so concerned about contracting diseases?)

Disease/Disorder Examples:  Cheesewasher’s Lung, Scurvy, Small Pox, Involuntary Micturition, Fluoride Phobia; Hypochondria; Bubonic Plague; Salmonella; Retractable Hiccups, etc.

Web Sites of Interest:

Hiccup Trivia: http://www.leewardlaw.com/hector.htm
The Phobia List: http://www.phobialist.com/#A-
Teacher’s Corner for Health: http://www.bam.gov/teachers/index.htm
Kids Health – a fun, educational website for kids:  http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/index.jsp
FDA page for kids:  http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/kids/default.htm

4. “I’d Like to Have a Word with You!”  (Vocabulary/Use of Language)

Sneeze, the novel’s main character, uses a lot of ‘word play’ in his narration of the story.  This means he enjoys taking familiar words or phrases and changing them to better describe what he’s observing.  Examples in the hardcover edition include:  “goose blisters” instead of “goose bumps” (pg. 2); “clatterwauling” instead of “caterwauling” (pg. 16); “pretzeled two fingers together” instead of “crossed two fingers” (pg. 55); Hayley’s “SOS – The Squint of Suspicion” instead of “she squinted suspiciously”  (multiple pages).

Do Sneeze’s words create a stronger image in your mind when he talks like this?  Can you better understand what he’s describing? Why?  What do you “see” when you hear these words?  Why is it important for a writer to use vivid or unusual descriptions this way?  Try finding other examples of word play in this story.

Write two or three paragraphs describing a person, place, conversation, or incident.  See if you can use word play in your description once in each paragraph.

Word Play Web Sites of Interest:


5.  King Cluck – Making a Chicken Mummy  (Egyptian History/Science/Cultural Practices)

For a list of materials needed and directions for making “King Cluck,” see page 244 of the hardcover edition of 101 Ways to BugYour Teacher.  If each student wishes to make an individual mummy, you may use Cornish Game Hens in place of one chicken – just quarter the recipe.

During the weeks of mummification, have students prepare their chicken mummy for burial by doing the following activities:  Pick a name for the chicken and write a history of his/her life, reign, great deeds, family members, favorite pets and pastimes, and cause of death; Build and decorate a sarcophagus or tomb for the mummy (you might even come up with a ‘curse’ to foil tomb robbers); Design and paint a chicken burial mask; Create special treasures for the mummy to take into the Afterlife, such as games, books, foods, jewels, etc.  After the mummification process is complete, hold a classroom funeral procession, feast and entombment for the Fowl Pharaohs. 

Ancient Egypt/Mummy Web Sites of Interest:

http://www.neferchichi.com/  (a very cool site!)

6. The Bug-ger vs. The Bug-gee  (Classroom/Library Conduct; Communication)

This is a great ice-breaker for the first day of school.  It helps students become more aware of their actions and the consequences of their actions; and it helps them to learn effective, proper ways to communicate.

Begin by sharing a story in which you (or someone you know) have been both the Bugger and the Buggee.  For example, I used to bug my 4th grade teacher by nibbling and spitting my fingernails.  Years later, when I became a 5th grade teacher, I had a student who use to drive me crazy by tapping her talons against the side of her metal desk.

Give each student a piece of paper; have them divide it into two columns and number each column one through five.

In the first column, have students quickly write five things they do or have done that they suspect bugged their teachers.

Next, in the second column, have students quickly write five things that you, or a past teacher, does or did that bugs them.

Have students share examples from their lists.  (Some children may be reluctant to share. Assure them that we sometimes can’t help but annoy people, especially when we’re working or playing together in close quarters so many hours of the day.)


Which things have they done are considered: Rude? Disruptive?  Inappropirate?  Hurtful?  Time-Wasters?  Brain-

Wasters?  Ineffective means of communication? 

Which ones are funny?  Annoying?  Accidental?  Intentional?

Why do we do these things?

What are their consequences?

How can we learn to be more aware of our actions?

After the discussion, have students brainstorm ideas for a Classroom or Library Code of Conduct. (You may wish to help them revise their code, as the punishments kids want to dish out are usually far more severe than anything we teachers would have in mind!)

7. “I’ve Got An Idea!” (Problem-solving, Critical/analytical thinking; Science)

Place the following items on a table in front of the classroom:
Earmuffs, calculator, box of Popsicles, a resealable cereal box, a set of Wristies, etc.  Ask children these items have in common.

Answer:  They were all invented by kids; they were all invented because of  problem - - something was bugging these kids, and they wanted to come up with a way to de-bug it!  (Examples: the earmuffs kept ears from getting cold; resalable cereal boxes prevent cereal from getting stale; Wristies prevent kids from losing their gloves, etc.)

Give examples from 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher:
       -Sneeze invents a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat to keep from falling in on a dark night;
       -He invents The Nice Alarm so that a person is awakened nicely, instead of startled out of bed;
       -invents a Diaper Alarm so his parents know when his little sister is wet;
-invents a mechanical ice cream cone for kids who are too hot, tired and lazy to lick on a hot summer day.

Divide children into small groups.  Have each group brainstorm a list of things that bug them. (Offer the following categories to get them started: School, home, grocery store, the movie theatre, the car, cleaning, sports, pets.

Next, brainstorm ways to solve these problems (or problem) with an invention.

Have each student draw the ‘blueprints’ for an invention, describing how it works.

Name the invention; create a plan to market and advertise it; build the invention for an Invention Convention; research and write a biography of a famous child inventor/inventioin; celebrate National Inventor’s Month; Discuss the creative process and writer’s block/inventor’s block; research the patent process; keep an inventor’s log.

Invention Websites of Interest:
http://www.totallyabsurd.com/absurd.htm (a website created by a teacher/librarian, filled with invention-oriented lesson plans)

Click here for another Teachers Guide to this book