The Best School Year Ever

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The Worst Kids in the History of the World!

When anything goes wrong at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, from the hexing of Bus Six to the mysterious disappearance of the kindergarten gerbil, it's sure to have a Herdman behind it. The Herdmans are more than famous -- they're outlaws. They smoke cigars, lie, and set fire to things, and that's only when they bother to come to school!

Then a school project forces the students to think of compliments for all their classmates -- including the Herdmans. Is it possible that behind their outrageous pranks there may be something good about this crazy clan after all?

Curriculet Details
20 Questions
24 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for 5th grade students contains interactive videos exploring figurative language and new concepts, as well as annotations describing point of view, interactions between characters, and vocabulary. Students will explore the themes of acceptance and kindness. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Before Chapter One, the author includes this section to give a brief introduction to the Herdmans and set a comical tone for the story. 

Chapter 1

Huckleberry Finn is a character who appears in classic children's books by the author Mark Twain. He is known for his outdoor adventures and would probably have a hard time adjusting to being in school all day. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes the narrator's tone when describing the scene in Miss Kemp's class? 
It is funny that Imogene doesn't know the definition of a compliment, but it tells the reader that she doesn't get compliments very often. Could not hearing kind words change the way that Imogene interacts with other people? 
Which of the following quotes tells the reader that the Herdmans are not to be trusted? 
The Herdmans' idea to raise money is very different from what most kids would think of doing for some extra cash. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the reader know that Beth is narrating the story? 

Chapter 2

A common myth is that frogs and toads can give people warts. Fortunately, this is untrue and and was probably made up because of the lumpy texture of some amphibians' skin. (This annotation contains an image)
An idiom is a phrase that has a meaning other than what it literally states. What does it mean when you "can't put you finger on" something? 
It's no wonder that Mr. Santoro was frightened when he thought there was a gas leak at the Laundromat. Natural gas leaks can cause terrible explosions, like this one captured on film in Great Britain. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the main idea of Chapter Two? 

Chapter 3

The author is using humor by suggesting that Alice could have smallpox. Smallpox was a contagious skin infection which affected human populations for thousands of years, but it has been wiped out by modern science. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes the term "massacre"? 
Social workers, like Miss Phillips, are often assigned to check in on families that may be having serious difficulties at home. A social worker may visit homes with issues such as poverty, abuse, and addiction to drugs and alcohol. 
Quiz One 

Chapter 4

What event caused Mr. Sprague to decide to get rid of the trash masher? 
There is some foreshadowing here. Why would it be a mistake to attract the Hermans to the talent show? 
"Living sculpture" usually refers to a work of art made of live plants. Do you think that Gladys's motivation for cutting Eugene's hair was to create art? (This annotation contains an image)
Compare Alice Wendleken to another character you have read about who always shows off or wants to be first. How are they alike and how are they different? 
What is the meaning of "could have been almost anything" in this context? 

Chapter 5

You can probably think of a lot of things which, like Alice Wendleken, are important but not good. 
What does the author most likely mean by "kids suddenly couldn't climb stairs for one reason or another?" 
Remember that at the beginning of the story, the reader learns the Mr. Herdman left his family soon after Gladys was born. 
Venus flytraps, like this one, are native to the United States. They catch and digest flies and other insects, but do are not a danger to humans. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 6

Gladys Herman is always playing tricks on people. Name another villain in a story you have read and explain how Gladys compares to him or her. 
Alice always has something negative to say about the Herdmans. When someone is unkind to you, how does it make you want to treat them? 
What evidence do kids give that something is wrong with the bus? 
Now the reader can see that Imogene and the other Herdmans were never really scared of the bus. They were only pulling another prank. Think about some reasons why they may have pretended that something was wrong with the bus. 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 7

The author's use of the simile "like grass" give the reader a great visualization of how Howard's hair sticks up. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following can the reader infer from the incident in which Claude is treated as the Herdman family pet? 
Reflect on Imogene's behavior. In your opinion, are even the worst trouble makers caring sometimes? 
What does the author mean when she says that Howard is "looking at Imogene the way you would look at the tooth fairy"? 
Small children often have a special blanket or toy that is very important to them, but is of no value to anyone else. It seems that Imogene realizes the importance of Howard's blanket and the reader is reminded that even she has good qualities. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following options best summarizes Chapter Seven? 

Chapter 8

The chief's response indicates that he believes the Herdmans are 
Smokey the Bear is a well -known mascot used to make public safety announcements about fire prevention. (This annotation contains a video)
A fire-bug, or arsonist, is someone who deliberately sets property on fire.  
In which of the following ways does Mrs. Wendleken differ from Mr. Crabtree? 
A police lineup is used by law enforcement to help identify a suspect. A witness looks at a group of people and indicates which one was at the scene of the crime. The author uses criminal terms when discussing the Herdmans to remind the reader of how these characters are viewed. (This annotation contains an image)
"Epidemic" means 

Chapter 9

Whitewash is a cheap, chalky white paint. 
What events throughout the story develop the narrator's understanding of Imogene? 
Someone who is resourceful is able to use what he or she has to overcome difficulties. Do you think Imogene is a resourceful person? 
How does Beth feel after Joanne reads what she has written? 
The reader has watched how Beth's perception of Imogene and the other Herdmans has changed throughout the story. Although Alice may think that Beth's compliments were lies, it is clear that they are not. The author is sending a message about how other people should be viewed and treated. 
Quiz 3