Creative Writing Residency: Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing (Grades 4-6)


Sibling rivalry is one of the most fundamental and universal human conflicts, and many children experience it firsthand. Even children without siblings are exposed to the idea through literature, television and movies, and can relate to it through their relationships with their cousins and classmates.


Using Judy Blume’ classic, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing (Puffin Books, NY, 1972) as a model, this unit gives students step-by-step instructions to write a fictional story in a personal narrative form about a day in a life of a fourth grader and a “crazy” sibling. Realistic fiction as a form gives students freedom to incorporate as much truth and reality into their writing as they like, while allowing them to also explore the world of their imagination.


Our story describes a “day in the life” from a fourth grader’s point of view. The story makes a circle, physically and emotionally. We start at home on a “normal” day. Situations arise to put the siblings in conflict. Things get blown out of proportion. Finally, the siblings resolve their conflict just in time to end the day, so that the next day will seem normal again.


The residency may culminate in a classroom anthology and/or a Parents’ Night.


Click here for a sample story.

Motoko Dworkin

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