Frindle By Andrew Clements

Teacher Guide by Heidi Deck

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category!

Frindle Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Frindle Include:

What happens when a simple idea takes over an entire school and town? Ask Nick Allen, a quick-witted fifth grader at Lincoln Elementary School. After an attempt to waste time and provoke his new language arts teacher, Nick gets assigned a report on the history of the dictionary. This research sparks an idea to invent a new word: “frindle”. What was once an innocent idea spreads like wildfire until the word no longer belongs to Nick, and there’s no way for him to stop it. Students in Grades 3-6 will be laughing and smiling all the way through this imaginative and relatable tale.

Frindle Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Frindle Summary

Frindle is an ideal book to practice summarization, as it is short, but also contains many important plot elements. Students transitioning from summarizing short stories to summarizing lengthier chapter-books will benefit from having to synthesize the chapters of the book into a full summary. The storyboard format will help students practice being concise and to think critically about the importance of events.

Parts of a Story - Story Structure
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Consider having students plan their storyboard using a blank template prior to creating the full storyboard online. Students should begin with the narrative in each box before adding character dialogue. This will allow them to focus on the purpose of summarizing and determining importance before getting distracted by the details of the story board. Students can also be given a set number of frames to use for the story board to help them be concise. After planning on a template, students can compare the important events they chose with a partner and the class could discuss why different events in the story were included in the storyboard over others.

Example Frindle Summary


  • Nick Allen stalls for time on his first day in Mrs. Granger’s class and is assigned an oral report on the history of the dictionary.
  • After completing his research, Nick has an idea.


  • The word "frindle" begins to spread throughout the school.
  • The frindle story becomes a national sensation.


  • Nick changes, but Mrs. Granger encourages him to keep dreaming up ideas.
  • Ten years later, "frindle" is in the dictionary, and Nick receives a letter from Mrs. Granger.

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Frindle Character Map

Copy Assignment

Making a character map is a helpful activity for any story. In this activity, students can create a reference guide to the characters in the story and record each character’s physical appearance, traits, motivations, and relationships. This is a great activity for students to update each time they meet a new character or learn more about characters.

Here is an example:

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.

  1. Identify the major characters in Frindle and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a Storyboard That character to represent each of the book characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the Textables for Physical Appearance, Traits, Motivation, and Relationships.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Frindle Character Traits

This activity allows for a more in-depth look at one or more characters with a focus on character traits. Students should provide textual evidence to support the character trait they choose. Students can support their ideas with dialogue, thoughts, or actions of the character they are portraying.

Here is an example of a character trait storyboard using Storyboard That’s grid layout. This example features two character traits for Nick Allen and Mrs. Granger, but students can analyze the character traits for any or all of the characters.

  • Nick Allen: Creative, innovative, brave, thoughtful, intelligent
  • Mrs. Granger: Strict, compassionate, and intelligent

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Frindle Vocabulary

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Vocabulary development is a fitting activity for Frindle, as it is all about the origin of words! Students can use context clues to determine the meaning of many of the words, but a more in-depth look at vocabulary is a relevant activity for this book. Students can use a spider web or a traditional storyboard to map out definitions of words using context clues, definitions, and depictions of scenes in which the words are used.

Example Vocabulary Words from Frindle

  • jolt
  • reputation
  • abruptly
  • promptly
  • gradual
  • cameo
  • frantically
  • acquaint
  • embody
  • guarantee
  • absorb
  • blurt
  • emphasize
  • rebellion
  • vandalism
  • pucker

Here is an example of a vocabulary spider map:

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Frindle by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Frindle Theme

In this activity, students will explore a theme for Frindle. One theme clearly depicted in Frindle is "creativity" or the idea that “anything is possible”. A small idea that takes over a town shows that imagination can lead to greatness. Students can use a Storyboard That’s grid layout to depict the evidence that supports the theme of their choice.

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A Quick Frindle Summary (Contains Plot Spoilers)

Nick Allen is a unique fifth grade student at Lincoln Elementary. Nick isn’t necessarily a troublemaker, but he is full of wild ideas and is daring enough to try them out no matter what the consequences. As Nick begins fifth grade, he knows things will be tough in Mrs. Granger’s class. Everyone knows she has X-ray vision, worships the dictionary, and has the longest weekly vocabulary list.

On the first day in Mrs. Granger’s class, Nick decides to pull a classic move to kill time and asks a lofty question about where all words come from. Mrs. Granger won’t be manipulated so easily, and she assigns him an oral report on the dictionary and the origin of words. As Nick reluctantly completes his report, an idea begins to form. What if he could create a new word?

Soon, Nick’s new word, “frindle”, has completely replaced the word “pen” in his classroom. Mrs. Granger thinks this disrespects the history of the word pen, and she won’t allow it. She even keeps students in for detention daily to try to thwart the rapidly growing popularity of the new word.

Mrs. Granger’s reaction only makes the word’s power stronger, and the quirky story of the boy who created a word gains national attention. After a visit from the principal to Nick’s house, Nick realizes that even if he wanted to, he can’t stop the word from spreading. It is out of his hands. He appears on national news, and merchandise is being created to make money off of the new word. A trust is even set up in Nick’s name for some of the profits from the popular frindle merchandise made by one of Mr. Allen’s longtime friends.

Unfortunately, Nick’s creativity and spontaneity is affected by his word’s success. As he nears the end of fifth grade, he isn’t sure if he wants his ideas to spread anymore, so he stops trying them out. Even Mrs. Granger notices that he has lost some of his spark. She encourages him to keep on dreaming up ideas. Nick takes Mrs. Granger’s words to heart and slowly returns to his normal self.

The book concludes by flashing forward ten years to a successful Nick Allen, who becomes quite wealthy with his frindle trust fund. He receives an unexpected package from Mrs. Granger with the note she wrote to him ten years ago and a new dictionary – updated to officially include the word frindle. He also receives her favorite ballpoint pen, engraved with the word frindle. Nick realizes that Mrs. Granger was rooting for him and his word the whole time and she played an important role in his success.

In a final heartwarming touch, Mrs. Granger receives her own surprise: a college scholarship in her name, paid for with frindle money, and her own engraved pen that reads, “This object belongs to Mrs. Lorelei Granger and she may call it any name she chooses.”

Essential Questions For Frindle

  1. What is creativity?
  2. How can small ideas change the world?
  3. Should Nick get in trouble for creating the word “frindle”?
  4. Why is imagination important?

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