CA: Cousin Ruth’s Tooth

Classroom Activities for Cousin Ruth’s Tooth





1. Tooth Sleuth. A fun game dreamed up by the staff at Princeton University’s Cotsen Children’s Library. Make a magnetic wand to aid tooth  sleuths (try saying that three times fast!) in your search for lost teeth.tooth-sleuth

Click here for instructions.






2. Music: Try singing Cousin Ruth’s Tooth to the tune of “Clementine.” Now try it with Rachel Fister’s Blister. What does this tell you about the rhyme scheme of the two books?

3. Poetry: “Study the rhyming pattern in both Ruth and Rachel Fister. Which lines rhyme? Is the pattern the same throughout the books? Find the places where it changes. Write some lines on the board and illustrate where the emphasis falls (on which syllable) in each line. Try to create two additional pages to the book. Add different zany places where the Fister family might search for the lost tooth. When creating your page, try to follow Amy MacDonald’s rhyme pattern. Create crazy illustrations to go along with your words.” [from A Celebration of Maine Children’s Books, by Lynn Plourde and Paul Knowles, University of Maine Press, 1999]

3. History: “Even though the characters in this book might appear at first glance to be from an earlier time in history, they actually do some very contemporary things. Go back over the text and illustrations and make a list of all the words and drawings that have modern references (e.g. VCR, fax).” [from A Celebration of Maine Children’s Books, by Lynn Plourde and Paul Knowles, University of Maine Press, 1999]

4. Writing: For older students: make up your own poem or story, using the same rhyme scheme. To see if you succeeded, try singing your words to “Clementine.”

5. Discussion: See how many similarities you can find in the two books – for example:

a. rhyme scheme
b. scatty family members
c. making a mountain out of a molehill
d. the Queen saves the day
e. family members can’t figure out her advice
f. Extra credit: Did anyone notice the “Quicker/Faster” sequence in Rachel Fister that’s echoed by the “Faster/Harder” one in Cousin Ruth?

6. Reading: Read about losing teeth. Answer the following questions:

a. How long does it take for a new tooth to come in?
b. What happens when you lose a grown-up tooth? Can you replace it? With a clay one? A wooden one? Do you think you can really rent or buy teeth (see double-page spread, where they’re shopping for teeth)? Why are the names of the stores on this page funny?
c. Where do you think Ruth’s lost tooth really is?
d. What does “Time heals all wounds” mean? How does it relate to the ending?

7. Health: What are some ways to keep from losing your teeth? (brushing, flossing, wearing mouth guards, avoiding candy, etc.)

8. History: How did people deal with losing teeth in the old days? (Mention George Washington’s wooden dentures!) How did they pull teeth? What would it have been like to live in days when there was no “painless dentistry”?

9. Art: Make a tooth out of clay. Compare it to the illustration of Aunt May’s in the book. Is hers too big? Is yours?

10. Math: Make a graph of how many children in the room have lost how many teeth. Include grown-up teeth!

11. Vocabulary: Some of the words here are challenging. Can you figure out from the context what the following words mean:

a. clan
b. denture
c. dental
d. incident

12. Drama: Put on a play, adapted from Cousin Ruth’s Tooth.

13. Drama: Do a Reader’s Theater read-aloud adaptation of Cousin Ruth’s Tooth. For instructions and a sample script, click here.



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