"Frindle" is a book for young people written in 1996 by Andrew Clements. The story centers on a mischievous main character who decides to call a pen a “frindle,” much to the dismay of his strict literary-arts teacher. To everyone’s surprise, the word catches on and eventually finds its way into the dictionary. Since it conveys a positive message of creativity, teachers and parents subsequently have used the premise of creating new names for objects to create fun home activities and lesson plans for children. This popular book has received several literary awards and over 2 million copies have been sold.
The use of words is at the heart of the debate between teacher and student in the Frindle story. With Frindle lesson plans, teachers aim to increase students' vocabulary skills by exploring the history behind words in the dictionary. By understanding how they were created and evolved, the students are encouraged to creatively devise new words and explain their rationale for what they came up with. Class participation also is encouraged as students use their new words in a sentence and others in the classroom attempt to guess its meaning based on the context and cues from their teacher. It's most often a winning combination of dictionary use, creativity and group participation. The book itself is part of the core literature series at many schools. Frindle lesson plans can be found on websites such as WebEnglishTeacher.com and BookPunch.com.
There are fun and educational Frindle activities for children at home as well. One idea is to use the original Frindle. Help children turn an ordinary pen into a special Frindle by adding things such as a round and decorative ball of clay to the top. Children also can create their own promotional posters advertising their special Frindles for sale. Another idea is to have them look through the dictionary to find other words and objects they'd like to rename. It's a fun way for children to learn to use the dictionary as a resource. You can suggest your family begin to use the new names of objects around the house. Kids really enjoy sharing their new words, so make sure to keep a dictionary handy for friends to become involved.
The book also lends itself to being read aloud. Segment the children into groups and have them read alternating paragraphs. It's very theatrical, and kids will love to act out the characters in the story. For an arts and crafts project, have children draw scenes or characters from the book. These ideas promote a terrific educational and group building experience for everyone involved.