First Grade Stinks: Book Review and Activities

First Grade Stinks: Don’t you just love that title? It cracks me up every time I look at it.

This book was recommended by one of the — dare I say it — hundred(s) of bloggers I follow. I bought it last summer and the kids get a real kick out of it.

First Grade Stinks book review and follow-up activities

Title: First Grade Stinks
Author: Mary Ann Rodman
Illustrator: Beth Spiegel
Published by Peachtree Publishers, 2006
Suitable for ages 5 – 7
Genre: Fiction
Theme/Topic: School, Change
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5


“First day, first grade!” I sing. “Can’t wait, can’t wait” “We’re big kids now, Haley,” says my friend Ryan as we get off the bus. Little kids stand at the school door, holding their parents’ hands. Not Ryan and me. We walk into the school all by ourselves.”

Ha ha … some days I feel like saying that.

Synopsis: Well, the day starts out just fine but as I’m sure you quickly surmised by the title, not all is perfect in the Land of Grade 1. It turns out that Haley’s new teacher isn’t as colourful and sunshine-y as her kindergarten teacher. THIS teacher actually makes her work a little harder than she was expecting. Oh no! Haley finally has a major melt-down. But, it turns out her new teacher is very sweet and kind (what else?) and Haley decides First Grade is pretty splendid after all.

Why I Like This Book:  My reasoning is a little wonky … it has nothing to do with the kids … it’s more about me because that grade one teacher is JUST LIKE ME! Quiet, not flashy, serious about getting the work done. But I LOVE my kids and I think pretty quickly, like Haley, they figure out that I care and I’m still lots of fun.


1. The Brown Bag Teacher has lots of ideas for the first day of school in Grade 1.

2. Fun in First has a cute idea for magic playdough that’s sure to be a first day of school winner!

3. And of course, Chester the Racoon, is always great for exploring those first day feelings (I got this from Rhonda’s blog, Classroom Fun).

4. If you’re brave enough to do an art activity on the first day, the Art of Education has 5 wonderful ideas for you!

5. Teach 4 the Heart has 10 great ideas for what NOT to do on the first day of school. These tips are definitely worth checking out.

6. And I really like this article from neaTODAY called 8 Ways to Make Students Feel Welcome on First Day of School.

Be sure to visit Susanna for more fabulous book recommendations!

Have a GREAT first day and week!

Check out all my book reviews for kids!


11 thoughts on “First Grade Stinks: Book Review and Activities”

  1. I'm going to have to get this one! I have a student who knows me from church and I think he thought I would be more \”fun\” and then he realized I had \”expectations\”! Poor kid! Now that he's figured that out…He has find first grade rocks! Thanks for the shares!Jenny

  2. Sorry to be five years late in commenting, but I just now found this site. Mary Ann Rodman, here. Thank you all for the lovely reviews and shout-outs. You might like to know the title was a “gift” from my own first grader the first day of school, after having the experience of going from a “fun” kindergarten, to a seemingly “all business” first grade. In a flash I remembered having the same experience in first grade, although thinking back on it now, I realize that my teacher was about to retire as was my daughter's. Neither of those ladies deserved students like my daughter and I to finish off their careers. We weren't behavior “problems”…we just liked to point out that they weren't teaching the way we assumed all teachers did…like our beloved kindergarten teachers. God rest their souls for putting up with us. In real life, neither of us ever came to grips that our new teachers would magically change their ways…and since I am a former school librarian, I thought Ms Grey deserved a happy ending as much as Haley did. Kudos you guys for all you do. Thank you for your enthusiasm…and great taste in books!

  3. Hi Mary Ann! Thank you SO much for stopping by. I just love your comment about how First Grade Stinks came to be. I think that's so funny that Haley personifies both you and your daughter:) I'm pretty sure that both your teachers probably admired your spunk and willingness to express your views! I've had kids like that and they often ended up being my favourites.Happy New Year and thank you for your lovely comment!


Leave a Comment