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Virtual Book Discussion: The Smartest Kid in the Universe w/ Trivia Activity

The Smartest Kid in the Universe by Chris Grabenstein is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

Twelve-year-old, Jake McQuade, is perfectly content with living a mediocre life. He's happy living an easy-breezy life, putting in minimal effort and his only goal is to be a likeable guy. That is, until he eats a handful of jelly beans and suddenly becomes the smartest kid in the universe!

Suddenly, Jake is in high demand. Even the government wants his help cracking codes and catching bad guys. But will Jake have enough smarts when his friends and his school need him?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?

  2. What if you suddenly knew everything? How would your life change? What would stay the same?

  3. What does “smart” mean? Who decides if someone is smart? How do YOU determine if someone is smart?

  4. Why do you think Jake knows how to speak multiple languages but cannot speak Spanish? Is there a reason? As the story develops, how did this affect Jake?

  5. Does Jake consider his newfound smarts as a form of cheating? Do you? Does the book address this idea at all?

  6. Is there one particular character you can relate to more than the others? Why?

  7. (Chapter 45) “And then he said what he knew his mother wanted to hear because maybe by saying out loud he could convince himself that it was true. ‘I’m fine, Mom. Trust me.’” Do you ever say you’re “fine” even when you are not? Do you think by saying it, you can make it true?

  8. Do you ever “babble” when you’re nervous? Why do you think a lot of people do this?

  9. What do you think is up next for Jake and his pals? Do you think his smarts will ever wear off?

  10. This book is full of trivia. What random fact do you know that the rest of the group may not?

Trivia Time!

Instead of doing an activity this month, I decided to try my hand at running a Kahoot. Kahoot is a virtual trivia platform. I've played before but have never created my own. But because this book has some really great facts and trivia in it, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try.

Here are a sample of some of the questions I used:

  • What was the original name of Cheerios? They were called Cheerioats between 1941 and 1945

  • What was the catchphrase for the TV show Kojak: Who loves ya, baby?

  • What number should come next in this series? 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-?? (21)

  • PEACH is to HCAEP as 46251 is to: 15264

  • Enough plastic is thrown away to encircle the earth, how many times? 4

  • What gets wetter the more it dries? A towel.

  • What candy inspired this book? Smarties

I also had a "Who said it?" category from the book:

  • “With great power comes great responsibility.” - Con un gran poder viene gran responsabilidad. The last quiz bowl question was answered by Grace.

  • “Who loves ya, baby?” - Kojo

  • “And, as you may know, General Joe, it is a school night.” - Kojo

  • “We’re all good at something... Slothfulness? It’s my superpower.” - Jake

  • “For instance, Albert Einstien and Marie Curie. They pop in in sometimes. Tell me to keep on keepin’ on.” - Haazim Farooqi

How'd it go:

Overall, the program ran really smoothly this month and we had a few new faces. I would definitely increase my time to answer the questions in Kahoot, especially for the rebus puzzles I added. Everyone is really excited for next month, where we will be doing an earthquake simulation.

That's all for now!


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