These hilarious short stories for grades 3–5 span a variety of genres, but they are all guaranteed to make your students laugh!
Humor is so important in our classrooms. A bad day for a student can turn around quickly with a silly joke or goofy smile. Reading funny short stories is a great way to get your students excited about learning!
Here is an entertaining selection of texts for grades 3–5 from CommonLit that are sure to make your students laugh out loud!
“Impossible to Train” by David Hill (3rd Grade)
In this funny short story, Sammy, Bea, and Jesse, discuss training their pets. The friends agree that although their pets are silly, embarrassing, and impossible to train, they are wonderful companions whom they love dearly. Students will love the twist ending, when they find out that the “pets” are actually the dogs’ owners!
This hilarious story provides a great opportunity for students to make text-to-self connections. After reading, ask Discussion Question 3, “In the story, dogs discuss humans the way humans discuss dogs. How do you think the relationship depicted between dogs and humans in the text compares to real life? Describe your relationship with a pet.”
“Kissy Face” by Nancy Jean Northcutt (3rd Grade)
James is a young boy who is always babied by his relatives. He especially hates when they squeeze his cheeks and kiss his face. When James’ parents tell him that he is getting a baby brother and that it will be a “wonderful surprise,” he questions how wonderful a new sibling will actually be. When his parents bring home the baby, James’ relatives kiss the baby’s face instead of his. James realizes that he is no longer the baby of the family and decides that his new sibling is indeed a wonderful surprise!
As students read, have them follow the annotation task, which asks them to take notes on how James feels about his new sibling. Then, have students use their notes to discuss how James’ feelings toward his new brother change throughout the text.
“Growing Down” by Shel Silverstein (5th Grade)
This hilarious poem perfectly captures the image of growing up, then down! Mr. Brown is a grumpy old man who constantly tells the children in the neighborhood to grow up. The children tell Mr. Brown that he should try to “grow down” and be less grumpy. Mr. Brown begins to act like a child and do silly things around town. He learns that it is much more fun growing down than growing up!
This funny poem could be paired with “The Clock Man” by Shel Silverstein, which is also about the differences between childhood and adulthood. After reading the two texts, students could discuss how both poems explore the theme of growing up.
“Lazy Anansi” by Ghanian Folktale (4th Grade)
This next funny short story is a Ghanian Folktale, where a silly spider named Anansi learns an important lesson. Anansi loves to eat but is too lazy to cook his own food. Anasi’s friends invite him to eat with them. Wanting to get as much food as possible, Anasi ties a thread from each of his friends’ cooking pots onto his eight legs. When the food is ready, he tells them to pull the string. Not long after, all of the animals pull the strings at the same time! The strings stretch and snap, and Anansi falls in pain to the ground.
Many students fear spiders, yet don’t know much about these fascinating creatures. Before reading, build students’ background knowledge about spiders by showing the video “Don’t Be Afraid Of Spiders” under the Related Media tab. After reading, students discuss what is funny about how Anansi uses his silk.
“Cheese for Dinner” retold by Judy Goldman (4th Grade)
In this hilarious short story, a witty rabbit, Conejo, tricks Coyote and escapes being eaten. When Conejo is cornered by a hungry Coyote, he convinces Coyote that the cheese in the center of the lake would make a much more delicious snack than him. When Coyote dives into the lake, he realizes that the “cheese” is just the reflection of the moon. Conejo has successfully tricked him and is now safe inside his nice warm home.
This story is perfectly paired with “High Speed Rabbit Chase” under Related Media. After watching the video ask students to discuss how the rabbit chase in the video compares with how the rabbit tricks the coyote in the story. This will help students connect this fictional tale to animal interactions in nature.
“Zebra and Wasp” by Clare Mishica (3rd Grade)
In this lighthearted fable, Zebra helps Wasp, who is caught in a spider’s web. Wasp promises to return the favor, but Zebra cannot see how a creature so small could ever help him. Later that day, Wasp notices Lion lurking in the berry bushes, ready to attack Zebra. She rushes down and stings Lion. Wasp’s action saves Zebra, and Zebra gallops back to his herd.
After reading, have students reflect on the relationship between Zebra and Wasp. Ask Discussion Question 1, “In the fable, Zebra and Wasp help each other. Do you think this makes them friends? Why or why not? Describe a time when you helped a friend in need.” Students can make connections between the text and their own experiences.
“A Poetry Contest at Spellzany Castle” by Maggie Murphy (4th Grade)
Spellzany Castle is an unusual place that always seems to attract silly spells. Queen Ursula is sure that her poetry contest will proceed without a hitch, but Mary is not convinced. When an angry fairy casts a spell on the castle, everyone can only speak in rhymes! Mary tricks the fairy and snatches her wand, and the fairy decides to make things right and reverses the spell. The silly rhymes in this story are sure to make your students laugh!
Consider assigning CommonLit’s Guided Reading Mode as students read this hilarious short story. The Guiding Questions will help students monitor their comprehension and understand how Mary solves problems throughout the story.
“Mirabella the Magnificent” by Cheryl Mendenhall (3rd Grade)
In this humorous short story, students will get to know Mirabella, a clever young princess. When confronted with a demanding dragon, instead of getting scared, Mirabella uses humor to trick the dragon. Eventually, she scares away the dragon, proving that princesses can be brave and quick-thinking.
Consider pairing this short story with “Calady’s Quest” under the Paired Texts tab. Calady is a young girl who goes on an adventure to help her family. After students read both texts, have them compare the main characters’ traits and actions.
“Fabulous Frederic” by Peggy Thorne (3rd Grade)
In this heartwarming and funny story, Frederic is practicing to become a magician. Frederic pulls off every trick in his show, until the last one, a sleight of hand. He is disappointed when his uncle, a professional magician, tells him that the trick will take years to master. Frederic decides to take his uncle’s advice to play to his strengths instead. At his next show, Frederic and his identical twin trick the audience and make the crowd go wild!
After students read this hilarious short story, show them “Kids Meet A Magician!” under the Related Media tab. Students will get to see a real magician at work, which is sure to make them laugh. Have students compare the tricks in the video to the tricks that Frederic did.
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