Category Archives: Late Elementary School

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic

“The results [of research] could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.”

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Source: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic


World Read Aloud Day Is Coming | Knowledge Quest

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, something special is happening.  Something that has the potential to make a real difference in a child’s life.  That something is World Read Aloud Day. What Is World Read Aloud Day? World Read Aloud Day… Read More ›

Source: World Read Aloud Day Is Coming | Knowledge Quest

How We Haiku — Teaching Stories 11


It’s one thing to appreciate haiku, but it’s a totally different animal to teach it.  Teaching requires flexibility, passion, and a degree of mastery of the subject that allows the teacher to converse freely and energetically enough to engage the audience in a learning moment… wherever and whenever that teaching moment occurs.

Check out this inspiring Teaching Story – How We Haiku.

Source: How We Haiku — Teaching Stories 11

The Reason for the Seasons – National Geographic Society

Happy First Day of Fall!  To celebrate the Autumnal Equinox – and discover the science behind the change in season- visit this National Geographic Society blog.  Students use polystyrene foam balls and light bulbs to investigate the sun’s intensity on the surface of the Earth.

Source: The Reason for the Seasons – National Geographic Society

Teaching math through managing money: “Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday” (1978) by Judith Viorst

“Last Sunday, when I used to be rich, I used to have a dollar.  I do not have a dollar any more.  I’ve got this dopey deck of cards.  I’ve got this one-eyed bear.  I’ve got this melted candle.  And… some bus tokens.” (p. 25)

"Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday" by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz. Lexile 570 Adult-directed Retrieved from

“Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday” by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz. Lexile 570 Adult-directed Retrieved from

One of the surest ways that I know to get students of any age to understand math is to deal with money.  And only slightly less effective is to apply principles of mathematics to favorite foods like cookies, pizza, and candy.  Children learn the advantages of money at a very early age: Money is useful to get things that they want.  They learn the values of coins and bills, and learn to negotiate payment for services (chores), as they observe and interact with their families and local community.  In my experience, even the most mathematically resistant student will look like a wiz when posed with a math problem headed by a dollar sign.  Percentages, fractions, proportions, and even algebra are more easily navigated if money is the topic.  Of course this is not to say that students are financially literate.  When I came across Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (1978) by Judith Viorst, I was instantly attracted to the possibility of not only using this picture book for math instruction, but for financial literacy instruction as well.

"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz. Lexile 970 Adult-directed Retrieved from

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz.  Lexile 970 Adult-directed    Retrieved from

Alexander (the same beloved character from the well known story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972) by Judith Viorst) has received a dollar bill from his grandparents on their visit, but cannot manage to save his money.  Over the course of a week, Alexander has squandered his treasure.  To add insult to injury, Alexander is faced with his older brothers’ uncanny ability to hold on to their money.  Tortured by their teasing and taunting, Alexander retaliates prompting his Father to fine him for his bad behavior. (I have a special appreciation for this: My father would fine me and my siblings for bad behavior, rather than doling out other more common types of punishments.)  Lamenting his poor money management skills, Alexander discovers that it is difficult to save money, and equally as difficult to earn money; but to spend money is far too easy!

Uses in the Classroom

There are so many uses for this picture book in the classroom.  I feel comfortable that this would be a well-received story from kindergarten through 6th grade, because Alexander is a familiar and well-loved character.  Alexander is also imperfect, making him an especially engaging and sympathetic character.

“Mom says if I really want to buy a walkie-talkie, save my money.  Saving money is hard.” (p.11)

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday can be used to develop reading and listening skills in young and emergent readers.  Short bursts of text (Lexile 570) surrounded by white space are supported by highly expressive black and white illustrations, adding visual context clues to aid in comprehension of the corresponding text.  Key words are repeated throughout the story, and stylistic patterns pop up throughout the story, reinforcing the iterative learning process.  Because the context of the story is familiar and relevant to the audience, the life skills lessons being taught serve as an extra layer for learning.

“It isn’t fair that my brother Anthony has two dollars and three quarters and one dime and seven nickels and eighteen pennies.” (p.1)

Math instruction or practice can be easily integrated into the reading experience.  Students can be directed to add up the amounts that Alexander spends using mental math skills , or as a challenge, they can subtract from his starting point of one dollar.  Students can also be challenged to add the amounts each of Alexander’s brothers have, computing numerical value from money vocabulary listed in the story.  Students can chart Alexander’s spending, practicing organization of data.

“My father told me to put the dollar away to pay for college.

He was kidding.” (p. 8)

Financial literacy – which includes understanding the value of money, as well as developing skills in handling money responsibly – can also be addressed using Alexander, Who used to Be Rich Last Sunday.  Class discussion of choices – what, how, and why choices are made – and the repercussions of those choices is a great place to start.  Discussing and demonstrating the hows and whys of saving money is another great lesson in financial literacy.  Finally, discussing the ease with which Alexander spends his money compared to the difficulty he has to make money will help students understand the value of money not just as currency for purchasing, but demonstrating the value of money as payment for hard work.

For examples of lesson plans check out the following:

Second grade lesson plans:  Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday  – Financial and economic concepts

Scholastic Lesson Plans, Grades 3 – 6: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday – Understanding Opportunity Costs

Second grade lesson plans: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday – Making Choices

Kindergarten through 2nd grade lesson plans: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday – Coin Values

AASL: 1.1.2 Use background knowledge as context for new learning

CCSS: 5.NF.6 Solve real world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed mumbers  K.CC.4a Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities  K.MD.3  Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category; sort the categories by count


American (2013). Crosswalk of the common core standards and the standards for the 21st-century Learner. Huron St. Retrieved from

Common core state standards initiative. (2016). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from

Crawford, J. (2011). Math solutions lesson from the classroom Alexander used to be rich A lesson for grades K–2 overview of lesson. Retrieved from

Grade Two making choices. (2005). . Retrieved from

Reading is a window to the world. (2007). Retrieved from

Second grade – mathematics – FITC. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from

Shirley. (2012, March 28). Resources and lesson plans for financial literacy. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from Integrated Studies,

Upromise. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from

Viorst, J., & Cruz, R. (1972). Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. New York: Atheneum

Viorst, J., & Cruz, R. (1978). Alexander, who used to be rich last Sunday. New York: Atheneum.