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The lesson opens with a discussion about money setting the stage for the video Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. This video is about a young boy who receives $5.00 as a gift from his grandparents and then describes how he spent or lost the money as the day wears on. The students are asked to follow along with the video using play money to keep track of what is happening to Alexander's riches. In the follow-up activity, students are asked to find various combinations of coins that will add up to a specific sum of money. In the extension activities, the students will have an opportunity to explore additional problems involving money, take a closer look at money and how it is made, and read some additional books about how other people deal with the money that comes their way. The final activity is a writing activity where students are asked to describe how they would handle a $5.00 gift.
ITV Series
Judith Viorst Stories: Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (AIMS Media)
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:


Pre-Viewing Activities
Ask the students, "How many of you, right now, have some money at home that is your very own?" (Pause for a show of hands.) "How did you manage to get this money?" (Pause for responses such as allowance, gift from relative, earned it recycling bottles, etc.) "Have you ever saved your money to make a special purchase? What was that item? How long did it take to save your money? Was it hard to save?"

"Today, we are going to watch a video about a boy named Alexander and see how he managed his money. You are going to use the play money in front of you to follow along with what happens in the story. I'd like you to work in pairs and sort your money into piles of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and bills." (Allow time for this activity.) Review the names of the coins and the bills with the students.
Focus Viewing
The focus for viewing is a specific responsibility or task(s) students are responsible for during or after watching the video to focus ad engage students' viewing attention.

To give the students a specific responsibility while viewing, tell them, "Alexander is going to begin his story by describing how much money his brother has. With your partner, use the play money to find out how much money Anthony has."
Viewing Activities
BEGIN the video Judith Viorst Stories: Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday after the credits when you see the sign "I'm Asleep." PAUSE after "... and 18 pennies" to allow the students time to work with their partners to count out the money Anthony had and find the total amount. You may wish to have volunteers recall the various amounts and write them on the board. Anthony had six dollars, three quarters, one dime, seven nickels, and 18 pennies for a total of $7.38.

To refocus the students on the video say, "We're going to do the same thing and find out how much money his brother Nicholas had." RESUME the video. PAUSE after "It isn't fair because all that I have is bus tokens." Ask the students to work with their partners to count out Nicholas' money. He had two quarters, five dimes, five nickels, 14 pennies, and four dollar bills for a total of $5.39. Also ask students if they know what bus tokens are. If they do not know, explain that people use money to purchase tokens that allow them to ride on buses and subways. The tokens can only be used for that purpose. Even though tokens resemble coins, people can't use them to buy other things, like candy. They are only good for riding on the bus or subway.

To refocus the students on the video ask, "How did Alexander get rich last Sunday? How rich was he?" RESUME the video. PAUSE when Alexander says, "We like money a lot. Especially me." When the students respond that Alexander's riches were the result of a gift from his visiting grandparents, ask them if they think this is a lot of money. What would they do with $5.00?

Bring the students' attention back to the video by saying, "Let's see what Alexander does with his money. I'd like you and your partner to help Alexander keep track of his money. Put a five dollar bill in front of you just like Alexander has. Watch carefully because I would like you to figure out how much change will be left after he makes his first purchase?" RESUME the video. PAUSE after "Fifty cents out of a dollar." to allow time for students to use the play money to figure out the change (answer: $4.50).

Say, "Follow along with your play money and find out how much he has left after the next money transaction." RESUME the video. PAUSE after Anthony collects the 25¢ bet from Alexander and give the students time to figure out that Alexander has $4.25 left.

To refocus on the video, say, "Alexander must like betting because he's going to make two more bets. How much money will he have left?" RESUME the video. PAUSE after he hands the money over to Nicholas. Allow time for students to subtract the two quarters he has bet and lost and determine that he now has $3.75 left. Depending on your students' skills, you may have to talk them through trading in a dollar for four quarters in order to pay the last debt. In the movie, he gave Nicholas a dollar and received 75¢ back. Ask the students what they think of Alexander's money management skills so far.

Refocus them on the video with the question: "By the time his grandparents leave, how much money has Alexander spent or lost?" RESUME the video. PAUSE after the good-byes are said and the grandparents get into their car. Ask the students to recall what happened to Alexander's money and make a list on the board: 75¢ to rent a snake, 50¢ for bad words, 5¢ down the toilet, 5¢ down a crack in the porch floor, 50¢ for eating his brother's candy bar, 40¢ for the magic show, 25¢ for kicking, $1.25 at Kathy's yard sale. Allow time for the students to count out what has happened with their play money and determine that Alexander has nothing left! Discuss the various strategies your students used to solve this problem. Some will have subtracted the money for each event. Others might have added up all of the expenses and made one big subtraction.

Bring the students' attention back to the video by asking, "What does Alexander do to try to earn money?" RESUME the video. PAUSE after Alexander says, "Friendly's Market wasn't very friendly." Ask the students to recall all the ways Alexander tried to earn money: pulling out a tooth, renting his toys, looking for stray change in pay phones, recycling. Ask the students how they try to earn money? Is it easier to earn money or spend money or save money?

Ask, "As Alexander reviews how his $5 disappeared, which choices seem to bring him the most pleasure? Do you think he would make these choices again if he could relive last Sunday when he used to be rich'?" RESUME the video. STOP when the credits start to roll. Allow time for the students to give their opinions on whether Alexander would do things differently if given another chance.

Post-Viewing Activities
Say, "Remember in the video when Alexander's dad made him pay 50¢ for using bad language? Alexander tried to get out of it by saying he didn't have any change but his dad said he could make change and took one of Alexander's dollars and gave him back a lot of coins that had a value of 50¢. I'd like you to work with your partner to find as many ways as you can that Alexander's dad could have made 50¢. Make a list of all the ways you can find using quarters, dimes nickels, and pennies."
Note to the teacher: There are 49 solutions to this problem. If that seems too overwhelming for your students, you can make the problem simpler by only allowing quarters, dimes and nickels (10 solutions). Or you could ask them to find as many ways as possible for making change for 25¢ with or without using pennies (12 solutions with pennies; 3 without pennies).

As you lead the class discussion about the number of solutions, try to help the students articulate the strategies they used. Was it all trial-and-error or did some use an organized list? You can model an organized list approach by posting the first half dozen responses as you receive them and then asking if they see any way to organize the list. One solution might be:

25¢ 10¢ 5¢ 1¢
1 2 1
1 2 5
1 1 3
1 1 2 5
1 1 1 10
1 1 15
1 5
1 4 5
1 3 10
1 2 15
1 1 20
1 25
4 2
4 1 5
4 10
This list starts off with the fewest number of coins needed to make 50¢ and then trades in one of the coins to find all of those combinations in descending order. Making an organized list helps students see patterns and know when they have exhausted all of the possibilities. This makes a good problem for them to work on over the course of several days and then try to organize the list as the culminating activity to verify that they have found all of the solutions. Many students will be surprised that there are so many ways to make change for 50¢.

If you have simplified the problem for younger students, you may want to have them cut paper coins out of paper and paste their solutions onto paper as a way of recording what they have already done. The list idea may be too abstract for them.

Action Plan
Have a banker visit the class and discuss how banks can help people save their money.

Bring in a collection of coins from around the world. Locate the countries represented in an atlas or on a globe and discuss how their money is the same or different from our own. If you have students from other countries in your class, maybe they or their parents could lead the discussion.
Math: How long would it take you to save a dollar if you saved 1¢ on the first day of the month, 2¢ on the second day, 4¢ on the third day, 8¢ on the fourth, always doubling the money from the day before? Have the students make estimates and then find out. The answer that by the 7th day, they will have accumulated $1.27 will surprise them. How much will they save if they do this for 20 days? What patterns do they see in their lists of numbers?

Math: The "Coin Count" activities from Group Solutions (Gems, Lawrence Hall of Science, 1992, ISBN 0-912511-81-8) involve cooperative group activities where students have to read clues, place money in a cup and find out the total amount of money in the cup. This involves lots of critical thinking skills while giving additional practice working with money.

Math: Form small groups of four to six students. Each student writes his/her name on a piece of paper. Who has got the most expensive name in the group? Predict and then find out. A =1¢, B = 2¢, C = 3¢,... Z = 26¢. After they make their predications, ask them to explain why they thought this. Some very good critical thinking comes out of this activity.

Math: In a similar vein to "Who has the most Expensive Name?" is The $1.00 Word Riddle Book by Marilyn Burns (Cuisenaire Co. of America, ISBN 0-941355-02-0) which gives riddles that have answers that equal $1.00 using the A =1¢, B = 2¢, C = 3¢,... Z = 26¢ pattern.

Math: How long is a dollar bill? Measure the diameters of the coins.

Math: What is the value of a mile of pennies laid side-by-side?
(Note: For younger classes, you might want to use a shorter measurement-- maybe a yard or a meter.)

Science: Money fits in nicely with a unit on rocks and minerals. Silver and copper are minerals that are mined as ores and then made into alloys used in coins. Furthermore, minerals are made up of crystals. Rocks, minerals, and crystals often form part of a fourth grade science study.

Science: Have students study money closely using a magnifying glass. What interesting things do they find?

Science/Math: Make a Venn diagram with three circles representing penny, nickel, dime, respectively. Analyze the coins and place a description of their characteristics in the proper parts of the Venn diagram. This would be particularly appropriate after you have given the class sufficient time to study the coins under the magnifying glass.

Science: Use an eye dropper to find out how many drops of water will fit on a coin. Which coin holds the most? Does the heads side hold more, less, or the same as the tails side?

Science: Use balance scales to weigh various amounts of coins. Have students set out challenges for each other. For example, which weighs more - 10¢ in pennies or 50¢ in nickels. Predict and then weigh them.

Science/Math: Would you rather have your height in a stack of nickels or a line of quarters laid side-by-side? How much money would you get each way? Make a graph of the class' height as measured this way.

History: Whose pictures are on our American money? Who were these people?

History: America used to use gold for money. Study the California Gold Rush. Why did we stop using gold as money?

Language Arts: Children might enjoy comparing this video to the original book of Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst (Aladdin Books, ISBN 0-689-71199-9). This book was originally published in 1978. At the time, Alexander only got $1.00 from his grandparents and everything cost a great deal less! How are the book and video the same? How are they different?

Language Arts: The Go-Around Dollar by Barbara Johnston Adams (Simon & Shuster, ISBN 0-02-700031-1) is the story of a dollar bill as it travels from hand to hand. There are lots of neat facts interwoven in the story, such as how long a bill stays in circulation, how much it weighs, how it is made.

Language Arts: Pigs Will Be Pigs by Amy Axelrod (Simon & Shuster, ISBN 0-02-765415-X) has pigs adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing their money to satisfy their pig cravings for food.

Language Arts: "Smart" by Shel Silverstein is a poem about a young boy who thinks he is pretty clever when he swaps one dollar for two shiny quarters "'cause two is more than one!" It's all downhill from there! Children enjoy pointing out the errors of the young boy's thinking.

Writing: If someone gave you $5.00 as a gift, what would you do with it?

Master Teacher: Linda Dodge

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