Saturday, October 15, 2011

Advice for Alexander (...who used to be rich last Sunday!)

In the context of Bridges in Mathematics, we've been reading Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. This humorous picture book provides ample opportunity to explore the addition and subtraction of money through the life of Alexander and his brothers.

We added money...
The text specifies the coins that Alexander's brothers, Anthony and Nicholas, have. So, for example, we figured out how much Anthony has with "two dollars and three quarters and one dime and seven nickels and eighteen pennies." We first used mental math and then checked with both numbers and money value pieces.

We compared money...
After figuring out how much each brother had, we compared to see who had the most.

We subtracted money...
We followed along, subtracting, as Alexander receives a dollar from his grandparents and gradually loses it in a series of poor financial choices.

Finally, we did some writing...and gave Alexander a little advice. (This letter will make the most sense if you read it in the context of the book.) Here's my son's letter:

Dear Alexander,

Don't buy three pieces of gum. Your friend is not going to buy used gum. Don't try and hold your breath til three hundred. Also, you should have landed on your feet when you jumped off of the stoop. And you should not hide a purple marble from your mom because my mom said moms have special magic. Renting a snake for one hour is not really worth it. Don't say bad words to your brothers. Don't hold money while you flush the toilet and try not to walk on your hands with a nickel. And don't eat a chocolate bar that's left sitting around. Don't give Nick four pennies. He probably just stole them. Don't kick Nick's butt. Don't buy a bear with one eye and a half-melted candle and a deck of cards that you can't really do anything with. Don't try and make a tooth fall out.

Pick up the book and write to Alexander with your own advice. We'd love to see what you include! :)

Throughout both the reading of the story and the writing of the letter, my son laughed and laughed. It's a great book for elementary-age students!

Disclosure: If you purchase this product through my Amazon link, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. I do not keep any money myself; I am hoping to be able to sponsor an additional child in foster care through commissions on this site. 


  1. How fun. We love Judith Viorst books and you've put a fun twist on it with a math and writing spin . . .thanks!

    The Corner On Character

  2. Hi! I just love following your blog. Thanks for your cute ideas. We've downloaded the free Bridges workbooks, but I'm wondering if you are also using the teacher books, and if that is where this activity came from? Thanks!

  3. Thanks, both of you!

    Homeschool for Two, I do also use the full Bridges curriculum. The lesson called for us to do the math that I mentioned (figuring out how much each brother had and then figuring out how much Alex lost) and I added the writing component. I love Bridges! ;)

  4. Awesome exercise! We should read this book when daughter is a little older...


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