thirty-two minifigures along, but they
Since we are familiar with the story, I
Alexander, Who Used to be Rich
jumped right into the lesson as we read.
If you’ve never read the story, read it
straight through at least once before be-
ginning the lesson. Here’s what we did:
We laid out eight LEGO® 4s (the square
piece with four studs) according to Mrs.
Comfort’s seating chart found in the
book’s illustrations. I drew a box around
one of the eight so that we could refer to
it later. Then, each time the seating ar-
rangement changed, we rearranged the
LEGO® bricks and drew more boxes. (We
had to switch to a second sheet of graph
paper about halfway through). When we
finished, we talked about perimeter. How
many people did each arrangement seat?
Other math concepts from the book:
The author mentions the amount of
food that Mr. Comfort prepared. Your
child could use simple division to deter-
mine each person’s fair share of the food.
Some of the problems may involve con-
verting quarts and pounds to ounces as
well. Discuss area alongside perimeter,
especially how shapes with the same area
can have different perimeters.
This book is the perfect springboard for
teaching how to count money. The story
revolves around Alexander, who is probably eight or nine years old, and how he
quickly mishandles a dollar his grandparents had given him.
Begin the lesson by reading the story
straight through. Then, before the second
reading, give your student change for a
dollar. When we used this book my son’s
first grade year, he did not have any pre-
vious experience counting money. The
first few days we used the book, I gave
him change in the exact form he would
need: four nickels, seven dimes, and
ten pennies. After he had learned that
combination, I exchanged the dimes for
nickels. We moved on to playing store to
learn how to make change, but the book
could also be used to teach that concept.
Just give your student a dollar instead
of coins. Each time Alexander spends
money, have your child give you the same
amount (or as close as possible if he or
she is learning how to make change). Or,
pretend that you are Alexander, and let
your student give you change. The lesson
may be extended by discussing ways Al-
exander could have been a better steward
of his money.
A word about the book: Alexander’s
brothers tease him. Alexander shows his
temper in unproductive ways. While I do
not condone such behavior in my children, we still enjoy the story. If my son
asks, I explain to him that Alexander’s
behavior is not acceptable. Use your own
judgment as to whether the book is appropriate for your family. If the book
does not meet your family’s standards,
use the ideas to create your own story
about money concepts.
Whatever your approach to math, adding a picture book (or two) makes for a
nice break in your routine and may be
just what you and your student need. I
know such an approach sticks with my
son. So, grab your LEGO® bricks and
your loose change and give one or both
of these books a try!
Karen Robuck is a homeschooling mother
of two students who, by time of publication, will be in sixth and third grades. She
holds degrees from Blue Mountain College,
a Christian liberal arts college in northeast Mississippi, and from the University
of Southern Mississippi. She considers her
homeschooling style to be literature-based
eclectic with a dash of Charlotte Mason.
A former teacher and librarian, she is currently a stay-at-home mother and writer.
Karen lives in Pontotoc, MS, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
The lesson may be extended by discussing
ways Alexander could have been a better
steward of his money.