Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: An Elementary Grades Unit Study

This post is part of the 31 MORE Days of Literature Unit Studies series. You can find all of the links to the thirty-one studies in this post. If you’d like to use these ideas to create your own unit study, this post has step-by-step instructions as well as a free unit study planner. (Want to know more about what, exactly, a unit study is? This post will help.)

While you’re reading and working on your unit study, you can download this free printables pack of graphic organizers for reading. It has a plot chart, venn diagram, KWL chart, two mini book report organizers, a character analysis chart, a plot outline chart, and a reading response sheet where students can record facts while reading.

Literature unit study for Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day is a classic because kids and adult alike can related to a day when everything has gone wrong. It’s a fun book to read with the kids and can facilitate a good discussion about what to do when things don’t go your way. It’s also a fun way to bring in some learning about Australia because that happens to be where Alexander really wishes he was.

Book Information

Title- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Author- Judith Viorst

Recommended ages- preK-2nd grade

Synopsis- Alexander’s day gets off to a bad start when he steps out of bed and trips on his skateboard. The day continues to unravel with everything going wrong- breakfast, the ride to school, annoyances at school, a dentist visit. Although we would like a happy ending, Alexander’s day ends almost as disappointingly as it began. But readers learn an important lesson from his mom- Everyone has days like this, and it’s okay.

Language Arts Ideas

Sequencing- After you read through the story, have kids write down the main events. Then cut them apart, mix them up and let kids practice sequencing the story.
Character analysis- Use the character analysis sheet from the free graphic organizers pack (above) to take a closer look at Alexander’s character.
Truth or fiction- Is this a true book or a fictional one? Could it really happen? Discuss with the kids.
Point of view- Whose point of view is the story written from? Have the kids give examples of why they think this.
Creative writing- Talk about whether or not kids like the ending. Have them write their own ending to the story. (Younger kids can draw it or dictate a story.)
Cause and effect- This post has some great ideas– and a freebie- for teaching cause and effect with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Social Studies- Learn about Australia

Alexander wants to leave his worries behind and head to Australia. The links here will help kids learn more about Australia. They can record what they’re learning in this free My Country Study packet.
National Geographic Kids has a page of information about Australia, including the culture, geography and animals.
Scholastic has a great Global Trek page for Australia that gives information about the country and it’s history.

Crafts and Fun

Make paper plate emotions masks when you’re talking about how Alexander feels about what’s happening to him.
This is a coloring sheet of Alexander.

This fun- and simple- Sydney Harbour Bridge Craft would be fun when you’re talking about Australia.

You can also use paper plates to make this version of the Sydney Opera House.
Literature Unit study ideas for Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day


Books about Feelings

Books about Australia

Other Resources

Barnes and Noble has a video of Judith Viorst reading the book. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)

This set of free printables found at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom goes along with the movie version of the story.

Don’t miss the other literature units in this series!

Kids literature unit studies

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