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Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

In the story, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Alexander receives a dollar from his grandparents that he plans to save, but he spends it all, a little at a time. In this lesson, students count by 2s to fill a container with 100 pennies. They are asked whether 100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. They listen to the story, and as Alexander spends his money, students come up and remove the correct number of pennies from a container. At the end of the story, students are again asked if 100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. Students discuss the choices that Alexander made and give advice on how he could save his money to reach his goal of buying a walkie-talkie.

We would like to thank the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for allowing us to reprint this lesson.  Visit Econ Lowdown™ , the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ website of award-winning, free classroom resource for use by pre-K through college educators who teach economics, personal finance, money and banking, and the Federal Reserve.

Introduction

Why is it hard to save for things we want in the future?

In the story, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Alexander receives a dollar
from his grandparents that he plans to save, but he spends it all, a little at a time. In
this lesson, students count by 2s to fill a container with 100 pennies. They are asked
whether 100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. They listen to the
story, and as Alexander spends his money, students come up and remove the correct
number of pennies from a container. At the end of the story, students are again asked if
100 pennies is the same amount of money as one dollar. Students discuss the choices
that Alexander made and give advice on how he could save his money to reach his
goal of buying a walkie-talkie.

Learning Objectives

  • Define saving, spending, opportunity cost, and savings goal.
  • Explain why it can be hard to save money.
  • Count to 100 by 2s.
  • Recognize that $1 equals 100 cents.
  • Create and analyze bar graphs.

Resource List

  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst (ISBN: 0-689-71199-9)
  • Visual 1
  • Handout 1 and Handout 2, one copy of each for each student
  • Handout 1 for the teacher to use as a visual or a piece of poster board with the chart from Handout 1 drawn on it
  • Handout 3 for the teacher
  • Standards and Benchmarks
  • Glass or plastic container large enough to hold 100 pennies
  • 100 pennies
  • $1 bill
  • Poster or bulletin board labeled “Savings Goal” (If using a poster, display it on the wall.)
  • ½ sheet of 8” x 11” paper for each student
  • Crayons for each student
  • Tape or push pins
  • Marker
  • Q & A for book: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Process

  1. Begin the lesson by discussing the following:

    • What do people use money for? (Answers will vary but may include the following: People use money to buy things, to pay for things. People save money.)
       
  2. Show students a $1 bill and discuss the following:

    • Is $1 the same amount of money as 100 pennies? (Answers will vary, but some students will know that the two are equal.)
    • If you wanted to buy a candy bar and the price was $1, could you buy it with a $1 bill? (Yes.)
       
  3. Show students the empty container and explain that they are going to fill the container with pennies—2 pennies at a time. Tell them/remind them that people can count to 100 one number at a time. But, they can also count to 100 two numbers at a time. Demonstrate/practice counting by 2s.
     
  4. Distribute 2 pennies to each child. Call students by row or table and have each student drop his or her pennies into the container. As they do, have the class count by 2s. When each student has had a turn, distribute additional pennies, 2 at a time, and continue having students deposit pennies in the container and count by 2s until there are 100 pennies in the container.

    • Which would you rather have, 100 pennies or a $1 bill? (Answers will vary, but many students this age may prefer the 100 pennies.)
       
  5. Tell students that they are going to listen to a story about a little boy named Alexander who had $1. Explain that Alexander could spend his $1 or he could save it. Explain that spending is using some or all of your money to buy things you want now, and saving is keeping your money to spend in the future—it is not spending.
     
  6. Tell students that as they listen to the story they should notice what happens to Alexander’s money.
     
  7. Read the book, Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, and then discuss the following:

    • What did Alexander plan to do with his money when he first got it? (He planned to save it to buy a walkie-talkie.)
    • Why wasn’t he able to save his money? (He spent some on little things, lost some, and had to pay fines.)
       
  8. Point out the jar of pennies. Reread the portion of the story about Alexander’s spending decisions; it begins with “Because last Sunday, when I used to be rich, I went to Pearson’s Drug Store and got bubble gum.” When you come to the phrase that says “Good-bye fifteen cents,” ask a student to come up and remove 15 pennies from the container and give the pennies to you. Have students repeat, “Good-bye fifteen cents.”
     
  9. As you come to each subsequent spending decision in the book, invite a student to come up and remove the correct amount of money as the rest of the students chant, “Good-bye ___ cents.” Again, have students give the pennies to you.
     
  10. After you have reread all of the spending decisions—the container will be empty— discuss the following:

    • How much money did Alexander get from his grandparents? ($1)
    • How much money was in our container? (100 pennies)
    • Does $1 equal 100 pennies? (Yes.) How do you know? (At the end of the story, all Alexander had left was bus tokens—no money. And, at the end of the story, our container of pennies was empty.)
    • On what did Alexander spend his money? (Gum, lost bets, snake rental, a bad-words fine, carelessness [he lost some of his money], a candy bar, his brother’s magic trick, a kicking fine, and garage sale items)
       
  11. Explain that the students have information, or data, about Alexander’s spending. They know what he bought and how much he spent on each thing. With the data, they can create a picture, or graph—a picture that shows how Alexander spent his money.
     
  12. Display Handout 1: Alexander’s Spending Bar Graph (or the poster board) and distribute a copy of Handout 1 to each student. Ask various students to read the column labels across the bottom.
     
  13. Discuss and complete the following:

    • Did Alexander say he wanted to save or spend his $1? (Save it)
    • Based on the evidence from the story, did Alexander save his money or spend it? (Alexander spent all of his money.)
    • How much did Alexander spend on gum? (15 cents). On the visual or poster board, in the column labeled “Gum,” color in 15 “penny” boxes to represent 15 cents. Tell the students to do the same.
    • How much did Alexander spent on bets? (15 cents). On the visual or poster board, in the column labeled “Bets,” color in 15 boxes to represent 15 cents.
    • Continue in this manner until each column has been colored in. (Snake rental— 12 cents; Bad-words fine—10 cents, Lost—8 cents; Candy bar—11 cents; Magic trick—4 cents; Kicking fine—10 cents; Garage sale—20 cents)
       
  14. Discuss the following:

    • Based on the bar graph, on what did Alexander spend the most money? (Garage sale items)
    • Based on the bar graph, on what did Alexander spend the least money? (A magic trick)
    • Based on the graph, how much more did Alexander spend at the garage sale than he spent on gum? (5 cents)
    • What do you think about the spending choices Alexander made? (Answers will vary. Some students may think that Alexander’s choices were good ones; however, most students will likely think many of Alexander’s choices were bad.)
    • If Alexander really wants a walkie-talkie, what will he have to do? (Save his money)
    • What is saving? (Keeping your money to use in the future; not spending)
       
  15. Explain that by spending his dollar, Alexander gave up saving $1 toward his goal of a walkie-talkie. Tell students that when we make a choice, the next-best thing that is given up is our opportunity cost. When he spent all of his money, the next-best thing Alexander gave up was being closer to achieving his goal of a walkie-talkie.
     
  16. Explain that when people spend money, their opportunity cost is being able to save the money to spend later; and when they save money, their opportunity cost is being able to spend and enjoy something now.
     
  17. Tell the students that Alexander had a savings goal. A savings goal is a good or service that you want to buy in the future. Discuss the following:

    • What was Alexander’s savings goal? (A walkie-talkie)
    • Why do you think Alexander said it was hard to save money? (Answers will vary, but students should point out that it is hard to save for something in the future when there are things to buy today.)
    • What advice would your give Alexander to help him reach his goal? (Answers will vary but may include the following: Don’t spend money on small, silly stuff. Behave so you don’t have to pay fines. Be careful not to lose your money. Stop spending and start saving. Save a little of all the money you get.)
       
  18. Discuss the following:

    • What are some things you would like to save to buy in the future? (Answers will vary but may include toys, game systems, books, bikes, and so on.)
       
  19. Point out the “Savings Goal” sign on the bulletin board or chart paper. Distribute a ½ sheet of paper to each student. Have students draw a picture of their savings goals.
     
  20. Allow students time to work, then collect their savings goals and tape them on the Savings Goal poster or pin them to the bulletin board. Remind the students that it is hard to save because there are many small things we see each day that we would like to buy—just like Alexander. And, when we spend our money on those small things— there’s an opportunity cost—we give up reaching our savings goal as quickly as we might like.
     
  21. Teach the students the saving and spending song on Visual 1: Saving and Spending Song.

© 2014, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia.  Reprinted with permission. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education_resources.

Conclusion

  1. Review the important content in the lesson by asking the following questions:

    • What is saving? (Keeping some of your money to buy things in the future; not spending)
    • Do you save? (Answers will vary.)
    • What is a savings goal? (A good or service you want to buy in the future)
    • What is your savings goal? (Answers will vary.)
    • Why is it hard to save? (Answers will vary but may include the following: There are many things to buy that tempt you to spend. You have to wait to get something in the future. If you spend, you get something now.)
    • What is spending? (Using some or all of your money to buy things you want now)
    • What is opportunity cost? (The next-best thing that is given up when a choice is made)
    • When people choose to spend, what is their opportunity cost—what do they give up? (Buying things in the future)
    • When people choose to save, what is their opportunity cost—what do they give up? (Buying things today)
    • Does $1 equal 100 cents? (Yes.)
       
  2. Invite students to count to 100 by 2s.

Extension Activity

Send the book home with students to read with their parents.  Parents can use the Q & A sheet to guide the discussion with their children.

Assessment

Distribute a copy of Handout 2: Assessment to each student. Review the directions. Allow time for students to work, then review their answers using Handout 3: Assessment—Answer Key.