Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Lesson Plan

First published in 1972, Judith Viorst’s humorous book about a boy named Alexander has resonated with children and adults alike. Today we’re sharing an Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day lesson plan to provide opportunities for exploring common emotions among children. It is also a good starting point for learning about such varied topics as Australia, dental care and skip-counting!

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

Below are some ideas to explore and a list of resources, a vocabulary worksheet, and a comprehension quiz all centered around Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Goo, Very Bad Day – Lesson Plan.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Lesson Plan

Ideas to Explore: 

Social Studies

  • Australia – Alexander dreams of going to Australia – a place where he can get away from his problems.  Australia is the biggest island and the smallest continent.  You may want to briefly explore the history of Australia as a penal colony.  Point out how it’s interesting that Alexander sees Australia as a place to escape difficulties but how the first English settlers were sent there as a punishment. 


  • Animals of Australia – kangaroos, koala bears and wombats are all unique to Australia.  Read books about these animals and discuss what makes each unique. 
  • The Great Barrier Reef – There are many wonderful books and videos to watch about the world’s largest coral reef.  Learn about coral reefs and the ocean life that shares this habitat.  Talk about what is causing the reefs to shrink. 


  • Dental care – Alexander visits the dentist and finds out he has a cavity.  Discuss what a cavity is and how they can be prevented (brushing, flossing, fluoride, avoiding sweets).  Get some disclosing tablets and have your students practice brushing technique. (Check out our dental coloring pages for a supplemental activity.)


  • Teach the ordinals – Alexander found out that he was Paul’s third best friend.  Define the terms first, second, and third, and so on.
  • Practice skip-counting – Alexander got in trouble for skipping the number sixteen.  Some people practice math skills by skip-counting.  Practice doing this – first say just the odds, then just the evens, then try skipping multiples of three or five. (Here are some simple skip counting worksheets.)

Language Arts

  • Writing – Nearly everyone can remember some details of a good day or a bad day.  Have your students write about either extreme.  If your students are familiar with the “Lord of the Rings,” then check out the resource for a link to “Aragorn’s Bad Day.” 
  • Compound Words – This book contains quite a few compound words.  Teach your students that each compound word can be broken up into two separate words.  The attached vocabulary worksheet gives practice with compound words.


Alexander’s teacher wasn’t impressed with his invisible painting of a castle.  Try doing some “invisible art” with your students.  Have them paint a picture using lemon juice.  As the juice dries, it will become more visible.  But then use an iron to dry it further, and the lines will be a nice brown.  Or, if you have very imaginative students, have them hold up a blank piece of paper and describe their picture in detail!

Other Judith Viorst books with the “Alexander” character:

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