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

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan may be used to help your students answer questions about the text, describe characters, and identify synonyms and antonyms while reading ''Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'' by Judith Viorst.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, students will be able to:

  • Answer questions about the text.
  • Describe the characters' responses to the events in the story.
  • Understand the concept of synonyms and antonyms.

Time Length

90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.


Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.


Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

Lesson Instructions and Activities


Students will be able to describe and use the following terms:

  • Australia
  • carpool
  • cavity
  • invisible
  • mistake
  • scolded


  • Copies of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Reading and Discussion

  • Preview vocabulary with students. Have student role play something that reminds them of each vocabulary word.
  • Tell students the title. Ask students what the difference between terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad is. Explain that these words are synonyms because they mean about the same thing. Ask students to come up with another synonym for these words. Explain that antonyms are words that mean the opposite. Ask students to come up with a list of antonyms for terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.
  • Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst with students. Pause at appropriate times to discuss the following:
    • What are some things that happen to Alexander before he even leaves the house in the morning?
    • Who is to blame for the things that go wrong?
    • What do you think would happen if Alexander moved to Australia?
    • How does Alexander react when he doesn't get his way?
    • What should Alexander have done differently at school?
    • Describe how Alexander feels about Philip, Albert, and Paul.
    • Turn and talk: Tell about a time you were jealous and how you handled it.
    • What could Alexander do to keep from getting cavities?
    • Describe Alexander's relationship with Anthony and Nick.
    • How could Alexander have made his visit to his dad's office better?
    • What happens at the end of the day that upsets Alexander?
    • Turn and talk: Tell about a bad day you had.

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