The Gold Coin Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada is a short story about the power of kindness. This lesson plan introduces the book to students and explores the themes presented. An activity encourages students to spread random acts of kindness.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define kindness
  • summarize the plot of The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada
  • list and describe the characters in the book
  • discuss the themes in the book


30 to 60 minutes for instruction and up to one week for completion of the activity

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.


Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events


Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.


  • A copy of The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada
  • 5x7 unlined index cards


  • Begin by asking the students to take turns sharing examples of kindness that has been shown to them by another.
  • When all students have shared their examples, work together as a class to formulate a definition for the word kindness.
  • Read The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada aloud to the class. Make an effort to display each illustration to the class as you read.
  • Once you've finished reading the book to the students, allow them to ask any questions they may have about the book before addressing the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Who is Juan?
  • Why is Juan spying on Doña Josefa?
  • Why does Juan break into Doña Josefa's home?
  • Why does Juan begin to follow Doña Josefa?
  • Who does he meet while following her?
  • What does he do on his journey to find her?
  • How does Juan's appearance change as he follows Doña Josefa?
  • How do Juan's thoughts change as he follows her?
  • Why does Doña Josefa visit the people of the village?
  • What does she give the people she visits?
  • How does this make Juan feel?
  • What happens when Juan finally meets Doña Josefa face-to-face?
  • What does she give him?
  • How does the story end?
  • What is the moral of the story?
  • How can we be more like Doña Josefa?

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