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Charleston Stage: Alexander Curriculum Guide

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

Education Guide


Charleston Stage: Alexander Curriculum Guide

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Setting The Stage Credits Book and Lyrics written by Judith Viorst Music written by Shelly Markham Directed and Music Directed by Amanda Wansa Costume Design by Barbara Young Lighting Design by Julian Wiles Theatre Etiquette

Discuss proper audience behavior with your students. While applause, laughter, and reaction, when appropriate, are appreciated and anticipated, unnecessary noise or movement can distract the actors and audience members, while also affecting the quality of the performance. It is very important that students understand how their behavior can affect a live performance. You, the teacher, and other adult chaperones for your group are responsible for your student’s behavior. We ask that the chaperones sit among the students rather than together in a group behind the students. Our ushers will react to disruptions and attempt to quell them. We reserve the right to remove any student causing a distraction from the theatre. When entering the theatre venue please make sure all of your students have name tags with their name and your school’s name.


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MEET THE CREATORS! JUDITH VIORST Judith Viorst was born and raised in New Jersey and has lived in Washington, DC since her marriage to political writer Milton Viorst in 1960. The have three sons whose names are the same as the brothers in her play Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A graduate of Rutgers University and the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Viorst is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose for both children and adults. Among her 14 children’s books are two other Alexander stories and two collections of poems – If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries and Sad Underwear and Other Complications. Her 12 adult books include Necessary Losses, Imperfect Control, a comic novel, and six collections of poetry. She has also collaborated with Shelly Markham on an adult musical, Love and Shrimp, which has been performed around the country. SHELLY MARKHAM Shelly Markham trained at the Chicago Musical College, then moved to New York City where he began studying with Lehmann Engel at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He was chosen to study in the ASCAP-Disney Workshop with a revue called Too Old for the Chorus, which opened to critical acclaim at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles and the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In addition to the two shows he has collaborated on with Judith Viorst (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and Love and Shrimp), he has scored the PBS production of Charley’s Aunt, composed shows based on family classics (including Tom Sawyer and The Prince and the Pauper) for producers Fran and Barry Weissler, written for Captain Kangaroo for CBS, and composed a musical based on the book Flavia and the Dream Maker for the Access Theatre in Santa Barbara, California.


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CHARACTERS

Alexander – a six-year-old boy with a finely honed sense of injustice Nick – Alexander’s brother, nine years old Anthony – Alexander’s brother, eleven years old Mother – Alexander’s mother Father– Alexander’s father Albert Mayo – a classmate Becky – a classmate Audrey – a classmate Philip Parker– a classmate Paul– a classmate Mrs. Dickens – Alexander’s teacher Dr. Fields – a dentist Shoe Salesman – works at the shoe store

Synopsis of ALEXANDER…DAY Spoiler alert, you may not want to read this before seeing the play. The moment Alexander wakes up, his problems begin. He has gum in his hair. Next, he trips over his skateboard, and he drops his sweater in the sink while the water is running. Alexander thinks it is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. At school, the teacher doesn’t like Alexander’s invisible drawing of a castle or his singing. Alexander’s friends aren’t nice to him, and his mother forgets to pack dessert in his lunch. Alexander wants to move to Australia to get away from his problems. At the dentist’s office, Alexander’s brothers have perfect check-ups. Alexander has a cavity and needs a second appointment at the dentist. At the shoe store, Alexander’s brothers buy shoes which make them happy. The store is out of the shoes Alexander wants. He ends up with sneakers he doesn’t like. By now, Alexander REALLY wants to move to Australia to get away from his problems. At home, Alexander has even more problems. He hates his dinner and the programs on television. His favorite pajamas are dirty, and his cat won’t sleep with him.


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As Alexander is getting tucked into bed, he tells his mother about his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. She sings a song about pleasant things,

Cur ri culum C onne ctio ns

VOCABULARY WORDS! ALLERGY – a condition that makes a person become ill or develop skin or breathing problems because they have eaten certain foods or come in contact with certain substances BLIMPS – a large aircraft without wings consisting of a large bag filled with gas which is lighter than air and powered by engines CAVITY – a hole in a tooth CHERISH – to love, protect and care for someone or something that is important DUET – a piece of music sung or played by two people EUCALYPTUS – any of several types of tree, found especially in Australia, which produces an oil with a strong smell GERBIL – a small mouse-like animal with long back legs that is often kept as a pet HAZE – when the air is not very clear because of something such as heat or smoke, making it difficult to see. LIMA BEANS – a large, flat, creamy-yellow or pale green bean MAZE – a complicated set of rules, ideas or subjects which one finds difficult to deal with or understand


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NOURISH – to provide people or living things with food in order to make them grow and keep them healthy. NOVOCAINE – a drug given to people to stop the feeling of pain, especially during an operation on their teeth. SORROWS – feelings of great sadness or regret. WALLABIES – an animal found in Australia and New Guinea which is like a small kangaroo, and has strong back legs for jumping and a long tail Lingo of the Times.

FUN FACTS ABOUT AUSTRAILA! In the story, Alexander keeps saying that he’s going to move to Australia! Lets take a look at some fun facts about what his world there would be like!

There are 1500 species of Australian spiders. There are over 6000 species of flies, approximately 4000 species of ants, and about 350 species of termites.

The rainwater in Tasmania is some of the purest in the world. Tasmania is also considered to have the best air in the world.


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There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia and only some 20 million people.

Because Australia is located so far south of the equator, its nickname is “The Land Down Under.”

It is also known as “The Island Continent” and is the only continent that is also a nation!


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True and False Write T if the statement is True and F if the statement is False. 1. ____ Alexander is the youngest brother in a family of three boys. 2. ____ Alexander woke up with jelly in his hair. 3. ____ Nick found a Junior Undercover code ring in his cereal box. 4. ____ Paul drew a picture of an invisible castle. 5. ____ Alexander wants to move to France. 6. ____ Alexander’s father is a dentist. 7. ____ Alexander’s sweater fell in the sink. 8. ____ Alexander’s mom forgot to pack his dessert. 9. ____ Lima beans are Alexander’s favorite meal. 10. ____ Alexander has a Mickey Mouse lunchbox. 11. ____ Anthony, Nick and Alexander got new sneakers. 12. ____ Paul’s new best friend is Philip Parker. 13. ____ Alexander called Australia on his father’s work phone. 14. ____ Alexander’s bath was too cold.

Matching Match the person or place in the first column with the corresponding description in the second. 1. Nick a. Paul’s dessert 2. Alexander b. Alexander’s teacher 3. Corvette Stingray car kit c. Home of the copier machine 4. Jelly roll d. Alexander found this in his hair 5. Anthony e. Hates lima beans 6. Dad’s office f. Paul’s second best friend 7. Mrs. Dickens g. Wants red sneakers with white stripes 8. Gum h. What Anthony found in his cereal box 9. Albert Moyo i. Alexander’s oldest brother


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Discussion before the Performance All Language Arts completes the following standards: o Developing and using oral communication o Understanding and reading literary texts o Understanding and using informational texts o Building Better vocabulary o Developing written communication o Developing and using research strategies All Social Studies meets the following standards: o Understanding of different life around them and across the world o Understanding of different regions and human systems All Theatre Activities meet the following standards: – Connecting ideas and action – Understanding characters DISCUSSION PROMPTS NOTE: We suggest reading the book, Alexander and the Terrible…Day before engaging in these discussion prompts! 1. Which place would you like to visit when you’re having a bad day? Why? 2. Why did Alexander want to go to Australia? Locate Australia on a globe. How far away is it from your hometown? Using the internet, research airline flights from your hometown to Sydney, Australia. How many times would you have to change planes? In what cities? How long would the overall journey take? How much would it cost? Do you think Alexander could realistically run away to Australia? 3. Can you tell when other people are having a bad day? How? Brainstorm some things you can do to help other people when they are having a bad day.


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Activities After the Performance DISCUSSION PROMPTS 1. In the musical Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Alexander’s best friend chooses a new best friend. Why do you think he did this? Did you ever have a best friend suddenly choose a new best friend and how did it make you feel when they told you? Did you feel like you had done something wrong or did you feel angry? Were you able to eventually talk to your friend and discover why they changed their mind? What would you suggest that Alexander do ? 2. Who was your favorite character and why? Which character in the musical is most like you and why? Which actor do you think could have done better and why? 3. Did you notice any mistakes when you saw the show? Is there anything about the story that you would change to make it better? Did the costumes, scenery and lighting do their job in helping to tell the story and why? 4. Locations onstage are called “settings.” What are the various settings of this play? How could you tell when the characters were in a different setting? What changed? How were sound and lights used in establishing the setting? Were they effective? How much scenery was used? ACTIVITIES 1. “Back story” refers to the events in a character’s life that took place before we meet the character in the story. Write a back story for Alexander’s teacher, Mrs. Dickens. What is her first name? What kind of house does she live in? Why did she decide to become a teacher? How long has se been teaching? What happened to her that morning before she came to school? Come up with as many questions as you can about Mrs. Dickens’ life – then make up the answers. 2. Have your students write a letter to Alexander to tell him about a bad day that they had at school or home.

3. Have your students write Alexander a letter giving him advice on how to handle his very bad day. 4. As a class, brainstorm a list of things that could lead to a very bad day. List at least 15 different things. Write the list on the board. Ask each student to choose his/her top five “bad day scenarios” from the list and write them on their paper. Have students read their lists aloud, and make tally marks beside each item on the board as it is mentioned. Create a graph of the results. Repeat the activity with things that could lead to a wonderful day!


Charleston Stage: Alexander Curriculum Guide

Reso ur ces BOOKS Other children’s books by Judith Viorst Sunday Morning I’ll Fix Anthony Try It Again, Sam The Tenth Good Thing About Barney Rosie and Michael Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday If I Were In Charge of the World and Other Worries The Good-bye Book Earrings! The Alphabet from Z to A Sad Underwear and Other Complications Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move Absolutely, Positively Alexander WEB RESOURCES Charleston County Public Library: http://www.ccpl.org/ Fun site about Alexander! http://www.ducylee.com/Cat6.htm Great Study Guide from TheatreWorks USA: http://www.theatreworksusa.org/uploads/studyguide/studyguide_491.pdf Another great Study Guide! http://www.ctcinc.org/Study%20Guides/Alexander/Alexander_Guide_0809.pdf A Literary Plan on Judith Viorst, the author http://litplans.com/authors/Judith_Viorst.html

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Alexander Study Guide  

Alexander Study Guide

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