A Week of Children’s Book Activities for Nannies and Au Pairs

Alexander and the Terrible , Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

This week’s children’s book is Alexander and the Terrible , Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. After the book review are activities meant to supplement the story. There is one activity for each day of the work week. After reading this book is a great opportunity to learn about Australia’s animals, language, and geography. Kids will love making the aboriginal musical instrument below.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

From the moment he wakes up with gum in his hair, things just do not go Alexander’s way. Getting out of bed, he trips on a skateboard and drops his sweater into a sink full of water. At breakfast, Alexander’s brothers Nick and Anthony reach into their cereal boxes and pull out amazing prizes, while all Alexander ends up with is cereal.

On the way to school, he doesn’t get the window seat in the carpool. At school his teacher doesn’t like his drawing of an invisible castle (which is actually just a blank sheet of paper) and criticizes him for singing too loud and leaving out 16. His friend Paul reduces Alexander to third best friend and there is no dessert in his lunch.

At the dentist’s, the dentist tells Alexander he has a cavity, the elevator door hurts his foot, Anthony pushes him into the mud, Nick calls him a crybaby for crying, and Mom catches him in the act of punching Nick.

At the shoe store, they’re sold out of Alexander’s choice of sneakers (blue ones with red stripes), so Mom has to buy him plain white sneakers, which he’ll refuse to wear.

At Dad’s office, Alexander makes a mess of things when he fools around with everything there (the copying machine, the books, and the telephone) getting to the point where Dad tells him not to pick him up from work anymore.

At home, Alexander’s bad day is far from over. The family has lima beans for dinner (which he hates), there is kissing on TV (which he also hates), bath time becomes a nightmare (too hot water, soap in the eyes, and losing a marble down the drain) and he has to wear his railroad train pajamas (he hates his railroad train pajamas).

At bedtime, Alexander’s nightlight burns out, he bites his tongue, Nick takes back a pillow, and the family cat chooses to sleep with Anthony. No wonder Alexander wants to move to Australia. The book ends with his mother’s assurance that everyone has bad days, even people who live in Australia. In the Australian and New Zealand versions he wants to move to Timbuktu, not Australia.

Consider doing these supplemental activities after reading the book:

Monday: Activity One
Write a Story
Help children write a story about a time they had a really bad day. Did the day get better? What happened to change their feelings? Ask them to write about a place they would like to move to when they have a bad day. Why did they choose this place? What would they do there? Could what happened to Alexander happen there too? Encourage them to use the following vocabulary words found in this book: sailboat, invisible, sixteen, Australia, terrible, skateboard, breakfast, cupcakes, dessert, cavity, pajamas, dentist, horrible, and strawberry.

Tuesday: Activity Two
What Can You Do With the Number 16?

Sixteen is the number Alexander forgot in the book. Ask the children see how long 16 paper clips is? Go outside and see if you can find 16 of anything. How many different ways can you come up with $0.16 cents? What grade will they be in when they turn 16-years-old?

Wednesday: Activity Three
Australian Animals

Help children learn about animals in Australia, For example, all children love kangaroos and koala bears. You can find coloring pages for Australian animals by clicking here. Make masks of Australian animals and pretend you are visiting an Australian zoo. Find out more about animals from Australia by clicking here.

Thursday: Activity Four
Australian Words

Have a blast spending the day trying to speak in Australian slang. Can you find the meanings of: Mate, bush, G’Day, outback, boomerang, down under, didgeridoo, barbie, car park, Cozzie, joey, knickers, mum, roo, roundabout? Do Americans use slang words too? Find a translation dictionary by clicking here.

Friday: Activity Five
Make a Didgeridoo

Have the children listen to didgeridoo music for free by clicking here. Ask the children to describe what they hear. Does it make the sound of an animal? Show them a picture of the instrument which you can find by clicking here. Make a didgeridoo using two cardboard wrapping paper tubes taped together. For children, make it three or four feet long. Once you have the cardboard tubes taped, kids can decorate it using bright colors of paint or markers. Allow them to glue all sorts of objects to the didgeridoo. To play it place it out in front our you, with one end resting on the ground. Place your mouth inside the tube and make a sound of a motorboat.

Stop by next week for another Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs.


  1. Super stuff Steph. Thanks!

  2. Great ideas. Will be fun and I will do these next week. Story time is Monday, perfect timing.Terri

  3. OMG the kids also went to australia this summer perfect time to read the book and do these activities!!

  4. I love this book and it's a great way to teach allowance as well as slip in a little math! Plus it's just a great and funny story!Pragmatic MomType A Parenting for the Modern Worldhttp://PragmaticMom.comI blog on children's lit, education and parenting.

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