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We Know Why

Alexander Wanted To Move To Australia!

Miss DeBartolo's Kindergarten Internet Projects

Developed in the Spring of 2000

image courtesy of Enchanted Learning

Learner Outcomes:

The students will create a written and illustrated response to a question posed by the teacher about the main character's desire to move to Australia in the story, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst.

The students will develop an appreciation for a country far away from their own while learning about Australian geography, culture, climate, animals, language, food, landmarks and forms of entertainment.

The students will communicate through email with someone who lives in Australia as they learn to develop questions and gather facts about Australia, and then summarize them in their own words.

Background for Teachers:

Image from

The teacher begins the unit by reading the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  At one point in the story, the main character, Alexander, explains that his day is so bad that he wishes he could move to Australia.  Alexander refers to Australia two more times in the story in a similar context.  At the end of the story, students are encouraged to discuss why they think Alexander wants to move to that country.  Students use the map and globe to locate Australia and begin to brainstorm what they already know about the country.  The next day, students are told about an adult friend that lives in Australia that is interested in corresponding with them through email.  Students are encouraged to make a list of questions that they would love to have answered and the unit then naturally builds from there.

Each student chooses one question that they would like to ask of their Australian friend and they visit the computer one at a time to dictate their question to the teacher.  The teacher types each question into the class email message and each student types his/her name beneath their question, beginning to practice their keyboarding skills.  The message is sent off and while the receiver takes a few days to respond, the students are off spending their afternoons watching a movie about Australia, rereading the story, and taking several "imaginary trips" to Australia via the Internet.

Student Tasks:

1. Students spent their morning circle time for about four weeks in guided speaking and writing activities.  Each day, students were encouraged to add another page to their fact book about Australia, summarizing places they had seen on the Internet or read about in books around their classroom or in their correspondence with their Australian friend. At their seats, students practiced handwriting skills by copying the new fact into their personal factbook and adding their own illustrations.  Each student's factbook consisted of the following facts by the end of the unit:

  • Australia is the world's largest island.
  • Australia is down-under, 10,000 miles away.
  • Australia has a desert and Ayer's Rock.
  • The Sydney Opera House looks like a big boat.
  • The kangaroo is a marsupial.
  • The koala is not a bear.
  • The kookabura bird laughs.
  • The platypus has a duck bill.
  • The Great Barrier Reef has sharks.
  • The Aborigines live in the Outback.
  • The didjerido is made from the bamboo tree.
  • Australia has great beaches.
  • Australian's say "G'day Mate".
  • Rubgy is like football.
  • Vegemite is a healthy food.

2.  The students took their "imaginary trips" during afternoon learning sessions. Some of the trips that the students most enjoyed include the following: (click on the links to locate the web resources)

3. Students corresponded with their Australian friend in a series of five different email messages over the course of about two weeks.  The children quickly learned about the fast turn-around time in getting a reply with email, and were very eager to have the teacher read the responses back to them first thing in the morning after they sent each message.  Each message contained answers to new questions the students had asked as well as descriptions of some American customs and holidays (for their Australian friends) that were being celebrated during the span of this project.
Finished Product:
There were two final projects that each student completed.

1. Each student took home their own handwritten and personally illustrated copy of the class Australian factbook as well as a certificate for success in completing a "fair dinkum" (Australian) internet study and fact book of Australia.

2. Each student contributed one page to the final class book titled "We Know Why Alexander Wanted to Move to Australia!" Each student wrote their own reason and illustrated it with color markers.  The completed pages were scanned into the computer and imported into Microsoft Powerpoint for an end of the year slide show.  Each student also got to take home a full color, bound copy of the book to keep. You may view this class book online.

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