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Lesson Plan Title:
A Chair for My Mother: Understanding the Concepts of Earning & Saving

Grade Level:
K – 2

Two 50-minute class periods.

Student Goal
Develop an understanding about working to acquire resources to meet a goal.

Student Objectives
Students will:


Understand the concepts of having a financial goal and saving money to reach that goal.


Identify the ways the characters in the book A Chair for My Mother satisfy their basic needs and wants by utilizing scarce resources.


Recognize that money is earned from work done.


Determine a financial goal, and tell a story about how they'll earn and save for that goal, and how they'll feel upon obtaining it.


Explain the concept of saving as giving up buying something today in order to buy something more valuable, or more important in the future.

List Materials


A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams in the Teacher Store


chart paper




drawing paper


student handout: Saving Money Story Board
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Set Up and Prepare


Borrow the book A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams from your school or local library. Or, buy a copy from Scholastic's Teacher Store.


Write the definitions for the words Goal, Save, and Savings on a sheet of chart paper and display for the class:

Goal (noun): something you want to work hard to get for yourself or someone you care about.

Save (verb): to keep money to use in the future rather then spend it now.

Savings (noun): money that you have kept to use for a future goal instead of spending it right away.


Print out copies of the Saving Money Story Board for each student to take home.

Directions PART I

Step 1: 

Tell students about a time you wanted something, but didn't have enough money to buy it. Explain how you worked to earn money and saved by putting some of the money aside. Describe what it was like to finally buy what you wanted. Now ask students to describe their own experiences of wanting something and not having enough money to buy it. Ask whether they were able to save enough money, and how they did it.

Step 2: 

Direct students' attention to the definitions for the words goal, save, and savings on the chart paper. Read each definition aloud, emphasizing the difference between the verb "save" and the noun "savings." Relate each word to some of the experiences students describe in step 1. For example, a "goal" might be to buy a special doll; to "save" is to hold aside money for the doll by not spending it on other things; and "savings" is the money saved to buy the doll.

Step 3: 

Show students the cover of A Chair for My Mother. Read the title and author's name aloud. Tell students that this is a story about a girl and her family who lost everything in a fire. Though friends and family have helped them, there is one thing, or goal, they really want, but don't have enough money to buy. Can they guess what it is? Prompt students to predict how they think the family will save to buy the chair.

Step 4: 

Read the book aloud. After completing the story, ask students to identify the family's goal (chair) and how they saved money to reach their goal (worked at the diner).

Step 5: 

Check students' comprehension — especially the concepts of earning and saving — by leading a class discussion. Use these guiding questions to prompt the discussion:


What does the family want to buy — what was their goal? Why? (a chair because they lost their other chair in a fire)


How does the girl earn the money to save for the chair? (she works at the diner where her mother is a waitress) What jobs does she do at the diner? (wash salt and pepper shakers, fill the ketchups, peel onions)


How much of the money does the girl save? (half of what she earns)


Where does the family keep their savings? (a big, glass jar)


What money does the mother add to the savings jar? (her tips)


In what way does the grandmother help? (she adds money she saves buying things at bargain prices.)


Who else adds to the jar? (Uncle Sandy gives a quarter.)


Do they reach their goal? (yes) How were they able to buy a chair at the end of the story? (they saved enough coins.)


What do you think the family will do with the empty jar? (Answers will vary.)

Directions PART II

Step 6: 

Invite students to think about something big they want to save up for. Remind them that they may have to give up some smaller things along the way in order to save money for their bigger goal.

Step 7: 

Ask students how they can get money to save for their goal. Answers will vary, but may include allowance, gifts, selling things, etc. Remind students how in the story, the mother and daughter earned their money by working at the diner. Ask students to describe how the mother and daughter felt after finally buying the chair. Ask them how they will feel once they buy the thing they're saving up for.

Step 8: 

Distribute the Saving Money Story Board activity sheet to each student to bring home. Tell students that they will tell a story in pictures and words about saving money for something they really want. Draw students' attention to the four boxes. Explain that in the first box they will draw a picture of what they want to buy, or their goal with a caption underneath explaining what it is. In the second box, they are to illustrate and write how they will get money to buy what they want. Remind students that in the book, the family saved money by putting it in a jar. Ask them to show how they plan to save money by drawing a picture in the third box. Finally, in the last box, they should show in a picture and words how they will feel when they finally buy what they're saving for.

Step 9: 

Ask students what they're willing to give up in order to reach their goals. Answers will vary, but may include a toy, candy, or even time spent playing so that they can earn money. Invite students to draw pictures of what they are willing to give up. Help students label their pictures. Post their drawings on a bulletin board with the title "How we are Saving for Our Goals."

Assess Students
Evaluate students using the following rubric:


thoughtful and significant contribution to class discussions.


accurate answers to comprehension questions about the story A Chair for My Mother.


successfully completing the activity sheet by describing in words and pictures what they want to buy, how they'll make and save money, and how they'll feel in the end.


drawing that represents something they are willing to give up in order to save money.

Extend Lesson
Continue to develop students' understanding with these activities:


Wants & Needs
Define the difference between wants and needs. Make a two-column table on a sheet of chart paper. Across the top write "A Chair for My Mother." Label one column "Wants" and the other column "Needs." As you read the story, have students identify which of the items the family receives fulfill their needs and which fulfill their wants. (Needs: food, table, chairs, bed, pots and pans, silverware, dishes; Wants: rug, chair with flowers, curtains, stuffed bear).

Design a Chair
Open the book A Chair for My Mother to the last spread. Invite students to draw a picture of a chair that they would like to buy for their home. Have students describe the chair in a paragraph. Encourage them to use descriptive words, just like the author does in the story.

Hard Times
Remind students that in the story A Chair for My Mother, the family is facing a difficult time after the fire. Invite students to describe in words or a drawing a hard time in their family's life, and how their family worked together to get through the difficult time.

Spending Money
Remind students that the girl in A Chair for My Mother saves half of what she earns. What do they think she does with the other half? Invite them to draw a picture showing what they use their spending money for. Help students label their drawings.

Comparing Families
Read other stories in which families overcome difficult times. Examples include: The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills; Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting; Josefina's Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr; Crow Boy by Taro Yashima. Use a Venn diagram to compare the family in A Chair for My Mother with the families in the stories listed here.

Evaluate Lesson
You can assess the effectiveness of this lesson by asking yourself the following questions:


Did the lesson take the allotted time or should I have given myself more time?


Did the lesson run smoothly? If no, what happened?


Were the materials I used appropriate?


Did the students understand what was being asked of them?


Did students meet the learning objectives?


How can I adjust the lesson to make it more effective?

Saving Money Story Board