A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams

Imagine how you would feel if your home caught on fire! This is the story of a girl named Rosa and her family that this happened to. Her friends and neighbors all pitch in to help her family but still there was something missing. Through hard savings they finally had the money for that one last item they dreamed about; a chair for her Mother.


  • 5-10 pennies for each child
  • Box of salt
  • Jar of vinegar
  • A variety of real or play coins


  • Tips (a gift of money for a job well done)
  • Spoiled (to be ruined)
  • Sofa (another name for couch or davenport)

Before Reading the Story

Bring a chair to the rug to read from today. Ask the children if they have ever lost something that was really special to them. Let them talk about how they felt (sad, angry). Tell the children that our story today is about a family that lost everything, all their clothes and toys and furniture because a big fire burned it all up. Give the children time to talk about any fire experience that they may have had. Hold up the back of the book with the picture of the chair and introduce the story.

Social & Emotional Development/Social Relationships; progresses in responding sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry; and in expressing empathy or caring for others. AND Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.

Reading the Story

Read the story using emotion.

After Reading the Story

Turn to the page where the neighbors were bringing Rosa’s family things for their new house. Ask the children if they thought their friends and neighbors were being kind? Ask the children what they would have given to Rosa’s family? Take a few minutes and talk about fire and fire safety. What should you do if your house catches on fire (get out, call 911, find your parent, call “help,help,help” if you are inside, get down low to the floor)

Social & Emotional Development/Social Relationships; progresses in responding sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry; and in expressing empathy or caring for others.  AND Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic, and pedestrian safety; and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.


Give each child 5-10 pennies. Ask them to sort them by shiny pennies and not shiny pennies. Ask them to count how many shiny pennies they have, how many not shiny, how many total, Let the children mix a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of vinegar, and 5 teaspoons of water into a small bowl. Put a couple pennies into the bowl and stir. Take the pennies out and wipe dry with a paper towel. The mixture helps remove the tarnish and make the pennies shiny. When they are finished have them put their pennies into a jar like Rosa and her family did in the story.

Mathematics/Number & Operations; develops increased abilities to combine, separate, and name “how many” concrete objects.  AND Science/Scientific Knowledge & Skills; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

Music and Movement

Teach the children the song/chant I’ve Got a Penny sung to the chorus of Playground in my Mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slp69VwEj4w

I’ve got a penny, I’ve got a penny
I’ve got a penny shiny and new.
I’m gonna buy all kinds of candy
That’s what I’m gonna do.

Put a variety of coins in a bag. Take turns picking out and naming the coin. Replace the word penny with the appropriate coin name. Let the child then decide what they are going to buy (Kerry’s gonna buy all kinds of headbands, that’s what she’s gonna do).

Language Development/Listening and Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.


Put fire trucks into the center. Encourage the children to build houses and act out being fire persons.   For older children ask them if they can build a fire house.  Can they include a roof?

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; approaches tasks and activities with increased flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness.  AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads,and using scissors.


Make a group chair collage. Have the children go through magazines and furniture ads and cut out pictures of chairs. When you finish the collage, the children can tell which chair is their favorite and write their name beside.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads,and using scissors.

Sand and Water

Water play today.  Add turkey baster, hosing, and funnels.

Social & Emotional Development/Self Control; demonstrates increasing capacity to follow rules and routines and use materials purposefully, safely, and respectfully.

Library and Writing

Remind the children that Rosa was saving to buy a chair for her mother.  Ask the children to draw a picture of what they would buy their Mom if they had $100.00. Write their response under their picture. ‘I would buy a ______for my Mother.’

Literacy/Early Writing; begins to represent stories and experiences through pictures, dictation, and in play.

Dramatic Play

Add play money and cash register.   Remind the children that Rosa’s Mom was a waitress at a restaurant.  Encourage the children to pretend to play restaurant taking turns being the waitress, the cook, and the customers.  Add a cash register and pretend money along with a real or home-made menu.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families and Communities; develops a growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.

Math and Manipulatives

In a clean egg carton, glue 2 pennies head/tail, 2 nickels head/tail, 2 dimes head/tail, and 2 quarters head/tail side by side. Use the four extra egg cups to hold a variety of coins. Explain that the glued ones show the front and back of each coin. Have the children sort the loose coins into the appropriate coin cup (it does not matter if it’s heads/tails). Make sure they wash their hands afterwards as money is known to be dirty.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Outdoor Play

Teach the children how to play Categories. Teacher picks a category (things in your kitchen, kinds of clothes, fruits).   You can either toss a bean bag to a child who then must answer or if you have a slide, the child must answer before he/she can go down the slide.

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem-Solving; develops increasing ability to find  more than one solution to a question, task, or problem.


Have the children sit in a circle.  In the center of the circle put a chair.  Give each child a block and take turns asking them to put them on, under, beside, in front, behind, near, and far from the chair.  Each child can be given one or two directions before they head off to the next activity.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasing understanding of directionality, order, and positions of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front behind.

Dear Parents- Today we read a story about a family whose household belongings burnt in a fire.  Although this might be a subject that is a little scary to talk about with your child, it is important.  Show your child how to dial 911 (do not really call).  Talk about what to do and where to go if there is ever a family emergency and you get separated (go to the neighbors house, the mailbox, the lamp post at the end of the block).  It is important that children learn what you want them to do when there is not an emergency going on.  Talk to them calmly and answer all their questions.  Who knows, this may one day save yours or their life.

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.