Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

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Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, is a story about a little mouse who loves going to school and always follows the rules. She even wants to be a teacher when she grows up! One day, Lilly comes to school with a purple purse, cute sunglasses, and shiny quarters, and when she is unable to hold in her enthusiasm a few consequences follow her actions.

"Throughout the rest of the day, Lilly’s purse and quarters and sunglasses were tucked safely inside her desk. She peeked at them often but did not disturb a soul.”

Curriculum Connections
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse would be a great book to introduce the importance for having and following rules. Teachers can also emphasize other English concepts such as oral and writing skills by having students write or speak about a time when they did something that resulted in a bad consequence, or something which they regretted. Students should recognize that breaking these rules will have consequences. Teachers can also integrate math skills such as coin recognition into a lesson using this story.

Additional Resources

  • Story recall activity: Students must color and cut out the items that Lilly had in her purse and glue them on the purse template.
  • Students should write about a time when they did something that they regretted. What were the consequences of their actions?
  • Read the story with your students the first week of school. Then, hand out the assignment for your students to create their own “purse” (bookbags for boys). Inside the purse should be a few selected items that reflect their uniqueness. Have students present their purses and bookbags to the class.
  • Counting worksheet using items found in the book
  • Coin recognition and value worksheet (also includes story recall)

Book: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1st edition
Publication Date: 1996
Pages:32
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0688128971