It Could Have Been Worse by A.H. Benjamin - Teaching Ideas

Little Mouse is having a tough time getting home. He slips out of a bush, falls into a hole, crashes into a stream, and slides down the side of a hill. Little does he realize that each time he slips, slides or falls he has just saved himself from being eaten. When Mouse slips out of the bush, the cat gets stuck in the branches, when he falls into a hole the bird crashes to the ground and when he slips down the hill the fox falls into a beehive.

The great thing about this book is there are two ways to look at who it could have been worse for, the mouse - being eaten, or the other animals - all the things that happen to them when Mouse trips, falls, and slips.

Below are skills, strategies and ideas that you can use to create your own lesson with this great book. This book is perfect for theme, and perspective.

I created a freebie to go with this. Students will look at an event and then look at what Mouse wasn't aware of and then decide how how things could have been worse.

Reading level: 3.5
Theme/subject: being thankful,
Genre: fiction

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: balance, scurrying, thistle, wailed, trotted, scramble, steep bank, footing, staggered

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder who had it worse, the cat or the mouse. {possible questions during} I wonder if Mouse will make it home safely. {possible questions after}  I wonder if Mouse knows how lucky he is. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (Mouse, he, his).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} The snake got a tongue full of thorns. Mouse slid down the hill on a leaf. The cat got the mouse trap on his nose. All these things are silly and make a very entertaining story.
  • Cause and effect – How come the cat didn’t catch Mouse? Because Mouse lost his balance and fell to the ground. How come the bird crashed into the ground? Because Mouse fell into a hole. Why did the snake get a mouth full of thistles? Because Mouse sat on a thistle and shot into the air. How come the fish couldn’t catch Mouse? Because Mouse slipped and fell into the water and a stick lodged into the fishes mouth. How come the fox was chased by bees? Because the fox missed Mouse and landed on a bee hive. Why did Mouse think he had a terrible day? Because he fell, slipped, slid and shot into the air all the way home.
  • Character analysis - describe Mouse {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Compare & contrast – Mouse from It Could Have Been Worse by A.H. Benjamin and the mouse from Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple by A.H. Benjamin
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Having a bad day. Falling in the water. Slipping down a hill. Falling in a hole. {possible text-to-text connections} Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple by A.H. Benjamin because both are about a mouse trying to get home.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why did the author title the story It Could Have Been Worse? {text clues} All the animals that were after Mouse had something happen to them that prevented them from catching and eating Mouse. {what I know} I know that it is better to fall in a hole or slip down a hill than being eaten. {my conclusion} I think the author titled the story It Could Have Been Worse because Mouse’s day could have been a lot worse if he would have been eaten.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about all the problems Mouse had while he was trying to get home. {details} Mouse fell into a hole. Mouse slipped into the water. Mouse slid down the hill.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? Do you think the cat will get the mouse? Do you think the bird will get Mouse? How do you think Mouse will escape the snake? Do you think the fish will get Mouse? What do you think will happen to the fox?
  • Sequencing – A cat tried to catch Mouse but mouse fell out of the bush. A bird tried to catch Mouse but Mouse fell into a hole. A snake tried to eat Mouse but Mouse sat onto a thistle and shot into the air. A fish tried to catch Mouse but Mouse slipped into the water. A fox tried to eat Mouse but Mouse slipped down the hill. Mouse was glad to be home.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Mouse was so lucky to not have been eaten on his way home. What would you tell Mouse to explain to him how lucky he was and how his day could have been much worse?
  • Theme – Things can always be worse. Be thankful for what you have.
  • Visualize – Visualize how Mouse’s day could have been worse.

Happy Planning!

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