Once Upon a Dime


Book description

One day Farmer Worth notices a little tree growing where nothing had ever grown before.  He gives it organic fertilizer and finds out that money really does grow on trees!  Lewis and Cluck provide the chicken droppings.  Dwight D. Oinkinhower provides the pig squish.  And Moolly Pitcher provides the cow pies.  Farmer Worth’s young helper counts up the coins and dreams of more.  Will he end up as happy as a pig in a puddle?

Book Review

“Money really does grow on trees in Nancy Kelly Allen's children's book Once Upon a Dime. The story follows farmer Truman Worth, his special tree and a young boy in his journey to learning the value of money. The book is full of bright illustrations by Adam Doyle that are sure to keep kids anticipating the turn of the next page. With friends like Lewis and Cluck and Grover Clevelamb, parents are sure to have a laugh while kids learn a priceless lesson. ” -- Charlotte Parent

Available in Korean

Classroom Activities

Once Upon a Dime

Facilitate whole class participating in shared reading and discussion of Once Upon a Dime.

Read aloud the story. Stop reading at various points and ask students to make predictions, such as, What will grow on the tree when pig squish is used as fertilizer?  Sheep biscuits?  Bull chips? Ask the following open-ended questions:
1.     What do you think will grow on the tree next?
2.     Did the story remind you of anything you have heard, seen, or read?
3.     What did you like about the story?
4.     What did you learn from listening/reading the story?
5.     Which character was your favorite?  Why?
6.     What passage in the story did you like the most?  Why?
7.     Did you notice a pattern in the book?  Explain the pattern you noticed. 
Have students complete one or more of the following based on the book:
1.     Write a letter to other students persuading them to read the book.
2.     Write a book review persuading readers to either read the book or not read the book. Include a description of the story, but do not include the ending. What was the author’s message and purpose in writing the book?  Give your opinion of the book (Did you like it?  Rank it from one to five. One is the highest ranking).
3.     Write a poem about a farm or money.
4.     Write a newspaper article about the events that happened on the farm.
5.     Write a letter to Farmer Worth suggesting what fertilizer he should use on the tree. Explain what you think would grow if the fertilizer is used. A mixture of two fertilizers can be used.

Students will demonstrate what they have learned through performance or activities.
1.     Write and perform a commercial about an “unusual” farm.
2.     Divide students into several groups of three. Each group retells the story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Each member of a group is assigned a segment of the story to retell.
3.     Create a word quilt. Each student writes the name of a farm animal or a coin, such as “dime” on a square of paper. Draw a picture of the animal or coin. Piece the papers together on the wall to make a quilt.

Students will act out events in the story in the order in which they happened. Discuss fiction and nonfiction.
1.     Ask the students if a money tree could really grow on a farm?
2.     Is this story fiction or nonfiction?  How did you decide on your answer?
3.     Cite example passages that indicate the story is fiction.4.     Have students write or express orally an “unusual” farm they would like to own or visit.

Math Connection
1.     Students will decorate a tree (a branch of a tree held upright in a tree stand) with plastic coins. Attach a paperclip to a string and tie strings to branches on the tree. Slip plastic coins in each paperclip. Let students have a picking party. Students will add the value of the coins they picked. One or two students picking at a time is recommended. Variation:  Students pick only pennies or dimes, to learn to recognize that particular coin.

2.     Most of the animals on the farm were plain and regular, also know as average. Take a few measurements of the students in class. Share the data to find the “average” in the following:
Head Circumference____________
Arm span from fingertip to fingertip_______________
Pulse rate (at rest)______________
Shoe size____________
Number of vehicles in household_____________
Number of pets______________

Find the Mean, Median, Mode, and Range of the data collected.
Mean-_____________ Mean is the same as finding the average of a group. To get the mean, add up all the numbers for any category, such as Shoe Size, in your data collection. Divide that number by the number of students that participated.

Median-____________Median means the middle number. To find the medial, organize the numbers for any category, such as Pulse Rate, in your data collection so they are listed from smallest to largest. Find the number exactly in the middle. If you have an even number of items, you will have to find the number that comes between the two middle numbers.

Mode-____________Mode means the number which occurs the most often. To find the mode, list the numbers for any category, such as Age, in your data collection. The number that appears most often is the mode.

Range-____________Range is the difference between the largest number and the smallest number in your data collection.

Do you think the people on Bird Haven Hollow were full of hot air when they told the story of money growing on trees? Could you also be full of hot air?

A balloon will give you an idea of just how much hot air you exhale with each breath. For demonstration, give one student a balloon. The students will blow one breath into the balloon. Hold the stem of the balloon closed while another student measures the circumference (distance around) the balloon. Have student blow one more breath into the balloon. Take second measurement. Keep blowing one breath at a time, measuring after each. What did the balloon measure after one breath_____? Two_____?  Three_____? Four_____?  How many breaths did it take to fully inflate the balloon______? Give each student a balloon and a partner. Just how full of hot air are the students?  Let them measure to find out.

Discuss fiction and nonfiction.
1. Ask the students if a money tree could really grow on a farm?
2. Is this story fiction or nonfiction?  How did you decide on your answer?
3. Cite example passages that indicate the story is fiction.
4. Have students write or express orally an “unusual” farm they would like to own or visit.

Readers' Theater for Once Upon a Dime

Characters (In order of appearance)

Narrator A Young Boy (a hard-working boy who works for Farmer Worth)
Narrator B Farmer Worth (owner of Bird Haven Farm)
Miss True (also Mrs. True Worth) (a neighbor)
Moolly Pitcher (cow)
Franklin D. Roostervelt
Lewis and Cluck (rooster and chickens)
Dwight D. Oinkhower, William Muckinley, and Dolly Madisow (pigs)
Wooldrow Wilson, Grover Clevelamb, Rutherford Baa  Hayes (sheep)
Annie True-Worth (farmer’s daughter)

Narrator A:  Once upon a time, way back in Birdhaven Hollow, there lived a farmer named Truman Worth.  Every day, he worked from sunrise until sundown.  He milked the cow, gathered the eggs, feed the pigs, and chased the sheep away from the briar patch.

Young boy:  He was a friendly sort, so I liked to help him.

Narrator B:  Even through the coldest winters, the wettest springs, the driest summers, and the windiest autumns, Farmer Worth whistled as he worked.

Farmer Worth:  (Whistling) 

Miss True:  I live down the road.  Some days I drop by and hum along.  With the cow mooing, the chickens clucking, the pigs oinking, and the sheep baaing, it sure was a symphony of noises.

Moolly Pitcher:  Mooooooooooo.

Franklin D. Roostervelt:  Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Dwight D. Oinkenhower:  Oink, oink.Wooldrow Wilson:  Baa Baaaaaaaa Baa.

Farmer Worth:  Miss True, I’m as happy as a pig in a puddle.  I grow crops just like everybody else in these parts.  I grow apples, plain old regular apples.  I grow beans, plain old regular beans.  All the animals on the farm are just plain old regular animals, too.

Narrator A:  As for fertilizer, Farmer Worth used only the organic kind.  It was completely natural.  After the animals provided it, and it dried out for about a year, it was as good as any chemical fertilizer you could buy; maybe better.

Young boy:  Only one plant on that farm was not plain or regular.  No one had planted it.  It just sprouted up in a place where nothing ever grew before.

Narrator B:  When Farmer Worth saw that little wisp of a tree, he scratched his head.

Farmer Worth: (scratching his head and talking to the cow) Now how did that happen?

Narrator A:  Moolly rolled her great brown eyes.

Moolly:  (Rolls her eyes)  Mooooooo mooooooo.

Farmer Worth:  Any tree that grows in that spot will surely need some fertilizer.

Narrator B:  Farmer Worth fetched a bucket of old chicken droppings and dumped it around the little tree.

Young boy:  In just one week, the tree was as high as my knees.  In two weeks, it was up to my shoulders.  In three weeks, it was as tall as Farmer Worth.

Narrator A:  Soon, little buds appeared, and they watched as the buds opened into flowers.  In the center of each flower was a penny.  That tree grew the most beautiful crop of pennies you ever did see.  They glinted copper in the sunshine.

Narrator B:  Farmer Worth plucked a penny and polished it on his shirt.

Farmer Worth:  Well, now, a penny for your thoughts.

Young boy: (yelling) We’re rich!  We should count it all up!

Narrator A: That boy crowed as loud as Farmer Worth’s rooster, Franklin D. Roostervelt.

Franklin D. Roostervelt:  Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Farmer Worth:  (grinning) Be my guest.

Narrator B:  Farmer Worth held out a handful of corn for his chickens, Lewis and Cluck.

Lewis and Cluck:  Baaaak, bak, bak, bak.

Young boy:  By the time I finished picking, there were 100 pennies.

Narrator A:  Farmer Worth put the pennies in an old pickling jar.  Then he gathered up some nails and fixed the hen house.

Farmer Worth:  I have the happiest chickens you ever did see.

Narrator B:  That fall, they shoveled an old pile of pig squish all around the bottom of that penny tree. The following spring, little silver centers grew in flowers all over the tree.

Miss True:  I declare. Your tree is sprouting nickels, Mr. Worth!

Farmer Worth:  I call it my piggy bank tree, Miss True.

Narrator A:  Farmer Worth scratched his pig, Dwight D.Oinkenhower, behind the ears.

Dwight D. Oinkenhower:  (Grunts happily)  Oink, oink.

Young boy:  I got a pail and picked 100 nickels.

Farmer Worth:  I added up the nickels and put them in the jar with the pennies.

Narrator B:  To celebrate, Farmer Worth turned on the hose for Dwight D. Oinkenhower, William Muckinley, and Dolly Madisow.  Those pigs made the ooziest mud hole you ever did see.

Dwight D. Oinkhower, William Muckinley, and Dolly Madisow:  (Grunt happily)  Oink, oink. Oink, oink.

Farmer Worth:  That fall, I decided to try sheep biscuits as fertilizer for the tree.

Young boy:  The next spring, when buds appeared on the tree, I watched them like a cat at a mouse hole.  They were very small when they started to open.  These ain’t big enough for nickels, Farmer Worth!

Miss True:  Aren’t big enough.

Farmer Worth:  But they’re worth twice as much.  These flowers are making dimes!

Miss True:  And don’t they make a lovely sound.

Narrator A:  Miss True closed her eyes to listen.  The dimes pinged and tinged, clinked and plinked, making the tree sound like wind chimes.

Narrator B:  Folks said you could hear the music all through the hollow.

Farmer Worth:  I liked the music so much, I didn’t pick any of the dimes.  After a week or so, they started falling to the ground.

Young boy:  I raked them up and counted them.  All in all, I poured 100 dimes into the jar like a silver waterfall.

Farmer Worth:  To celebrate, I mixed up a tub of sheep dip for Wooldrow Wilson, Grover Clevelamb, Rutherford Baa  Hayes, and all the other sheep.  It was the bubbliest sheep dipping you ever did see.

Wooldrow Wilson, Grover Clevelamb, Rutherford Baa  Hayes:  Baaaaaa, baaaaa, baaa

Farmer Worth:  That fall, we talked about the strange tree a lot.  It had grown bigger and would need more fertilizer.  I decided to use cow pies.

Young boy:  Farmer Worth and I raked in old cow pies as far as the branches of the tree reached.  Next spring, the flower buds grew bigger and bigger.

Narrator A:  When the buds opened, each flower had a shiny new quarter growing in the middle.

Young boy:  The heavy quarters made a sound like tiny cowbells.  They didn’t sound as nice as those dimes, but they sure were worth a lot more.  When we were done picking, we had 100 quarters to add to the jar.

Farmer Worth:  I reckon we have a cup of quarters.  That’s a quarter of a quart of quarters.

Young boy:  A quarter of a quart of quarters.  I tried saying that three times fast.  (Talking fast)  A quarter of a quart of quarters, a quarter of a quart of quarters, a quarter of a quart of quarters.

Farmer Worth:  (patting Moolly Pitcher) Look what we grew!

Narrator B:  Farmer Worth gave Moolly a shiny new cowbell.

Moolly:  Mooooooo mooooooo.

Farmer Worth:  We have used fertilizer from each kind of animal on the farm.  I’m going to fertilize the tree again with old cow pies.

Young boy:  How about my Dad’s bull? Dad would let us use some bull chips.

Farmer Worth:  He might.  But will the bull?

Young boy:  Well, I thought that bull was pretty friendly, so I paid him a visit.  He didn’t like me much, but I came home with a whole sack of bull chips for that tree.Bull: (Stomp feet, lower head, snort loudly)

Narrator B:  The next spring, the tree didn’t flower at all.  It just made leaves.  From the barn, it looked like every other tree on the farm.

Young boy:  I was as sad as a turkey who’d lost its gobble.

Farmer Worth:  That tree looks a little odd.

Narrator A:  Farmer Worth went over to the tree for a closer look.

Farmer Worth:  (yelling) Come look!  Come look at the leaves.

Narrator B:  Turned out, those green leaves had George Washington’s picture on them. They were one-dollar bills!

Young boy:  The dollars rustled in the breeze.  Farmer Worth, Miss True, and I had a picnic and a picking party.  One hundred crisp dollar bills nested in our basket.

Farmer Worth:  Look what I got at the zoo-a sack of Chinese panda patties.

Narrator A:  That fall, they worked them into the soil around the tree.  In the spring, new green leaves grew all over the tree. Would they be dollar bills or five-dollar bills--maybe even ten-dollar bills?

Young boy:  I check the tree every day.

Narrator B:  Then, something very peculiar happened.  The green leaves changed to a beautiful red and white.

Young boy:  Look at this, Farmer Worth.  It’s not real money. Farmer Worth:  Oh, it’s real money all right.  These are real, honest-to-goodness yuan, Chinese dollars.  And we’ve got a bumper crop.

Narrator A:  By now, Farmer Worth had saved up quite a bit of money.  He and Miss True got married, filled their pockets with yuan, and set sail on a slow boat to China for their honeymoon.

Young boy:  Farmer Worth left the running of the farm to me.  This was my big chance.  I had always wondered what would happen if two different kinds of fertilizers were mixed together.  Would two kinds of money grow, and if they did, how much?  What about pig squish and chicken droppings?  After all, ham and eggs go well together.

Narrator B:  If the tree grew 100 pennies when it was fertilized with chicken droppings, and 100 nickels when it was fertilized with pig squish, then what would it grow with both?

Young boy:  The next spring, I was hoping for hundreds of pennies and nickels, but the tree grew only 50 of each. I figured out how much money that added up to, and put the coins in the jar, but I was really disappointed.

Narrator A:  The next fall, Franklin D. Roostervelt marched around the cow as if he were trying to tell the boy something.

Young boy:  So I fertilized the tree with chicken droppings and cow pies. In the spring, the tree grew 75 quarter and 75 pennies.  I was happy as a chicken in a wagon full of corn, until I added it all up.  It was not as much as I thought.

Narrator B:  The next fall, cow pies were used as fertilizer because there were so many of them.  What would be the best thing to mix them with?

Young boy:  That day, as I walked past the bull, I had an idea.  Of course!  What that tree needs are cow pies and bull chips!  Cows and bulls are the biggest animals around, after all.

Narrator A:  Next spring, the tree grew 100 quarters and 100 dollar bills.

Young boy:  I couldn’t wait to show Farmer Worth.

Narrator B:  That very day, Farmer Worth returned from China.  We all rushed out to meet him.

Franklin D. Roostervelt: Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Lewis and Cluck:  Baaaak, bak, bak, bak.

Moolly Pitcher:  Moooooooooo moooooooooo.

Dwight D. Oinkhower, William Muckinley, and Dolly Madisow:  Oink, oink.  Oink, oink.

Wooldrow Wilson, Grover Clevelamb, Rutherford Baa  Hayes:  Baaaaaa, baaaaa, baaa.

Narrator A:  It was the most joyful homecoming you ever did see.

Young boy:  I’ve been experimenting with mixing fertilizer.  I reckon we should use even bigger animals now.  Elephant mounds might be the very thing.

Farmer Worth:  Thank you for running the farm while I was away.  You did a great job.

Mrs. True Worth:  My, you’ve grown since we’ve been gone. Narrator B:  Farmer and Mrs. Worth told the boy all about their trip and showed him pictures of China. That night, Farmer and Mrs. Worth decided that they wanted to go back to fertilizing the tree with sheep biscuits.

Farmer Worth:  The money’s not all that important.  Nothing we saw or heard in our travels could equal the music of the dimes.

Narrator A:  The next year when spring came, the sweet music of the dime tree could be heard whenever a breeze blew.  The dimes pinged and tinged, clinked and plinked.  Folks said you could hear the music all through the hollow.

Young boy:  I had to admit that I had missed the sound, too.

Narrator B:  After that, nothing strange happened in Birdhaven Hollow for a long, long time.  That is, until the day when everyone found out that I, Annie True Worth, like to eat my alphabet cereal outdoors.

Annie True Worth: Look what I picked off the tree. (Hold up a book in each hand)