Al Capone Does My Homework Lesson Plans

Al Capone Does My Homework Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko.

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Homework. Puffin Books, August 20, 2013.

Life is tough for thirteen-year-old Moose Flanagan, the narrator of the novel Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko. He has to watch out for his older sister Natalie, make sure his father does not get hurt at his prison job, and try to keep his friends out of trouble. It is only after he feels he has allowed his world to spin totally out of control that he begins to learn that he is not expected to be responsible for everything that happens.

On his father’s first day as associate warden at Alcatraz prison, Moose sees one of the inmates spit on him. He learns from Piper, the warden’s daughter, that the inmates have a game where they get points for doing things like spitting on a warden. The inmate with the most points gets bragging rights. Moose fears for his father’s safety and believes he is responsible for keeping him from getting hurt. Moose’s responsibilities do not end with his father. He also feels that it is his responsibility to keep his sister Nat, who is a bit unusual, out of trouble.

That night, when his parents are out celebrating the new job, Moose wakes to discover his apartment is on fire. He and his sister are able to get out safely, but Moose blames himself for the near tragedy because he went to sleep while he was supposed to be babysitting. To make matters worse, neighbors in the apartment building openly blame Nat for setting the fire.

In order to ease his own sense of guilt and prove Nat was not responsible, Moose and his group of friends begin investigating the fire. They do not prove who set the fire, but they do notice several other strange occurrences around the island that houses the prison. One man cheats at a friendly poker game. The children have heard he owes money to loan sharks. They see an inmate place a note for someone on the outside but are not able to understand the meaning of that note. Piper, one of the girls in their group, suddenly has money she uses to buy gifts and pay others to do errands for her.

After eavesdropping as the associate warden and guards interview prisoner Al Capone about the fire in Moose’s apartment, Piper tells Moose and friend Annie where she has been getting her money. She had read in a newspaper that stores in San Francisco reported having items bought with counterfeit cash. Piper had shopped in all of those stores with money that she had found in her clothes after they came back from the prison laundry. She claimed not to think anything strange about what was happening, but Moose told her she had to tell her father what she had been doing. The information led the warden to discover inmates were getting counterfeit money from someone on the outside and funneling it through Piper.

Meanwhile, Moose’s father is seriously injured when an inmate steals a butcher knife from the kitchen and stabs him. Moose is overcome with guilt because he saw what was about to happen but was so frightened he was unable to scream and warn his father. He did throw a baseball that hit the inmate and, perhaps, kept his father from getting killed. Moose's friends help him to understand that he did the best he could to look out after his father, but that he was not able to control the actions of the inmates.

Afraid for her father, Nat wants to go to the hospital. Since the fire in the apartment, Moose’s mother had wanted to keep Nat’s strange behavior out of the spotlight as much as possible. Because Moose is not old enough, he cannot go into the hospital with Nat. She must go inside alone and ask the desk nurse for their father’s room number. Moose tells Nat that she will have to make eye contact with the nurse while she talks to her. At this point in Nat's life, all attempts to help her make eye contact have ended in frustration and failure. Moose is afraid his sister will not be able to hold herself together to talk to the nurse, but she does. Moose, as well as his mother and father, are impressed with what Nat achieved when given the task.

The investigation into the fire uncovers that the apartment caught fire because Donny, a man who lived nearby, set fire to it. Nat had nothing to do with it. When Moose tells his father he feels bad because he went to sleep the night of the fire, his father says that they never expected him to sit up all night with Nat. He adds that Moose should not feel responsible for everything that happens around him, especially the behavior of other people.

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Teaching Al Capone Does My Shirts

The Al Capone Does My Shirts lesson plan contains a variety of teaching materials that cater to all learning styles. Inside you'll find 30 Daily Lessons, 20 Fun Activities, 180 Multiple Choice Questions, 60 Short Essay Questions, 20 Essay Questions, Quizzes/Homework Assignments, Tests, and more. The lessons and activities will help students gain an intimate understanding of the text, while the tests and quizzes will help you evaluate how well the students have grasped the material. View a free sample

Target Grade: 7th-12th (Middle School and High School)

Length of Lesson Plan: Approximately 122 pages. Page count is estimated at 300 words per page. Length will vary depending on format viewed.

Browse The Al Capone Does My Shirts Lesson Plan:

Full Lesson Plan Overview

Completely Customizable!

The Al Capone Does My Shirts lesson plan is downloadable in PDF and Word. The Word file is viewable with any PC or Mac and can be further adjusted if you want to mix questions around and/or add your own headers for things like "Name," "Period," and "Date." The Word file offers unlimited customizing options so that you can teach in the most efficient manner possible. Once you download the file, it is yours to keep and print for your classroom. View a FREE sample

Lesson Plan Calendars

The Lesson Plan Calendars provide daily suggestions about what to teach. They include detailed descriptions of when to assign reading, homework, in-class work, fun activities, quizzes, tests and more. Use the entire Al Capone Does My Shirts calendar, or supplement it with your own curriculum ideas. Calendars cover one, two, four, and eight week units. Determine how long your Al Capone Does My Shirts unit will be, then use one of the calendars provided to plan out your entire lesson.

Chapter Abstracts

Chapter abstracts are short descriptions of events that occur in each chapter of Al Capone Does My Shirts. They highlight major plot events and detail the important relationships and characteristics of important characters. The Chapter Abstracts can be used to review what the students have read, or to prepare the students for what they will read. Hand the abstracts out in class as a study guide, or use them as a "key" for a class discussion. They are relatively brief, but can serve to be an excellent refresher of Al Capone Does My Shirts for either a student or teacher.

Character and Object Descriptions

Character and Object Descriptions provide descriptions of the significant characters as well as objects and places in Al Capone Does My Shirts. These can be printed out and used as an individual study guide for students, a "key" for leading a class discussion, a summary review prior to exams, or a refresher for an educator. The character and object descriptions are also used in some of the quizzes and tests in this lesson plan. The longest descriptions run about 200 words. They become shorter as the importance of the character or object declines.

Daily Lessons

This section of the lesson plan contains 30 Daily Lessons. Daily Lessons each have a specific objective and offer at least three (often more) ways to teach that objective. Lessons include classroom discussions, group and partner activities, in-class handouts, individual writing assignments, at least one homework assignment, class participation exercises and other ways to teach students about Al Capone Does My Shirts in a classroom setting. You can combine daily lessons or use the ideas within them to create your own unique curriculum. They vary greatly from day to day and offer an array of creative ideas that provide many options for an educator.

Fun Classroom Activities

Fun Classroom Activities differ from Daily Lessons because they make "fun" a priority. The 20 enjoyable, interactive classroom activities that are included will help students understand Al Capone Does My Shirts in fun and entertaining ways. Fun Classroom Activities include group projects, games, critical thinking activities, brainstorming sessions, writing poems, drawing or sketching, and countless other creative exercises. Many of the activities encourage students to interact with each other, be creative and think "outside of the box," and ultimately grasp key concepts from the text by "doing" rather than simply studying. Fun activities are a great way to keep students interested and engaged while still providing a deeper understanding of Al Capone Does My Shirts and its themes.

Essay Questions/Writing Assignments

These 20 Essay Questions/Writing Assignments can be used as essay questions on a test, or as stand-alone essay topics for a take-home or in-class writing assignment on Al Capone Does My Shirts. Students should have a full understanding of the unit material in order to answer these questions. They often include multiple parts of the work and ask for a thorough analysis of the overall text. They nearly always require a substantial response. Essay responses are typically expected to be one (or more) page(s) and consist of multiple paragraphs, although it is possible to write answers more briefly. These essays are designed to challenge a student's understanding of the broad points in a work, interactions among the characters, and main points and themes of the text. But, they also cover many of the other issues specific to the work and to the world today.

Short Essay Questions

The 60 Short Essay Questions listed in this section require a one to two sentence answer. They ask students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of Al Capone Does My Shirts by describing what they've read, rather than just recalling it. The short essay questions evaluate not only whether students have read the material, but also how well they understand and can apply it. They require more thought than multiple choice questions, but are shorter than the essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

The 180 Multiple Choice Questions in this lesson plan will test a student's recall and understanding of Al Capone Does My Shirts. Use these questions for quizzes, homework assignments or tests. The questions are broken out into sections, so they focus on specific chapters within Al Capone Does My Shirts. This allows you to test and review the book as you proceed through the unit. Typically, there are 5-15 questions per chapter, act or section.

Evaluation Forms

Use the Oral Reading Evaluation Form when students are reading aloud in class. Pass the forms out before you assign reading, so students will know what to expect. You can use the forms to provide general feedback on audibility, pronunciation, articulation, expression and rate of speech. You can use this form to grade students, or simply comment on their progress.

Use the Writing Evaluation Form when you're grading student essays. This will help you establish uniform criteria for grading essays even though students may be writing about different aspects of the material. By following this form you will be able to evaluate the thesis, organization, supporting arguments, paragraph transitions, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. of each student's essay.

Quizzes/Homework Assignments

The Quizzes/Homework Assignments are worksheets that can be used in a variety of ways. They pull questions from the multiple choice and short essay sections, the character and object descriptions, and the chapter abstracts to create worksheets that can be used for pop quizzes, in-class assignments and homework. Periodic homework assignments and quizzes are a great way to encourage students to stay on top of their assigned reading. They can also help you determine which concepts and ideas your class grasps and which they need more guidance on. By pulling from the different sections of the lesson plan, quizzes and homework assignments offer a comprehensive review of Al Capone Does My Shirts in manageable increments that are less substantial than a full blown test.


Use the Test Summary page to determine which pre-made test is most relevant to your students' learning styles. This lesson plan provides both full unit tests and mid-unit tests. You can choose from several tests that include differing combinations of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, short essay questions, full essay questions, character and object matching, etc. Some of the tests are designed to be more difficult than others. Some have essay questions, while others are limited to short-response questions, like multiple choice, matching and short answer questions. If you don't find the combination of questions that best suits your class, you can also create your own test on Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Create Your Own Quiz or Test

You have the option to Create Your Own Quiz or Test. If you want to integrate questions you've developed for your curriculum with the questions in this lesson plan, or you simply want to create a unique test or quiz from the questions this lesson plan offers, it's easy to do. Cut and paste the information from the Create Your Own Quiz or Test page into a Word document to get started. Scroll through the sections of the lesson plan that most interest you and cut and paste the exact questions you want to use into your new, personalized Al Capone Does My Shirts lesson plan.

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