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A Day's Work Free Unit Study

A Day's Work

Author:  Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Ronald Himler
Summary: When his grandfather arrives from Mexico, Francisco helps him find work as a gardener even though he is really a carpenter. When they mistakenly pull all the plants but leave the weeds, Abuelo, upset at Francisco's lie, refuses to accept payment until the job is done correctly.

Level 3 Unit Study Prepared by Mary Shackleford along with lesson extensions by Ami and Celia


Character Study: Honesty
Francisco wants to help his grandfather get a job so badly that he tells a nursery business owner that his grandfather is a very good gardener even though his grandfather knows nothing about gardening or plants. This lie leads to them pulling the wrong plants and his grandfather insisting that they work for free the next day to pull the weeds and replant the ones they had mistakenly pulled. Francisco learns the importance of honesty.

Show examples of people in the Bible who lied and the consequences of the lies.

Abraham and Sarah Gen. 12: 10-20 Abraham told Sarah to say she was his sister because he was afraid the Egyptians might kill him and take Sarah because she was so beautiful. Pharaoh takes Sarah into his house and is warned by God to return her to Abraham untouched or he and his family would die. Pharaoh returns Sarah but tells Abraham to leave their land.

Jacob and Esau – Gen 27 Jacob has to leave home to escape Esau's anger after deceiving Isaac into thinking he was Esau and receiving the blessing meant for Esau. He had to live in a foreign land for many years away from his family.

Ananias and Sapphira - Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by God for saying they were giving all they had gotten for selling some of their land and really keeping some back for themselves. There was nothing wrong with only giving some of the money, it was theirs to give, but they claimed to be giving the whole amount.

Social Studies

Geography – California:   Francisco's family lives in California.  Help your child find California on the map.  California is one of the three Pacific States of the continental US, which also includes Oregon and Washington.  Point out the Pacific Ocean next to it on the map. It is one of our largest states (only Alaska and Texas are bigger).  

Where is California?

State Bird/State Flower Coloring Page

Here are some websites to gather information for your California notebook or lapbook:

Outline Map of California

Color California's flag

Learn more about California, including the state flower, etc

Learn more about the Pacific States, including a map 

Use the State Animals site to print out various notebook pages (such as state flower, state flag, etc.) for your binder-style notebook 

Possible Lapbook Cover

In the Hands of a Child California Lapbook

Geography – Mexico:   Francisco's grandfather is originally from Mexico and only speaks Spanish.  Help your student find Mexico on the map....tell him it is south of California (where Francisco lived) and see if he can find it on his own.  Stress that Mexico is a country just the United States is a country.  Mexico has 32 states, whereas America has 50.  The people that live in Mexico speak Spanish.  The country of Spain (in Europe) once owned Mexico.  When the Mexican people say the name of their country they say MAY-he-coe.  Perhaps your student would like to learn some Spanish this week!  (See Language Arts lesson)

You may wish to have your child start/continue a Country Notebook/Binder, adding information as you learn about new countries.   You could also do a lapbook for each country.

Here are some websites to gather information for your notebook or lapbook:


Outline Map of Mexico

Color the Mexican Flag

Learn more about Mexico at Enchanted Learning's Zoom School, including animals, history, and Spanish – fun work search game to learn Mexican words and meanings. – neat unit on Mexico with crafts for sombreros, traditional clothing, food, etc.

Make two story disks, one for California and one for Mexico.  Connect the two disks with a piece of yarn and add them to your map.  Refer to them each day as you do this unit.

Culture:  Labor Day Holiday Tie-in
While this story is not about Labor Day, you could use it as a springboard to discuss the holiday.  Labor Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday of September.  Various parts of Australia celebrates it on different days and some parts of Australia call it the Eight Hours Day.  New Zealand celebrates it the fourth Monday in October.  Other countries that celebrate Labor Day usually do so on May 1 and call it May Day.  Whenever it is celebrated and whatever it is called, the day was set up to pay tribute to the working men and women.

Did you know that God meant for man to labor?   From the time Adam was created, he had a job to do.  In   Genesis 2:15, the Bible states "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."   Adam was to work and care for the garden and that by the care of man the garden might mirror the glory of our Creator God.  

Then in Genesis 2:19-20, the Bible states "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field..."   That may not sound like our definition of work, but think about many animals are there?!  A LOT!  

Later, God gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses.  The God told us to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work."  (Ex 20:8-10)

We need to remember that God gave us work to bless us-- to give us joy and satisfaction. And we are to do the work of the Lord, doing as the Spirit prompts us.  Some people think that once we get to Heaven, we will labor no more, but Revelation 22:3 tells us that we will continue to serve (work for) God even in Heaven.  What joy it will be to serve the Lord forever!

Websites to read more about Labor Day:
Department of Labor

General info on the holiday

Occupations:   Gardener
A gardener can mean a person who just likes to plant fruit, vegetables, and/or flowers around his house or a person who does something similar for a living (for payment).  Francisco very much wanted his grandfather to have job, and so he lies to the owner about his grandfather being a great gardener.  Why is this a problem?

Well, as you saw in the story, they ended up pulling up the wrong plants!  Gardeners need to know the differences between unwanted plants and desired plants.  A gardener needs to know about the different things he wants to grow....whether the plant needs sunlight or prefers shade to grow, whether it gets 6 inches tall or 3 feet tall (wouldn't do any good to plant the little plants behind the tall ones!), etc.  They also need to know about the soil:  does it have too much clay, too much sand, not enough nutrients, etc.  It is also important for gardeners to know what insects harm which plants and how to prevent or get rid of them.

Activities:  If you know a gardener, whether a hobby gardener or a professional gardener, arrange a visit with him and let him discuss what he does with your child.  Give your child an opportunity to be a gardener!  Plant a small vegetable garden or some flowers (even if only in your windowsill!).   Watch an episode of  the Victory Garden or Smart Gardening on PBS or a similar program.

For more activities, you might try Kids Garden:  The Anytime, Anyplace Guide to Sowing & Growing Fun (A Williamson Kids Can! Book) by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell.

Occupations:  Carpenter
A carpenter is someone who works with wood to make things like houses, furniture, etc.   A carpenter needs to know what kind wood works best for his project (some woods are "soft," others "hard").  He needs to be able to draw plans and read them.  They also need to be able to do all kinds of math.  There are also many tools for a carpenter to use.

Activities:  If you have the opportunity, visit a furniture-maker's shop or watch carpenters build a house.  Go through your own house and have your child identify things that carpenter can make.  Watch an episode of the New Yankee Workshop on PBS or another similar program.  Also, the Woodwright's Shop is particularly interesting as he uses no modern tools!  

You may wish to also get the book A Carpenter by Gail Gibbons.

Human Relationships: Grandfathers
Discuss the special relationship between children and their grandfathers. Francisco's grandfather lived with him. Would your child like his grandparents to live with him? Why (or why not)?  What lesson did Francisco's grandfather teach him?  What lessons can your student learn from his own grandparents?  (maybe things they have taught them through stories/memories, direct words, or just by the lives they have lived).  (Focus on the positives here as we are to honor our parents!)

Character Study: Integrity
Integrity is defined as a firm adherence to a code of moral values.  What are moral values?  Discuss with your child the morals that are valued in your own home.  Integrity is having the will power to put those values into practice and to carry them out regardless of one's circumstances!   Can you think of a time that your student demonstrated integrity?  Discuss it.  How did Francisco's grandfather demonstrate integrity?  Remind your student of the passage where Abuelo says, "`We do not lie for work,.' He tells Francisco that they will return the next day to rectify their mistake for no extra pay.  Abuelo had stood strong on a moral he believed in-- honesty-- and that proves his integrity. 

Human Relationships:  Satisfaction in a Job Well Done
Re-read page 20 with your student and discuss the benefits to doing a job right.  What jobs does your student have to complete each day (get dressed?  make bed?  schoolwork?  other chores?).  We feel better (and often life becomes easier!) when we do things the right way the first time.  Then, we can be satisfied in a job well done!


Botany: Plants
Francisco and his grandfather get a job weeding an area of new plants. They must work outside in the hot summer sun and end up pulling the wrong ones because they didn't know the difference between the flowers and the weeds.

Plants provide food, clothes, medicine, shelter, and even the oxygen we breathe. Plants produce their own food and in turn become food for people and animals. Each part of a plant has a specific job. Roots and rootlets (tiny root hairs) take in water and minerals from under the solid, up through the roots into the plant stem/tree trunk.

The stem/trunk is like a straw drawing the water and nutrients up from the roots to the leaves.

The leaves are the food factories. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air and trap energy from the sunlight. Through the process of photosynthesis the carbon dioxide and energy are made into sugar. Oxygen is released into the air during this process.

Pull out a small section of grass with its roots and look at the tiny root hairs, roots, stem and leaves. Make a minit book about plant parts to include in your lapbook or label picture of parts of a plant.

Put a stalk of celery into a glass of water and food coloring. Check an hour or so to see the water being pulled up the stalk.

Botany: Weeds

What is a weed?  Here are a few different definitions:
any plant that crowds out cultivated plants
2. a plant growing in a spot where it is not wanted
3. uninvited and usually unattractive plant that surfaces in gardens

Go outside with your student and see if you can find some weeds.   You may even want to use take this as an opportunity to teach your student what you consider weeds in your flower bed (or vegetable garden) and have him spend some time helping you weed the garden (but make sure he knows that he probably won't be getting $60!).  If you don't have a garden or area that needs weeded, volunteer to weed your neighbor's or relative's garden this week.

Health:  Hot Weather Precautions

Re-read page 14 of the story before preceding with this lesson.

When it is really hot outside people must take extra care. There are three illnesses/injuries that can occur from heat:  heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps.

Heatstroke occurs when the body's heat regulating system breaks down under stress and sweating stops. Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Unless the victim receives quick treatment, death can occur. Symptoms include: No sweating (or the opposite-- victim may be sweating profusely), high body temperature (105 degrees or more), hot, dry, flushed skin, confused, delirious behavior, loss of consciousness or the victim may fall into a coma. 

Heat Exhaustion is a serious disorder that develops when the body loses more fluid (through sweating) than it is taking in (by drinking). Symptoms include-- sweating (more than normal), feeling weak, clammy skin, dizziness, pale or flushed face, and nausea.

Heat Cramps (or heat stress) tend to attack the muscles that do the hardest work, especially when it is hot. Heat stress can alter your coordination, lessen your concentration, reduce strength and alertness, and make you irritable.

Four Ways to Avoid Heat Stress:
First allow your body to adjust to the heat naturally. You can do this by gradually increasing the time you spend in the heat little by little till you are used to working in the heat. Second, drink lots of water! Your body can lose as much as three gallons of fluid a day while working in hot, humid weather. Third, unless you have a medical condition that prohibits it (high blood pressure, heart problems or circulatory ailments) add a small amount of salt to your diet to help your body retain water. Fourth, eat lightly. Fatty foods are hard to digest and hot weather makes them even harder to digest. Light, nutritious meals are easier to digest and therefore easier on your body in the heat.

Muscular System: Sore Muscles
The story mentions sore muscles on page 18.
Did your student know that she has about 600 muscles?!  All of these muscles can be classified as either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary muscles are muscles you can control allowing you to run, jump, write, talk, etc. Involuntary muscles that work with out you thinking about it-- your heart beating, lungs breathing, stomach muscles, etc.

Muscles usually work in pairs – when one stretches out and gets longer the other flexes or bends up and gets shorter.

Muscles can get sore for several reasons overworking muscles that are not used to being used much, not enough water in the body (dehydration), or if one gets a "charley horse"-- muscles are being kept in a flexed position too long and they get stiff.

Additional Websites for Muscles
Muscle Vocabulary Prepared Sheet
Magic School Bus activity “Bones, Joints, and Muscles”

Language Arts

Point of View: First Person
The story is told from Francisco's point of view, with his thoughts and feelings. Discuss how the story would be different from the grandfather's point of view. For older students have them write the story from the grandfather's point of view.

Foreign Language: Bilingualism
Francisco's grandfather only speaks Spanish, but Francisco speaks Spanish and English.  When a person can speak two languages, we say that they are bilingual.  Does your student know anyone who speaks more than one language?   Is your student working towards becoming bilingual?

If you want to introduce the idea of foreign language, here are some simple Spanish words for your student to learn this week:

blue- azul
green- verde
purple- morado
pink- rosa
yellow- amarillo
red- rojo
white- blanco
black- negro

Count to ten

  1. uno

  2. dos

  3. tres

  4. cuatro

  5. cinco

  6. seis

  7. siete

  8. ocho

  9. nueve

  10. diez

Spanish Word Book #1
Spanish Word Book #2
English/Spanish Body Coloring Book
The Family in Spanish (Print-Out)
Spanish Color Word Dominoes
Spanish Number Dominoes
Spanish Shape Dominoes
Match Spanish Words and Pictures

If you are lapbooking, make a minit book of Spanish words with small illustrations done by your student.  The links and word lists noted above should be helpful.

Have your student make a list of all the gardening terms he can think of including plants, tools, vegetables, etc.!

Quotation Marks
This story includes a lot of dialogue.  Point out the quotation marks to your student and mention that quotation marks let us know that someone is speaking.  Can your student find more examples of quotation marks throughout the text?  Let your student practice using quotation marks-- tell him to think of two characters (he could even use Francisco and Abuelo if he wanted) and to write up a conversation inserting quotation marks where appropriate.

Author Study:  Eve Bunting
Eve Bunting is the author of more than 200 children's books!   She says that words are very important to her and storytelling is very important where she came from (she grew up in Ireland before immigrating to the United States).   She is disciplined in her work and spends time writing every day!  If you want to spend more time getting to know Eve Bunting's writing, check out some of her books at the library to read as go-alongs this week.

If you have RealPlayer, you might wish to preview these two clips and share with the student if appropriate:

Eve Bunting knows what it's like to move to California; she relocated there in 1958 with her husband. 
50 second video clip of author Eve Bunting explaining a move to California
(talks about having no job lined up)

50 second video clip of author Eve Bunting explaining "I know what you went through" because she was an immigrant too.  (Picks up where the first one left off; talks about migrant workers of California)

We have more Eve Bunting units here at HSS, too:
St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
Whales Passing
The Valentine Bears


Medium: Watercolor and Gauche
School Library Journal claims that, "Himler's softly colored illustrations reflect the feelings of the characters and the setting."  Discuss this quote with your student.  How is it true? 

The illustrations are rendered in watercolor and gauche. Watercolor pencils will create the same type of pictures; these pencils are very versatile and easy for anyone to use. Just draw and color your picture. Then using a slightly wet brush go over areas to blend for a watercolor look.  Get some watercolor pencils for your student to experiment with this week.

Applied Math

Story Problems
Francisco and his grandfather agree to work a day for $60. Work out some word problems (addition or multiplication depending on your student):

How much money would grandfather make in 2 days
How much money would they make in 3 days?
How much money would they make in one week? (are they going to work the weekend?)
How much money would they make in one month?

Just For Fun

Cooking – Make Chorizos!  

Rabbit Trails

Flower Anatomy
Flower Life Cycle Sequence Cards
Flower Word Search
Common Flowers

If you wish to explore more Mexican history and culture, you could learn about:  Cinco de Mayo, ancient civilizations (Olmec, Teoihuacan, Mayan, Toltec, Mexica-Aztec), the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, or the Mexican War of Independence, and oh so much more!

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