Southwest Children's  Literature

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Carlos and the Squash Plant/Carlos y la planta de calabaza

I read Carlos and the Squash Plant to my second grade Sunday school class at Casas Adobes Baptist Church. This was a great story to read to my Sunday school class because in the story, Carlos breaks two of the Ten Commandments! We had just completed a five-week study on the Ten Commandments in November and December, so this story was perfect to read as a follow up to see if my students could remember the Ten Commandments and pick out which two Carlos broke. After I read the book, we had a discussion about the story. I asked the questions and the students gave me their answers. I have listed below the questions I asked and a summary of the answers from my students.

Q: Which of the commandments did Carlos break?

A: Carlos did not honor his mother because he disobeyed her by not taking a bath and washing his ears when she told him to. Carlos lied to his mother when he said he took a bath and he didn't. He also lied when he said he was putting on a hat to keep the sun out of his eyes but it was really to hide the squash plant growing out of his ear. The students picked up on Carlos breaking the commandment "Thou shall not give false testimony" (lying) but didn't pick up on Carlos breaking the commandment "Thou shall honor thy mother and father" as quickly. So this was a good reminder to them about how they should be honoring their parents!

Q: Did it get harder or easier for Carlos to keep lying to his mom?

A: The consensus was that it got much harder for Carlos to lie because the more he lied, the more his squash plant kept growing out of his ear! Some students even related this story to Pinocchio's nose growing longer and longer with each lie that he told. Students gave examples of lies that they had told and how it got harder and harder to keep lying and how they had to tell more and more lies to keep the original lie from being found out.

Q: What are some examples of times that you have disobeyed your parents before and lied about it? How did it make you feel?

A: I gave my own example from when I was little and hated to clean my room. I would throw all of my toys under my bed or in the closet and lie to my mom and tell her that my room was clean, but she would come in and find out I put everything under my bed. I would get in trouble for lying and disobeying. The students had several responses to this one! We all agreed that we don't like to clean our rooms and we try to get out of it sometimes, but that we are really not honoring our parents when we do this. We also don't like to do homework and do chores. We agreed though, that it doesn't feel good when we don't honor our parents and/or we lie to them.

Q: Why do you think the squash plant disappeared after Carlos finally took a bath?

A: All the students had very different ideas on this question. We all agreed that the squash plant started to go away because he finally did what his mom had asked him to do. When he started honoring his mother again, the problems that had been a result of his lying sort of disappeared. Some of us thought that it was magical and that the water made the squash plant shrink and the squash bean shrivel in Carlos's ear and then disappear or fall out and go down the drain of the bathtub. Some students thought that Carlos ate the squash plant out of his ear because he liked squash so much!


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