Value: Hard Work

Time: 20 min

Appropriate Ages: 3-7


  • Book: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton


  1. Read the story. After the final page, ask:


Why were they able to get a good place to live and avoid being thrown away?

What is the lesson of this story?


  • When did you have to work really really hard like Mike and his engine?

  • Why was that so hard?

  • What did you do so you could keep going and working hard?

  • What is something you haven't done yet that you think will be hard?

  • Do you want to do this thing? Why or why not?

  • Does that make it easier or harder?

  • How could you make it seem easier?



Invite the child to think of something they could practice working hard at for five minutes immediately, such as one of the following ideas. As the child tries to complete the activity, encourage them to be like Mike Mulligan, praise their effort and hard work and not giving up, and consider playing appropriate accompanying music to help the work seem more fun.

  • A chore, such as doing the dishes, cleaning a room, or sweeping

  • A physical activity, such as doing 30 jumping jacks, running 5 laps around the house, riding their bike 5 times up and down the street, doing 20 pushups, or doing 40 sit ups.

  • Practicing an instrument, such as the piano, the guitar, or something they are learning

  • Reading for five minutes and focusing

After five minutes, ask how it went and praise any successful efforts.