Module C – Lessons 21 to 30


Click here for Lesson 21
Click here for Lesson 22
Click here for Lesson 23
Click here for Lesson 24
Click here for Lesson 25
Click here for Lesson 26
Click here for Lesson 27
Click here for Lesson 28
Click here for Lesson 29
Click here for Lesson 30
Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)


Lesson 21 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: budge, granddaughter, meowed, peeled, sliced, surprised, turnip, watered

Chapter Four: The Gigantic Turnip
It was once upon a time. There was an old man. He’d plant vegetable seeds. He did this each year. He grew vegetables. They were for himself and his wife.

It was a spring day. He planted turnip seeds. This was in a large field. It was over the hill near his house. The sun shone on them. The rain watered them. He soon thought they should be ready to eat. So, he went to have a look. He came up over the hill. He was surprised! He saw a strange bush. It was growing in the middle of the field. He drew nearer. He saw that it was not a bush. It was the top of something. It was a huge turnip!

“I’ve not seen a turnip this big!” he said to himself. “I must show it to my wife.” So, he took hold of the turnip top. He made a great grunt. He pulled and pulled. The turnip would not budge. The old man shouted to his wife. “Come and help me!”

“All right,” said the old woman. “I’ll come.” She took hold of the old man. The man held the turnip. Both of them pulled. They pulled hard! But they couldn’t pull the turnip out of the ground. The old woman called to her granddaughter.


“All right,” said the granddaughter. “I’ll come.” She got there. She took hold of the old woman. The old woman held the old man. The old man held the turnip. They all pulled. They pulled as hard as they could. But they couldn’t pull that crazy turnip out. So the granddaughter called out. She called to the grandson.

“All right,” said the grandson. “I’ll come.” He held the granddaughter. She held the old woman. She held the old man. He held the turnip. They pulled. They pulled some more. No luck. They couldn’t pull that turnip out. So, the grandson called the dog.

The dog barked four times. If it could speak, it would have said this. “All right. I’ll come.” The dog held the grandson. The grandson held the granddaughter. She held the old woman. She held the old man. He held the turnip. They all took a huge, deep breath. Then they pulled. They yelled as they pulled. It was like a tug of war! But they couldn’t pull the turnip out. So, the dog called to the cat.


The cat meowed loudly. If it could speak, it would have said this. “All right. I’ll come.” The cat held the dog. The dog held the grandson. He held the granddaughter. She held the old woman. She held the old man. He held the turnip. The man yelled out, “Ready! Set! Go! Pull! Pull! Pull!” And that they did! But no luck. They couldn’t pull the turnip out. So, the cat called to the mouse.

The mouse squeaked. If it could speak, it would have said this. “All right. I’ll come.” The mouse held the cat. The cat held the dog. The dog held the grandson. He held the granddaughter. She held the old woman. She held the old man. He held the turnip. The man yelled out, “Let’s do this! We’re a team!” They used every muscle they had.

Well, what do you know? Finally! The turnip popped out! It sent everybody tumbling along the ground.

That evening, the old woman peeled the turnip. She sliced it up. She cooked a tasty turnip stew.

Everyone was invited to dinner. The grandson. The granddaughter. The dog. The cat. The mouse. They all loved the stew. She gave the mouse an extra helping. That’s because he had shown them something. That’s that sometimes a little bit of help can make a big difference.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)


Lesson 22 – Part Four

NEW WORDS: Polly, array, beehive, brightly, comfy, crawling, cubbies, frankly, helpful, honeybee’s, honeycomb, hummingbirds, moths, nectar, outing, pollen, pollinate, pollinates, pollination, pollinator, pollinators, pouch, reproduce, tastiest, tour, wasps

Chapter Five: Polly the Honeybee’s Flower Tour
Hi! I’m Polly. I’m a honeybee. I live in a beehive. It’s in a meadow. It’s not too far from here. Your teacher asked me to come here. I’ll tell you more about flowers. That’s my favorite part of plants. You’ve learned a lot. You know these things. Flowers contain seeds. Seeds can grow into new plants.

I’m glad to come here. I’ll like telling you about flowers. That’s because flowers are one of my favorite things. Do you know the meadow near my beehive? It’s full of lots of kinds of flowers. They come in a broad array of colors.

This morning, I visited a yellow flower. Come with me. I’ll show it to you. Here it is. See its ring of bright yellow parts? Those are called “petals.” They look like brightly colored leaves. I go buzzing around each day. They’re the parts of the flower that grab my attention the most. I see a pretty flower. I then like to crawl inside the petals. I go right to the center of the flower.


What’s it like to crawl inside a flower? Think of this. You’re crawling under some bright yellow blankets. You’re in a comfy bed. Yellow is all around you. Now stay under the blankets. You’re drinking the world’s tastiest drink. You drink through a straw. You’re so happy! You wriggle around. You get covered with a yellow powder. It smells great. It feels good against your skin. That’s what it’s like for me when I go to a flower.

This is what I think. The world’s tastiest drink is called “nectar.” It’s a sweet juice that plants make. And there’s the yellow powder. I like to rub up against it. It’s called “pollen.” I find nectar and pollen in flowers. Frankly, I’m not sure which I like better!

I go to more than fifty flowers in one outing. Some days I go to a hundred. Why do I go to them? It’s because we bees get our food from flowers. My job is to fly around and find nectar and pollen. I gather some up. I take it back to my hive. I have a special pouch inside my body. It holds nectar. And there are special hairs on my back legs. They form a little basket. I brush pollen into them. Can you guess how much I take to the hive? Sometimes, my load of pollen and nectar weighs half as much as I do!


I get back to the hive. I give the nectar and pollen to the worker bees. They mix the pollen with a little bit of nectar. They feed it to baby bees. Then they fan the rest of the nectar with their wings. Most of the water dries up. What is nectar with most of the water gone? It turns into something that both bees and people love. It turns into honey! Here’s the honey in my hive. People use honey to make their food sweet. But we bees use honey for food. We keep it in a bunch of little cubbies. We call them the “honeycomb.”

I go to flowers for food. That’s reason enough for me. But I’m also doing something helpful. This goes beyond finding food for us bees. I’m helping the plants reproduce. I help them make more plants! What I do helps a plant make a seed. You can’t have a new plant without a seed. How does it work? Most plants need to take pollen from their own flowers. Then they must mix that with pollen from other plants that are like them. See here. A corn plant needs pollen from another corn plant. Then it can make seeds. Pollen from one corn plant lands on another. It’s called “pollination.” This process is really important. Without this, the plant can’t make any seeds. What if there aren’t new seeds? You got it! There won’t be new plants.

You know this. Plants can’t walk like humans. They can’t go from place to place. They don’t have wings to flap. So, they can’t fly like us bees. So, how do plants get pollen from other plants? Well, the pollen grains are quite small. They can be blown from one plant to another by the wind. So, the wind helps pollinate plants.


But bees also help pollinate plants! That’s what my trips from one plant to another do. I go to a flower. I roll inside it. I pick up lots of pollen. I fly to the next flower. I’ve carried some pollen from other flowers with me. Some of it rubs off on the next flower I go to. That’s why I’m a great plant pollinator. That’s how I got my name. I’m “Polly the Pollinator!”

I don’t like to brag. But we bees are the best pollinators in the world! Oh, sure, the wind helps it to happen. And some other insects also move grains of pollen. So, they take some from one plant to another as they feed. Butterflies do it. So do moths, beetles, and wasps. Some birds, like hummingbirds, are good pollinators. Bats are good at it, too! But no creature pollinates as much as bees do.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)



Lesson 23 – Part Five

NEW WORDS: Polly’s, center’s, concludes, core, fruit’s, honeybees, labor, munching, peel, pollinated, pollinating, produced, results, rind, scrumptious, seed’s, supposed, teeny

Chapter Six: The Fruits of Polly’s Labor
Buzz! Buzz! Hi, again. It’s Polly the Bee. Last time, I told you that I go to flowers. I collect nectar and pollen for food. I help to pollinate flowers. I carry pollen from flower to flower. I work hard. Today, I want to show you some of those results. Here’s what happens after I pollinate a flower. The plant starts to make seeds. Some plants also produce a special part. That part holds the seeds. And you know what that is! It’s called the “fruit.” Come along! I’ll show you some fruits that I helped create.

Here’s an apple tree. This tree put out blossoms. That was earlier this year. “Blossoms” means “flowers.” Apple blossoms are full of tasty nectar. I love to buzz around them. I roll around in them. The nectar is scrumptious!

But, look! It was good for the tree, too. Remember this? Bees go to plants’ flowers. They carry pollen from flower to flower. This apple tree is now full of apples. That’s because we honeybees pollinated the blossoms. We did a great job. The apples are fruits. Inside each apple are seeds. Those seeds grow into new apple trees.


The apples took weeks to grow. They were small at first. But then they got bigger. Now they’re almost ripe. What happens when they’re ripe? They’ll drop off the tree. Then, the seeds can fall to the ground. They can grow into a new apple tree. Or, a person may pick the apple and eat it.

Here’s an image of an apple. It’s been picked off the tree. It’s been sliced open. You can see the seeds. The seeds are the brown things in the center. That center’s called the “core.” Some folks cut the seeds out of the core before they eat it. They might also cut off the peel.

Here’s another tree I pollinated. It’s a cherry tree. This tree produced lovely pink blossoms. That was early spring. There’s nothing more pretty than a cherry tree in full bloom. We bees went to this tree when the blossoms were out. Look what’s happened! The flowers are all gone now. But that’s fine. They did what they were supposed to do. Now the tree has begun to make seeds and fruit.


Have you bitten into a fresh cherry? Your teeth likely bumped into a cherry seed. That’s a big hard thing. That seed is called a cherry “pit.” The cherry seed is really inside the cherry pit. There’s soft fruit around the pit. That’s the tasty part of the cherry. To people, the fruit’s the most important part. But not to the plant. The seed’s the most important part. It can grow to be a new tree.

Let’s check out this kind of plant. It’s a strawberry plant. It put out flowers a while back. My bee pals and I went to those flowers, too. You’ll see that the plant makes seeds and fruit. We pollinated it! These fruits are strawberries. You saw this. Apple and cherry seeds were inside their fruit. Not so with strawberries. It’s the other way around. Look at this ripe strawberry. The seeds are all over its outside. These seeds are teeny. One can eat them along with the fruit.


Here’s one last plant. It’s a watermelon plant. It bloomed a few weeks back. I went to its flowers. The nectar was yummy. I brought some back to my hive. The worker bees made it into honey. But, look! This plant has been busy making something! It’s a big green thing. It’s the fruit of the watermelon plant. So, we call it a watermelon.

There’s a green part on its outside. It’s called the “rind.” The seeds are on the inside of the rind. And there’s red, juicy fruit in there, too. Many folks love watermelon. Here’s a watermelon that’s been sliced open. See the black and white seeds inside? What do folks do while eating watermelon? I mean the red squishy part. We spit out the seeds!

Well, that concludes my tour. I did a lot of pollinating work this year. I’m proud of myself for that. I hope you learned a lot. I hope you’ll think of me again. Especially as you’re munching on the fruits of my labor!

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)



Lesson 24 – Part Six

NEW WORDS: Appleseed, Chapman, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, barefoot, choice, forgotten, future, oasis, orchards, precious, soothed, towns, violin, wagons, who’d

Chapter Seven: Johnny Appleseed
It was a long time back. It was in the rolling hills. That’s where Johnny Appleseed lived. John did not have a home. He went across the land. He went from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. He went from Ohio to Indiana to Illinois. He wasn’t born with that name. He got it as he moved around. You’ll learn how he got that name. You’ll learn why he was a hero.

John was born in Massachusetts. His name was John Chapman. When he grew up, he made up his mind. He’d roam across the land. You could tell from his clothes that he was poor. His clothes were beat up. He walked around barefoot. He had no shoes. And that was even in the winter. His hat was ripped up. You could see his hair through it. Yes, he was lonely and poor. But John had a brave heart. He knew of the power of love. He loved all the people he met. He loved all the animals he met. He thought he loved all people and all animals in the world! And that was even though he’d not met them!


The people he met liked him. They’d ask him to share in a small meal. He’d smile and say, “Yes.” He owned one thing. A violin. He’d take it out when done eating. He’d play for the those who’d been kind to him. His music might be happy. It might be sad. Folks loved to hear him play. It did not matter whether his tunes were happy or sad. Folks said it soothed their soul. It made them feel good. 

John lived his grown-up life this way. He went from place to place. He lived as best he could. You might think he left no mark on the world. You might think he’d be long forgotten. How could he have left a mark? He was just a poor old man. He just roamed the land. But John DID leave a huge mark! And what he did got him his name, Johnny Appleseed. Few knew what he had done at the time. Time has to pass to see results of good work.

Here’s what he did. He’d collect apple seeds. Lots of kind folks gave him apples to eat. He’d save their seeds! He’d plant them in the rich Earth. He’d plant them each place he went.


Winter would come. The ground would be frozen. He’d save the seeds in his pockets. They were precious to him. Then, spring would come. He’d plant again. He’d plant each place he went. John hoped for something. He wished for orchards to grow. He wished that his seeds would turn to orchards! There would be lots of fruit trees. They’d grow up from the rich soil. They’d feed the people and animals he loved. John did this a long time. One day, his tired old body could plant no more. This is a happy tale. What John hoped for came to pass. The seeds took root. Young saplings grew up. The years went by. Pretty apple trees came to dot the land. Apple orchards popped up like an oasis. They were all over the wide-open prairies.

Time passed. More people moved West. There were wagons full of them. They hoped to build a good life out there. They rolled across the land. Then, the railroad brought even more folks. They would all search for new places to make a home.


Lots of folks made a good choice. They’d build their homes near John’s trees. The sight of the trees gave folks hope. They wished for a good future. Farm homes and towns were built. They, too, were near John’s trees. He was now a hero. He was now called Johnny Appleseed.

The years went by. Folks would harvest apples from John’s trees. They’d store them for the winter. They’d make pies. They’d make apple butter and jam. Kids played by the trees. They’d sit in their cool shade. What John did for America was wonderful. That’s because he’d cared for all the people of the world. And it didn’t matter if he knew them or not.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)


Lesson 25 – Part Seven 

NEW WORDS: conifers, deciduous, dormant, equals, evergreen, evergreens, ferns, loses, sheds, tricky, unique

Chapter Eight: Deciduous Trees 
There are lots of kinds of plants in the world. Each is unique. Each is special in its own way. But most land plants are either deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous plants lose their leaves. Evergreens don’t. They’re always green. Even in winter.

Here’s an apple tree in the winter. It sheds its leaves each year. It’s deciduous. That’s a tricky word to say. That word has four parts. Use the four parts to help you. Four syllables equals four seasons. Seasons go in a cycle. They repeat over and over again. You know! Spring, summer, fall, and winter. Fall can also be called “autumn.”

Let’s start with spring. That’s when new things start to grow. The apple tree grows new leaves. It grows blossoms. You know Polly the Honeybee. She gets to work this time of year. She’ll take nectar from inside flowers. She’ll fly from flower to flower. She’ll spread pollen. That helps apples grow.

Move to summer. The apple tree grows lots more leaves. Apples grow out of the blossoms.


Move to fall. Apples are fully grown. It’s time to pick them. The leaves change to red and yellow. They fall to the ground. Time will pass. The leaves on the ground break down to small bits. They’ll be nutrients in the soil.

Here’s a winter apple tree again. The seasons repeat in a cycle. This tree has bare branches again. They’re empty. There are no leaves or covering. That’s ’cause plants don’t get as much sun in the winter. They get more sun in spring and summer. Where apple trees can grow, it gets cold. There’s less light from the sun. So, the tree’s leaves can’t make food. There’s no photosynthesis in winter. Without food, it must save energy. It becomes “dormant.” It stops to make leaves, blossoms, and apples. Its branches are bare.

Here’s an apple tree in all four seasons. Remember, it’s deciduous. It loses its leaves each year. Spring brings pretty white blossoms. In summer, you can climb its branches. You can sit under the shade of its green leaves. You can watch the apples as they grow. In fall, you can pick the fruit. You can watch its leaves change colors. Then you’ll see the leaves fall off. In winter, you can play in the snow under its bare branches.


Trees are special to humans in lots of ways. And, they’re important in nature. They help in some ways more than any other plant. They help keep the air clean. They help make it safe to breathe. You’ll learn more about that later. And, they’re food and home for lots of animals. Do this the next time you see a deciduous tree. Wrap your arms around it. Give it a big hug. Show it you know how important it is.


Chapter Nine: Evergreen Trees
These trees are evergreens. In some ways, they’re like deciduous trees. And some ways they’re not. Evergreens have leaves. They stay green year-round. They come in lots of shapes and sizes. They have one thing in common. They’re always green. Are there some of these trees near you?

One type is a pine tree. They have a nice smell. Lots of folks like that smell in their homes. You’ll find it a lot at Christmas.

Evergreen leaves are called “needles.” Here are the needles of a pine tree. Evergreens, too, make food through photosynthesis. It happens in the needles. It even happens a bit in winter.

These needles aren’t as big as deciduous leaves. That helps them make food in the winter. The needles are alive year-round.

You might see these on their branches. You might see them on the ground. They’re called “cones.” (Or “pine cones.”) Most evergreens are “conifers.” That means they have needles AND cones.


 Deciduous trees have flowers and fruit. Conifers don’t. Instead, they make cones. Seeds grow inside their cones. A cone opens on the ground. The seeds fall out. They’re spread by the wind. A seed might fall into soil. What happens if it has food, water, air, and light? It might grow to be a seedling. And then later, a sapling.

These plants are ferns. They’re not trees. They’re short plants. They grow in the woods. But look closely. There’s another plant here. It’s a pine sapling. It’s a baby tree. See it push up through the ferns? It might be a strong sapling. It could grow into a pine tree. It would stand high above the ferns! It might make its own pine cones. And its seeds will be in the cones.

Did you know this? Trees add a new layer of wood each year. It forms what’s called a “growth ring.” You’ll see them in a cut down tree. They’re in the trunk. They tell you how old the tree is! Count the rings!

This tree was fifty years old. That’s young for a tree. A tree can grow to at least a hundred. You’d count a hundred growth rings.

Let’s sum it up. We learned of deciduous trees and evergreens. They’re the two main types of trees in the world. Do this the next time you see a tree. Try to figure out which type it is. The leaves may give you your first clue!

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.)


Lesson 26 – Part Eight 

NEW WORDS: Alabama, George, Missouri, Vera, aloe, basketballs, beauties, botanist, botanists, botany, carver, cereals, childhood, chops, cucumbers, cure, diseases, dyed, dyes, floral, fluffy, fungus, gel, generations, hiker, insect, lumber, lumberjack, makeup, mash, medicines, oils, paddy, pencils, prevents, professor, recipes, salads, saws, soothes, splits, spouts, stomach, sunburns, syrup, talent, tanks, veggie, veggies, wounds

Chapter Ten: Plants and People
We need plants! Without plants, there’d be no life on Earth. Animals, humans, and insects need plants.

First, they are food for us. People eat plant foods each day. See this woman? What’s in her mouth? It’s lettuce! Lettuce is in salads. It’s on sandwiches. It’s good for you. It’s a healthy veggie. And it comes from a plant.

Veggies are like fruit. They’re parts of plants. Let’s name some. Potatoes, beans, peas. Carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Each comes from plants. And from different parts of plants. Fruits and veggies are healthy and tasty. You should eat some each day.

Here’s an ear of corn and a cornfield. Did you know this? Corn comes from a special type of grass. Do you like corn on the cob?

Have you had bread today? It’s likely that you have eaten wheat. Wheat comes from a type of grass. Its seeds are ground up. They’re used to make wheat flour. Wheat flour is used in many things. Like breads, cereals, and cakes.


Here’s a bowl of rice and a rice paddy. A “paddy” is a “field.” Folks all over the world eat rice. It feeds billions of people each day!

You’ve just learned of three grains. Corn, wheat, and rice. Grains are seeds. They come from different types of grasses.

Plants can be used to make cloth. These “fabrics” are used to make lots of things. Clothes, blankets, and other things we use each day. This picture shows cotton plants. Fluffy, white cotton is often dyed. Dye comes in lots of colors. It makes clothes and blankets look pretty.

What might we do when folks feel sick or sad? We might give them flowers. That cheers them up. That lets them know they’re loved. Have you ever gotten, or given, flowers?

Lots of things made from plants will surprise you! Here are a few. Tires on a car are made of rubber. So are rubber bands. And basketballs. Most rubber comes from rubber tree sap.

Another sap comes from maple trees. It’s clear and it tastes good. Maple syrup! We get it in early spring. Folks drill small holes in the trunks of maple trees. They put in spouts. Sap drips out of them. It goes into buckets. They call them “holding tanks.” The sap is boiled. It turns to maple syrup. Don’t worry! The holes don’t hurt the trees! They heal in the summer and fall. Next spring, folks pick a different spot on the trunk to drill.


Medicines can come from plants. These cure diseases. They heal wounds. You have to know a lot to do this. You have to find the right kind of plant. You must know what part of the plant you need. Then you must know how to use it. Knowing plant secrets goes back generations. Parents taught children. Knowledge was passed down. It may be thousands of years old!

Here’s a useful common plant. It’s the aloe vera plant. There’s a clear gel in its thick green leaves. It helps heal small cuts. It soothes sunburns. Some folks drink parts of this plant. They think it’s good for the stomach. They think it prevents some disease.

Think how we use wood from trees. We build homes. We make lots of things. Paper, chairs, pencils. You name it! Here’s a lumberjack. He cuts down trees. He’ll use a chain saw. He’ll cut down a big pine. He chops this tree down. He saws off the branches. The bare trunk is loaded onto a truck. They’ll take it to a lumber mill. It will be turned into boards.


And we use wood to make fires. It might be cold. This keeps our homes warm. This person splits logs. They’ll be the right size to burn in the fireplace. And wood is used to make tool handles and instruments. The list goes on. Baseball bats are made from ash tree wood. That’s a strong tree! Oh, and this is important! What should you do when you cut a tree down? Plant a new one! That way we won’t run out of wood. We need forests for the future!

Here’s one last thing about plants. They help keep the air clean and fresh. This happens when they make their own food. They put oxygen into the air! We need that gas to breathe! The oxygen goes to your lungs. That keeps you alive. You need oxygen all day, each day.

You just learned a ton! Did you know that plants were so important?


Chapter Eleven: George Washington Carver
Let’s learn about a new hero. He loved plants. That’s how he got his fame. He lived from 1864 to 1943. His name? George Washington Carver. He was known all through the U.S. He was a “botany” scientist. That’s called a “botanist.” Botanists study plants. He started to learn about them when he was young.

Back then, he walked a lot in the woods. These were near his home. He grew up on a farm in Missouri. He roamed the woods all the time. He saw lots of cool things. George liked to collect things. Lots of plants caught his eye. He was curious about them.

He would find a plant. He wished to learn more. There was one problem. He wished to take them home. But what if he pulled them up? They’d die! So, he had a smart plan. He would dig it up with care. He kept the roots alive! Then he went home. He would plant it there. It could keep growing in the soil. He could study it from his home! He built a special garden to do that.


He put lots of plants in his special garden. He took good care of them. He watered them. He watched them grow. When he was grown, he wrote about his childhood. He said something like this. “I simply lived in the woods. I spent time in the woods alone. I wanted to learn about everything there. Each strange stone, flower, insect, bird, or beast. I loved to collect my floral beauties. I’d move them to my garden. It was hidden. It was near the house. It would be hard for a hiker to find it.”

He loved these plants. He looked at them for hours each day. He kept them healthy. He would tend to them. He would study them. He learned how each one had special needs. Different amounts of water. Whether they liked the sun or the shade. And he tried to help sick plants. Maybe they had a disease, like a fungus. He was great at saving them. Folks nearby called him the “Plant Doctor.”

George liked art, too. He loved to paint his plants. And he was good at it! He could not buy real painting products. He found his own way to do it. He made his paint with plants! He’d mash bark, roots, and berries. He found old boards to paint on. He might paint on flat rocks. George would paint throughout his entire life.


George had lots of talent. He was gifted. He did well in school. He learned fast. He went to college. He became a botany expert. Then he was a Professor! That was in Alabama.

That was his job for life. He learned more and more. He found ways for plants to grow better. He helped farmers to do better with their crops. He had farmers grow new crops. He thought they grew too much cotton. Some of these new ones were peanuts and sweet potatoes. And he taught us lots about peanuts. He found new ways to use them. They could help to make dyes, oils, and makeup. And he knew peanuts were tasty. He wrote new recipes for dishes that used peanuts. George Washington Carver was an amazing man. He helped to build knowledge about the science of plants!

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

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Lesson 27 – Two Famous Fables

NEW WORDS: Charlemagne, Doberman, acknowledge, acquaintances, adhered, annoy, askance, assumed, azure, blatherskite, blustered, boastful, boffo, boundaries, braggadocio, bragged, centuries, clutched, cobblestone, cocksure, cognizant, commonsensical, congregated, contemplated, covert, crawler, darted, dawdlers, drooped, emotion, empathy, endlessly, exceptional, existence, fawningly, fettle, fifteen, galumphed, gasbag, gasconade, glorious, grandiose, groveling, guffawed, halfway, hare’s, hated, hilarious, horselaugh, immediately, indubitably, insulted, isolated, jaunt, jesting, jocose, kingly, ladled, likable, location, lynx, maintained, maxim, meanest, miracle, mockingbird, molerat, momentary, napped, nibbled, obligated, onwards, overly, palavered, panicked, parading, perceived, percipient, permit, pinscher, plodded, pompous, posture, praises, prated, pretended, projecting, reflection, resumed, rewarded, riotous, rocketed, roistered, roundabout, sabotaged, satiate, satisfying, scarfed, scrounge, shire, skulker, slaughter, slowpokes, sluggards, snickered, snookered, snoot, soporific, steadfast, steadily, stock, straightforward, strode, succulent, sultry, swaggered, sycophantically, taunting, tittered, tooted, tortoise, town’s, traipsed, translucent, transpired, traverse, trumpet, tureen, uttered, vapored, vicious, visitation, witticism, yipped, yuk 

The Dog And His Reflection
It was centuries ago. There was a grandiose Doberman pinscher. His name was Charlemagne. He was parading through the cobblestone streets. He was in fine fettle this exceptional day. It was glorious weather. It was perfect for a jaunt about the shire.

He’d just had a satisfying visitation with the butcher. He’d been rewarded with a succulent bone. The dog held his head high. He held his tail stiff. He looked neither askance nor roundabout. He strode with his kingly snoot projecting straightforward. There were lots of town-dogs. They looked up to Charlemagne. They sycophantically traipsed behind him. They yipped and tittered, fawningly. They pled with their superior. “Please! Please! Permit us to smell your bone.” But the big dog went on. He maintained his haughty posture and swaggered onwards. He would not acknowledge the town-dogs’ existence. He perceived that he was better than they were. And he had no empathy for their state of hunger.

Charlemagne left the town’s boundaries. He’d gotten a mile out of town. He took a momentary rest. He could have stopped to satiate himself on the bone. But others would come to annoy him. He’d then feel obligated to share. He did not want to do that. The bone was just for him. He wished to be left alone. He contemplated a plan of action. He talked to himself. “I’ll bury my bone. I’ll take it to an isolated location. No dog can find it there. Then the right day will come. I’ll dig it up. I’ll eat it then.” He resumed his steadfast course.


He adhered to his brisk pace for some time. He came to a stream. The water was fresh and translucent. The deep blue sky gave it an azure tint. The water was fast-running. And there, he saw a bridge. It offered an easy opportunity to get to the other side. He talked to himself again. “I’ll traverse the bridge. I’ll get to the other side. I’ll scrounge around. I’ll find a covert resting place for the bone. I’ll hide the bone. I’ll dig a deep hole. I’ll bury it there.” So, he got onto the bridge. He had the bone in his teeth. He clutched his mouth tightly. The bone would not fall out.

He took a few steps. Then he looked down. What in the world? He thought he saw a dog! He was not sure. It was walking. But how strange! It walked on the top of the water! He looked and looked. Yes! It WAS a big dog. And he had a bone in HIS mouth! Charlemagne stopped. The dog below stopped, too. The big dog then walked a bit. The water-dog did, too. Could the water-dog want HIS bone? The big dog put on a fierce look. He turned his head. He faced the water-dog.


The water-dog turned. They stared straight at each other! And the water-dog looked vicious. He looked as mean as the big dog! The big dog thought to himself. “This won’t do. I want HIS bone!” So, he opened his mouth wide. He planned to take the water dog’s bone. But guess what? There was no dog in the water. The big dog was seeing his own reflection. He was not smart. He should not have opened his mouth. The bone fell out! It went “splash” in the stream. And the water current was swift. It took the bone away forever!

Here’s the moral of this percipient tale. “It’s not wise to be greedy. You may lose everything!”


The Tortoise And The Hare
There once was a boastful Hare. All he did was brag. He did it endlessly. He was like a tureen full of braggadocio soup. And he just ladled it onto all of his acquaintances. He bragged. He crowed. He prated. He tooted his own horn. He sang his own praises. He blew his own trumpet. He blustered. He roistered.

What did he gasconade about the most? The gasbag would brag about how fast he was. This went on and on. The blatherskite told the other animals that he was fast. And he insulted them all. He vapored on about how SLOW they were! “You’re slowpokes! You’re sluggards! You’re dawdlers!”

But poor Tortoise! Hare was the meanest to him! He said things like this. “Tortoise! What a dull crawler you are! I feel sorry for you. You creep along like that. You stay close to the ground. You’re a creepy, crawly, groveling skulker! How long does it take you to cross the field? It must take you all day! Your fastest speed is a snail’s pace!”

Tortoise did not think Hare was funny. Not at all! “You may be fast,” he said. “But I’ll bet you something. I could beat you in a race.”


Hare guffawed. He uttered an ugly horselaugh. “Ha! Ha! Yuk! Yuk! You’re boffo! What a riotous witticism. That’s hilarious! You’re jocose today, Turtle-Man. You’re taunting me. You’re surely jesting. A race between you and me? It would not even be close!”

The tortoise replied to him. “Well, then. Let’s try. Let’s race to the foot of that big hill.”

Hare took Tortoise up on it. He said, “Sure thing! You’re on!”

All the animals congregated. They had to watch the race. They hated Hare. And they knew that only a miracle would give Tortoise a victory. But they had to offer Tortoise support. They’d cheer him on! He was a very likable fellow!

“Ready!” said Molerat.

“Set!” said Mockingbird.

“Go!” said Lynx.

Hare darted off. He rocketed far ahead. He was almost out of sight. Tortoise set off, too. He was slow. But he was steady. Hare got halfway there. He stopped. He looked back. Tortoise was WAY far back. Hare assumed that he could never catch up. “This is not much of a race,” snickered Hare.


Hare was overly cocksure at this point. He talked to himself. “I’ll indubitably slaughter Tortoise in this race!” So, he took a break. He scarfed down some carrots. He nibbled on some lettuce. He palavered with some birds.

Way back, Tortoise kept on. Slowly, but steadily, he plodded forward. And he showed no emotion at all. He just kept at it.

Hare looked back again. He was still way ahead. So, he laid down in a pumpkin patch. He closed his eyes. He pretended to go to sleep. He did not MEAN to go to sleep. He just wished to show Tortoise up. He wanted to rub it in. Not only could he win. He could take a nap and STILL win! But it was a sultry day. The sun and the breeze were soporific. Hare’s head drooped. In minutes, he’d sabotaged himself. He had, indeed, nodded off. He was fast asleep, now. He even began to snore.


While Hare napped, Tortoise galumphed along. Slow, but sure. Fifteen minutes went by. He crawled past Hare. Another fifteen minutes went by. Tortoise was now just a few feet from the finish! That’s when Hare woke up. He immediately became cognizant of what had transpired.

He panicked! He jumped up. He ran as fast as he could. And that WAS quite fast! But it was too late! The Hare got there in a flash. But Tortoise had snookered him. His nose had crossed the finish line. Tortoise showed Hare up! Tortoise won! He made a complete fool out of pompous Hare. Hare was now a laughing stock!

Here’s the maxim of this commonsensical tale. “Slow and steady wins the race.”


Lesson 28 – Stories Misc:

Grimm’s The Queen Bee: Part One

NEW WORDS: Grimm’s, Saul, cruel, hallways, harmed, irresponsible, locks, overcome, parties, seated, simpleton, spilled, stables, youngest

Two King’s Sons once left their nice home. They went to search out a life of big adventures. They were wild and irresponsible. They spent most of their time at play, and at parties. They did not come home again.

There was a third brother. He was the youngest son. His name was Saul. One day, he left home, too. His goal was to make his way in the world. But first, he planned to look for his older brothers.

In a few days, he found them. But they laughed at him. Saul thought that he could do well in the world. But his brothers did not think so. They called Saul a “Simpleton.”

You see, they did not think that Saul was very smart. They thought that THEY were both very clever, themselves. And even THEY were having a hard time making a good living. So how could Saul do well in the world? He wasn’t as smart as they were. (Or so they thought!)

At last, they tired of making fun of Saul. They let him join them, at this point. They hiked together through the country. At first, they came to an anthill. The two older brothers wanted to destroy it. They were very cruel. They wanted to make the little ants scared of them. They hoped to see the ants have to carry their eggs away. They wanted the ants to fear for their lives.


But Saul cried out to them. “Leave these small ants in peace. They have done you no wrong. I will not let you hurt them!” The brothers growled. But they DID stop.

The three brothers moved on. They went further. Now they came to a nice blue lake. There were lots of ducks swimming there. The two older brothers wanted to catch some of them. They planned to roast them!

But Saul would not let them do it. He said, “Leave these harmless ducks in peace. They’ve not harmed you. I will not let you kill them.”

The next day, they came to a bee’s nest. There was much honey there! It spilled out of the tree trunk below the huge hive. The two older brothers planned to build a fire under the tree. This would make the bees leave. Then they could take all of the honey for themselves.

But once again, Saul stopped them. He yelled, “Leave the tiny buzzing bees in peace. None of them has hurt you. I will not let you burn them.”

At last, the brothers came to a castle. Things were strange there. They saw lots of horses standing in the stables. But they had been turned to stone! And, not a single human being was in sight. This was quite a mystery to the brothers.


They went in the castle. They walked through all of the hallways. They came to a door where there were three locks. In the middle of the door, there was a little glass pane. So, they could see into the room.

There they saw a small Gray Man. He was seated at a table. They called him two times. But he did not hear them. Then they called him a third time. This time, he got up slowly. He opened the locks. He let them into the room. He did not say a thing. But he led them to a big table. There was lots of fine food to eat! They finished their feast. Then he took each of them to a nice bedroom. They slept well that night.

It was now the next morning. The small Gray Man came to the oldest brother. He called to him. He brought him to a stone table. The Gray Man had a very serious look on his face. He explained the tough times that the people of the castle were in. Three tasks were written on the table. Three challenges needed to be overcome. Then, the castle would be saved from an awful fate.


Lesson 29 – Stories Misc:

Grimm’s The Queen Bee: Part Two

NEW WORDS: Saul’s, backfire, completed, cruelty, daughter’s, due, favor, hardworking, pearl, pearls, princess, princess’s, released, scattered, sunset, sweetest

The first test was this. They were to go to the forest. They were to look beneath the thick, deep moss. There, they would find the Princess’s pearls. BUT, the pearls were all scattered and hidden. There were a thousand of them! And every last one must be picked up! They had to end the search by sunset. But it would be bad if just one single pearl was still NOT found. The person who was looking for them would be turned to stone!

The oldest brother went out to find the pearls. He searched for them all day. But, it was time for the sun to set. He had found only a hundred of them! What they had seen on the table came true. He was changed into stone right there. Just as the sun fell below the horizon.

Now it was the next day. The second brother would try the three challenges. It did not go well for him, either. He did not find more than two hundred pearls. So, he, too, was turned to stone at the end of the day.


At last, the time came for Saul to seek out the pearls. They would all be hidden in the deep moss. And he, too, found that it was quite hard to find the pearls! Now the sun was at about noon. Saul was not finding enough pearls. The day was going by too fast. He was frustrated at how long it was taking him. He sat on a large stone. He started to cry. He did not want to die. He did not want to turn into stone.

But something good happened while he sat there! Don’t forget that Saul had saved the ants! So, the King of the Ants came to help him. He came with five thousand ants! They would all help to gather up the pearls. It did not take that long. The teeny, hardworking creatures had gotten the thousand pearls! And they laid them all in a neat pile at Saul’s feet.

But don’t forget about the writing on the table. There were still two more huge tasks left. The next task was to go to the deep lake. Saul had to fetch out the key to the King’s Daughter’s bedroom. It would be hard to find! But he would get more help. Saul came to the lake. And there were the ducks that he had saved! They swam up to him. Then they dove down beneath the surface. One of them quickly brought the key out of the water. He placed it gently into Saul’s hand.


Now, the third task would be the hardest. The king’s three daughters were all asleep. They could not talk to Saul. The last task was this. He had to find out which of the three was the youngest! Then he had to point to her. How would he do this? It was the first time he had seen them! And things got worse. They looked very much like each other.  One could tell them apart only by knowing this. What had each one of them eaten for dessert, before they had gone to sleep?

The oldest had enjoyed a bit of sugar. The middle sister had sipped down a taste of syrup. The youngest of the three had swallowed a spoon full of honey. But how could ANYONE know which sweet each sister had enjoyed?!

Saul feared that this task was way too hard for him. He was scared that he would soon turn into stone. But don’t forget about the bees! Saul had protected them from the fire. So, the Queen of the Bees came to help. She tasted the lips of all three sisters. At last, she stayed seated on the mouth of the sister who had the honey. And this is how the King’s third son, Saul, knew who the right Princess was!


Saul had now completed the three tasks. Due to his success, the terrible magic spell was broken! All were released from their deep sleep. And those who had been turned to stone came to life again.

Saul married the youngest and sweetest Princess. And after her father’s death, he became the new King. And his two brothers were able to marry the two other sisters. But they found out that neither one was very easy to get along with!

What might we learn from the story of the Queen’s Bee? Cruelty to others will backfire on you. Instead, one should respect and be nice to others. Then one day they will return the favor to you!

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

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Kids Excel

Lesson 30 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Craig, David, Davis, Gail’s, Griffin, Griffin’s, Karen, anesthetic, champ, champs, chimpanzee, contest, dating, deeds, excel, excels, experts, graying, inspires, jot, lasts, paints, penicillin, publisher, shifted, skipping, snapshots, spellers, spells, training, winced, winning

A Letter from the Publisher

My name is Mark Deeds, and I have a fun job. I visit with kids who excel at what they do. When you excel at something, you are good at it. The kids I visit all excel at different things. Some of them excel at sports like running or jumping.

Some of them excel at math. Some of them excel at skipping rocks, or standing on their hands. All of them are good at something.

I visit with the kids. I chat with them. I ask them how they got started doing what they do, and how they got good at it. Sometimes I chat with their moms and dads, too. I jot down notes and take snapshots. Then I write up what they tell me, so I can share it with you.

In “Kids Excel,” you will meet a lot of kids who excel. I had fun meeting them. I think you will like meeting them, too.

When I meet someone who excels at something, it inspires me to be as good as I can be. I hope the kids in “Kids Excel” have the same effect on you, too!

Mark Deeds

Publisher: Kids Excel


The Spelling Bee
This past spring, I went to see the state spelling bee. The state spelling bee is a spelling contest that lasts two days. On Day 1, a bunch of kids sit down to take a written spelling test. On Day 2, the kids who do the best on the written test get up on a stage and spell.

One hundred ten kids took the spelling test last spring. The kids had to spell words like “chimpanzee.” The 50 who did the best on the written test went on to Day 2 of the spelling bee. Day 2 is the part of the bee I like best. That’s when the kids get up on stage and spell words out loud.

A person will say a word. Then the speller has to spell the word one letter at a time. If the speller spells the word without a mistake, he or she gets to keep spelling. If the speller makes a mistake, a bell rings. Ding!

Once the bell rings, that is the end. The speller is out of the bee. He or she must sit down in a chair and look on while the rest of the spellers stay in the bee and keep spelling.

On Day 2 of the bee, I sat and looked on as the bell rang for lots of kids in the bee.

Airplane. A-e-r-p-l-a-n-e? Ding!

Graying. G-r-a-i-n-g? Ding!


Sunday. S-u-n-n-d-a-y? Ding!

The bell went on ringing all day, until there were just three spellers left.

Nate Griffin, age 12, was one of the three. He was the runner-up at the last spelling bee. Two of the experts I spoke with said they expected him to win the bee.

Craig Ping, age 12, was still in the hunt, too. He had finished in fifth place at the last bee. The experts I spoke with said he had a good chance of winning.

Gail Day, age 11, was the dark horse. When I asked the spelling experts who she was, they just shrugged. Craig Ping was spelling well. Then he got a hard word. He stood thinking. He spelled the word as well as he could. He waited.


Craig Ping was out of the bee. That left just Gail Day and Nate Griffin.

Nate Griffin and Gail Day were the last two spellers in the state spelling bee. Mister Griffin was spelling like a champ. But Miss Day was in fine form, too. Mister Griffin was given a word to spell. He spelled the word in the air with his finger. Then he spelled it out loud.


And Then There Were Two
Miss Day was next. She was given a fifteen-letter word to spell. She had to stop and think a bit. Then she spelled it without a problem.

That’s the way it went. Mister Griffin spelled a word. Then Miss Day spelled one. Griffin, Day. Griffin, Day. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Mister Griffin went word-for-word and letter-for-letter with Miss Day for ten words, until, at last, he was given the word “penicillin.” He tugged on his lip and shifted from foot to foot. He stood there thinking. Time went by. At last he took a shot at spelling the word.

He spelled it: p-e-n-i-c-i-l-i-n. (He left out one “l.”)

Ding! The bell rang.

Mister Griffin was upset. He clenched his hand and winced.

Nate Griffin’s slip-up gave Gail Day a shot at winning the spelling bee. She would have to spell “penicillin.” Then she would have to spell one last word.

Miss Day took aim and spelled: p-e-n-i-c-i-l-l-i-n.

No bell rang.


The last word was “anesthetic.”

Miss Day stood thinking. Then she spelled: a-n-e-s-t-h-e-t-i-c.

No bell rang. Gail Day was the winner!

Mister Griffin was the runner-up, just as he was at the last bee. You could see that he was let down by the loss. But he was a good sport. He went up to Miss Day, shook her hand, and gave her a hug.

Then Gail Day stood on the stage by herself.

They gave her a prize. They gave her a check for five hundred bucks. She slipped the check in her pocket and held up the prize. She was the queen of the bee!

How did Gail Day get to be so good at spelling? Was she born to spell? Were her parents spelling champs? Did they start training Gail to spell when she was just a babe?


I went to West Beach to meet Gail and her parents a week after the bee. Gail’s parents met me in the driveway.


Born to Spell?
Gail’s mom, Karen Day, is an artist who paints and works with clay. Gail’s dad, David Day, drives a truck. They are as nice a pair as you will ever meet. But they are not spelling champs.

“Spelling was not my best subject,” Karen explained as we sat in the living room of the house she and David rent on Davis Street in West Beach.

“I was not bad at spelling,” she added, “but I was not the best in my class.”

David Day broke into a big grin. “Let’s just say I’m not a spelling champ like Gail! It seems like she never makes a mistake!”


Karen and Gail smiled. Karen whispered to me, “When we were dating, David used to write me notes. They were so cute, but there were some spelling mistakes in them.”

“When could you tell Gail was a hot shot at spelling?” I asked.

“Well,” David said, “I could tell she was good at it, but I did not see just how good she was for a long time. Shucks, I am so proud of her!”

“When I look back on it,” Karen Day said, “it seems to me it all started in second grade, when Gail was in Miss Baker’s class.”

Gail nodded and said, “It was Miss Baker who got me started. Miss Baker was the best!”

Click on this link to move forward to Module C, Lessons 31 – 40


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