Module E – Lessons 31 to 40


Click here for Lesson 31
Click here for Lesson 32
Click here for Lesson 33
Click here for Lesson 34
Click here for Lesson 35
Click here for Lesson 36
Click here for Lesson 37
Click here for Lesson 38
Click here for Lesson 39
Click here for Lesson 40
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.)
Presidents And American Symbols   

Lesson 31 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Godspeed, Howe, Howe’s, Knox’s, Ticonderoga, accord, adhere, admonish, allegiant, apprehended, apprised, archetype, assembling, assert, attained, avouched, bequeathed, besiege, bewildered, birdseye, birthright, blenched, bookseller, brumal, buoyant, celerity, charily, citizenry, claimants, clashing, coerce, comfortably, commend, confession, confidently, conjuncture, cooped, countrymen, decamp, defenses, definitive, denominated, determinations, devoir, disappointment, discountenanced, doyen, dupe, duplicate, embankments, emblem, engendered, entrenched, exemplar, fashioning, foreman, foresaw, fortify, hollering, horrendous, husky, illustrious, imperfect, inaugurated, inceptive, incorporated, indivisible, installed, intents, judicial, lauded, legislative, liberties, loathe, mandated, nestling, obligations, onboard, opted, paltry, perpetrate, postulate, precepts, preparedness, presenttime, probity, procured, promoting, protracted, purposefully, quiescent, radiantly, retribution, screened, shifty, shrewd, sovereignty, sparkled, striding, subjugate, superiority, tempted, transmogrify, unearths, unwavering, vulnerability, wan

Chapter One: The Home of the President, Washington, D.C.
The American flag is a symbol of our nation, the United States of America. You can see that the flag is red, white, and blue. You can see that it has red and white stripes. It also has fifty stars. And each star is an emblem for one of the states in the U.S.

There’s one important city in the U.S. that’s not in any of the fifty states. It’s the nation’s capital. Most of the decisions that affect the country are made here. Our government is ensconced here. Our nation’s capital city is the part of the U.S. where the president lives. We call it Washington, D.C.


Men from each of the inceptive colonies helped to write the Constitution. That was the archetype for how the new country should be run. We’ve denominated these men the “Founding Fathers.” The Founding Fathers wanted the country to be run by a president, and not by a king. Once a person is king or queen, they’re entrenched in that position for the rest of their life. He or she is not elected by the people. They might not represent the interests of the people. The Founding Fathers didn’t want one person to tell everyone what to do, as a king does. Instead, they wanted a doyen who would listen to what the people wanted. They would then work hard to get them what they needed. To make sure that the president couldn’t transmogrify into a king, they wrote the Constitution. This was a set of precepts that the president must adhere to. They also mandated that the president must be elected by the people. The president would not have a birthright to the position like a king has. Furthermore, he could only be a president for four years. Then, the citizenry would vote for a president again.

The Founding Fathers started to think about where the president would live. They started to worry. What if the president lived in the state that he was from? It would make that state feel more important than the others. The Founding Fathers feared that such a state would be tempted to take over and assert that they had superiority over the others. They wrote into the Constitution that a special city should be built. It would be no bigger than ten miles wide. It would serve as the nation’s capital.


This capital city would not be in any state. That way, no one state could say that it was in charge of the country. This city was to be called Washington. That was in honor of George Washington, our first president. Eventually, Washington grew into the area that we call the “District of Columbia” at the presenttime. For short, we call it “Washington, D.C.”

If you went to Washington, D.C., today, you’d be able to see the White House. That’s where the president lives. The president moves into this house when he or she is inaugurated as president. Then he moves out when the next president is installed. But not just presidents live there. Their families, and even their pets, come with them to live in the White House.

Have you ever seen a picture of this dog? His name is Bo. He lives with President Barack Obama and his family. When President Obama was first chosen to be our president in 2008, he avouched to his daughters that they could get a dog. Bo moved into the White House about three months after the Obama family moved there. One of his favorite activities is playing outside with President Obama’s daughters.


The president doesn’t just live in the White House. He or she works there, too. The part of the White House where the president works is called the “West Wing.” The president’s office has a definitive name, too. It’s called “the Oval Office.” Sometimes the president signs laws or gives speeches from the Oval Office.

One of the president’s most important obligations is to fortify the rules of the Constitution. The president doesn’t run the government alone, though, as a king would. The government is made up of a team of three “groups.” We have the president. That’s the “Executive Branch.” We have the “House of Representatives” and “the Senate,” which are incorporated as “Congress.” That’s the “Legislative Branch.” And we have “the Supreme Court.” That’s the “Judicial Branch.” The Founding Fathers made sure that all three of these branches of government had equally important jobs. That way, the president wouldn’t hold all the power like a king. This would help to protect people’s liberties.

Since our past presidents have lived in Washington, D.C., it’s a place where people often build statues and other buildings to honor them. If you went to Washington, D.C., you’d find lots of monuments to past presidents. One famous monument is called “the Lincoln Memorial.” Another illustrious one is “the Jefferson Memorial.” These monuments are symbols. They admonish us to recall how important these past presidents were in our nation’s history.


The Washington Monument is one of many people’s favorite monuments to go see in Washington, D.C. It is the world’s tallest stone building. When you go to the top of the tower, you get a birdseye view of all of Washington, D.C. But you don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., to appreciate our country and its leaders. Every time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, or sing the National Anthem, you can let everyone around you know that you are proud to be a part of our country.

Let’s say the Pledge of Allegiance together. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Do this the next time you see the U.S. flag. Remember that our fifty states all share a belief in liberty and justice for everyone. And remember that these United States of America all share the same government. We are led by the president, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, all in Washington, D.C.


Chapter Two: A Dishonest Story About An Honest Man
Almost everyone likes a good story. Some people especially like true stories that tell how real people did real things. Other people say, “I love made-up stories best. A person who tells this kind of story can leave in just the most interesting parts. They can even make sure that there will be a happy ending.”

However, there is a third kind of story. That story mixes together true and made-up stories. Today’s story is an exemplar of this third type of story. It’s what we call a “legend.” The title of this legend is, “A Dishonest Story about an Honest Man.” This story is about George Washington. He’s obviously a real historical person. In the legend, he acts in the story in an honest way, as he often acted in real life. The true part of the story is that George Washington was a real person. And he was very honest. The made-up part is that he cut down his father’s cherry tree.

Augustine Washington loved his farm by the river. He loved the rolling, green meadows in which he raised horses and other animals. He loved the woods. He loved the rich soil that allowed him to grow plants for food on the farm or to sell in town. He loved the fruit trees on his farm. They gave him beautiful flowers in spring. They brought him delicious fruit through the summer and autumn. And they were graceful shapes to look at in winter.


Augustine especially loved his cherry trees. The story occurs when George was about five years old. Augustine was talking with him. “George, I will teach you which sorts of cherry trees grow best here. I’ll show you how to take care of them. That way, they’ll grow tall and strong and provide delicious fruit.”

So, you can imagine how discountenanced Augustine was to find one day that someone had chopped down one of his prize trees. This particular day he was walking with his foreman. That’s the man who worked for him. The foreman helped him run his farm. Augustine said, “This was no accident. Someone did this purposefully. Look how neat a job of cutting this was. No wild animal could have attained such a result. Who would perpetrate such a crime?”

His foreman replied. “I just can’t imagine who would have the nerve to do it, sir, or the reason.”

The men were caught up in their conversation. They did not notice that little George was approaching from the house. The boy silently listened to the two grown-ups. He looked at his father’s face. He saw disappointment and anger.


George stepped forward. He was looking wan and worried. But he shocked his father and the foreman. George spoke quietly, but he was unwavering. “Father, I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the tree with my little axe. I wanted to see if I could do it. But now I know that it was a bad thing to do.”

Augustine Washington looked at his son. He could see from the expression on his face how badly George felt. Meanwhile, the foreman, surprised by the boy’s confession, turned back to look at Augustine Washington. He thought, “Mr. Washington sometimes has a horrendous temper. Poor George! I loathe to think what is about to happen to him.”

But he was about to be surprised. He heard the father tell his son, “It really was a bad thing to do, George. And there should be negative retribution for your having done it. However, I commend you for coming forward of your own accord and telling me the truth. So, if you’ll promise not to do such a thing again, I shall not punish you.”

“I promise, Father,” said George. And he kept that promise.

So, you see, even as a young boy, George Washington was honest. He took responsibility for his actions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of us could duplicate such honorable behavior?


That is the famous legend of “George Washington and the Cherry Tree.” It’s important to remember that this story about George Washington and the cherry tree is just a legend. That’s because it is partly true, and partly made-up.

You might ask, “Was George Washington really an honest man?” Actually, he was! Let’s turn to the adult George after he had become president of the United States. One of the things for which he was most famous was his probity.

What is even more interesting is the way in which people looked up to the real George Washington. Washington was imperfect, as are all humans. He made mistakes, as everyone does at times. A few times, he made decisions with which his friends disagreed. When that happened, they usually said, “We would have chosen differently. But we know he made this choice for a good reason. He didn’t do it just to help himself.”

Even the king of Great Britain, King George III, lauded Washington. King George, by now, had lost sovereignty over the North American colonies, who now thought of themselves as Americans. He foresaw that Washington would make himself king of the new nation. Instead, Washington opted to give up control of the army he led. And, he simply went home to Mount Vernon, his farm in northern Virginia. King George heard George Washington’s plan. And he said, “If he can do that, he is the greatest man in the world!”


George Washington is often described as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” There are many reasons for that. George Washington was the most important leader in winning the war that freed us from the control of Great Britain and the king. Washington was one of the most important people involved in setting up the new government. He was highly influential in helping to start the new country in the right direction. He was also the most admired and trusted person in that new country.

Today, we still look up to George Washington. In fact, he’s considered one of our greatest national heroes. His face is on the front of the one-dollar bill. And it’s on the front of the quarter. All across America there are cities, towns, and streets named after him. You’ll be reminded of him from Washington, D.C. to the state of Washington. It’s been more than two hundred years since he died. But even now, some people still ask this when making important determinations. “What would Washington do?” George Washington never chopped down that cherry tree. But he bequeathed to us something that blossoms radiantly in all seasons. That’s the example of a brave and honest man.


Chapter Three: A Clever General
Henry Knox was a shrewd man. Before the American Revolution began, he and his wife had owned a bookshop in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Henry Knox had loved the quiet, quiescent life of a bookseller. But all of that was in the past now. Henry Knox, bookseller, had become Colonel Henry Knox of the American Continental Army. He worked directly with General George Washington, another clever man who commanded that army. And the two men had become great friends.

Both of them were at the Continental camp just outside Boston. Henry Knox had a bewildered look on his face. He was looking at General Washington. He asked, “But, sir, how can we keep the larger British army from striding out from Boston and destroying our soldiers here? We don’t even have enough bullets or gunpowder for all of our soldiers. If the British only knew. And what if they were apprised of our delicate situation?”


George Washington answered him. “Yes, Colonel, ‘if they only knew.’ But they don’t know. The British postulate that we have more men than we really have. They don’t know that many of those whom we DO have lack anything to shoot at them with. So, we must make sure that no one on their side unearths the details about the vulnerability of our current conjuncture. Let them think that we are stronger than we are. Thus, they will wish to stay comfortably in Boston through this cold, protracted winter. Our intents must focus on holding them at bay, at least until we’re in a better state of preparedness. But in order for us to get ready, we need more gunpowder and bullets.”

Colonel Knox thought for a few moments. Then he smiled. “General,” he asked. “Would fifty cannons, and the cannonballs and gunpowder to use with them, help?”

Washington momentarily blenched. “How could those possibly be procured?” He stopped. A light of understanding sparkled in his eyes. “Fort Ticonderoga!” he exclaimed. “Brilliant, Colonel! Now that we have apprehended Fort Ticonderoga from the British, we are claimants of their cannons, too. Please promptly take to assembling a team of charily screened men. In the morning, you shall decamp to head to Ticonderoga to bring those cannons here. Meanwhile, my devoir whilst here will be to convince the British general, General Howe, that our defenses are too strong for him to besiege us.”


Washington knew that his paltry army could not subjugate General Howe’s larger army. So, he had to find a shifty way to dupe General Howe into thinking that Washington’s army was much larger than it really was.

“I will order our men to build high embankments of dirt in front of our camp. General Howe will not be able to see past the dirt. Then I will march our men up and down at either end. He will not know that we are moving the same men from place to place. Instead, he will think that we have more soldiers than we really do. By fashioning the dirt mounds, we also will appear to be nestling in for a long time.”

“General Howe will think, ‘Those colonial soldiers are expecting to keep us trapped here in Boston. They are certainly positioning themselves confidently.’ He may think that it would be better to leave Boston with his army onboard his ships rather than to stay. If only we could coerce the British to leave. Then we’d be in charge of the harbor again. Then, unlike the British, we can bring in supplies from other American cities on the coast. We’ll move the supplies to our armies all across the countryside, because our friends there will help us.” Washington went over the idea in his mind. “It might work,” he said. “No, it MUST work! Henry, if I don’t see you before you leave, travel with celerity, and let me now bid you Godspeed!”


It did work! Colonel Knox and his men marched off into the brumal New England weather. They returned in a little less than two months. They brought with them the cannons and supplies. They had loaded everything onto carts. Then they used husky, heavy oxen to pull the carts back to the camp outside of Boston.

When they arrived, the waiting American soldiers sent up a mighty cheer. Hearing all of the hollering, Washington came out of his tent. George saw Henry Knox riding his horse at the head of the line of men, oxen, and supplies. He stepped forward to greet him. “Welcome back, Colonel. I am glad to see you — and our cannons.”

Knox climbed down from his horse. He turned and saluted. “Thank you, sir. It is good to see you, too, and to know that I will not have to spend another night on the march. And I have additional good news. We have also brought lots of gunpowder and bullets. So, our soldiers will finally have something to fire out of their gun barrels.”

Over in Boston, the British guards heard the shouts of joy, too. They ran to tell General Howe. “Something is going on, General. But we can’t see what it is because of the dirt mounds that the colonists built.”


Later that same day, however, General Howe looked up in shock. He saw fifty-nine cannons aimed his way from on top of the dirt mounds! “Now,” he thought, “there is no way to safely attack Washington and his men.” Of course, he did not know that he might have done that successfully anytime in the two months that it had taken Knox to bring the cannons. Soon, the British left Boston. Washington’s and Knox’s plans had engendered a strategic victory for the American Constitutional Army, and for the city of Boston.

Afterward, several things changed in important ways. First, the city of Boston was back in American hands. This was buoyant news for the people there. And it also made Americans throughout the thirteen colonies think more positively. “If we are strong enough to force British soldiers out of Boston, maybe we can win our freedom after all.” Of course, some American colonists remained allegiant to Great Britain. They chose to leave with Howe. But many Americans who had been afraid before now came forward to help. They had begun to hope that they really could defeat the British.


The second change was that George Washington had learned something important. “The British army almost always wins when they’re clashing with us on an open battlefield. From now on, we will attack, and then quickly move away to attack in another place. Or, we will trap them up on the coast, as we did in Boston. We’ll keep them cooped up in coastal areas. Then they can’t come onto land to attack us. If they can’t attack us, they can’t beat us. If they can’t beat us, they’ll grow tired of this war and leave us in peace.”

There was a third change, too. Washington called in Colonel Knox and told him, “Congratulations, Henry. I am promoting you to be a general. I am putting you in charge of ALL of our cannons. Not just the ones you brought from Fort Ticonderoga.”

George Washington and Henry Knox, the wealthy farmer from Virginia and the bookseller from Boston, became lifelong friends. General Knox helped General Washington win the American Revolution. A few years later, Washington had become president. He asked Henry Knox to become America’s first Secretary of War. That’s a person who helps the president to keep soldiers and sailors ready. That’s in case there should be another war. However, having fought one war already, the two friends worked together. They forged a wonderful peace, instead.

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.)
Presidents And American Symbols


Lesson 32 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Horatio, altered, angrier, army’s, authoring, autonomous, collaborating, contending, deciding, denoted, edacious, emancipated, emancipation, exasperating, explicating, extroverted, fumbling, genial, hatband, hesitant, horsemen, hundredth, interface, introverted, legacy, loquacious, penned, persuasive, risking, spectacles

Chapter Four: George Washington
Sometimes even close friends can disagree with one another. But even when you disagree, it helps to remember that the other person is your friend. Friends are people with whom you can disagree while you still trust and like one another. Here is a true story about friendship and trust between a group of soldiers and their general, George Washington. In this story, George Washington uses his spectacles to help him talk to his friends.

George Washington’s slave, Billy Lee, was worried. He had never before seen a look such as this one on Washington’s face. Billy thought, “For the first time, General Washington looks old. It’s this hard war he’s been fighting, I guess. But he has never looked like this.”


Billy was right. George Washington looked tired. Before the war, George Washington had been known for his strength and bravery. On horseback, he could jump over logs or fences that were too risky for other horsemen. And he could bend an iron horseshoe with his bare hands. For eight years now, Washington had led the Continental Army, trying to free America from having to follow the orders of the king of Great Britain. All this time, although he became more and more tired, Washington had seemed like a man whose courage would always be strong. With Washington leading them, his soldiers kept going even when they had lost some battles, or when they did not have enough food or blankets during freezing cold winters. Finally, Washington had led them when they defeated the biggest army the British king had sent to fight against them. Now George Washington was not only tired, but also restless. He thought, “How strange! We defeated our enemies, but now my friends may ruin everything I have worked for.”

Washington picked up some papers from his desk. He slipped them into his pocket. He asked impatiently, “Where are my spectacles, Billy?” Billy handed him the reading glasses that Washington had begun using only a week before. Placing them in his coat pocket, Washington went outside where a soldier had his horse ready. Billy watched the general and the soldier ride away.


Soon they reached a large building, where Washington dismounted. Handing the reins of his horse to the soldier, Washington entered the building through a side door. He could hear the loud voice of General Horatio Gates. He was a very important officer in the army. General Gates thought that he, not Washington, should be the army’s chief. Now General Gates was trying to convince the other soldiers to change the way their new nation, the United States of America, would work.

Washington wanted to stop this from happening. He thought, “I hope I am not too late.” He stepped onto the stage where General Gates was standing.

Facing the stage were many soldiers who had been with Washington through the long, dangerous war. When they saw him, they gasped in surprise. “Why has he come?” they wondered.

General Gates was surprised, too, and he left the stage. Washington looked out at the soldiers who he knew so well. “They look angry,” he thought.

He was right. For years, these soldiers had been away from home. They’d been risking their lives to win the American Revolution so that they, their families, and their friends would be free to start a new country.


The soldiers missed their families, but they knew this was important work. So, they had kept at it. George Washington had led them the whole time. Now they had defeated, or beaten, the largest group of British soldiers yet. Some of Washington’s friends were meeting with British leaders to end the war. But Washington thought, “The British still have one army left. Until they sign the paper agreeing that we are free to begin our own country, they could change their minds and attack again. We have to make sure that the war is really over before we all go home.”

But while all this had been happening, something else had not happened. The new American government had not paid the soldiers in a long time. Some soldiers had been unpaid for as many years as you have been alive! Now some of them, led by General Gates, were mumbling. “Maybe we should take over the new country. Then we know we’ll be paid. We have our guns. We could make everyone do what we want them to do.”


George Washington had heard about this. He thought, “I am proud of being a soldier, but I do not want soldiers to use their guns to tell other people what to do. That would be no better than the old kind of rule of a monarchy or a king. We want a country in which the people decide together what to do, not kings or queens or armies. I will work to make sure that my soldiers get paid. But first, I must stop them from trying to take over our government.”

Washington took out some of the papers that he had brought along and began to read them aloud. When he finished, no one cheered or clapped. “I failed!” he thought. “They are too angry to listen to what I say.” Then he remembered something. “Wait!” he told the soldiers, “I have one more paper to read to you.”

He took out that paper, but the writing was smaller than on the other papers. He could not see it clearly. He held it away from himself, then closer, but nothing helped.

Then, to the soldiers’ surprise, Washington took out the spectacles that they had never before seen him use. Fumbling to open them, Washington said, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.”


In that moment, his soldiers felt ashamed. They remembered how strong George Washington had always been, and how he had always helped them. Like Billy Lee, they thought, “He has worn himself out fighting for our freedom. He has given up as much as we have.” Many of the soldiers were so ashamed that they began to cry. They told one another, “If George Washington can wait a little longer to get paid, we can, too. He is right. The important thing is to make sure that we start a country in which the people work together to help make decisions, not just a king or queen or an army.”

What the words written on those pages had not done, Washington had done by putting on his spectacles. The soldiers agreed to do as he asked, and later they did get paid.

A few years later, after the war was over and Americans were choosing the first president of the United States of America, people knew whom they could trust. They asked George Washington to be the first president. “We need you just a little while longer,” they told him. “Not as a general, but as our president.” And, as always, when the American people needed him, George Washington said yes.


Chapter Five: Thomas Jefferson
You have been learning to read and write for a number of years now. One day you will be able to pick up almost any book, open it, and start to read the words. How wonderful! Of course, someone wrote those words. People who write books are, of course, called authors.

Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, was an edacious reader. Because he wanted to learn about many different things, he owned more books than anyone else in the country. He once said, “I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson was also one of the best writers ever to live in the United States. He wrote words that are still famous all around the world, even though he wrote them a long time ago. Let me tell you about the most famous words that he ever wrote.

It was long past midnight. The guests at the inn wanted to sleep, but they could not. Thomas Jefferson was keeping them awake. They could hear him pacing in his room and talking to himself. The guests thought, “We will complain to the manager of the inn tomorrow. She must ask Mr. Jefferson to be quiet. At least he has stopped playing his fiddle. He says it helps him to think, but it keeps us awake.”


Thomas Jefferson was a wonderful writer. He wrote about what he grew on his farm and how he grew it. He wrote about music and art. He wrote about the best ways to design and construct houses and buildings. He wrote about animals and birds. He wrote about how to be a good friend. And he wrote about the Native Americans who had come to America long before the colonists. He wrote about nearly everything, because nearly everything interested him.

At the time, however, Jefferson was trying to write a very important document, or paper, that is now famous in American history. That’s our “Declaration of Independence.” Thomas Jefferson believed that people should be free to make most decisions for themselves, without a king or queen telling them what to do all the time. As he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he used an important word: “liberty.” In writing about liberty, Jefferson wanted to choose the best words, so that people reading his writing would understand and agree with his ideas.

Why was Thomas Jefferson writing this document? Like his friend George Washington, Jefferson thought that it was time to start a new country and not be a part of Great Britain any longer. Not everyone in the colonies felt this way, though. Jefferson, along with a few others, needed to outline persuasive reasons to make this big change. They were hoping to urge most of the colonists to believe the same thing. Leaders from all over the thirteen colonies met to talk about what to say. They chose five people to work on a document explaining the reasons for a new nation.


One of the people to interface with Jefferson was John Adams. Jefferson and Adams were great friends, although Adams was as different as he could be from Jefferson. John Adams lived in the north, and Thomas Jefferson in the south. Adams was short and older, but Jefferson was tall and younger. Adams was loquacious and extroverted, especially in front of a crowd. Jefferson, on the other hand, loved to read and write, but was shy and introverted in front of a crowd. However, they were alike in at least one thing. They agreed that it was time to start a new nation. Because John Adams was older, Jefferson suggested, “John, you should write the paper explicating our ideas.”

“No, Thomas,” Adams replied. “I’ve been exasperating so many people — by contending that we should start a new country — that some of them are no longer genial with me. They might not want to help us start a country if they know that I was the one authoring the paper. Everyone likes you, though, so the probabilities that they’ll help will be higher. Besides, you are a better writer than I am. You will find the best way to say everything.”


So on this particular night at the inn, Thomas Jefferson wanted to make this important document the very best thing that he had ever written. He wanted it to be a legacy to the new country. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wanted to explain to people that America could be different from any other nation in the world. He thought about every word before he wrote it down. That is why he was walking up and down in his room, speaking aloud the words that he was deciding to use. “Life, liberty, and, what should come next? The pursuit of happiness,” he told himself. At last he began to write.

On the second of July, Jefferson finished his declaration and showed it to John Adams and the others collaborating with him. They suggested just a few small changes. Jefferson’s declaration said that every person should feel safe to live, to be free, and to decide what to do in order to be happy. He wrote that everyone, not only kings or queens, had the right to do these things. Jefferson’s declaration said that this was the reason to start a new nation: the United States of America. His friend John Adams smiled and said, “I told you, Thomas. You were the man to write it.”


Two days after Jefferson finished the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth of July, the other leaders voted to officially begin this new country that would be autonomous from Great Britain. That is why we have denoted the Fourth of July as “Independence Day.”

After the new nation was born, Americans read Thomas Jefferson’s document again and again whenever they were deciding how the country should work. People in other countries said, “We want to be free, too.” They followed America’s example by making changes in their own countries. Jefferson’s words about liberty altered people’s lives all over the world.

Thirteen years after Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and after the colonists won the American Revolution against Great Britain, George Washington became the first president of the United States. Later, Washington announced, “I have been president long enough. Let someone else have a turn.” Jefferson’s friend John Adams then became our second president. Four years later, Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States. Many people believe that he was one of the best presidents that America has had.


Whenever he was hesitant about what direction to take with an issue, Jefferson read the words that he himself had penned. They always helped him make good decisions, and they are still helping us today.

Do you recognize this statue? It’s the Statue of Liberty. When America celebrated the one hundredth birthday of the Declaration of Independence, the government of France gave the nation the Statue of Liberty as a gift for America’s birthday. France wanted to show how much they admired America’s love of freedom and liberty, which Thomas Jefferson wrote about so beautifully in the Declaration of Independence. This statue still stands in New York Harbor, welcoming thousands of visitors each year. So, whenever you see this famous statue, remember how hard Thomas Jefferson worked to declare that every person should have liberty, or be free.


Chapter Six: Abraham Lincoln
If I asked you what you kept under your hat, you might laugh and say, “My head! What else would I keep under my hat?” President Abraham Lincoln kept his head under his hat, too.

You may have seen pictures of a tall, bearded man wearing his tall, black hat. But sometimes Mr. Lincoln kept something more than his head under there, too. Here is the story of what lay beneath Abraham Lincoln’s hat.

Abraham Lincoln was a busy man, surrounded by many other busy men who helped him make important decisions. They grew impatient when they had to wait to meet with the president. So, on this particular day, as they waited to see their chief, President Abraham Lincoln, they were not in a good mood.

They became even angrier when they entered President Lincoln’s office and found him in his rocking chair. His long legs were stretched out before him. He was holding a book and laughing aloud. Each man thought, “We are in the middle of a war. Does the president think we have nothing better to do than to listen to him laugh? We do not like war! We do not like sending people off to fight! We worry all the time about whether we are doing the best jobs we can, yet he does not look worried, even though he is in charge of the whole war.”


Lincoln asked the men to sit down. He said, “Welcome, gentlemen. Before we get down to business, listen to this joke.” The men listened as the president read the joke out loud. Then he laughed again, but no one else laughed.

One man said, “Mister President, did you ask us here in order to read us a joke? That is a waste of our time.”

Lincoln set down his book. His face became serious. “That is not why I called you here,” he said. “But running a war, knowing that people will get hurt or killed, is a sad business. When I can laugh, I do, for if I do not laugh, I might cry. I thought you could use a laugh, too.”

He stood up, all six feet, four inches of him. That was a lot taller than most men in his time. Walking to his desk, he picked up his tall, black hat and reached inside. Pulling out a folded piece of paper, he said, “I have been carrying this paper inside my hatband for more than three months. I’ve been waiting for the right day to show it to you. Today is that day. I have word that our army has won a great battle. Perhaps we are beginning to win this terrible war at last. Now I feel safe in telling people what I want to do next.”


When George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others started the United States a hundred years earlier, they tried to make a country in which people could be free to do as they wished and to travel wherever they chose to go. They did many wonderful things. But they failed to do one important thing. They did not end slavery in America.

Being a slave was the worst thing a person could be. A slave had to do whatever he or she was told. The slave did not get paid to work. And they received only very plain food to eat, clothes to wear – often, old clothes – and a place to sleep. The slave could not choose to leave, or decide how to live his or her life.

Some of the people who started the United States said, “Slavery is a terrible thing! We must not allow it in our new country. We believe in freedom. How could we have slaves here?” But other people answered, “Slavery is fine. The rest of us will be free to decide things for ourselves, but slaves will not. If you say there will be no slavery, we will not help start the new country.” George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and their friends knew that slavery was wrong. But they thought, “We need slaves to help us start the country. Afterward, we can end slavery.” But after America was born, year after year, many people still held onto slavery. The year before Thomas Jefferson died, he called slavery “a tornado that will burst on us sooner or later.” He feared that there would be a war between those who wanted to end slavery and those who supported it.


Abraham Lincoln was born in Illinois the year that Jefferson finished being president. Lincoln was born to a poor family living in the forest in a tiny cabin made of logs. His parents did not know how to read or write. Lincoln had to work hard to help them. And since he was a fair, honest person, he grew up believing that everyone who worked should be paid fairly and treated fairly. Later, as a young lawyer, he gained a reputation for being the most honest lawyer in Illinois. He was known by the nickname “Honest Abe.” Lincoln hated slavery. However, he also hated war, and when he became president, he tried to prevent the war from starting. But too many people on both sides were angry about many different issues, including slavery.

In the South, there were large areas of land to farm, and that is the area where there were the most slaves. Because of this, the nation divided the north against the south. People in most southern states decided, “We’ll start our own country that allows slavery.” The North, with Lincoln as president, refused to let the South do that. He said, “We should be one country, and we should not allow slavery.” The war that Thomas Jefferson had warned against began. This was called “the U.S. Civil War.”


On the day that President Lincoln invited these men from the government to his office, he told them, “I am going to announce that slaves in southern states will now be free, according to the law. I wrote that law on the paper that I have been carrying in my hat. I call the law “the Emancipation Proclamation.” I’ll proclaim that the slaves are emancipated. Anyone who doesn’t let them go is breaking the law.”

President Lincoln went on. “Everyone must understand that America is truly a land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just as Thomas Jefferson wrote.”

The other men replied to him. “Mr. President, we will gladly listen to your jokes if this is what happens afterward.”

But even after President Lincoln told everyone about the new law, many people who supported slavery would not give up. It took nearly three more years of war before the army of the South surrendered to Lincoln’s northern army. The war ended. Now, slavery was over. And the important paper that had helped make it happen was what Abraham Lincoln had been carrying under his hat.

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.)
Presidents And American Symbols

Lesson 33 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: Barack’s, Boone, Borglum, Borglum’s, Calvin, Carow, Cochise, Coolidge, Coolidges, Crockett, Dakota’s, Doane, Edith, Geronimo, Gutzon, Harvard, Honolulu, Kenya, McKinley, Michelle, Oakley, Roosevelt’s, Teddy’s, Teedie, accomplishment, advocacy, asthma, bankroll, celebrating, committing, concur, conservation, conserved, conserving, detonation, divorced, dynamite, elections, endorsement, engraved, extending, finalize, fruition, gigantesque, lingering, objections, overture, peacemaker, persistent, preschool, propinquity, providentially, quintessential, reconnoiter, refusing, relished, requiring, rupture, sculpted, sentiment, supplemental, surreptitiously, symbolized, tiptop, tirelessly, toured, unforgettable, unjustified, usurped

Chapter Seven: Teddy Roosevelt
Today we know him as Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States. But when he was young, his mother called him “Theodore” when she introduced him to her friends. His friends called him “T.R.” And his father called him “Teedie” —especially when he wanted his son to remember something important. “Teedie,” he might say, “there is nothing more important than a good education.” And Teddy would listen. Teddy Roosevelt always listened to what his father said.

When he was six years old, Teddy, his younger brother, and a friend were visiting their grandparents in New York City. But one day the children did not play as they usually did. On this day they stood by a window with Teddy’s father and watched as a train rolled slowly by. Mr. Roosevelt told the children, “Inside that train is Abraham Lincoln, the president of the United States.” President Lincoln had died, and the train was taking him back to his home state for his funeral. “A lot of people loved Abraham Lincoln,” Mr. Roosevelt continued, “and thought that he was a very good man.” People were sorry that President Lincoln had died. They gathered along the train tracks to show how much they would miss him.


Teddy thought about this for a minute and then asked his father, “Do you think that President Lincoln was a good man, Father?” Teddy greatly admired his father, so he wanted to know how he felt about the president.

Mr. Roosevelt replied, “I think Abraham Lincoln was a great man and a great president.” He continued, “A great president can help a lot of people and do a lot of good things. Abraham Lincoln came from a poor family, but he worked hard. He was smart and kind. So many people thought highly of him that he was elected president.” Mr. Roosevelt told Teddy that Abraham Lincoln was a perfect example of why he should not judge someone by the kind of clothes they wore or whether they lived in a fancy part of town. He said, “Judge them instead by what they do and why.”

Teddy Roosevelt had asthma, a medical condition that made it hard for him to breathe. Because of his illness, he rarely got out when he was young to meet different kinds of people in different parts of town. His father told his son that he shouldn’t let his health issue keep him from living an active life. He said, “Build up your body, and don’t be afraid to push it too hard.”

Once again, Teddy listened to his father. He worked very hard to build up his body. He spent more time outdoors, climbing mountains, hiking for miles, and fishing and hunting. Teddy built up his mind, too. He loved the outdoors and became an expert in the subjects of wild animals, birds, and fish.


When he was seventeen, Teddy went to college and received the fine education that his father had talked about. Throughout his life, he made sure to give his mind as much exercise as he gave his body. Teddy wrote more than twenty books and many, many newspaper and magazine articles. Teddy remembered the things that his father taught him. He never forgot what his father had taught him that day when President Lincoln went by.

Two months after he finished college, on his twenty-second birthday, Teddy married a young woman named Alice Lee, and they had a little girl. They named her Alice, too. Teddy’s wife, Alice, died when little Alice was still a baby, but a few years later Teddy got married again to a friend named Edith Carow.

As a young man with a family, Teddy had to decide what to do with his life. He told himself, “My father was right. I must use every day that I have in this world to do important things.” Teddy decided to work in government so that he could help people. He did not know it then, but he himself would one day become president of the United States.

Teddy and his new wife, Edith, had five children together, giving Teddy’s daughter Alice some sisters and brothers. Teddy often led the children outdoors to explore the woods or play on the lawn. He taught them about birds, animals, and plants, and played lively games with them. Once, when another woman was visiting his wife, they heard laughter outside. Looking out the window, they saw Teddy and the children playing dress-up and running across the lawn. Edith Roosevelt smiled and told her friend, “I have no trouble controlling the children, but controlling Theodore is impossible.”


In those days in New York, making sure that the government was doing a good job was a tough business. Because so many dishonest people worked in government, Teddy’s friends told him that nice people like him did not get involved. Teddy said, “Things will get better only when good people make them so.” To start, he became the head of the New York City Police Department. He toured the streets to make sure that police officers were doing their jobs fairly and honestly.

A few years later, the president of the United States, William McKinley, made Teddy Roosevelt the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy. Teddy felt that the United States needed a strong navy to show the world that it was a powerful country.

Later, Teddy left his job with the navy and went West. He went to lead cowboys and other people from the West. They joined the army together, and other soldiers began calling them the “Rough Riders.” Teddy led his Rough Riders in battle and was so brave that when he returned home, people called him a hero. They elected him governor of the state of New York. As governor, he helped make many new laws to help everyone: rich and poor, old and young, male and female.


Later, Teddy Roosevelt became vice president of the United States. Six months after he became vice president, President McKinley died. At age forty-two, Theodore Roosevelt became the twenty-sixth president of the United States. He is the youngest man to ever serve as president.

As president, Roosevelt set out to help working people and poor people who had to pay too much for things that they bought. President Roosevelt also tried to be a peacemaker. People said, “Teddy wants America to be strong enough to win wars, but he thinks peaceful talking is better.” As he put it himself, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

Busy as he was, President Roosevelt still found time for the outdoor activities that he’d loved as a child. He once said, “All Americans deserve clean air, clean water, and beautiful outdoor spaces to explore. We should set aside special places now, while they are still natural and wild, so that our children and grandchildren may know the joy of the outdoors.” President Roosevelt believed one of the most important things a president could do was to keep making the country a better place. He asked, “What will happen if one day our forests are gone?”


Under President Roosevelt’s direction, the government created huge parks and protected forests, lakes, and rivers to keep them clean and natural. He set up special parts of the government to protect America’s lakes and rivers, and to guard the wild creatures. This effort was called “conserving,” or saving, nature. Today, we still enjoy the parks and wild places that President Roosevelt saved.

Teddy Roosevelt helped in another way, too. Once, while he and some friends were out hunting, President Roosevelt showed compassion by refusing to kill a black bear.

When people heard this story, they wrote about it in the newspapers. Some people in New York City who sold toys began selling stuffed toy bears. They called them “teddy bears” in honor of President Roosevelt.

So, Teddy Roosevelt conserved nature for us to enjoy the outdoors. And he left us with teddy bears to hug indoors. No wonder we say, “There was a great president!”


Chapter Eight: Barack Obama
November 4, 2008 was a day of celebration for many Americans. There were parties all across the U.S. In Chicago, nearly a million people poured onto the streets. For them, it did not matter that it was cold, nor that it was late. They had something big to celebrate. Some of them waved flags. Some blew party horns and danced in the streets. Some cried for joy. And many chanted three words: “Yes, we can!” This was indeed an unforgettable day. These people were celebrating the election of Barack Obama. He had just become the forty-fourth president of the U.S.

Of course, there are always parties on election night. But the celebrations in honor of Barack Obama were different. People were not just celebrating his election. They were also celebrating the fact that the U.S. had just elected an African-American man as the next president. This had never been done before. This was an incredible achievement for a young man from a humble background. And he had worked very hard to get there.


Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother was from Kansas. His father was from Kenya. His parents met at the University of Hawaii. Shortly after they were married, they had a son. They named him Barack Hussein Obama. When Barack was a baby, his father left Hawaii to study at Harvard University, in Massachusetts. When Barack was two years old, his parents divorced. Not long after that, Barack’s father moved back to Kenya. Barack was raised by his mother and his grandparents. They loved him very much. As a young boy, Barack missed his father very much. He thought about him often.

While Barack Obama was a child growing up in Hawaii, he loved to go to the beach. He loved to play with his friends. Many of them were from diverse parts of the world. For a while, he and his mom moved to Indonesia. This was an exciting time for young Barack. But he also saw how hard life could be for some people. He began to wonder about how to make the world a fairer place. He began to dream about a better future for everyone.

All his life, Barack had been told by his family that education was the most precious gift. Barack listened to these words. And he worked very hard in school. Barack received good grades. He eventually went on to study at Columbia University and Harvard Law School.


When Barack was twenty-one years old, his father died. Barack was sad that he never really got to know his father. He went on a trip to Africa to meet some of his family members and learn about the land that his ancestors called home. It was during this visit that he dreamed about a better future for all Americans. He would work very hard to make this dream a reality.

While Barack was attending Harvard Law School, he met Michelle Robinson. Barack and Michelle were married in 1992. They later had two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Barack Obama became a lawyer and, eventually, went on to teach law in Chicago, Illinois.

During that time in America, it was sometimes difficult for African-Americans to go to college or to get jobs. Barack became a community leader in Chicago. He helped many people who were poor or who needed help. He encouraged young people to stay in school. He became interested in politics. He then began to work very hard to get more people to vote in elections. Barack Obama believed that if enough people voted for change, then change would happen. He became a U.S. Senator. He represented the state of Illinois, in Washington, D.C. Now his voice was being heard.

In 2007, Barack Obama decided to run for president. He worked very hard, and he won the election. It was a great accomplishment for President Obama. But it was also a great accomplishment for the U.S. Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the U.S.


President Obama wanted to make sure that everyone had the chance to get the type of good education that he’d been able to receive. He once said, “Nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible. And that’s from the day they start preschool to the day that they start their career.”

Being the president of the United States is a very important job. President Obama worked very hard. He traveled to many different countries. He was always very busy helping to run the government of the United States. Nevertheless, he tried to spend as much time as he could with his wife and daughters. Whenever possible, they ate dinner together. They watched movies and sports, and they played with the family dog, Bo.

On November 7, 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected president. Once again, many people celebrated long into the night. And once again, they chanted the words “Yes, we can!”


Chapter Nine: Carving Mount Rushmore
Today I’ll be relating to you a story about a wonderful monument. This is a special monument of four of the presidents who you’ve been learning about. They are Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln. This monument is carved out of rock, on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

“BOOM!” Everyone in the propinquity of the mountain was covering their ears. But they still heard the thunderous detonation. And that was followed by loud crashes. “BOOM!” It happened again. Gutzon Borglum was blowing up a mountain.

Gutzon Borglum was a well-known American sculptor. He had created many statues of important people in history. One of his statues of Lincoln is displayed inside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Gutzon Borglum usually used a hammer and chisels with sharp points to make sculptures out of rock. But this statue was different. This time, Gutzon Borglum was using dynamite. He needed to blow away huge pieces of rock from the side of a gigantic mountain.

It all began with a man who had a big idea. In fact, it was a MONUMENTAL idea (no pun intended!). Doane Robinson loved his home state of South Dakota. He loved hearing stories about South Dakota from long ago. He loved South Dakota so much! So, he wanted people from all over America to visit and learn about his home state. “I know a way to get people to come to South Dakota,” thought Robinson. “People will come to see a gigantesque statue sculpted into the side of one of our big mountains.”


Robinson thought that the sculpture should feature well-known people from South Dakota’s past. Maybe a Native American chief. Someone like Geronimo or Cochise. Or a hero from the Wild West. Someone like Davy Crockett or Annie Oakley. Or perhaps famous explorers. Folks like Lewis and Clark or Daniel Boone. He wasn’t quite sure who the statue should feature. But he knew one thing. It would have to be so big that people could see it from miles away.

Robinson knew that he would need to secure endorsement to build such an enormous statue. He would also be requiring money to pay for the project. And they’d need a sculptor to design it. The first person Robinson talked to was the U.S. senator from South Dakota. The senator thought it was a tiptop idea. “I’ll help get the U.S. government to concur with your overture,” the senator told Robinson. “I will also ask my friends in the South Dakota government for their advocacy, too.”

Not everyone thought the idea to carve a giant statue in the mountains of South Dakota was a good one. For many years, various Native American tribes lived on the land around Mount Rushmore. Many Native Americans, including the Lakota Sioux, held a strong sentiment. They believed that the area of the Black Hills where Mount Rushmore was to be carved was sacred, or holy, land. They thought it was unjustified that their sacred land had been usurped from them years earlier. And now, they did not believe that a statue should be engraved into the mountain.


But the project went on despite the Native Americans’ objections. Robinson and the senator moved forward with their plan to find a sculptor. They found a quintessential man for the job. He was Gutzon Borglum.

Gutzon Borglum came to South Dakota to see the mountains for himself. He liked the idea of carving a huge statue into the Black Hills. But he believed that this project should be even bigger than Robinson and the senator had first imagined.

“(We want) to attract people from all over America,” said the sculptor. “We should carve statues of people who are familiar across the country. They shouldn’t be just well-known in South Dakota.” Robinson and the senator liked Borglum’s idea. It was Borglum who suggested four presidents. He chose ones who he felt symbolized the first one hundred fifty years of America. He suggested Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. President Washington was our first president. President Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. President Lincoln was the president during the Civil War. And President Roosevelt, a personal favorite of Borglum and Robinson, worked for nature conservation.


With the others’ support, Gutzon Borglum began to reconnoiter the Black Hills for the right spot to carve his monument. “No,” he thought. “The rock in this one is not the right kind for carving. It will crumble and fall apart. That mountain has the right kind of rock. But it cannot be seen well from a distance.”

Finally, Borglum made a big announcement. “We shall carve Mount Rushmore. American history will march along that mountaintop!”

Now the only thing the group needed was a way to bankroll the project. Providentially, Calvin Coolidge, the U.S. president at the time, and his wife came to South Dakota on vacation. The project leaders wanted to make sure that President and Mrs. Coolidge relished their visit. The senator and his friends surreptitiously stocked supplemental fish in the stream outside the Coolidges‘ vacation cabin. They hoped that the president would catch lots of fish. Thus, he’d want to be extending his stay in South Dakota. It worked! While he was there, Gutzon Borglum and Doane Robinson went to ask the president to help raise money for their project. President Coolidge liked the idea, too. He gave a speech about their plan. So, people from all across the country would read about it and send money to help. Finally, Gutzon Borglum could begin carving the mountainside monument.


This carving was too big to create with a hammer and chisel. That was the way Borglum had sculpted other statues. Some of the chunks of rock that he wanted to cut away from the mountainside were as big and heavy as a truck. He would have to blow them away with dynamite.

Gutzon Borglum had about four hundred people helping him. Many had worked in mines. They knew about cutting rock. Others had used dynamite to blow open holes for mines. But they told Borglum this. “Nobody has ever asked us to shape a mountain before. We do not know where to set the dynamite so that it will rupture in the right direction. We don’t know how to blow up just the right amount of rock, and not too much.”


Borglum had to figure out how to do that himself. Then, he’d need to teach his workers. Every step had to be done very carefully. If they cut too much rock, they could not put it back. After the dynamite did its job, some workers smoothed the surface. Others would clean up the rocks and dust that were still lingering from the explosions.

It took more than fourteen years to bring the project to fruition — from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941. This was just six months before the giant faces were done. Thankfully, his son, Lincoln, who Borglum had named after the president, would be persistent in committing to finalize what his father had begun.

Today, millions of people from all across America — and all around the world — visit Mount Rushmore every year to see the enormous images of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. The carved faces sit five hundred feet above the ground. And they measure sixty feet long. That’s the height of a six-story building from forehead to chin. Even more amazing, the monument can be seen from sixty miles away!

Doane Robinson had dreamed that people would come. The senator worked tirelessly to make it happen. And Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, brought the dream to life.

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 34 – Continents, Countries, And Maps

NEW WORDS: Acropolis, Africa’s, Alaskan, Algeria, Australasia, Australia’s, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Canberra, Caspian, Eisenhower, Elbrus, Eurasia, GPS, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hospitaller, Iditarod, Istanbul, Jamaica, Kayapo, Ladoga, Luxor, Machu, Maldives, Malta, Marianas, Melanesia, Micronesia, Moscow, Nicaragua, Oceania, Ojos, Ottawa, Panama, Pangaea, Philippines, Picchu, Pitcairn, Polynesia, Polynesian, Salado, Samoa, Serengeti, Seychelles, Shanghai, Siberia, Tokyo, Udaipur, Vatican, Venezuela, Victoria, Volga, Yangtze, airstrips, ancestry, atlas, avocados, chivalric, coastline, coastlines, combined, commemorates, cornfields, counterclockwise, cumulative, displays, dogsled, elevations, emergencies, entirety, featured, gazetteer, geographic, geographical, giraffe, groupings, inaccurately, landscapes, lungfish, manmade, methodology, panda, patroness, pinpoint, plateau, populated, railroads, seals, slithering, smallish, southernmost, spec, statistics, subgroups, supercontinent, technically, topographic, topography, unpopulated, usable, vending, venerates, virgin

Chapter One: Finding Your Way Around
Let’s look at a methodology for learning about a state, a country — or even the world in its entirety. That’s looking at maps. Maps are displays of geographic features and locations. Some maps are “to-scale.” That means that the elements featured on the map, though they’re significantly shrunken, represent the same ratio of distances from each other that occur in actuality. An inch might cover a mile. An inch might cover 100 miles. Some maps are not to-scale. You still get a good overall picture of the surroundings. But the distances from one element of the map to another are inaccurately shown.

On maps, you can pinpoint towns, cities, roadways, and places of interest. Maps show lakes and rivers. And maps can even show facts about the weather. Maps show how to get from one place to another. Maps can be made of paper. Maps can be shown on the T.V. Maps can be viewed on a GPS in a car.

Some maps might have fancier names. Have you heard of a “travel atlas?” Some maps are “topographic” maps. That means that they show the ground elevations at different points. That gives you a good feel for the topography of the area that you’re looking at. And there’s a really fancy supplement to some maps. It’s called a “gazetteer.” A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory. It’s used in conjunction with a map or atlas. It contains info concerning the geographical makeup, social statistics, and physical features of a country, region, or continent.


Symbols are used to show key information on a map. The symbols make it easier for us to understand what’s being shown. There are symbols for towns, capital cities, mountains, rivers, highways, railroads, and much more. What the symbols mean is explained in a key that’s often part of the map.

How do we know which way to go? Well, we follow the four main directions. Those four main directions are north, south, east, and west. But you can get more specific. There’s northeast and southeast. There’s northwest and southwest. Maps usually have a “compass rose” to point out these directions.

There are about 200 countries in the world. Some countries are islands. But most are found on large areas of land called “continents.” There are seven continents on Earth. You can see the seven continents on this map of the world. 1) North America. 2) South America. 3) Europe. 4) Africa. 5) Asia. 6) Australia. 7) Antarctica. And sometimes we combine Europe and Asia. We call it “Eurasia.” And sometimes we group lots of the Pacific islands together. We group them with New Zealand and Australia. We call that “Australasia.”


But in the Southern Pacific, things can get a bit more complicated. There are LOTS of islands in that part of the world. Many of them are very small. Together, they are grouped together. They’re called “Oceania.” But three subgroups of “Oceania” are also defined by name. 1) Micronesia is east of the Philippines. These islands are on the smallish side. 2) Melanesia is north / northeast of Australia. They include the large island of New Guinea. 3) Polynesia is east / southeast of the first two groupings. Technically, they include both Hawaii and New Zealand.

Much of Earth is covered by oceans and seas. The oceans are the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Arctic.

We sometimes show Earth as a round globe. That’s because Earth is a round planet! The center of Earth’s surface is marked by an imaginary line. It’s called the “equator.” It’s 24,901 miles long. It “splits” the Earth in half. Earth’s northern half is called the “Northern Hemisphere.” The southern half is the Southern Hemisphere. The farthest northern point is the North Pole. The farthest southern point is the South Pole.


Here’s a fun, random fact about the equator – or is it an urban legend? If you’re north of the equator (even just one foot north of it), what happens when you pour water down a drain? Does the water drain in a clockwise circle? What happens if you move just a few feet, to the south of the equator? Does the water drain in a counterclockwise circle? Swipe and paste this intriguing YouTube link into your browser for an explanation:    .


Chapter Two: North America: The United States
The United States is part of North America. So are Canada, Mexico, and the countries of Central America.

As you know, the U.S. has 50 states. But the U.S. also has territories. Most people don’t realize that the U.S. has 14 territories. That’s because a few of them are very tiny, unpopulated islands. The ones that are most recognized are these. 1) Puerto Rico. 2) The U.S. Virgin Islands. These two territories are in the Caribbean Sea. That’s southeast of Florida. There are other islands in the Caribbean that you may know of. How about the Bahamas and Jamaica? Here are the other three better-known territories. 3) American Samoa. 4) Guam. 5) The Northern Marianas Islands. These last three are part of the Oceania chain of islands.

The U.S. is a country with its own government and laws. The government for the U.S. is in the capital city. That’s Washington, D.C. Members of the government meet in the Capitol Building. The president lives in the White House. That’s also in D.C.

If you were to travel across the U.S., you’d see many varied kinds of landscapes. For example, most New England states have beautiful coastlines. Some New England states have mountains and lakes. The U.S. has many large cities, such as New York City, L.A., and Chicago. Millions of people live in and around many of these large cities.


What if you traveled to the southern part of the U.S.? You’d find that it’s hotter there than in the North. The South has beautiful beaches. People like to vacation in Florida. That’s a state that is a long peninsula. The Midwest has cornfields and dairy farms.

What if you visited the Great Plains? You’d see that there are miles and miles of flat land where wheat is grown. The Rocky Mountain region has — you guessed it — tall mountains. They stretch across a large part of North America. The Southwest has canyons and deserts. Some of the scenery there is so bizarre that you wonder if you aren’t on another planet! Then there’s the West Coast. It has an awesome coastline.

And let’s not forget the last two states to be admitted to the Union. They used to be territories, like Puerto Rico is today. But they were both made states in 1959. To get to Alaska, you would have to drive or fly across Canada. In terms of land, Alaska is the largest U.S. state. The weather there is really quite cold. The state of Hawaii is made up of a number of tropical islands. They’re at the northeast edge of Oceania. They’re two thousand miles west of California, in the Pacific Ocean. How might you get to Hawaii?


Chapter Three: North America: Canada, Mexico, and Central America
Canada is on the northern border of the U.S. It’s the second largest country in the world. However, fewer people live in Canada than in the U.S. That’s because the northern part of the country is often icy and cold. There are two main languages in Canada. People speak English and / or French. The capital of Canada is Ottawa.

There are Native Canadians named the Inuit. They live in the far north of Canada. They call it the Canadian Arctic. They have lived there for a long time. They know how to hunt, fish, and survive in the ice and snow. Polar bears live there, too!

Mexico is on the southern border of the U.S. It’s a land of high mountains, dry deserts, leafy rainforests, and a large central plateau. Mexico has volcanoes, too. Most people live on the central plateau. That’s because the land there is good for farming. Mexican farmers grow lots of crops. Some of them are corn, sugarcane, wheat, avocados, tropical fruits, and coffee.


Mexico has 31 states. Its capital is Mexico City. That’s one of the largest cities in the world. Many people in Mexico speak Spanish. But some people also speak the languages of their Aztec and Maya ancestors. Mexican people enjoy celebrating their culture. It’s rich in food, music, dance, and art.

To the south of Mexico is Central America. This long, narrow area of land connects North America and South America. There are seven small countries here. They are Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. El Salvador is the smallest. This whole area has mountains and volcanoes. It has beautiful beaches and green rainforests. Farmers in Central America grow coffee, bananas, and pineapples.

Let’s move to the waters of the Caribbean Sea. This area is near Florida in the U.S., and northern South America. There are a number of islands called the West Indies. One of these islands, Puerto Rico, is a territory of the U.S. The capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan.


Chapter Four: South America
Thousands of people — and many different kinds of animals and plants — live in the Amazon Rainforest. There are electric eels, poisonous arrow frogs, and slithering snakes. There are also giant lily pads. They’re so big that they can hold the weight of an adult person! The mighty Amazon River flows through the center of the rainforest. There’s currently a debate over whether the Nile (in Egypt) or the Amazon is the world’s longest river. Measuring such a river’s length is apparently pretty complex. One estimate puts the Amazon as the longest. That calculation suggests that the Amazon is 4,365 miles long.

The Kayapo are a people who live in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil. They’ve lived there for thousands of years. They are a warrior tribe. They are expert hunters and fishermen. They also gather food, such as nuts and berries, from the rainforest.

The Andes Mountains make up the longest mountain range in the world. This mountain range is on the western coast of South America. It’s in seven of the South American countries. The highest volcano in the world, Ojos del Salado, is in the Andes.

There are ancient and modern cities in the Andes. High up on top of a mountain in southern Peru, ruins remain of an ancient city that was built by the Inca. It’s called Machu Picchu. La Paz in Bolivia is a busy, modern city in the Andes.


Chapter Five: Europe
Europe is the second smallest continent. There are 44 countries in Europe. The largest country is Russia. The smallest is Vatican City. That’s where the Pope of the Catholic Church lives. But as you’ll discover, Russia is not only in Europe. It’s also in Asia.

Each country has its own customs, government, laws, and languages. And each country has its own landscape. For example, the country of Ireland is on an island. The country of Austria is on the continent of Europe. It’s mostly covered in mountains.

Moscow is the capital of Russia. It’s the largest city in Europe. Russia also has the Volga River. That’s the longest river in Europe. And it has Mount Elbrus. That’s the highest mountain. And you guessed it! The largest lake in Europe is in Russia, too! That’s Lake Ladoga.

There are many other huge cities in Europe. Some of these cities are known for their famous landmarks. Paris, the capital of France, has the Eiffel Tower. The clock tower, Big Ben, is in London. That’s the capital of the United Kingdom. The ancient Greek Acropolis is in the Greek capital of Athens. And the ancient Roman Colosseum is in the Italian capital of Rome.


Chapter Six: Africa and Asia
Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It also has the second highest number of people. There are 54 countries in Africa. There are more than 1,500 spoken languages! Like Europe, each African country has its own government and laws. Algeria is the largest country. The Seychelles is the smallest. It’s a country made up of islands.

Africa has busy, modern cities. You’ll find thousands of people rushing here and there. Take the modern city of Luxor. It’s on the bank of Egypt’s Nile River. It was built on the site of an ancient Egyptian city. Today, you see the old and the new side-by-side. Cape Town, in South Africa, is the southernmost city of Africa.

The (long-proclaimed) longest river in the world, the Nile River, is in Africa. The largest hot desert, the Sahara, is there, too. Africa also has Lake Victoria. It’s the second largest lake in the world. Africa’s highest mountain is Mount Kilimanjaro. The giraffe, the tallest land animal in the world, lives in Africa.


Asia is the largest continent in the world. There are 48 countries in Asia. It is the most populated continent. More than 2,000 languages are spoken there! Russia is not just the largest country in Europe. It’s also the largest country in Asia. In fact, Russia is the largest country in the world. China has more people than any other country, though. The Maldives, a group of islands, is the smallest Asian country.

The highest mountain in the world is in Asia. That’s Mount Everest. It’s peak is five and a half miles high. The largest lake in the world is called the Caspian Sea. Like Russia, this lake is in both Europe and Asia. The longest river in Asia is the Chinese Yangtze River. The giant panda lives in the bamboo forests of China.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan. More than 38 million people live there. In springtime, people celebrate the cherry blossoms that flower at this time.

Udaipur in India is known as the City of Lakes. This walled Indian city is a popular place for people from all over the world to visit.


Chapter Seven: Australia and Antarctica
The country of Australia is an island AND a continent. It is the smallest of all the continents. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. The capital of Australia is Canberra. A large part of Australia is hot, dry desert called the Outback. Because of this, the country does not have a large population. And most people live near the coast.

Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Great Barrier Reef is just off the coast. It’s the largest coral reef in the world. This means that it’s the largest living thing on Earth. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space.

More than 80 percent of the plants and wildlife in Australia can be found only there. This includes many poisonous snakes, as well as kangaroos and koala bears. And there is even an Australian fish called the lungfish. It’s been around since the time of the dinosaurs!

Australia’s Aboriginal people have lived there for thousands of years. Aboriginal people know how to survive in the hot, dry Outback. They can find food and water in the most unlikely places. Aboriginal people have a tradition of telling stories. They pass down their history and their knowledge of the land in this way.

Antarctica is the southernmost continent. It is the fifth largest. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent. There are mountains in Antarctica. And there’s even a volcano under the ice. Scientists and some tourists go there to learn about this frozen land.

Penguins are birds that live in Antarctica. Penguins can’t fly. But they’re really good swimmers. Seals live in Antarctica, too.


Chapter Eight: Fun Random World Facts
Shanghai is in China. It has a pro baseball team called the Golden Eagles.

The Amazon river pushes a massive volume of fresh water into the Atlantic. The volume of water in the Amazon is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined.

The smallest island with “country status” is named “Pitcairn.” It’s in the Polynesian area of Oceania. It’s just 1.75 square miles in size.

Siberia is in Russia. It contains more than 25% of the world’s forests.

People in Japan love vending machines. You can buy everything from candy to clothes in them.

Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.

More than half of the U.S. coastline is the cumulative coast of Alaska.

There are three times as many sheep in Australia as people.

The coldest temperature ever officially recorded was in Antarctica. It was minus 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit!

There aren’t any natural lakes in the U.S. state of Maryland. Any lake in that state is manmade.


Europe is the only continent without a desert.

In the U.S., the Eisenhower interstate highway system was constructed with an interesting spec. One mile of highway for every five miles must be straight! These straight sections are usable as airstrips. This allows planes to land all over the country. This is important in times of war or other emergencies.

The world’s largest wildlife migration is in Africa. Almost two million animals travel across the Serengeti. That’s a huge grassland in eastern Africa.

The world’s longest annual dogsled race is the “Iditarod.” It occurs every year in Alaska. It commemorates the race to deliver medicine to the Alaskan town of Nome.

The Great Barrier Reef is huge. It’s the size of 70 million football fields.

The world’s highest waterfall is Angel Falls. It’s in Venezuela. The falls drop 3,212 feet! That’s 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.


The first city to reach a population of one million people was Rome, Italy. And that was way back in 133 B.C.

Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents. One part of the city’s in Asia. Another part is in Europe.

Planet Earth moves around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. It’s about 93 million miles away from the sun.

Some argue that Vatican City is NOT the world’s smallest sovereign entity. Also in Rome, Italy, this is called the “Sovereign Military Order of Malta.” It is a Catholic lay religious order. It has an area of two tennis courts. In 2001 it had a population of 80. It is a sovereign entity under international law. That’s just like the Vatican is. It claims ancestry with the “Knights Hospitaller.” That was a chivalric order founded in the year 1099. The order venerates the Virgin Mary as its patroness.

Only 2.5 percent of all the water on the planet is freshwater that is drinkable.

Oceans cover 70 percent of planet Earth.


Every day, planet Earth is sprinkled with lots of dust from space.

There was once a supercontinent called Pangaea. That was way back at a time when all of the Earth’s land was joined together. How can you get a clue for that? Find a world map. Look at South America’s EAST coast. Then look at Africa’s WEST coast. It’s pretty obvious that they look like they’d fit neatly together if they were jigsaw puzzle pieces!

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen supply.

Ninety percent of the world’s ice covers Antarctica. Seventy percent of the world’s fresh water is represented by the Antarctic ice shelf. Despite having all of this water, Antarctica is the driest place on Earth. Its absolute humidity is lower than that of the arid Gobi desert. There are valleys there, near Ross Island, where it’s estimated that there’s been no rainfall for 2 million years.

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 35 – World Rivers

NEW WORDS: Ahmed, Ahmed’s, Amazon’s, Aur, Baltic, Bangladesh, Brazilian, Cairo, Canada’s, Clemens, Danube, Dawson, Huang, Huck, Iguacu, Jiang, Klondike, Kosciuszko, Langhorne, Llanos, Mackenzie, Mali, Mongolia, Niger, Ob, Orinoco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Parana, Rhine, Rhine’s, Russia’s, Russians, Sawyer, Timbuktu, Twain, Twain’s, Venezuelans, Yukon, aerial, bazaar, buildup, canals, currents, decaying, delta, drainage, drained, earns, gorges, grilled, guiding, hazards, hippopotamuses, huckleberry, hurls, illusion, irrigating, jamming, landlocked, lingers, links, marketplaces, melons, northwestern, operators, overflowed, owning, patrolled, pelicans, pilots, piranha, piranhas, plunges, prospers, ranchers, rapids, rebuilt, refreshingly, ripples, riverbanks, riverboat, riverboats, riverside, sandbar, sandbars, sculptors, seacoast, sellers, shallowest, silt, storing, swampy, swans, terrain, tigerfish, tipping, tributaries, tributary, vacations, vegetation, vines, vineyard, vineyards, violently, wasteland, wastelands, watermelons, weaves, whoosh

Chapter One: Rivers Bring Life to Farms and Cities
The Nile River

The Big Question. Why are crops grown close to the Nile and Yellow rivers?


River, a body of moving or flowing water that follows a set path.

Riverbank, the land at the edge of a river.

Source, a supply where an item such as water can be obtained.

Irrigation, watering of crops by moving water from a well, a river, or a lake, to a place where it does not rain enough to grow crops.

“Hey, over here!” A young boy waves to you with a smile. He invites you to join him on his small sailboat. “I can show you the Nile River!”

“Why should I see the Nile River?” you ask.

The boy can hardly believe anyone would ask such a question. “The Nile is one of the great rivers of the world. In fact, it’s the longest river In Africa. It’s also the longest river in the world, and the most important river in my country, Egypt!”


You look out across the Nile. There are boats of all kinds, large and small. The hot sun shines on the water. A breeze would feel good. So would a rain shower. Maybe it will be cooler out on the water.

“OK, let’s go!” you say. Your new friend tells you that his name is Ahmed. He is in his early teens, and he earns money guiding tourists on the Nile River. Together, the two of you set off in Ahmed’s boat. After a few minutes, you look back at the land. You see trees lined up on the riverbank. Behind the trees there is sand. It stretches as far as you can see into the distance. The Nile River flows right through the Sahara, the largest and one of the driest deserts in the world.

“Nearly everyone in my country lives close to the Nile River,” Ahmed says. “It’s our main source of drinking water. It also provides the water that farmers use to grow food.” The Nile River is a wide and powerful river. It carries Ahmed’s boat as if it were a feather. Suddenly you see something familiar in the distance. “Do you see the Great Pyramids?” Ahmed says, pointing to them proudly. You remember learning about the pyramids in an earlier grade. Now you decide to show off what you learned.

“Thousands of people worked for many years to build those pyramids,” you say. “They brought huge blocks of stone to build them. They used boats on this river to carry the stone.” Ahmed nods in agreement. It’s hot, and you’re getting thirsty. You think about all those workers sweating in the fierce sun to build the pyramids. “What did workers eat and drink out here in the desert?” you ask Ahmed.


“I think they drank water from the Nile,” Ahmed replied. “Even though most of my country is desert, farmers have always grown plenty of food,” he explains. “After all, they had to feed thousands of people living in cities. But the only way they could do it in this dry place was to use water from the Nile River for irrigation.

“For thousands of years, we have depended on the river for irrigation of the farmers’ crops. We say that the river’s water gives life to the farmers’ thirsty crops.”

The sun is setting in a golden sky. You and Ahmed make plans to visit the pyramids on another day.

Cool Facts About the Nile River.

The Nile River looks black when it floods because of the color of the sediment that it carries. Ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur, which means “black.”


Huang He: The Yellow River


Silt, tiny pieces of soil or earth carried by the water in a river.

Flow, to move; water moves (or flows) downstream in a river.

Another river that brings water to farmers’ fields is what the Chinese call Huang He, the Yellow River. This river is in China on the continent of Asia, and its name comes from the yellow color of its water. That color comes from the tons of silt in the river.

Now imagine that you’re traveling on this river. You see a young girl helping her father in a rice field near the Yellow River. You stop to ask the girl what she is doing. “Why are you standing in this ditch?” you ask.


“I’m clearing out the weeds and twigs so that the water can get through,” she answers.

“Why do you have to do this?” you ask.

“We clean out the ditches used for irrigation so that the water from the Yellow River can flow through them. The water brings life to our rice field,” she answers. “If we don’t put water on our rice plants in exactly the right way,” she continues, “the rice won’t grow. If the rice doesn’t grow, my family won’t have rice to sell. We will lose money. Then I may not be able to get a new bicycle. That’s what I’m saving my money for.”

You smile at the girl. As you set off again down the river, you offer words of encouragement. “I hope that the rice grows and you get that bicycle!”


Chapter Two: Rivers Make Our Lives Better
Chang Jiang: The Yangtze River

The Big Question. Why do so many people settle close to major rivers?


Flood, what happens when a river overflows its banks.

Dam, a structure that blocks a flowing river and allows water to fill in behind it.

Whoosh! Your small boat is almost flying through crashing waters. You are on the Chang Jiang, or Yangtze River, in China. The person in charge of your boat gives up trying to steer, because the water is too wild. “Oh, no!” you shout. “Rocks ahead!” Everyone in the boat works hard to keep the boat from tipping over. Then your little boat shoots out like a cannonball fired from a cannon. Suddenly the boat slows down. The river becomes calm and peaceful.

You have just gone through one of the famous gorges of the Yangtze River, located on the continent of Asia. A gorge is a narrow space between two cliffs or mountains.


The Yangtze River is a mighty river. Like the Nile, it has supplied people with water for thousands of years. But in history, the Yangtze River has often caused floods. Time and again, the raging river has overflowed its banks. Floods have carried away crops, animals, and even people. A history of floods is one reason why China built a great dam on the river.

Have you ever read about the Great Wall of China? Well, the dam on the Yangtze River is sort of like the Great Wall built in water. It’s as wide as twenty-two football fields. In fact, it’s the largest dam in the world! It is called the Three Gorges Dam.

How do dams work? They slow and control a river’s flow. The dam blocks much of a river’s flowing water. It holds that water in large reservoirs. The reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam is four hundred miles long. Dam operators let a little of this water flow out of the reservoir slowly and steadily. As a result, there are fewer floods.

Reservoirs also store water for drinking and for irrigating crops. In addition, dams use the power of flowing water to make electricity. This source of power helps many people and businesses in China.

Cool Fact About the Yangtze River.

More than 75 percent of the Yangtze River’s path winds through mountains in China.


The Indus River


Reservoir, a lake created by people for the purpose of storing water.

Source, the starting point or beginning of a river’s water.

Delta, land created by silt deposits at the mouth of a river.

Civilization, a society, or group of people, with similar religious beliefs, customs, language, and form of government.

Did you know that the Indus River is one of the longest rivers in Asia? The river’s sources are in Tibet and India, and it flows through Pakistan to its delta. In ancient times, people living along the Indus River did not have computers or electricity. But they did build a great civilization. The river helped them do this.

Some 4,500 years ago, people living near the Indus River in present-day Pakistan built the city of Mohenjo-Daro. This well-planned city had many amazing buildings and spaces. One of the most interesting is called the Great Bath. It was a pool about half the size of a basketball court. It was made of brick. Water for the pool came from a well that was fed by the Indus River. The pool may have been used for some kind of religious ceremony.


The Ganges River


Mouth, the place where a river empties into a sea or other large body of water.

To many people in India, which is located In Asia, the water of the Ganges River is special. To followers of the Hindu religion, the Ganges is a holy river. Poets have written poems and songs about it. Sculptors have carved fountains and statues to honor it. Many Indians call the Ganges River “Mother Ganges.” They use this name because the river brings life to dry lands. Each year, the dry season comes. It turns everything to dust. The Ganges River, however, still has water in it.

The river also brings life to the people in the country of Bangladesh. This is where the Ganges River’s mouth is found. As the great river approaches its end near the Indian Ocean, it breaks into many small waterways. The water slows, and it drops the silt that it has been carrying. The silt piles up at the mouth of the Ganges and forms a wedge of land called a delta.


Chapter Three: A River Viewed From Above
The Murray River

The Big Question. What is the difference between the source and the mouth of a river?


Drainage basin, the area drained by a main river and other connected rivers.

Orchard, an area where a large number of fruit trees have been planted.

Vineyard, an area where grapes are grown on plants called vines.

Pasture, land set aside for cows, horses, or other animals to feed off the natural grasses.

The Murray River is the longest river in Australia. It is also a popular one for vacations. To really see this river, you need to be high up in the sky! “Where do you want to start exploring the Murray River?” your pilot asks.


“Start at the beginning, please,” you answer. “Let’s go to the source of the river.” The source is the very beginning of a river. Often, a river’s source is a tiny trickle of water hidden away in hills or mountains.

The pilot turns the plane toward the southeastern corner of Australia. The plane lands on an unpaved strip of grass. You are now in the Great Dividing Range. These are Australia’s highest mountains. The source of the Murray River is near Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. In the spring, melting snow flows down the hillsides and adds water to the streams below. You take a good look at the mountains before boarding the small plane again.

“Watch carefully below,” the pilot says. “Soon the river will really look like a river.” The plane winds along between mountains. Soon you see a dark line on the ground below. The trickle of water at the river’s source has become a river. After a while, another large river seems to flow into the Murray River. This is the Darling River. These two rivers drain the whole southeastern part of Australia. Experts use the term “drainage basin” to describe the whole area drained by a main river and other connected rivers.


“Make sure that your seat belt is fastened,” the pilot says. “We’re going to land and take a closer look at the Murray River.” Now you are on the ground, alongside the river. The air is warm and dry. You see fields full of melons. There are orchards full of orange trees, and vineyards with grapes growing on the vines. The fruits look juicy and sweet.

“Water from the Murray River is used by farmers for irrigation,” the pilot tells you. “The hot summers are good for growing crops. But the crops need plenty of water in the heat.” So do you. The juice and water the pilot brought along are refreshing. As you drink, you admire the sheep and cattle eating the green grass in the pasture.

Cool Fact About the Murray River.

Parts of the Murray River in Australia have dried up at least three times.


The River’s Mouth

“Let’s go to the mouth of the river now,” the pilot says. “That’s where the river ends and its waters empty into the ocean.” As you follow the river’s path, you see what appear to be lakes below. Some are small, but some are quite large. In fact, these bodies of water are man-made lakes or reservoirs. They are made by dams that hold back or block the Murray River. The dams cause the river to back up and flood a large area to create reservoirs. From the plane, you can see sailboats, houseboats, and canoes on them.

“I like to come here with my wife and daughters on vacation,” the pilot says. “We rent a houseboat to live on for a week or two. We like to swim and fish. Sometimes we go to one of the nature parks where we can see pelicans, kangaroos, and parrots.”

“Sounds cool!” you say. The pilot turns the plane toward home. You sit back and relax as you fly high up in a beautiful clear sky.


Chapter Four: Dangers and Navigation Along Rivers
The Mississippi River

The Big Question. What are the dangers boats face on rivers?


“River pilot” (phrase), a person whose job is to guide boats safely on a river.

Sandbar, a buildup of sand formed by the movement of flowing water.

Current, the ongoing movement of water, such as in a river.

Tributary, a stream or smaller river that flows into a larger river.

In the 1850s, a young man named Sam was learning to be a river pilot on the mighty Mississippi River, located in North America. A river pilot steers boats around dangerous places in a river. He brings people and cargo safely to shore. If he makes a mistake, all may be lost. It is a big responsibility. As Sam once said, “Your true river pilot cares nothing about anything on Earth but the river, and his pride in his job is greater than the pride of kings.”


Like many rivers, the Mississippi changes hour by hour. A stretch that was safe a week ago may be dangerous today. Sandbars form and shift. The water changes course. Currents roll logs over and hide them under the surface. River pilots have to watch out for signs of trouble. Tiny ripples or a dark patch in the water might hide a log or rock. These things can cause a wreck. There is a lot for river pilots to look out for!

The Mississippi has other rivers flowing into it. A river that flows into a larger river is called a tributary. Two major tributaries of the Mississippi River are the Ohio River and the Missouri River. At places where rivers join, waters can be very tricky, and river pilots must be very careful.


Sam was helping out on a riverboat that carried a number of river pilots as passengers. They were checking on the logs, sandbars, and other dangers of the river. The pilots told each other about their own travels. They asked each other questions. Sam learned a lot. But as the other pilots talked, Sam became more and more worried. Years later he remembered how he had felt.

Sam’s full name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He wrote many stories about his days on the river. When he wrote these stories, he used the name Mark Twain. Two of Mark Twain’s best-known books are “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” These books are both set on the Mississippi River. They tell of the river’s charm — and dangers. They are still popular today.

Cool Fact About the Mississippi River.

In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded. This historic flood moved enough water to fill twenty-six Olympic-size swimming pools every second.


The Ob River


Swamp, a flat wooded area that is often flooded.

Wasteland, land that is not useful to people.

Thermometer, an object that measures the temperature of certain things, such as air or water.

You know that captains and pilots of boats face many dangers. In some places the dangers include ice. One example is the Ob River in Asia. This river’s source is in the mountains of central Asia near Mongolia. The Ob River flows north for hundreds of miles. It passes through swamps, forests, and vast wastelands of Siberia. Finally, the Ob reaches its mouth at the Arctic Ocean.

As the river flows north, the climate changes. Temperatures begin to drop below freezing. Ice forms on the river. This ice creates the greatest danger along the Ob River. Boats that hit a large piece of ice can suffer serious damage. Winter begins early and lingers late in the Arctic. This means that river pilots on the Ob must keep a close eye on the calendar and on the thermometer. If they launch their boats too early in the spring – or too late in the fall – they may find huge ice blocks jamming northern stretches of the river. Because of the cold, ships can travel parts of this river for only a few months out of the year.


Chapter Five: Wildlife on Wild Rivers
The Amazon River

The Big Question. How do rivers support wildlife?


Piranha, type of flesh-eating fish of South America that lives in fresh water.

Humid, having a lot of moisture in the air.

Your canoe slips silently through the darkness. Strange sounds come from all around. Something gently brushes your arm. You hope it is a leaf! You are In Brazil in South America. You are paddling down a tributary of the Amazon River. Your guide wants you to hear the rainforest sounds at night.

You were nervous before starting the canoe trip. Other tourists had gone swimming in the river during the day. They had joked about piranhas in the water. One man had said that a school of these small, fierce fish working together could eat a human being in a couple of minutes. This talk had made you nervous, and so you had chosen to stay on the riverbank.


Now, however, you are glad that you’re in a canoe. As you glide through the humid darkness, the guide asks you to look up into the thick trees. “You may not see much,” she says. “But the monkeys, birds, and snakes can see you!”

You know that although the Amazon is the second longest river in the world, it carries more water than any other river. You also know that the lands along the Amazon support an amazing number of animals, reptiles, and insects. The Amazon is their home. They live here year-round.

The next day, you paddle the final stretch of the tributary. Finally, you enter the Amazon River itself. You begin to see more canoes and fishing boats. But mostly you see rainforest. You also hear birds and insects chirping in the trees. In the daytime, it is sunny and hot on the river. When you tie up the canoe to explore, you find the forest to be refreshingly cool and shady.


Dozens of rivers flow into the Amazon. You have learned that the area into which a river’s tributaries drain is called a drainage basin. The Amazon River has the world’s largest drainage basin.

In places on your journey, you see what appear to be two rivers flowing side-by-side. This illusion is caused by the fact that some tributaries are different in color. This difference is caused by many things, including the presence of silt and decaying plants in the water. When a tributary of one color enters the waters of another color, it can take a while for the waters to mix.

Cool Fact About the Amazon River.

The Amazon River has the world’s largest drainage basin, and the Amazon carries more water than any other river in the world.


The Orinoco River


Waterfall, a place where water flows over the edge of a cliff.

Arctic Ocean, one of the four major oceans, located in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s major oceans.

Northern Hemisphere, the half of the earth located north of the equator.

Migrate, to move to a different place.

After exploring the Amazon River, you set off to see the Orinoco River. This river shares much in common with the Amazon. It crosses the northern part of South America and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Many boats travel up and down the river. You can find a boat tour with no problem.

As you travel along the Orinoco River, you see that the land to the north is wild and beautiful. Venezuelans call it the “Llanos.” Cattle ranchers share this land with monkeys, anteaters, crocodiles, and other wildlife.

The land to the south of the river is even wilder. Its mountains contain the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls. You have heard that the sight of Angel Falls takes a person’s breath away. You would love to see it.


The Mackenzie River
You have enjoyed the warm weather of South America. But you know there are great rivers in colder areas. In school you learned that in Canada, a long river called the Mackenzie flows north from the Rocky Mountains. It stretches all the way to the Arctic Ocean, which is located in the Northern Hemisphere. On the way, it flows through many lakes and swampy areas. With its tributaries, it covers a huge drainage basin in northwestern Canada.

During the long Arctic winter, the river is frozen solid for months. But during Canada’s short summer, the Mackenzie River comes alive. Thousands of geese, ducks, swans and other birds spend the summer along the river. They feed on grasses and short plants that grow in the summer’s warmth. When winter comes, the birds migrate. They fly south in search of warmer weather. You wonder what it would be like to explore a river such as this!


Chapter Six: Three Rivers and Many Waterfalls

The Iguacu River

The Big Question. How do rapids and waterfalls affect river travel.


Landlocked, cut off from the seacoast; surrounded by land.

Rapids, place on a river where the water moves swiftly and violently.

Imagine a waterfall so powerful that its water “boils with foam.” The water “hurls itself into space.” It then tumbles over a cliff and crashes below with enough force to shake the Earth. Such a waterfall really exists. It is called Iguacu Falls, and it is one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. Iguacu Falls creates huge clouds of mist that rise into the air. It looks like water is flowing up to the sky!


Iguacu Falls is located in southern Brazil on the Iguacu River in South America. The Iguacu River is a tributary of the Parana River. Of course, boats cannot go over the falls. But at the river’s mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, large ships can sail up the river. In fact, ships can travel a full four hundred miles up the Iguacu. They can reach Paraguay. This river traffic is very important for Paraguay. You see, Paraguay is a landlocked country. It has no ocean coast. The river helps people in Paraguay get goods to and from other countries.


The Congo River

Now imagine a wide river in the middle of Africa. This river has many small waterfalls and islands in it. This is the Congo River. It rises from its source in central Africa. From there, it flows in a long curve to the Atlantic Ocean.

It is impossible for boats to travel too far on the Congo River. Sooner or later they have to stop because of rapids, islands, and other dangers. Today there is a railroad along the part of the river where boats cannot pass. Boats pull over at one end of the railroad. Their passengers and cargo are moved onto trains. Then the trains carry everything to the other end of the railroad. Everything is loaded onto other boats to continue the journey.

Cool Fact About the Congo River.

Tigerfish in the Congo River often hunt in groups. They have very sharp teeth and sometimes eat large animals.


The Yukon River

It is risky to ignore the danger of rivers! In 1897, thousands of people learned this the hard way on the Yukon River in Canada, located in North America.

At first, the people were excited! They had heard that people were finding gold in the Klondike. This is an area where the Yukon River and the Klondike River meet. People rushed to the Klondike. They hoped to find gold and to get rich.

Few of these travelers knew much about the Klondike. They didn’t know there were small waterfalls in the Yukon River. They probably would not have cared, anyway. Their minds were on one thing — gold! So, they hiked up mountain trails to a lake near the source of the Yukon River. There they quickly built simple boats to sail down the Yukon to the gold fields. They used anything they could get their hands on to build their boats.

At the end of May, some eight hundred boats headed down the river. About 150 of them were wrecked on the way. Ten people drowned. In their hurry, those seeking gold often put too many people on their boats.

Nearly 100,000 people tried to follow the Yukon River to the gold fields. Historians tell us that while many did find some gold, not quite so many “struck it rich!”


Chapter Seven: Rivers and Trade
The Rhine River

The Big Question. Why are the Rhine, Danube, Volga, and Niger rivers so important to the countries that they flow through?


Toll, money charged for use of a road or waterway.

Did you know that there really are castles like the ones in fairy tales? Many old castles stand along the rivers of Europe. The Rhine River has many castles along its banks. People built them for protection against enemy attacks. A castle often has tall towers with windows at the top. From there, a lookout could see an enemy coming from far away.

Castles also have thick stone walls. These made it hard for an enemy to break through. Still, castles along the Rhine were destroyed and rebuilt many times.


Building and owning a castle was not cheap! Castle owners stopped boats on the river. They made boats pay a toll to pass safely. The Rhine always had lots of traffic. Castle owners collected a lot of money.

The Rhine is still busy today. In fact, it is one of the world’s busiest rivers. This is especially true near the Rhine’s mouth at the North Sea. Many cargo ships and passenger boats sail these waters. Captains must be very careful.


The Danube River
You can also find castles along the Danube River. Both the Rhine and the Danube have their sources in Central Europe. The Rhine flows mainly toward the north. The Danube flows to the east. It glides through valleys, forests, cities, and plains. Finally, it reaches its mouth at the Black Sea.

The Danube touches seven countries. The river is so important to these countries that their leaders long ago made a promise. They agreed that everyone could use the river, even when their countries disagree about other things.

Cool Fact About the Danube River.

Ancient Greek sailors conducted trade along the Danube River, and ancient Romans patrolled its waters.


The Volga River


“Manufactured good” (phrase), item made in large numbers for sale or trade.

Network, a connected system such as roads or waterways.

Canal, a channel dug by people, used by boats or for irrigation.

Far to the east of the Rhine and Danube rivers Is Russia’s most important river. It is called the Volga River. Russian folk songs call the Volga “Beloved Mother.” That’s because so many people depend on it. Russians use the Volga to deliver food, coal, lumber, and manufactured goods.

The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. It does not flow directly into an ocean. A network of rivers and canals links the Volga to the Baltic Sea and to the Black Sea. From the Baltic Sea, ships can reach the Atlantic Ocean. From the Black Sea, they can sail to the Mediterranean Sea. The Volga helps Russia stay connected by water with other countries.


The River Niger

Sometimes the cities on riverbanks reveal how important the river is. The city of Timbuktu, in the African nation of Mali, is one example. It is located along the Niger River. Over 500 years ago, Timbuktu was the capital of a mighty African empire. It was also a great trading center. Its bazaar, or marketplace, was a busy place. The shouts of buyers and sellers filled the air. Smelly camels strolled the streets. Vendors sold salt, ivory, wooden statues, and copper rings. The air smelled of sweet watermelons and grilled fish and onions.

These and many other goods moved up and down the Niger River on boats. Traders passed hippopotamuses bathing lazily in the water. Nearby, fishing boats caught fish for market.

Even today, local marketplaces still depend on the Niger River. People in Western Africa still use the river to carry goods. The hustle and bustle of their marketplaces remind us that civilization not only springs up, but it still prospers by the riverside.


Arctic Ocean, one of the four major oceans, located in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s major oceans.

Canal, a channel dug by people, used by boats or for irrigation.
Civilization, a society, or group of people, with similar religious beliefs, customs, language, and form of government.
Current, the ongoing movement of water, such as in a river.

Dam, a structure that blocks a flowing river and allows water to fill in behind it.
Delta, land created by silt deposits at the mouth of a river.
Drainage basin, the area drained by a main river and other connected rivers.

Flood, what happens when a river overflows its banks.
Flow, to move; water moves (or flows) downstream in a river.

Humid, having a lot of moisture in the air.

Irrigation, watering of crops by moving water from a well, a river, or a lake, to a place where it does not rain enough to grow crops.

Landlocked, cut off from the seacoast; surrounded by land.

“Manufactured good” (phrase), item made in large numbers for sale or trade.
Migrate, to move to a different place.
Mouth, the place where a river empties into a sea or other large body of water.

Network, a connected system such as roads or waterways.
Northern Hemisphere, the half of the Earth located north of the equator.

Orchard, an area where a large number of fruit trees have been planted.

Pasture, land set aside for cows, horses, or other animals to feed off the natural grasses.
Piranha, type of flesh-eating fish of South America that lives in fresh water.

Rapids, place on a river where the water moves swiftly and violently.
Reservoir, a lake created by people for the purpose of storing water.
River, a body of moving or flowing water that follows a set path.
Riverbank, the land at the edge of a river.
“River pilot” (phrase), a person whose job is to guide boats safely on a river.

Sandbar, a buildup of sand formed by the movement of flowing water.
Silt, tiny pieces of soil or earth carried by the water in a river.
Source, a supply where an item such as water can be obtained.
Source, the starting point or beginning of a river’s water.
Swamp, a flat wooded area that is often flooded.

Thermometer, an object that measures the temperature of certain things, such as air or water.
Toll, money charged for use of a road or waterway.
Tributary, a stream or smaller river that flows into a larger river.

Vineyard, an area where grapes are grown on plants called vines.

Wasteland, land that is not useful to people.
Waterfall, a place where water flows over the edge of a cliff.
Subtitles to illustrations

The Nile River flows through the heart of Cairo, Egypt’s capital. The Nile River provides valuable water used to irrigate farmers’ crops in the dry desert. The Huang He, or Yellow River, gets its name from the color of its waters. The Yangtze River travels through many different types of terrain, including mountains and gorges. This huge dam holds back the mighty Yangtze River. Four thousand, five hundred years ago, people living along the Indus River built the city of Mohenjo-Daro, with its Great Bath. Hindu pilgrims bathe in the Ganges River because they believe that the water is holy. Mount Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain in Australia and part of the Great Dividing Range. An aerial view of the Murray River shows how it weaves through farmland and pastures. Dams along the Murray River create reservoirs. The mighty Mississippi River contains many hazards. In the 1800s, riverboats were a common sight on the Mississippi River. This scene from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” shows the characters Tom, Joe, and Huck on the Mississippi River. Riverbanks of the Amazon River and its tributaries support very dense vegetation. This is a Brazilian Rainbow Boa. This satellite photo shows the Amazon River and some of the larger tributaries in the Amazon’s drainage basin. There are many others that are too small to see. Water plunges over 3,200 feet down from Angel Falls in Venezuela. The Iguacu Falls are almost three times wider than Niagara Falls. Fish traps in the raging Congo River. The Klondike River joins the Yukon River in what is today Dawson City in Canada. The Rhine River flows past many castles. Cranes stand ready to load or unload cargo from ships on the Volga River. Even today, camels are a common sight on the streets of Timbuktu.


Three major rivers of Africa. Some major rivers of North America. Three major rivers of South America. Three major rivers of Europe. Some major rivers of Asia. The major rivers of Australia.


Lesson 36 – “Text Project” Vocab-Builder

NEW WORDS: Arabs, Bradford, FBI, HIV, Israelis, Johnson, Mahatma, Minnesota, Moorhead, Peale, Phillip, Salk, TV’s, Thompson, acquisition, adjusted, aids, applications, assigned, borders, boycotting, bureau, chickenpox, chromosome, climates, colonist, company’s, consumers, credibility, crocodilians, cyclone, definitions, departments, diabetes, disheveled, dissolved, distilleries, diversity, divisions, enables, equilibrium, evolution, excessive, friction, handicap, hormone, implementation, indicates, injustice, insulin, motivate, mutations, nachos, negotiations, newlyweds, nouns, numbered, nutrient, organizing, peasants, periodic, pioneer, potentially, producers, professors, psychologist, racial, refugees, reproduction, researcher, sanction, sanitizer, sax, scrapbooking, separation, setbacks, settler, shortened, simplest, situations, stimulate, strictly, structural, symptoms, testing, ulcers, vouching, warring, whites

I adjusted the TV’s volume.

Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes!

I have periodic bouts of mouth ulcers.

William Bradford was an early American colonist.

Hand me the job applications.

The parking spots are numbered 1 to 36.

I’ll give your proposal strong consideration.

Phillip Thompson plays the sax.

I hope this tool enables you to finish the job.

Railroads are a key part of U.S. transportation infrastructure.

I put excessive hot sauce on my food!

Your raw throat indicates strep.

The breeze is coming from the northeast.

These bumps are symptoms of chickenpox.

Learn the definitions of these 10 words.

Our new boss is strictly business!

Playing chess will stimulate your brain.

Statistics help in quality control programs.

She lost her equilibrium, and then she fainted.

The evolution of a society is often fraught with setbacks.

Our implementation of the new software went without a hitch.

Crocodilians are suited to only warmer climates.


U.S. government has a separation between Church and State.

This is a reproduction of the original painting.

Call the operator and ask for Mrs. Frederick.

I was born in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Her great-grandfather was a settler on the Western Frontier.

Which homeroom were you assigned to?

She’s made it through lots of tough situations.

I’ll be vouching for your credibility.

The warring parties finally reached an accord.

Harriet Peale was a Hudson River School painter.

Teddy Roosevelt cared about the conservation of U.S. lands.

I’m organizing my disheveled garage.

The ocean currents here are dangerous.

Explain it the simplest way that you can.

Jonas Salk was a pioneer in medical research.

I never see any friction between the newlyweds.

We’re testing a new vaccine for HIV.

The cyclone caused structural damage to our house.

Diabetes can be caused by not producing enough of the insulin hormone.

A chromosome is a DNA molecule with genetic information.

Mahatma Gandhi did not sanction the use of violence.


Chia seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

My dad’s the head of one of his company’s bigger divisions.

Arabs and Israelis often don’t get along well.

Dr. Johnson was one of my best professors.

There could potentially be a breakthrough in the negotiations.

Coming back here makes me reflect on my childhood.

I wish I could motivate myself to go on a diet.

They’ve sent troops to their northern and eastern borders.

Too many proper nouns are hard to figure out.

They succeeded with the acquisition of their biggest rival.

We hope this loan aids them in feeding their refugees.

Consumers are boycotting their product.

He’s predicted the winner in the last five elections.

Producers of gasoline have lowered their prices.


I love this recording of the song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

This small island has an amazing diversity of plant species.

His handicap forces him to use a wheelchair.

My psychologist says that I’m not crazy!

The sugar has dissolved in my tea.

Call a meeting of the heads of all the departments.

There’s massive racial injustice in our country.

I love guacamole combined with sour cream on my nachos.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is shortened to “FBI.”

The evil king ruled the peasants with an iron fist.

Distilleries are producing hand sanitizer to help with the COVID situation.

I finished my third scrapbooking album.

The vines are full of succulent grapes.

This researcher studies cell mutations.


Lesson 37 – Suffixes 01: “-ING”   

The suffix “-ING” means a “verb form called the present participle.” Examples: instead of saying “I run,” you can say “I am running”; instead of saying “I eat,” you can say “I am eating.” Etc …   
NEW WORDS: Enterprise’s, Feds, Oprah, Senator’s, Spiderman, UFOs, Winfrey, appointments, babying, bagging, balding, baseman, bearings, beefing, besting, bettering, bobbing, breading, bricking, browning, bussing, caking, capping, captaining, carpeting, chancing, cheeping, chowing, clawing, cluing, cockamamie, comedian, comings, coursing, crossings, cutlet, darning, deserters, dogging, dumbing, easing, egging, expenditures, fan’s, fertilization, filibuster, filming, fining, flipping, flooring, flopping, fogging, fooling, fracture, freeing, frowning, gametes, ginseng, gluing, guessing, gulping, halving, hangings, hawking, headings, hearings, helpings, hoarded, holing, homing, infested, infield, jutting, keepings, knifing, knifings, lengthen, linings, manning, mapping, maxing, milling, mousing, mouthing, novella, numbering, oinking, olives, outings, palming, panning, pecking, penning, pigging, piling, pinning, pitting, pooping, posterboard, pouting, powering, preschoolers, promoted, prying, quacking, rhyming, righting, roaming, roasting, roofing, rooming, routing, salting, scanning, scarring, schooling, scrapping, screening, seeding, shoeing, shouldering, shying, siding, sightings, skinning, skying, slapping, slumping, smarting, smorgasbord, soldier’s, sorting, sowing, spacing, spanning, spearing, spotting, squaring, stacking, staining, stalling, starring, steering, stewing, straying, sunning, syngamy, tabling, tailing, tanning, teasing, teething, thanking, there’ll, thinning, tilling, toughen, towing, toying, upping, wares, warp, wetting, wheeling, whiting, window’s, wining, wising, wowing, yellowing

The aircraft carrier is scanning the ocean for Russian submarines.

The golf pro is holing out on the eighteenth green.

There was a knifing downtown last night.

Fish are flopping about in the river.

Among his hoarded keepings are rare comic books.

Oprah Winfrey is starring in a new movie.

She is wowing us with her artistic talents.

I’m sorting the clothes into whites and colors.

The actress is known for a career that’s spanning decades.

Pilot the ship using these headings.

I think we’re homing in on the enemy’s hiding place.

Whiting is a fish found in the North Atlantic.

Always stop at railway crossings.

The U.S.S. Enterprise’s speed is maxing out at warp seven.

Our GPS is routing us away from a traffic jam.

This house has aluminum siding.

He’s really smarting from losing the championship match.

The pioneers went panning for gold.

In your handwriting, you need more spacing between words.

The pig is caking itself with mud.

Our new kitchen flooring is easier to clean.

The toddler is starting to distinguish rhyming words.


The grumpy baby is teething.

I’m manning our booth at the trade show.

I’m powering up the lawnmower.

That bird is cheeping up a storm.

Look at the turtles sunning themselves on that log.

We’ll be bobbing for apples at the Halloween party.

My unpaid bills are stacking up.

We’ll be mapping the cave system next week.

The Senator’s stalling the vote with a filibuster.

Mom’s browning the chicken.

The cat’s clawing the sofa!

The detective was dogging the suspect relentlessly.

The storm put holes in our porch screening.

Their family loves to go on picnic outings.

Tell me about our neighbor’s comings and goings.

The car window’s fogging up.

Stop mouthing off to your mother!

A big group of protesters was milling about.

Your theory is not squaring with the facts.

I’m looking for some silver linings in these troubled times.

I’m pigging out at the barbecue.

I think tanning booths are unhealthy.


She’ll be hawking her wares at the arts and crafts show.

Our son needs to toughen up, so stop babying him so much!

The boxer is beefing up with protein shakes.

We’re schooling our children at home.

She’s pinning the tail on the donkey!

My older brother’s always besting me at chess games.

They’re filming some of the next Spiderman movie in our town.

I’ll be skinning the fish for the next half-hour.

Stop gulping down your milk!

I’m pitting the olives before putting them in the salad.

The farmer is tilling his fields.

I’m guessing that she’s around 60 years old.

When will the toddler stop wetting the bed?

I’m flipping over the pancakes.

You’re not fooling me with that cockamamie excuse.

Hold the steering wheel like this.

I’m capping expenditures for the project at $100,000.

I wish that pig would stop oinking!

She’s bettering herself by getting a master’s degree.

We’re tabling this discussion until the next meeting.

Cancel these appointments, as I’m freeing up my afternoon.

The hail storm damaged our roofing shingles.


They’re bricking up where a window used to be.

My dad is balding fast.

The blasted dog peed on the carpeting.

The cat is toying with that chipmunk that he caught.

I’m seeding the garden today.

Quit prying into my personal affairs!

She got promoted, and she’s now captaining her own ship!

The ref didn’t catch him palming the basketball.

I can read this, and you shouldn’t be dumbing it down for me!

This extra funding will be upping our odds for success.

They’re fining that first baseman for starting a fight in the infield.

She’s stewing because her friend has a prettier dress.

They’re egging me on to get on the stage and make a speech.

Those two frenemies have been scrapping with each other all day.

There’ll be a little scarring from the surgery.

He came across poorly at the Congressional hearings.

Mom’s darning our socks with holes in them.

Egads, my teeth are yellowing!

I keep skying the golf ball with my driver.

They caught the thief mousing around our hotel room.

They’re towing our car to the shop.

That ewe keeps straying from the flock.


I’m wising up to your tricks!

Watch this primitive native spearing fish.

The king ordered hangings for the army deserters.

A compound fracture is when a broken bone is jutting out of the skin.

My hair is thinning as I get older.

Blood was coursing through the soldier’s veins.

That author is penning his third novella.

I don’t want this wine staining our tablecloth!

Work on good posture, and stop slumping!

The toddler’s frowning because I won’t buy him this candy bar.

She’s always over-salting the meals that she cooks.

The police are concerned about the increasing rate of knifings in the city.

It’s always good when someone is righting a wrong.

Dad’s easing into his new lounger.

I’m shying away from getting involved in that.

The preschoolers are gluing pictures onto posterboard.

His dangerous speeches are sowing seeds of hatred.

The aliens have a different numbering system than we do.

While wheeling around, he hit his head on the overhead fan’s string.

I’m rooming with my best pal at college.

This veal cutlet has too much breading on it.

Mom’s roasting a chicken for dinner.


The toddler is pouting because he’s tired.

Those ducks are quacking up a storm.

Mom’s shouldering lots of responsibility at work.

I’ll be thanking Gran for my birthday gift.

The ship lost its bearings during the fierce squall.

I’ll be chowing down at the smorgasbord.

In Dad’s new sales job, he’s wining and dining customers a lot.

I’ll be halving the watermelon in a few minutes.

That comedian is knee-slapping hilarious.

Have you heard about sightings of UFOs over the corn fields?

I’m not chancing swimming in that water moccasin infested lake!

I got a summer job bagging groceries.

So, who’s at the top of the pecking order in your office?

Dirty clothes are piling up in the laundry room.

Gross, why isn’t the cat pooping in its litter box?

Would you like second helpings of fries and salad?

We’ll be shoeing four young horses today.

There’s a fox roaming around the henhouse!

So, you’re finally cluing in to my good advice?!

The Feds are tailing the suspected spy.

Mom, make Sis stop teasing me!

The refs are spotting the football on the 10-yard line.

The school is bussing the kids to the museum.


Students, how about some extra credit, with the same sound of ING spelled two more ways: ENG and YNG?!

Do you speak English?

We took a trip to England.

I have more strength in my right hand.

Is there a way to lengthen this dress?

I love ginseng tea.

I think our perspectives are on the same wavelength.

Syngamy is the union of gametes, as in fertilization.

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 38 – Weather Patterns

NEW WORDS: Abbe, Centauri, Hanna, Hanna’s, Soltown, abruptness, acute, canceled, cogitates, compares, conditioning, delights, depict, detecting, enduring, experiencing, fluke, forecasting, gorp, graphs, happenstance, heatwave, heatwaves, hurricane’s, impeded, inactive, indicators, insistent, jaunts, midwestern, nonplussed, occupying, occurrences, oversized, paucity, penetrate, progressing, ravage, realizes, scheduled, searing, snatches, snigger, stifling, streaky, sunniest, tornadoes, trajectory, triplets, upcoming

Chapter One: The Heat Is On
It is a bright and sunny Wednesday morning, and Hanna cannot believe the fluke of weather that they’re having. School in Soltown is canceled today, and it’s not a snow day. By happenstance, the temperature is expected to reach almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the school buildings don’t have air conditioning, so it’s too hot for students to be there.

Hanna’s parents have to work, so she’ll be occupying her day with her grandmother. It is too hot and stifling to do anything outside, so they stay inside where there is air conditioning. They play card games, they make snacks like gorp, they watch a show on television. Soon, Hanna is bored. “Can we go outside?” she asks her grandmother. “I know it’s hot, but maybe we can go out for just a few minutes.”

Grandma cogitates for a minute and says, “I have an idea.” She explains to Hanna that there is a farmers market in the town square, and it’s just a few blocks away. It would be a short walk. “We can pick up some vegetables to have with dinner,” Grandma says. “It will be nice to get some fresh air.” They will make sure to walk slowly and to take plenty of water.

Hanna fills an oversized bottle with water and ice, and she puts on her baseball cap to protect her face from the sun. Just as they are about to leave, Grandma snatches her umbrella from the closet. Hanna is confused, because is not raining outside, and there aren’t even any clouds. It is one of the brightest, sunniest days she has ever seen, so why would Grandma need an umbrella?


Chapter Two: What Is Weather?
It is hot and sunny in Hanna’s town. What is it like where you live? Is it warm and rainy, or is it cool and windy, or is it snowy and cold? These are just a few words that describe weather. Weather is what the air is like outside in one place at one time. Weather can change with abruptness, and it can be very different from place to place. How would you describe the weather in this place?

We use different words to depict different kinds of weather. You can use different words to describe the weather, too. Try it! What are three words you can use to describe the weather today? The weather here is sunny, clear, and cold, but this weather is cloudy and warm. It can even be rainy and windy at the same time!

Clouds can be indicators about the weather, although all clouds don’t mean that it will rain. White, puffy clouds may mean that the weather will be fair. Low, gray clouds may mean that lots of rain or snow is about to fall. High, streaky clouds may mean that a change in weather is on the way. Tall clouds that are gray on the bottom may mean that thunderstorms are progressing toward you.

Scientists collect and record information about the weather by measuring how hot or cold the air is. They measure how fast the wind blows, and they check the direction that the wind is blowing. They measure how much rain or snow falls, and they measure how much moisture is in the air. These data help scientists predict what the weather may be like in the future. Scientists use a special balloon to get information about the weather, and they use computers to record and analyze data.


Chapter Three: The Sun Heats Earth
Soltown is enduring a heat wave. Where is all the heat coming from? The sun! The sun is a star, and it gives off light that heats up Earth. In summer, the light hits Earth more directly, so it heats up the air and ground faster than in winter.

The sun is the closest star to Earth. The next closest stars to Earth are the triplets in the Alpha Centauri system, over 4.2 light years away. Our sun appears in the eastern sky every morning, and it sets in the western sky every night.

Sometimes clouds block the sun, and you cannot see the sun on such cloudy days, but it is there. Some of its light is strong enough to penetrate through the clouds, and you can certainly still tell that it is daytime. The sun warms materials on Earth’s surface. It warms dirt, sand, and rock, and it warms the grass under your feet. It warms water in lakes, oceans, and ponds, and it warms the air all around you.

Materials become warmer in sunlight than they do in shade. Shade is an area where sunlight is impeded. When an object blocks sunlight, a shadow forms, and such blocking sunlight keeps objects in the shade cooler.


Chapter Four: People Work Together to Find Solutions
Hanna was nonplussed about why Grandma was insistent about using an umbrella on a warm, sunny day. Now she understands, because she realizes that the umbrella blocks the sun. It helps Grandma feel cooler. Blocking sunlight keeps it from warming objects on Earth’s surface. What are some ways that you stay cool in hot weather?

People can work together to design solutions to solve problems caused by weather. They use materials to build their solutions, and then they test them to see whether they work. People designed these solutions to provide shade in warm, sunny places. Cloth stretched over a playground keeps the place cooler for children, or players can rest in the shade while they wait to play, or people can enjoy a picnic in a cool space under this shelter.


Chapter Five: Weather Changes from Season to Season
When the sun sets at night, it no longer warms Earth’s air or ground, and the temperature gets cooler. When the sun rises the next morning, the air begins to warm again. This is a pattern, and it’s one of our everyday occurrences.

Patterns of weather can also take longer to repeat. For example, heatwaves like Hanna is experiencing only happen in the summertime where she lives, and the weather is usually cooler most of the year. But when summer comes around again, so do the searing temperatures.

Patterns of weather happen year after year. These are seasons, of course, and different seasons have different kinds of weather. The different seasons do not look just like these pictures in all places, but all places do have their own yearly patterns of seasons.


Winter months have the coolest days. Winter where you live might not be cool enough to snow, but it is cooler than summer. The days start to become warmer in spring, then summer has the warmest days, then the days start to become cooler again in fall.

Changing weather affects living things. In the fall in a lot of places, trees lose their leaves, plants turn brown, and they stop growing. In the spring, new leaves grow on the trees, plants turn green, they grow new leaves, and flowers bloom. Many animals become inactive in colder weather, and young are born in the spring as weather warms.

How do scientists predict what the weather might be like tomorrow? They keep track of the weather over many days and look for patterns, and the information that they record is called “data.” These data are displayed on maps and graphs, and looking at data that way helps them at detecting patterns. Patterns help scientists predict what weather will be like tomorrow and in the future. Weather forecasting can help people plan. Which day do you think would be best for a trip to the park? Which months were warmest? Which were coolest?


Chapter Six: Weather Can Be Severe
Sometimes weather can become severe, and such weather is dangerous. It can happen at any time of year, and it can happen in any place. There are many different kinds of severe weather, and all severe weather can cause damage to people, land, and property.

Some kinds of acute weather are common in certain areas. Hurricanes are storms that form over the ocean and can move to land. In the United States, they are most common in areas along the Atlantic and Caribbean coast. Hurricanes have very strong winds and heavy rain, and they can ravage buildings, trees, and land.

Tornadoes are rotating columns of air that move over land. They are dangerous storms that can destroy anything in their path. Tornadoes can happen anywhere, but they are most common in the midwestern and southeastern parts of the United States.

Thunderstorms contain rain and thunder, and many produce lightning and hail. Lightning is electricity, and it can strike anything on the ground, even people. It is important to stay inside during a thunderstorm!


Blizzards are severe storms that are most common in the winter, and they have heavy snow and strong winds. Trees and power lines can fall during blizzards. Roads and sidewalks become covered with snow, and people have trouble getting from place to place.

The heat wave that happened in Hanna’s town is a kind of severe weather, too. Heat is dangerous for anyone who is outside, so people find ways to stay cool during a heat wave. Heat and a paucity of rain also can lead to drought, when an area stays very dry for a long time. Droughts can affect plants and animals.

Looking at patterns in weather data helps scientists predict, or forecast, when severe weather will happen. Weather forecasting can help people plan, and it can help people know when to move to a safe place. Does your family have a safety plan for severe weather? People can build shelters to stay safe during severe storms. Early-warning systems help people know if a tornado is approaching. When a storm is near, people can go into underground shelters to stay safe.


Chapter Seven: Science in Action: Meeting a Weather Scientist
The heatwave in Soltown is finally over, so it delights Hanna and her grandma that their jaunts to the farmers market are cooler now. But now the townspeople have something new to think about: a possible hurricane! The big storm is over the ocean, but it still has a week to travel before it reaches land. It could change course, but the residents of Soltown are paying close attention to its trajectory.

Hanna’s teacher wants to help her students learn more about hurricanes, and she explains to them that she has scheduled a video chat with a meteorologist named Noah. A meteorologist is a scientist who studies weather, and Noah specializes in hurricanes.

Noah tells the class that he is also called a “hurricane hunter.” The children snigger, because they think that the concept of “hunting a hurricane” sounds kind of crazy. Noah explains that he flies with a pilot high above a hurricane, and close to the quiet area in the center of the storm. When he flies near the hurricane, he is “hunting” for information.


The plane that Noah is in has special instruments that measure the hurricane’s wind and rain. The measurements tell scientists how weak or strong the hurricane is. Noah makes these flights several times per day, and he compares the data from each flight, using that data to predict which way the hurricane will move. Meteorologists like Noah predict when and where the storm will reach land, and they help people know if they need to prepare. Noah says that he became a weather scientist because he read about a famous meteorologist from the past, named Cleveland Abbe.

In the 1800s, scientists did not have planes or computers. They did not use observations to predict weather and share predictions with the public, and they only made maps that showed weather from prior days. But Cleveland Abbe looked for patterns in the past weather, and he used what he’d learned to predict what weather might be in the upcoming days. He taught his methods to other meteorologists.

The National Weather Service shares weather information with the public, and today, meteorologists warn about severe weather before it happens. People in the path of hurricanes can prepare their homes, and they have time to get to a safe place. The National Weather Service was formed in 1871, and Cleveland Abbe was its first lead meteorologist.

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 39 – Weather And Climate

NEW WORDS: Anderson, Anderson’s, Evangelista, Fairbanks, Fujita, Joanne, Minneapolis, Pearson, Simpson, Tetsuya, Torricelli, Torricelli’s, alerts, anemometer, area’s, atmospheric, authenticate, barometer, barometers, biologists, broaden, calculated, compact, condense, condensed, considers, constraint, constraints, cools, decreased, deflect, destructive, dimensional, disruptions, dissipate, effectiveness, envisaging, evaporates, evaporation, figurations, floodwaters, freezes, gathers, glaciers, hailstorms, hygrometer, inaccessible, inducted, inexpensive, injuries, jettison, levee, levees, limitations, mammoths, maritime, mentors, modernized, outage, outages, precipitation, reconstruct, redirect, regions, resistant, revised, sandbag, sandbags, seasonal, seawall, seawalls, shortages, snowstorm, streetcar, tantalized, tempestuous, tropics, turbines, vanes, versions, wildfires, windshield, wiper, wipers

Chapter One: The Atmosphere and Air Pressure
Big Question. What is the atmosphere, and what is weather?


Weather, what the air outside is like at any given time and place.

Atmosphere, the layer of air that surrounds Earth.

Suppose a friend asked you, “What is the weather like today?” What would you say? How would you know? You might say, “It’s cold and raining.” Weather is what the air outside is like at any one time and place. The weather can be clear and warm, cold and rainy, or dry and windy. You can observe the weather. You can look outside. You can collect rain in a container and measure it. You can find out which way the wind is blowing. But what if your friend asked you, “What causes different kinds of weather?” What would you say to that?

To understand what causes weather, we need to learn about the atmosphere. The atmosphere is the layer of air that surrounds the Earth. The atmosphere is about seventy miles thick. Most weather happens in the part of the atmosphere closest to Earth’s surface.


Air Is Matter.

The air that makes up our atmosphere is a mixture of gases. Gas is a state of matter. Air contains mostly nitrogen gas, but it also contains oxygen gas. Other gases such as water vapor and carbon dioxide are in the air, too. Though you never really see the air, it surrounds you every day and helps you to survive. Like all matter, the gases in the air take up space. These gases of the atmosphere do not dissipate out into space, though. That is because the force of gravity pulls air down toward Earth’s center.

Think About Matter.

Think about water. When you drink water, it’s liquid. If you put a tray of water in the freezer, it turns to a solid, ice. If you leave a tray of water out in the hot sun, it evaporates into a gas called water vapor. Liquid water, ice, and water vapor are all examples of different states of matter of water.


Air Pressure.


Air pressure, the weight of air as it presses on objects below or within it.

Gravity pulls on air just like all other matter. That means that air constantly pushes against everything on Earth’s surface. The weight of air pressing on objects is called air pressure. Air pressure is less as you travel upward and away from the surface of Earth. An object very high in the air experiences less air pressure than another object at sea level.

That is because there is less air higher up in the atmosphere to press on things. Air pressure changes depending on the amount of matter in it. If more matter, i.e. air, is above and surrounding you, then the air pressure will be greater. Air pressure is one factor that affects weather.


Changes in Air Pressure.

Energy from the sun warms Earth’s surface. It also warms the atmosphere. Do you know what happens to air when it warms? It spreads out. When air cools, it gets more compact, filling less space. Changes in air temperature and air pressure cause many of the conditions that we know as weather.

When air pressure is high, the skies are usually clear and sunny. Low air pressure in an area is often associated with clouds, rain, or even snow.

Think About Matter and Temperature.

Temperature is a measurement of how hot or cold something is. Typically, when matter increases in temperature, it begins to broaden out. For example, when liquid water is boiled to become water vapor, the tiny particles spread out so much that it becomes hard for anyone to see them.


Chapter Two: Water in the Atmosphere
Big Question. How does water move into and out of air?


Water vapor, the gas form of water.

Precipitation, water that falls from the sky in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

What do you think of when you think of nice weather? Are you envisaging a dry warm, sunny day? Or maybe you picture a clear and cool day. You might even think of a day with warm, gentle rain. Sunshine is necessary for living things. But rain is important, too.

There is water on Earth’s surface. There is water in the oceans and lakes. There is water in the atmosphere, too, and even underground. All this water moves from Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and then back again, all the time. This water takes different figurations as it moves. The movement of water from Earth’s surface to the atmosphere helps all living things survive.


Water Falls to Earth as Precipitation.

One of the gases that occurs in our atmosphere is water vapor. Water in its gas form is called water vapor. Sometimes air contains a lot of water vapor. At other times it contains less. When water vapor gas cools, it may change to tiny droplets of liquid water. This liquid water may fall from the sky. This is precipitation. Precipitation can take the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

Rain is drops of liquid water. Snow is frozen water in the form of ice crystals. Sleet is tiny frozen pellets of water. Hail is icy, round balls.

The type of precipitation that falls depends on the air’s temperature. Rain falls when the temperature is above freezing. When it is below freezing, sleet and snow fall. Hail forms high in the atmosphere where it is very cold. It hits the ground before it can melt. Hail can fall any time of year.


Water Rises into the Atmosphere When It Evaporates.


Evaporate, to change from liquid to gas.

Humidity, measure of the amount of water vapor in the air.

You know that water falls from the sky. But how does it get into the air? Water moves in a cycle from Earth’s surface to the air, and back again. Energy from sunlight causes water on Earth’s surface to evaporate. That means that it changes from a liquid to a gas. This gas, water vapor, then rises and becomes part of the atmosphere.

Sometimes there is a lot of water vapor in the air. At other times air contains less water vapor. Scientists can measure the amount of water in the air. Humidity is the measure of how much water vapor the air in a place contains.


Word Parts.

Look at the word “evaporate.” If you break it into parts, what do you notice? It contains the word 

Water Vapor Condenses to Form Liquid Water.


Condense, to change from gas to liquid.

Water vapor rises into the atmosphere. Air high up in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the ground. This cool air causes water vapor to condense, or to turn back into liquid. Tiny droplets, or ice crystals, come together to make the clouds that we see when we look at the sky.

When enough tiny droplets collect in a cloud, they become too heavy to stay in the sky. They fall down to the ground as precipitation. Not all clouds produce precipitation, though. You might see thin, wispy clouds – or puffy and white clouds – when the weather is fair.


Think About Condensation.

Condensation occurs on the ground, too! The water that you might find on the grass in the morning is known as “dew.” As night falls and light from the sun no longer heats Earth’s surface, the surface temperature lowers. At a certain point, known as the “dew point,” water constringes on the surface of objects, such as grass and windows.


Chapter Three: Wind
Big Question. What is wind?


Wind, the movement of air.

Look outside. Can you see leaves rustling or tree branches swaying? Or maybe you can see a flag undulating back and forth. When you see this, you know that air is moving. We call it wind. Wind is the movement of air. Sometimes the air outside barely moves. Little or no wind blows. At other times, air moves slowly. Wind can blow gently. And sometimes, air moves quickly and forcefully. Wind can blow hard. You can’t see the wind, but you can see evidence of it. You can feel wind when it cools your skin or lifts your hair. Sometimes you can hear wind, too.


Air Masses.


Air mass, a large body of air in the atmosphere.

A large body of air in the atmosphere is called an air mass. Some air masses are warm. Others are cool. Warm air masses rise in the atmosphere. Cool air masses sink. Air masses form when a large body of air stays in contact with part of Earth’s surface. They take on the temperature and moisture of that part of Earth’s surface.

When a high-pressure air mass comes in contact with a low-pressure air mass, the high-pressure air moves to the low pressure. This movement creates wind. This is like when you blow up a balloon and release it to the outside air. The air inside the balloon has higher pressure. It makes the balloon fly around powered by wind.


Wind Changes Speed.


Wind speed, a measure of how fast wind blows.

You know that you can observe wind. But did you know that you can also measure wind? One way to measure wind is to find out how fast it is blowing. Wind speed is how fast wind blows ever a certain distance and time.

Many things affect wind speed. Wind increases when strong high pressure meets strong low pressure, or when strong low pressure meets strong high pressure.

Temperature affects wind speed, too. There is often faster wind during the day, because the sun heats Earth’s atmosphere and surface. You can feel this heat if you walk on a sidewalk in bare feet on a sunny day.

Scientists use instruments to measure wind speed. The cups of the instrument move around and around in response to wind speed. That way scientists can tell how fast the wind is moving.


Wind Changes Direction.


Wind direction, the direction from which air moves when wind blows.

Prevailing winds, regular patterns of winds that blow from one direction.

You can also tell the direction that the wind is blowing. Wind direction is the direction from which wind blows. A northerly wind blows from the north. A westerly wind blows from the west. Wind blows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Wind socks are objects that fill up with air to show which way the wind is blowing. Wind vanes are objects that turn in the direction the wind is blowing.

Winds change, but they blow in regular patterns. Predictable patterns of wind are called prevailing winds. Prevailing winds are winds that blow mainly from one direction. Understanding prevailing winds helps scientists predict weather patterns. Wind brings changes in the weather. Wind pushes clouds and air masses from one place to another.


Chapter Four: Using Weather Data to Predict Weather
Big Question. What do meteorologists do?


Meteorologist, a scientist who studies weather conditions and patterns.

Data, information that is observed or measured and recorded.

Word to Know.

When you make a “prediction,” you say what is likely to happen.

A weather forecast tells what the weather will be like for the next few days. It tells what the temperature will be each day. It tells whether precipitation is likely. But where does the information come from? Meteorologists are scientists who study weather conditions. They collect data about weather. They look for patterns in the data. Often, they use the data and computers to find patterns and predict weather in the near future. It is not possible to make a perfect prediction. But collecting data helps meteorologists make predictions that are accurate enough to be serviceable.


Meteorologists Collect Weather Data.

Meteorologists have tools that help them collect data. The tools are used to take measurements of different types of data.

Meteorologists also use weather stations to collect information. The Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) has many stations in the United States. These stations automatically measure temperature, wind speed and direction, precipitation, humidity, and air pressure. They report the weather about every twenty minutes. This helps meteorologists know what the weather is like all over the country, at any given time.

Meteorologists Display Weather Data.

Meteorologists collect and record data every hour, day, week, and month. Then they systematize these data so that they can see patterns and make predictions. Meteorologists use different methods to organize data. Tables: Weather measurements such as of temperature, humidity, and air pressure are taken many times each day. One way to organize the data is in tables.


Think About Temperature.

The table above shows the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, shown as °F. Fahrenheit is a temperature scale used mostly in the United States. Temperature can also be shown as degrees Celsius, written as °C. Celsius is the temperature scale used in the metric system.

Graphs: A bar graph is a conducive way to see a pattern. It can display how a measurement increases or decreases over time. The graph below shows the high and low temperatures for each day. Which day was warmest? Which day was coolest?

Maps: Weather is what the air outside is like at any given time and place. It is helpful to display weather information on a map. Then people can see weather conditions in other places, too.


Data Displays Show Patterns and Help with Predictions.


Front, the place where two air masses meet.

Meteorologists draw air masses and wind direction on maps. Air masses move from high pressure to low pressure. The place where two different air masses collide is called a front. Cooler weather is behind a cold front line on a weather map. A warm front brings warmer weather. Look back at the table on page 16. What kind of front moved in on Wednesday night?

When air masses move from place to place, they carry different kinds of weather with them. Weather is often most active at the fronts. Knowing how and where air masses move allows meteorologists to predict what the weather will be like days in advance.


Chapter Five: Patterns of Weather: Seasons and Climate
Big Question. What is the difference between weather and climate?

What season is it now? How has the weather changed since the last season? How will it change between this season and the next one? You have probably noticed patterns in each season. You know that temperatures become warmer or cooler depending on the season. You know that some seasons have more rain or snow.

Weather changes from day to day. However, if you look at weather data for one place over a whole year, you can see progressive increases and decreases in temperature and precipitation as the seasons change.

Think About the Causes of Seasons.

Earth has a fictive straight line through the North and South Poles called its “axis.” Earth is tilted on this axis. As Earth follows a path around the sun each year, the North Pole points away from the sun for part of the year. And the North Pole is tilted toward the sun for part of the year. This means that places on Earth are also tilted away from or toward the sun.

Parts of Earth that are tilted toward the sun receive more direct sunlight and have more hours of daylight. Parts that are tilted away from the sun receive less direct sunlight and have fewer hours of daylight. The amount of sunlight affects temperature. It also results in seasonal weather. When the North Pole is tilted toward the sun, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But at that same time, the South Pole is tilted away from the sun. It is winter there.

Word to Know.

“Seasonal” means related to the seasons (summer, fall, winter, or spring).


This table shows data for Minneapolis, Minnesota. It shows when the sun rises and sets on the first day of each month. It also shows average high and low temperatures. Can you explain the pattern that you see? Are days with more sunlight warmer or cooler? Why?

Think About Patterns.

Read the data in the table one column at a time. Start with the Sunrise and Sunset columns. As you read from one value to the next down the columns, do the times continue to get earlier? Do they continue to get later? Then look for patterns in the temperature columns. As you read from one value to the next down the columns, do the temperatures continue to get warmer? Do they continue to get cooler?


Climate Is the Pattern of Weather Over Many Years.


Climate, the weather patterns in a place over a long period of time.

You have learned that weather is what the air outside is like from day to day. Climate is the weather patterns in a place over a long period of time. If you compare weather data for a place year after year, you will see that the patterns usually repeat. Look at the tables. They show weather data for three different years in two different places. San Jose, Costa Rica has a warmer climate. Fairbanks, Alaska has a colder climate.

Can you find patterns in each table? Try to answer these questions:

What is the wettest season in San Jose?

What is the driest season in San Jose?

What is the coldest season in Fairbanks?

What is the warmest season in Fairbanks?

What is the best time of year to visit San Jose if you like warm, dry weather?


Earth’s Climates Change over Time.

At times in Earth’s history, climates in some places were different from what they are today. For example, ice ages were long periods of time when temperatures remained very cold in certain places. Large areas of Earth’s surface were covered with snow and glaciers. Temperatures on Earth warmed between ice ages. Look at the graph. It shows how Earth’s climate has changed from 800,000 years ago to today. The “0” at the end of the graph is today. The taller the line, the warmer the climate. The shorter the line, the colder the climate.


Chapter Six: Extreme Weather
Big Question. What are extreme weather hazards?


Hazard, a dangerous condition that can cause damage.

On many days of the year, the weather is calm. Sometimes there is rain or snow. Sometimes it gets very hot or very cold. But the weather usually doesn’t keep people from going to work or school. It doesn’t usually cause changes or disruptions in a community.

However, there are times when weather can be extreme. These weather events usually happen suddenly. They can lead to hazards, or dangerous conditions, that threaten safety. Sometimes people have time to prepare in advance for extreme weather. But other times, they do not. It is important to plan for these events, even though they do not occur often.


Thunderstorms Cause Lightning and Flooding.

You may have experienced a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm is a rainstorm that is accompanied by thunder, lightning, wind, and heavy rain. It is usually over quickly. But some thunderstorms are very strong and can cause serious damage.

Strong thunderstorms may have frequent lightning. Lightning is electricity that travels between clouds, from clouds to the ground, or from the ground to the clouds! It can strike objects, such as trees and houses. When it strikes these objects, the lightning can cause fires. Lightning can also strike people and cause serious injuries.

Severe thunderstorms can also produce large amounts of rain that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a flood that happens with little warning. These types of floods can be powerful enough to wash away cars and cover the land.


Tornadoes Produce Strong Wind.

A tornado is a rotating column of air that extends from a cloud and moves along the ground. The greatest hazard from a tornado is destructive winds. The most tempestuous tornadoes have winds of up to 300 miles per hour. The winds from a tornado are strong enough to pull trees out of the ground. Tornadoes can tear down homes and buildings. They can even pick up large objects and jettison them from one place to another.

The thunderstorms that form tornadoes can also produce large hail. Hail is balls of ice that fall from the sky. A ball of hail can be as small as a pea. It can also be as large as a softball. Large hailstorms can damage structures, such as the window of a car or the roof of a house, as well as crops.


Hurricanes Cause Wind and Flooding.

People who live near a coast sometimes experience hurricanes. A hurricane is a large storm that forms over the ocean. It gathers more strength as it moves toward the land. Once it reaches the coast, its hazards include very heavy rain, large waves, rising water levels, and high winds.

The heavy rains and high water levels from a hurricane usually cause severe flooding that can wipe out roads and bridges. High winds from hurricanes damage houses, buildings, and other structures. An area that gets hit with a hurricane may be without power and water for several days, or even weeks. It can take a very long time for a community to reconstruct itself after a major hurricane.

Snow and Ice Are Winter Weather Hazards.

Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes mostly happen in warmer months. But extreme weather can cause hazards during colder months, too. One kind of extreme winter weather event is a blizzard. A blizzard is a winter storm that is very windy with a lot of snow. Blizzards can cause the roads to close. They can cause power outages. They can make it very difficult or even impossible for people to leave their homes to go to work or school.

An ice storm is another kind of winter weather. It occurs when precipitation freezes on roads, trees, and other surfaces. The ice is heavy. It can cause trees to snap. A power outage occurs when ice builds up on power lines.


Drought Causes Water and Food Shortages.


Drought, a long period of weather with less precipitation than normal.

All the extreme weather that you have read about so far happens suddenly and is over with quickly. A drought is a long period of very dry weather. In areas that are usually dry, such as the desert, little precipitation is normal. But in areas that usually get a lot of rain, droughts can be hazardous. Droughts develop slowly and can last for months.

One hazard that is caused by droughts is crop damage. Crops cannot grow well without the water that they get from rain. Farmers also have a hard time watering crops during a drought, because the farmers must conserve, or save, water. This can lead to food shortages. Droughts can also lead to wildfires, because the grass and trees in the area are so dry.


Chapter Seven: Engineering for Extreme Weather
Big Question. How do engineers design solutions for extreme weather hazards?


Engineering design process, the steps that engineers take to solve a problem.

Words to Know.

In engineering, a problem is a situation that needs to be fixed in some way. A solution is a way of solving the problem.

Extreme weather hazards cannot be stopped. However, we can improve how we prepare for extreme weather hazards. Engineers identify problems that occur because of hazardous weather. They use this information to design solutions, or ways to solve the problems. Solutions do not always work the first time. Sometimes they must be changed and revised after they are tested. This is all part of the engineering design process.


Engineers Design Solutions for Flooding.

Flooding can happen in any area that gets a lot of rain. But some places are more likely to flood than others. Engineers have designed many solutions to help prevent damage from floods.

The Sandbag: Sandbags are bags of sand that are stacked around a structure to keep flood waters out. People have been using sandbags for hundreds of years. They are inexpensive to make. But they have some disadvantages, too. They only work in smaller floods. It takes a lot of time and work to make and stack sandbags. This means that sandbags are effective only when a flood is predicted many days in advance.



Constraint, the limitation of a design.

Criteria, the requirements of a design for it to be a success.

Levees and Seawalls: A levee is a wall that blocks water, or forces it to move in a certain direction. Levees are made from both natural and artificial materials. Levees can break if there is too much water. Engineers find solutions to keep this from happening. They study how water flows. They apply what they learn to their designs.

During a hurricane, the sea rises quickly and can flood nearby land. A seawall is a structure that blocks this rising water. Engineers who design seawalls study an area’s climate, coastline shape, and waves. These are the constraints, or limitations, of their designs. Then they design a seawall that will meet all the criteria, or requirements, that will make it successful. A successful seawall blocks water and prevents flooding.


Engineers Design Hurricane-Proof Buildings.

Hurricanes bring destructive winds. These winds can destroy homes and buildings. People who live in hurricane-prone areas want to build structures that can withstand the winds. Some places have rules about how new buildings must be designed and built.

Engineers authenticate why some buildings cannot withstand hurricane winds. Then they find solutions to make buildings stronger and safer. They decide which materials work best. They investigate how the size and shape of a building can make it stronger or weaker. Then they build models to test their ideas. If a design does not meet all the criteria, or stand up against the wind in their tests, they come up with a new plan.

Lightning Rods: Have you ever seen a lightning strike that looked like it touched the ground? Lightning can strike objects on the ground. It can strike buildings, too. Lightning strikes can cause fires and electrical outages. Tall buildings are struck more often because they are closer to the sky, but smaller buildings and homes can also be struck.

A lightning rod is a device that can be placed on top of a building to protect it from a lightning strike. A lightning rod is a skinny metal pole. It is designed to absorb the energy from the lightning. The rod moves the energy safely to the ground so that the lightning does not damage the structure that was hit.


Engineers Design Other Hazardous Weather Solutions.
Word to Know.

To “evaluate” something means to examine it and decide about its value. If you evaluate an answer to a question, you determine whether the answer is correct. If you evaluate a solution to a problem, you determine how well the solution works.

Snow Fences: During a blizzard, wind causes snow to collect in large drifts. Wind often blows the snow onto roads. This can make roads unsafe. One solution to this problem is a snow fence. A snow fence is built along the sides of a road. Snow collects against the fence instead of drifting into the road.

Snow fences have been used for thousands of years. But their designs have improved ever time. Engineers who design snow fences have to learn a lot about snow. They study how it blows and drifts in affected areas. They use this information to build models based on the data they collect. Then they evaluate the models to determine their effectiveness. Snow fences help communities save money on road salt and plows.


Chapter Eight: Weather-Related Technology
Big Question.

Who are some mentors of weather-related technology?

Word to Know.

“Technology” is the use of scientific knowledge to make something that is helpful to others. Technology can be a device. It can also be a process, a good way to do something.

What do you do when you want to know what the weather will be like? You might watch a weather forecast. You might check a newspaper, website, or weather app. Forecasts are helpful. Often, they are very accurate. Weather is not something that humans can control. It is impossible to know exactly what the weather will be like in the future. But people have invented weather-related technology to make forecasts more accurate. Technology is the use of scientific knowledge to make something helpful to others. People throughout history have designed technology to make it easier to observe, measure, predict and deal with constantly changing weather. These inventors often follow the engineering design process.


Evangelista Torricelli Invented the Barometer.

Evangelista Torricelli was an Italian scientist, engineer, and mathematician. Torricelli invented a weather tool called a barometer. A barometer measures air pressure. Torricelli’s barometer was a glass tube with mercury inside. The mercury level went up when the air pressure was high. It went down when the air pressure was low.

Measuring air pressure can help meteorologists predict weather. Changes in air pressure usually mean that the weather is changing, too. The barometers that scientists use today look different than Torricelli’s, but they measure air pressure to aid in accurate forecasting.

Benjamin Franklin Invented the Lightning Rod.

Do you remember reading about the lightning rod in the last chapter? A lightning rod is a skinny metal pole that is put on top of a building and that has an extension that goes into the ground. Lightning strikes the pole instead of the building. Then the electricity is carried safely to the ground.

Benjamin Franklin was an American scientist — among many other things! He was tantalized by thunderstorms. He learned through his experiments that lightning was a form of electricity. Franklin wanted to find a way to protect people and buildings from lightning strikes. He discovered that an iron needle would deflect lightning away from an object. He used this information to develop the lightning rod.


Scientists Developed the FujitaPearson Scale.

Not all weather technology is an object or tool that measures weather. The Fujita-Pearson scale is one example. This scale was invented in 1973 by two scientists, Dr. Tetsuya Fujita and Dr. Allen Pearson. It helps scientists classify the strength of a tornado based on the amount of damage it caused. It also considers the width of a tornado and the length of its path. The scale has six points. They range from F0 to F5. Scientists have evaluated and improved the scale over the years. It is now referred to as the Enhanced Fujita Scale. It helps scientists collect and share valuable data about tornadoes.

Mary Anderson Invented Windshield Wipers.

Windshield wipers do not help scientists measure, observe, or predict weather. But they do keep people safe in certain kinds of weather, such as rain and snow. Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper in 1902. She was riding in a streetcar in New York City during a snowstorm. She noticed that the driver had to stop often to clean off the windshield by hand. She identified a problem and found a solution.

Unfortunately, car manufacturers were not interested in this technology at the time. But Anderson’s design led to the more modernized versions of windshield wipers that we see today. In 2011, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


Joanne Simpson Studied Clouds.

Joanne Simpson was the first woman to receive a PhD in meteorology, the study of weather. Simpson became interested in weather when she observed the clouds in the sky while she was sailing on a boat. As an atmospheric scientist, she continued to study clouds throughout her career.

Simpson was interested in the behavior of clouds during thunderstorms and hurricanes. She was the first person to create a cloud model, originally as a drawing. Later, she used computers to develop better models. Her cloud models helped scientists understand how clouds interact. This information could be used to give advance warning about whether a thunderstorm or other type of extreme weather was going to happen. Simpson later helped develop the first radar that could measure rainfall in the tropics from space. This helped many scientists learn about more inaccessible places on the planet. For example, it helped biologists better understand the rainforests.


Air mass, a large body of air in the atmosphere.
Air pressure, the weight of air as it presses on objects below or within it.
Atmosphere, the layer of air that surrounds Earth.

Climate, the weather patterns in a place over a long period of time.
Condense, to change from gas to liquid.
Constraint, the limitation of a design.
Criteria, the requirements of a design for it to be a success.

Data, information that is observed or measured and recorded.
Drought, a long period of weather with less precipitation than normal.

Engineering design process, the steps that engineers take to solve a problem.
Evaporate, to change from liquid to gas.

Front, the place where two air masses meet.

Hazard, a dangerous condition that can cause damage.
Humidity, a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Meteorologist, a scientist who studies weather conditions and patterns.

Precipitation, water that falls from the sky in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
Prevailing winds, regular patterns of winds that blow from one direction.

Water vapor, the gas form of water.
Weather, what the air outside is like at any given time and place.
Wind, the movement of air.
Wind direction, the direction from which air moves when wind blows.
Wind speed, a measure of how fast wind blows.
Illustration subtitles

Do you see what looks like a thin, glowing blue line? That and the clouds that you see are parts of Earth’s atmosphere. What do you think causes turbines like these to spin? The pushing force of the wind provides evidence that air is made of matter, which can move and transfer motion energy to objects. Sea level is the level of the surface of the ocean where water meets the land. How would you describe the weather? Do you think the air pressure in this area is high or low? If a place has many green plants, that is a sign that it probably rains often there. Several inches of snow can fall when there is enough water in the atmosphere and the temperature is low enough. Much of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere comes from the evaporation of ocean water. Which kind of cloud will produce precipitation? Which kind looks like it contains more condensed water? You can feel evidence of wind when you are outside. Can wind be considered a force? Is it a push or a pull? Hot-air balloons rise because the air inside them is heated. The air inside the balloon is warmer than the air outside. There are different kinds of air masses. The word “maritime” here means over water. The word “continental” means over land. “Polar” refers to the cold air above polar regions. “Tropical” refers to the warm air above tropical regions. This tool measures wind speed. It is called an anemometer. Scientists use tools such as wind vanes and wind socks to find wind direction. From which direction is the wind blowing in these pictures? Computers display data that help meteorologists predict weather. Air temperature is measured with a thermometer. An anemometer, with cups that spin, measures wind speed. A wind vane shows the direction from which the wind is blowing. A hygrometer measures humidity, or how much moisture is in the air. Air pressure is measured with a barometer. The amount of rainfall is measured with a rain gauge. A weather station contains several instruments that collect weather data. What pattern do you see in the daily temperature this week? Maps help meteorologists see weather patterns across a large area. This map shows a lot of weather data over an area that is mostly water. The blue line on a weather map shows a cold front. The red line shows a warm front. The blue triangles and red half-circles indicate which direction the front is moving. What patterns do you see in this data? The patterns of weather in San Jose, Costa Rica make up the climate of the area. The patterns of weather in Fairbanks, Alaska make up the climate of the area. Relatives of elephants, known as mammoths, lived in North America, Europe, and Asia. They were covered in long hair to protect them from the cold. Mammoths were adapted to a cold climate. Many phones today can receive weather alerts from the federal, state, or local government. These alerts warn people when bad weather may be coming. When lightning strikes the ground, it can cause fires and other damage. A tornado can destroy everything in its path. The heavy rain and high winds of a hurricane can last for several hours. Some blizzards produce so much snow that they can bury cars. Drought can cause damage to crops that need water from rainfall. Sandbags must be stacked a certain way to work correctly. Without the protective seawall, these homes would flood more easily during storms. This hurricane-resistant home has a metal roof and sits up high on posts to avoid floodwaters. Lightning rods redirect electricity to keep buildings and other structures safer. Automobile accidents on the road have decreased in areas that have snow fences. Weather stations such as this one have different kinds of weather technology to help meteorologists observe and measure weather. Evangelista Torricelli lived during the 1600s. In the earliest barometers, liquid in a tube went up or down with changing air pressure. Benjamin Franklin studies lightning in the 1750s. Lightning rods carry electricity from lightning to the ground through wires. This helps save buildings from damage. This is the Enhanced Fujita Scale that scientists use today. Wind speeds are calculated in miles per hour (mph). Mary Anderson thought of the idea for windshield wipers when there were still very few cars on the road. Imagine not being able to travel by car whenever it rained, because drivers could be unable to see clearly enough to move safely. Windshield wipers are now required on cars. The TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) is a satellite-based radar that Joanne Simpson helped to develop. The satellite collects data. A computer turns the data into three-dimensional pictures of clouds. This image shows the movement of Hurricane Isaac over five hours. The red areas in the white circles are the eye of the storm at the start and at the end of the recording.

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.)
European Exploration Of North America

Lesson 40 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Balboa, Bimini, Calusa, Charlotte, Colombo, Cortes, Cristoforo, Diego, Ferdinand’s, Hernan, Hernando, Iberian, Leon’s, Moctezuma, Nunez, Pascua, Pizarro, Ponce, Soto, Vasco, Velazquez, Vietnam, abounded, admiral, alouds, aspiration, bathed, benignant, briskly, cassava, chandlers, coasts, colonization, comprehend, conquerors, craved, cruised, desponding, disagreements, dissenters, documents, domains, earrings, embarked, embellished, endangerment, endow, enjoined, enthused, enticed, erroneous, eventuated, exaggerated, exaggerations, exalted, exotic, expositions, fantasized, financed, flourishing, gaining, gesticulations, harbors, horde, hypothesized, immunity, indigenous, infected, infuriating, interacted, interactions, intrepid, isla, isles, minacious, mistreatment, moors, perplexing, plenteous, poised, proffered, raided, ravaged, rebellion, recollection, schemed, seaboards, sheltered, shoreline, southward, sponsors, staked, struggles, subdued, terminus, tortugas, transatlantic, translator, trip’s, uncharted, undertaking, undeviating, voyager, yesteryear

Chapter One: 1492, A Year That Changed The World
Do you know the answer to this? What key event in yesteryear eventuated in 1492? It’s said that the voyager Columbus discovered lots of islands. They were off the seaboards of North and South America. They were in what’s now known as the Caribbean Sea. Here’s a rhyme that you can use. It will help you with your recollection of when Columbus embarked on his trip. “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

No Europeans knew a thing about these isles before his voyage. It’s said that Columbus “discovered” the Americas. But did he truly discover something new? He was really looking for another part of the world.
Do you know what terminus Columbus truly had in mind? Columbus’s aspiration was to sail to a part of Asia. That place was known as “the Indies.” Europeans had talked a lot about “the Indies.” They thought of a part of Asia known now as India. There were lots of surrounding islands, too. He schemed to sail to “the Indies.” He had heard and read that they were wealthy lands. It was hypothesized that they abounded with gold and spices. But what he found is a place now referred to as “the Caribbean islands.” We also call it “the West Indies.” But Columbus was sure that he had reached parts of Asia that we now call “the East Indies.” These are the parts of Asia that lay south of China and north of Australia. They include these present-day nations. India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. There are some other parts of Asia there, too.


Spices like pepper, cinnamon, and cloves grew there. Then they were carried elsewhere in the world by spice traders. These men transported spices to Europe by going through the Middle East. It was a long, minacious trip. They had to load the spices onto pack animals. They used donkeys or camels. They would lead them across deserts and mountains. They went along risky roads. They might be robbed or killed. It took lots of time and money to bring spices to Europe. So, that meant that spices were expensive.

So, here we are in the 1400s. Europeans looked for a better way to get to these spice-producing lands. They were known as the “Spice Islands.” They were in the domains that they called “the Indies.” They wanted to find a way to sail there. They hoped that they could fill their ships. They’d get the spices, sail home, sell the spices, and get rich. The thought of getting rich was tempting for lots of folks. And these explorers looked to become famous, too, for finding new routes and discoveries. This inspired lots of folks to subject themselves to endangerment. They were willing to explore uncharted land and water.


Columbus was just one of lots of men who fantasized about “the Indies.” He, too, thought of the money that could be made if one could find a way to sail there. He was born in Genoa, Italy. There, he was known as Cristoforo Colombo. As a young man, he had worked as a sailor and a mapmaker. He had sailed all around the Mediterranean. He knew well the northwestern shoreline of Africa. And he’d been as far north as England. He’d read the expositions of Marco Polo, as well. He had been an Italian merchant who’d gone to China 200 years prior.

Columbus knew that the Earth was a sphere. It was not flat. Most educated men of his day knew this. But there were lots of disagreements about how big the Earth was. Most folks thought the Earth was pretty big. But some skeptics thought it was not all that big. Columbus was one of these dissenters. He thought that the Earth was smaller than most folks thought. That led him to propose his “Enterprise of the Indies.” It was well known that “the Indies” were “on the other side of the world.” But, Columbus thought the Earth was small. So, the “other side” might not be that far off. Could one get there by sailing around the world to the west? That was the intrepid idea that he proffered.

But, there were two big problems with his thoughts. First, his concept about the Earth’s size was erroneous. The Earth is much larger than he thought. That meant that the East Indies are much farther from Europe than he realized. Second, there’s something besides ocean between Europe and Asia. There’s a large block of land. That’s the Americas.


Columbus went to Spain’s king and queen. They were Ferdinand and Isabella. He convinced them to be his sponsors. They financed his voyage of sailing west to find the East Indies. Columbus hoisted the blue peter in August of 1492. He had a fleet of three ships. Do you know the names of the ships? That’s right! The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. They cruised west for five weeks. After a while, the sailors were desponding about how far they had sailed. There was still no land yet in sight. No one had ever sailed so far west from Europe. Then, one day, a sailor saw land. Columbus was enthused. He thought that he had reached the East Indies. In fact, they would land on one of the islands in the Bahamas. They are off the coast of North America.

Columbus and his men explored the island. They staked a flag. They claimed this place for the king and queen of Spain. They made contact with the Native Americans who lived there. They were called the Taino. Columbus called these people “Indians.” That’s because he thought that he was in or near the East Indies. The natives who they met were peaceful and benignant. They traded with each other. They gave the natives beads and bells. These were considered cheap to Europeans. But the natives had long valued trade goods from far-off lands. In return, the indigenous people gave the Spaniards food, fresh water, and colorful parrots. They each gave the other something that was plenteous on their continent, but rare on the other.


A few of the natives had gold earrings or nose rings. Columbus and his men tried to find out where the gold came from. The Taino and the Spaniards made signs and gestures to communicate. They did that since they did not speak the same tongue. The Taino would point to other islands. Long before Columbus got to the West Indies, trade occurred often between these many islands. Their gesticulations were perplexing to comprehend. But the Spaniards thought that the natives were saying that there were places, not so far from there, where there was gold.

Columbus sailed off from there. They looked for islands of gold and spices. He went to a number of islands in the Caribbean Sea. On December 6, 1492, he went to explore a big island. He named it “La Isla Hispaniola.” That meant “the Island of Spain.” It was named for the land from where he’d sailed. Two weeks hence, it was Christmas Day. The Santa Maria got stuck on a rock. It was off the coast of Hispaniola. Columbus could not get the ship afloat. So, he enjoined his men. “Use the wood and supplies from the ship to build a fort on Hispaniola.” Thirty-nine men offered to stay at the fort. Then the time came for Columbus to sail back to Spain. He would report his findings to the king and queen.


Columbus took some of the natives on board as prisoners. This was for proof to the king and queen. They’d see that he’d really reached “the Indies.” While sailing back, he wrote a report for the king and queen. He described having discovered and claimed a number of islands in honor of Spain. Then he got back to Spain. He presented Ferdinand and Isabella with the natives. And he shared lots of facts about what he had found. But he also exaggerated. A lot!! He called Hispaniola “a miracle.” He described it as “heaven on Earth.” He said that it had good harbors. He talked of rich soil. He talked of lots of spices, and rivers full of gold. He boasted that the other islands he had been to were full of spices. But, really, he and his crew were unfamiliar with the exotic plants and trees that produced spices.

Columbus more boldly embellished his story when it came to gold. He said that Hispaniola was full of gold. It was in the rivers, in the fields, and in vast mines. He said lots of gold was just waiting to be claimed. He did not want to talk of just the few natives wearing gold earrings. Nor did he talk of just the few flakes in the rivers of Hispaniola that he thought to be gold.

Columbus told all of this in hopes that he would convince the king and queen to sponsor another voyage. He truly thought that these were islands off of China’s coast. He’d read books by Marco Polo and other chandlers. They’d talked of China and “the Indies” as wealthy places. They’d talked of flourishing trade. Columbus combined what he had read with what he had seen on his voyage. He thought that there had to be more riches there to be claimed. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were pleased by his findings. So, they would now endow Columbus to lead a second voyage.


Chapter Two: Columbus And The Conquistadors
Columbus made four trips to the West Indies. He was undeviating in his main belief. He was sure that he’d reached the true East Indies. The voyage that most folks know of is his first one. That’s when he landed in the West Indies. But in some ways, his next voyage was more important. This one will help you to know more about those times. You’ll know more of what happened in the Americas — with European exploration — over the next hundred years or so AFTER Columbus.

Columbus returned to Europe after his first transatlantic trip. He was a hero. Word of his expeditions spread fast in Spain. Then all of Europe heard of his trip. He’d sent a report to Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It was printed in large volumes. That’s because of the recent invention of the printing press. Thousands of folks in Europe read his report. And more heard them read aloud. Soon lots of folks would talk of Columbus and his “discoveries.” Some folks weren’t sure if he had really sailed to Asia, though. But they WERE sure that he had found a place that was new and exciting. Columbus was exalted by Ferdinand and Isabella. He was named “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.” And he got what he had hoped for. He was given ships and money for a second trip.


The second voyage was a much grander undertaking than the first one. Columbus had a fleet of three ships and a hundred men for his first trip. The second one was beyond compare. He had seventeen ships! He had more than a thousand men! He remembered well trying to recruit sailors for his first trip. He had had a hard time finding sailors who would sail west into uncharted waters. The second trip was not the same. He had so many eager, enticed sailors that he had to turn lots of them away!

The second trip’s ships left Spain in September, 1493. Their first stop was the Canary Islands. They are off of the African coast. Then, Columbus and his men sailed west. They saw land in early November. They explored the coasts of several islands. But he was eager to get back to the fort that he had left. He and thirty-nine of his crew members had built it on the first trip. That was on Hispaniola. He had hopes about the men who he’d left behind. He hoped that they’d have built a peaceful trading partnership with the Taino. He hoped, too, that they’d have built up a stock of gold. What he found was, instead, infuriating. The fort had been burned to the ground. The 39 Spaniards had been killed. And there was no great horde of gold. Those 39 men had not traded peacefully with the Taino. They had treated them cruelly. They had raided the Taino towns. They had taken lots of them as slaves. They had taken gold where they could find it. After a while, the Taino fought back. They attacked the fort. And they killed the Spaniards.


Columbus built a new fort on Hispaniola. He named it “Isabella,” after the queen of Spain. He left his brother, Diego, in charge of it. He urged him to find “the gold.” He just felt sure that it was on the island. Diego and his men found some gold. But it was not as much as Columbus had led the king and queen to think was there. By 1495, Columbus’s men were unhappy. Even Columbus grew anxious. Things were now clear to his men. There was much less gold than Columbus had exaggerated in his report. The men felt that they had been lied to. Some of them had even sailed back to Spain. Once there, they would complain about his exaggerations and leadership.

Meanwhile, Columbus still looked for gold. He used cruel methods to get as much gold as he could. He made laws that enslaved and punished the natives if they didn’t collect enough gold for the Spaniards. But Hispaniola had only a bit of gold. That made these laws that much more cruel. There was just no way that the enslaved natives could supply enough. And as if this weren’t bad enough, lots of the Taino became ill. They’d been infected with diseases to which many of the Spanish had become immune. They’d never been exposed to the types of germs the Spanish carried in their bodies. They interacted with the Spaniards. Thus, they came in contact with germs that their bodies could not fight. Over the next few years, huge numbers of the Taino became sick. Hundreds of thousands of them died of these new <to them> diseases. The most common killer was smallpox. Before Columbus’s voyage, the Taino had a population of around two million. But disease and Spanish conquest in the years after Columbus’s arrival ravaged their people. The Taino now numbered merely a few thousand.


By 1496, things were crystal clear. There was no more gold on the island. Columbus now made a new law. It said that the natives had to help develop large farms called “plantations.” They would work as slaves for the Spanish. In just a few years, the Spanish were firmly in control of Hispaniola. After that, they began to spread out. They explored and conquered other nearby islands in the Caribbean. There were many men who led these voyages of exploration and conquest. They were known as “conquistadors.” That’s the Spanish word for “conquerors.” These conquistadors were Spanish travelers, soldiers, and explorers. They traveled to North, Central, and South America to look for wealth. They’d conquer the native peoples, thus gaining control of their lands. They came to the Americas to find the same things that Columbus had been looking for. They craved gold, spices, land, slaves, fame, and power.

It was now 1542. It was fifty years after Columbus’s first voyage. Lots of Spanish conquistadors had now explored and conquered huge areas. They controlled most of South America and all of central America. They even held a significant part of North America. Columbus died with the belief that he had reached the islands of “the Indies,” in Asia. At some point, the Spanish realized his mistake. They renamed the area where Columbus had landed “the West Indies.” And they renamed the Spice Islands in Asia that he had tried to reach. They were now termed “the East Indies,” instead of calling them “the Indies.” What took place in those fifty years after Columbus’s first voyage?


First, let’s learn of the conquistador named Juan Ponce de Leon. He conquered the island of Puerto Rico. It lay to the east of Hispaniola. At about the same time, there was a conquistador named Diego Velazquez. He subdued the natives on the island of Cuba. That was west of Hispaniola. Soon the Spanish began to extend their control beyond the islands of the Caribbean. They would move to explore and conquer the mainland of North and South America. In 1513, Ponce de Leon explored the coast of Florida. He claimed it for Spain. In the same year, Vasco Nunez de Balboa fought his way through the jungles of Panama. He was the first Spaniard to reach the Pacific Ocean.

Let’s move to 1519. Hernan Cortes led a Spanish army to Mexico. He ordered that the fleet of ships be burned when he and his crew landed. That way, everyone would see that there was no way to turn back. He marched his men inland. He soon conquered the mighty Aztec Empire and its king, Moctezuma II. The conquistador Francisco Pizarro led his men deep into South America. By 1532, he had conquered the other great empire of the Americas. That was the Inca Empire, in Peru. The defeat of this great empire was due in large part to disease. The natives had no immunity to the diseases that the Europeans brought with them. Thus, huge numbers of their people became sick and / or died of these diseases after coming into contact with the Spaniards. The conquistador Hernando de Soto had helped Pizarro conquer the Inca Empire. Then, de Soto turned his attention to North America. He landed his troops on the west coast of Florida. He led them on a long trek through what is now the southeastern part of the U.S. At about the same time, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was taking action. He led an army of Spaniards north from Mexico. They explored what is now the southwestern U.S. They, too, hoped to find the cities of gold that had been heard of.


In the following read-alouds, you will learn about the journeys of these conquistadors and other explorers. You’ll hear about their bold ideas, their voyages, their struggles in search of gold, and their interactions with the Native Americans.


Chapter Three: Juan Ponce de Leon
It was early 1493. Juan Ponce de Leon was not clear about his future. He was trained as a knight. He had spent a few years fighting against the Moors in southern Spain. The Moors had crossed from Africa to Europe. They had taken over most of the Iberian Peninsula. That’s the land where Portugal and Spain are. This caused a great clash between Christianity and Islam. Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain built a strong army. They drove the Moors out of Spain in 1492. This helped to preserve Christianity in that region of the world. Ponce de Leon was not sure what he should do next.

That all changed in the spring of 1493. That’s when Columbus came back to Europe after his first transatlantic voyage. Word swept across Spain that he had found new islands. These islands were perhaps in Asia. These islands might be filled with gold and spices. As you’ve heard, Columbus wanted to claim more lands in honor of Spain. So, he arranged another trip to the New World. Thousands of men had come from all over Spain to sign up for his second voyage. Juan Ponce de Leon was one of them. Ponce de Leon set sail with Columbus in September of 1493. He was with Columbus when the explorer returned to the fort on Hispaniola and found that it had been destroyed. Ponce de Leon helped with the conquest of Hispaniola. He soon settled on the island.


In 1504, there was a revolt on the eastern side of Hispaniola. The Taino were angered by their years of mistreatment by the Spaniards. So, they rose up and fought for their freedom. Ponce de Leon played a key part in stopping the rebellion. As a reward, he was given a piece of land on Hispaniola. He was made the governor of the island. He was assigned a number of slaves to help him cultivate a plantation. Sweet potatoes and a new world crop called cassava grew there. Pigs, cows, and horses were raised there, as well. Ponce de Leon married a Spanish woman. He brought her to live with him on the island.

By 1506, Ponce de Leon had settled in nicely on Hispaniola. He was now quite a notable person there. He might have stayed there for the rest of his life. He could have had the life of a rich plantation owner. But he had an adventurous streak! About this time, Ponce de Leon began to hear about another island east of Hispaniola. This was an island that we now call Puerto Rico. He had heard intriguing stories about gold there. So, he went to explore it. Ponce de Leon led an expedition to Puerto Rico in 1506. He brought with him a cousin who had learned the native language. He would serve as their translator. Ponce de Leon met with the island’s natives. He made a treaty with one of their chiefs. That allowed him and other Spaniards to hike across the island. To their great delight, they found some large nuggets of gold in the rivers and streams. They also found a nice, well-sheltered harbor. That’s now known as San Juan Bay.


Ponce de Leon went back to Puerto Rico a second time. This was in 1508. Once again, he struck a deal with one of the native tribal leaders. He was supplied with lots of workers. These men built a settlement near San Juan Bay. They cleared land for a plantation, too. In the meantime, the Spaniards searched for gold. In 1509, Ponce de Leon was made governor of Puerto Rico. He encouraged Spanish settlement on the island and the search for more gold.

In 1511, the Taino people of Puerto Rico began a rebellion. Ponce de Leon and the Spanish crushed the rebellion. They used swords, guns, horses, and attack dogs. Ponce de Leon seemed poised for success in Puerto Rico for many years to come. But political problems arose. Diego Columbus was the son of Christopher Columbus. He had gotten himself appointed viceroy, in charge of Hispaniola. He didn’t like Juan Ponce de Leon. So, Diego had him removed from office.

Ponce de Leon went off to find new lands. He would focus on lands that would lie outside of the territory governed by his enemy, Diego Columbus. In 1512, Ponce de Leon got King Ferdinand’s permission to look for a place the natives called Bimini. What do you think Juan Ponce de Leon hoped to find in Bimini? If you thought he’d look for gold, that’s a good idea! It shows that you’ve been listening well. The Spanish were always looking for gold on their explorations. And Juan Ponce de Leon was no exception.


However, tradition has it that Ponce de Leon may have been looking for something else, too. Some historians wrote stories after Ponce de Leon’s death. They said that he was searching for a magical fountain. It was called the “Fountain of Youth.” He had hoped to find it on the Island of Bimini. There was a legend about it. That said that an old man who bathed in the water of this fountain would regain his youth. Some historians say that this story may have intrigued Ponce de Leon. So, he set out to find the Fountain of Youth. In March of 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon set sail from Puerto Rico. On April 3rd, he and his crew sighted land. Ponce de Leon thought it was an island. But in fact, it was a peninsula. That’s a piece of land that sticks out into the ocean and is surrounded by ocean on three sides.

Juan Ponce de Leon and his men went ashore. They claimed the land in the name of King Ferdinand. It was the spring season. The Spanish called it “Pascua Florida,” or the Season of Flowers. The land itself was full of flowers. So, Ponce de Leon named this new land “La Florida,” or “the flowery place.” That name stuck. And to this day the land is called Florida.

Only a few documents from this voyage have survived. So, historians are not sure about all of the details of his travels. Ponce de Leon sailed north along the east coast of Florida. After some time, he turned south. They had gotten halfway down the eastern coast of Florida. There, Ponce de Leon and his captains made an interesting discovery. The wind was blowing briskly and should have been pushing their ships southward. But the ships were actually moving north! Can any of you guess why the ships were moving “backward,” even though the wind was pushing them forward?


Ponce de Leon and his men were sailing against a strong ocean current. In fact, they had discovered one of the strongest and most important currents in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s called “the Gulf Stream.” The Gulf Stream is like a river within the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a current of warm water that flows out of the Gulf of Mexico. It flows around Florida, along the southeastern coast of the United States. And then it heads northeast, all the way to northern Europe. Later explorers learned a better way to get back to Europe quickly. That was to sail INTO the Gulf Stream, and then to ride the current back to Europe.

Ponce de Leon and his men found that they could avoid the Gulf Stream. They just had to stay very close to shore. It was a few days after they discovered the Gulf Stream. Ponce de Leon and his men tried to go ashore on the peninsula. But they were attacked by natives. They were driven back to their ships. Ponce de Leon decided to keep exploring the Florida coastline. He sailed south and rounded the tip of Florida. He still thought that he had discovered an island. So, he was trying to sail around it. He sailed along the string of islands known today as the Florida Keys, on into the Gulf of Mexico. Then he turned north. He explored the western coast of Florida. He anchored for a while along the coast. That was likely in the area now known as Charlotte Harbor. But Ponce de Leon and his men were attacked a number of times. So they didn’t stay too long.


Eventually, Ponce de Leon decided to return to Puerto Rico. He gave a report about the lands that he had discovered. On the way back, he and his men visited islands off the coast of Florida. They were home to thousands of sea turtles. Ponce de Leon named these islands “Tortugas.” That’s the Spanish word for turtles.

Ponce de Leon went back to Spain. He told the king about his findings. He was not able to return to Florida for a number of years. In 1521, he launched a second expedition. This one was focused on colonization. Ponce de Leon wanted to establish a Spanish colony in Florida. He loaded his ships with more than two hundred men. These men included farmers and priests. He also brought horses, sheep, pigs, and goats.

Ponce de Leon and his men landed somewhere along the southwestern coast of Florida. We don’t know where, exactly. They began setting up a colony. But after a few weeks, they were driven away by the Calusa Indians. These were Native Americans of the region. Ponce de Leon was wounded in an attack. An arrow struck him in the thigh. The Spaniards gave up on their Florida settlement. They retreated to Cuba. While in Cuba, Ponce de Leon’s wound became infected. He died in July of 1521. Some years later, his remains were transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rico, the city that he had founded many years earlier.

Click on this link to move forward to Module E, Lessons 41 – 50


Note to Educators, Parents, Tutors, and Students: AOCR ® has attempted to provide authorship to all reading content where we have been able to find it. Some content is in the public domain without evidence of authorship. Some content has been written by AOCR ®.

All content contained in the AOCR ® curriculum is from one of four sources: 1) Content written by AOCR ® personnel; 2) Content derived from the Core Knowledge ® curriculum; 3) Content that is — to the best of AOCR’s knowledge — in the public domain and free of any copyright restrictions — with or without knowledge of authorship; 4) Content that is provided to us by an author with their permission, which shall be noted at the beginning of such content.

Further, ANY lesson that is identified as “Core Knowledge ®” is following all stipulations required by Core Knowledge ® in order for AOCR ® to reproduce it. The guidelines outlined in the next few lines, in italic, apply to ALL passages that are identified as originating from the Core Knowledge ® curriculum:

This work is based on an original work of the Core Knowledge ® Foundation made available through licensing under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This does not in any way imply that the Core Knowledge Foundation endorses this work. With the understanding that for reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do that is with a link to this web page:   .