Module E – Lessons 41 to 50


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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 41 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Acoma, Albuquerque, Alvar, Antonio, Arkansas, Atahualpa, Aviles, Cabeza, Camden, Caroline, Cofitachequi, Compostela, Dorado, Esteban, Esteban’s, Galveston, Hawikuh, Mateo, Mendoza, Menendez, Mississippian, Mississippians, Napituca, Narvaez, Oklahoma, Ortiz, Ortiz’s, Panfilo, Pedro, Pope’s, Rio, Soto’s, Tenochtitlan, Tewa, Tiguex, Vaca, Vitachuco, achievements, admiring, carpentry, chieftain, dehydration, demoralized, discourage, dung, evicted, extinguish, extinguished, flatboats, friar, friendliness, grande, healer, horribly, hostage, interpreter, investigative, makeshift, masonry, misleading, mission’s, missionaries, missionary, moor, mutiny, nomadic, northeastern, outdo, outposts, reconquered, recruited, recruits, relocated, restored, resurrection, ridden, rumored, scouting, sehora, shoemakers, sprinkling, stranded, supplemented, survivors, techniques, translators, woodworking

Chapter Four: Hernando de Soto
It’s May 30, 1539. You’ll now meet the veteran conquistador Hernando de Soto. On this day, he led a group of Spaniards ashore. They were on the west coast of Florida. De Soto staked a flagpole into the sandy beach. He claimed the land for the king of Spain.

De Soto was not the first Spaniard to explore Florida. Juan Ponce de Leon had been there in 1513, and again in 1521. But he had failed in trying to set up a permanent Spanish colony there. Another Spaniard, Panfilo de Narvaez, had tried to conquer Florida. But he did not succeed, either. Narvaez landed on the west coast of Florida in 1527. He had six hundred men with him. They had marched inland in search of gold. They attacked the natives and were attacked by them in return. Lots of Spaniards were killed. After making little progress, Narvaez and his men made their way to the Gulf Coast. They headed for Spanish outposts in Mexico. They hurriedly constructed makeshift boats. Then they set sail along the coast. Lots of the men died of dehydration on this trip. Some of the boats drifted off. The men on them were not heard from again. Just when Narvaez and his men thought things could not get any worse, a hurricane hit. It sank their boats and drowned lots of the men. A few survivors were left stranded on a beach near present-day Galveston, Texas. Six hundred men had set off on this voyage. In the end, only four men got back to Mexico alive to tell the tale.


Hernando de Soto knew of the voyages of Ponce de Leon and Narvaez. He knew that it would be dangerous to go to Florida. But he felt that he could achieve more than the men who’d gone before him. After all, de Soto had been in Peru with Francisco Pizarro. Thus, he’d learned from one of the most successful of all the conquistadors. Remember, Pizarro had captured the Inca Emperor, Atahualpa. De Soto had helped collect the great ransom of silver and gold that had made Pizarro very rich. And de Soto, too, was now a rich man through his dealings with Pizarro. De Soto thought that he could make even more money by conquering Florida. He hoped to gather up the gold that was rumored to be there. De Soto put much of his own money into his Florida expedition. And he prepared for it with care. He signed up lots of experts. These included soldiers, sailors, tailors, shoemakers, engineers, and priests. Most of the seven hundred men on his expedition were Spaniards. But there were lots of recruits from other countries in Europe, too. The expedition sailed from Spain in April of 1538. They spent a year in Cuba. Then de Soto and his men sailed to Florida. They got there at the end of May in 1539.


De Soto sent a scouting party inland. They found an abandoned Indian village. Finding deserted Indian villages was not unheard of. By this time, lots of natives knew that the arrival of Spaniards was not good news. Many chiefs thought that the safest course of action was to leave their villages. That way they could steer clear of the Spanish. Sometimes the Indians would return to the village later. But that was only after the Spanish had moved away. De Soto and his men established a base in the abandoned village. They began to explore the surrounding land. They made a remarkable discovery on their exploration. They found a Spaniard who had been living among the natives. He had learned a bit of their language. His name was Juan Ortiz. He had been a member of the disastrous Narvaez expedition. Juan Ortiz had been treated cruelly by one Native American chieftain. He was later adopted by another tribe. The Spanish were astonished to find him living like a native. Native Americans would sometimes adopt outsiders into their tribes. That even included Europeans. And they did this despite knowing that Europeans wanted to conquer their lands. The Spanish listened to Ortiz’s stories. They made him one of their translators.


De Soto left some men near the coast. He took others to explore inland. They made their way through swamps and dense woods. They found more deserted villages. They helped themselves to whatever food and supplies were left behind. Some of the natives attacked the Spaniards as they marched. They would ambush de Soto and his men in the swamps. Then they would run away. De Soto fought back. De Soto wished to discourage others from attacking. So, his strategy was to be vicious early-on. That way, he thought, word would get around that he and his men were not worth attacking. He hoped that this might save more of his men in the long run. As de Soto moved inland, he would often take natives as prisoners. He’d use them as guides in the new land.

By mid-September, de Soto and his men came to a village called Napituca. The local chief, Vitachuco, seemed friendly. But Juan Ortiz told de Soto that this friendliness might be an act. Ortiz had heard rumors. He thought that Vitachuco might plot against de Soto. De Soto would take no chances. He attacked the people of Napituca. He took Vitachuco prisoner. Even though he was a prisoner, Vitachuco was not treated as poorly as other prisoners. He was allowed to keep some of his servants. And he often ate with de Soto. De Soto kept the chief in comfortable surroundings on purpose. Then, maybe Vitachuco and his tribe would cooperate with him. This strategy seemed to be working. But, one night Vitachuco and his tribe attacked. The Spaniards soon won this battle, and they killed Vitachuco.


After this incident, the Spaniards marched farther north into Florida. De Soto listened to a native who he’d taken prisoner. He told them of a city to the north in what is now South Carolina. It was called Cofitachequi. He said that the chief was a woman. And she had lots of gold and pearls. De Soto and his men marched on. They passed through what’s now Georgia. They went on into north-central South Carolina. There they met “la Sehora de Cofitachequi.” That means “the Lady of Cofitachequi.” At first, she was friendly. She allowed them to stay in her village. As it turned out, she had just a bit of gold. But she did have some pearls. She gave some of them to the Spaniards as gifts. Later, though, de Soto arrested the Lady of Cofitachequi. He held her hostage, and he marched on.

We can’t be sure what happened to the Lady of Cofitachequi. But according to some historians, she stayed with them for a time. Then one day, when de Soto and his men were not looking, she took her opportunity to escape through the woods. They were unfamiliar with the land. So, the Spaniards could not track the Lady of Cofitachequi down. Thus, they never saw her again.


De Soto and his men went through what’s now Georgia and South Carolina. They went northwest to the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They passed through lands controlled by the Mississippians. Each place they went, they looked for gold. But they had very little success. The de Soto expedition eventually reached what’s now known as Alabama. That’s where they fought one of their biggest battles. They killed more than two thousand Mississippians. Only twenty-two of de Soto’s men were killed. But about two hundred were injured. That included de Soto himself. The Spanish lost lots of their horses, too. By November of 1540, the de Soto expedition had gone into Mississippian territory. They found themselves in northeastern Mississippi. They spent the winter in an abandoned native village. Eventually, the Mississippians attacked. They fired flaming arrows. The Spanish escaped. But it was only due to their stampeding horses, who scared off the fighting natives.


De Soto’s men’s lives were full of constant marching and fighting. His men grew quite tired. They were ready to go home. They were now convinced that there was little gold to be found in these parts of America. Some of them began to plan a mutiny against de Soto. De Soto, though, did not want to give up and go home empty-handed. He pushed his men on. They marched and fought their way west. In May of 1541, they reached the mighty Mississippi River. They did not let that river stop them. They constructed makeshift flatboats. Under the cover of night, they hid from the attacking natives. They used the boats to ferry the men and the horses across the wide river. Who remembers the saying “the last straw?” It means that this was all that the men could take. They’d had enough. You’ll learn more about this saying later.

De Soto and his men crossed the Mississippi. They then explored what’s now Arkansas. Near what’s now Camden, Arkansas, they met new natives. This tribe lived in tipis, and they hunted buffalo. De Soto spent the winter there. By the spring of 1542, even de Soto was demoralized. He had found almost no gold. He had lost many of his men. And his horses could barely walk. His translator, Juan Ortiz, had died. And the other translators were having trouble understanding the local natives. All of these terrible events together became the “last straw.”


De Soto came down with a bad fever. He spent his days in bed. But the fever got worse. De Soto died on May 21, 1542. His men attached stones to his body. Then they tossed it into the Mississippi River. According to legend, De Soto had told the Native Americans that he was immortal. He claimed that he was able to live forever. So, his men sank his body in the Mississippi River. That’s so that the Native Americans would not discover his body and see that this was a lie.

The remaining men of the expedition made their way back to the Gulf of Mexico. There, they built seven boats. In July of 1543, they floated along the Gulf Coast, past Texas. They finally made their way back to the Spanish outposts in Mexico. It had been a trying journey. The men on the de Soto expedition were the first known Europeans to explore the southeastern U.S. They had covered vast new lands north and west of present-day Florida.


Chapter Five: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
It’s one day in 1536. We now enter an office in Mexico City. Here we meet Don Antonio de Mendoza. He was the viceroy of New Spain. He was seated, listening to a fellow Spaniard. His friend was named Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. Cabeza De Vaca told him an astonishing tale. He told Mendoza of what he’d seen on the disastrous Narvaez expedition. Mendoza was fascinated by this amazing tale of adventure and survival in foreign lands. But there was a part of the tale that intrigued Mendoza the most. That was the report Cabeza de Vaca gave about “gold cities.” Cabeza de Vaca had spent much time with the Native Americans. He’d heard much talk of a land to the north of them. It was a land that was said to be rich in gold. This land was called the Seven Cities of Cibola. It was believed that Cibola was a region to the north. It contained seven wealthy cities. Each one was bursting with gold. Mendoza was excited by this report. He was eager to find this gold.

Mendoza decided to find the Seven Cities of Cibola. He recruited a French priest named Friar Marcos. Further, he brought with them a man named Esteban. He was a slave who had traveled with Cabeza de Vaca. He, too, had survived the Narvaez expedition. He was recruited to go along as a guide and translator on their investigative travels north. Esteban was a Moor. He had been relocated to Spain as a slave. By now, he had become a very experienced explorer. Esteban had come in contact with lots of Native American groups on his travels. He had learned a few things about their ways of life.


It was now the spring of 1539. These two men, with a group of Native Americans, set off to the north. They walked along trails that had been blazed by Indian traders. Esteban knew the land well. And he traveled at a much faster rate than Friar Marcos. That’s because Friar Marcos wanted to preach Christianity to the Native Americans along the way. That took more time. So, the two men decided to split up. They came up with a way for Esteban to get messages to Friar Marcos. What if Esteban found a good-sized city with SOME gold? He would send back a small cross. It would be about the size of a hand. What if he found a big city with LOTS of gold? He would send back a large cross. It would be about the size of an arm. If he found a HUGE city and a very large amount of gold, he was to send back an even larger cross.

Esteban had spent a few days scouting the region. He sent Friar Marcos a cross the size of a man. That indicated that Esteban knew or suspected the existence of large cities with great amounts of gold. Friar Marcos was stunned as he continued to follow Esteban’s path. He followed Esteban’s footsteps for a number of days. Then, messengers brought him disturbing news. They told him that Esteban had been killed in a pueblo called Hawikuh. It was thought to be one of the cities of Cibola. The place known as Hawikuh is in present-day New Mexico. Esteban had presented himself to the Zuni of Hawikuh as a great medicine man and healer. But the village elders in the pueblo were suspicious of Esteban. So, they killed him.


Friar Marcos was shocked to hear of Esteban’s death. He thought, now, that it was not safe to go to Hawikuh. If he were killed, then no one would know of their discovery of gold. So, he went back to Mexico. He had only seen the town of Hawikuh from a distance. He told the Spanish about their journey. He talked of the large cross that Esteban had sent back. He said that it proved the existence of large cities with great quantities of gold.

The Spanish listened closely. They asked Friar Marcos if he had seen the golden cities of Cibola. He said that he had. He told them that Hawikuh was bigger and richer than Tenochtitlan. That had been the capital of the Aztec Empire. He was sure of the truth behind Esteban’s message of the large cross. So, he led the Spanish to believe that he had really seen the city. When the Spaniards heard his report, they thought that the city Esteban and Friar Marcos had seen might be “El Dorado.” That means the “golden one.” They had heard of this legend from lots of natives. But no one had ever been able to find it. Soon, all the conquistadors in Mexico were filled with hope. Maybe they’d get a chance to explore and conquer this land of wealth. In the end, Mendoza appointed a young man to lead an expedition to Cibola. His name was Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.


It was now February of 1540. Coronado assembled his team in the town of Compostela. That was in northern Mexico. Coronado wore bright, gilded armor. He recruited 337 Spanish soldiers. 220 of them rode on horses. Also on the venture were 700 Indian slaves. They would be servants to the Spaniards. They’d take care of large herds of sheep and cattle that would be marching with the men. There were also priests on this trip. There were a few women, too, which back then was not the norm for such a trip. One of the priests was Friar Marcos. Everyone was thrilled about getting rich from the gold that they’d find in Cibola.

Coronado and his men marched north. They labored through the hot dry lands of northern Mexico. They went ten to fifteen miles a day. When they came to rivers, they built makeshift rafts. They used them to ferry themselves and their animals across. They saw some small pueblos. But those Native Americans had no gold. So, Coronado and his men pressed on. They crossed bush and desert. They soon entered into what’s now the U.S. Friar Marcos and the Indian guides led Coronado to the pueblo of Hawikuh. That’s where Esteban had met his end. Coronado and his men approached. The Zuni came out to meet them. They carried weapons and rocks. They drew a line on the ground by sprinkling corn meal. That was their way of telling the Spaniards something. “You are not to come any farther!” They were resolved to protect their town.


One of the Spanish priests came forward. He began to read a long statement. An interpreter tried to translate the message to the Zuni. It said that the Indians were expected to convert from their religion to Christianity. Further, they were to accept the King of Spain as their king. If they did not agree to do so, then the Spanish would attack them. The Native Americans listened for a while. But then, they began to shoot arrows and to toss stones. Coronado and his men charged. The Zuni men ran back to their pueblos. They fired arrows and threw rocks from the top of their pueblos. They had been built on hills and cliff sides for protection. Coronado was hit by a big rock. Then a second rock struck his helmet. It knocked him off of his horse. He lay on the ground, unconscious. But his men carried on the battle.

Coronado’s men did, in the end, win the battle. They quickly saw that Hawikuh was not a vast city on the same scale as Tenochtitlan. The Zuni lived in pueblos. These were multi-story houses made out of stone and plaster. The Zuni who lived there had no gold, no silver, and no valuable jewels. The conquistadors were furious with Friar Marcos. Some of them thought that he should be put to death for misleading them. What could Esteban have meant by sending back a large cross? That remains unclear to this day. Regardless, Coronado did not give up hope. He sent men to explore the nearby area. After all, there were supposed to be seven cities in Cibola. He hoped that some of the other cities would have more gold than Hawikuh.


The next few weeks went by. Coronado and his men kept exploring the region of Cibola. They found lots of pueblo villages, but no gold. Coronado then split his forces up. He sent scouting parties off in a number of directions. One group went northwest. They went through Hopi territory in what’s now northern Arizona. They went on until they were stopped in their tracks by a massive canyon. It was more than a mile deep. These men were the first known Europeans to see the Grand Canyon. It’s now viewed as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World.” Another group went southwest. They went along the Colorado River. They ventured several hundred miles downstream from the Grand Canyon. Today this section of the river forms the border between California and Arizona. A third group went east from Cibola. They went through eastern New Mexico. They visited the Acoma pueblo. That’s a pueblo that can still be visited today. It’s near present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico. This group crossed the Rio Grande. That’s a large river that runs south through New Mexico. It forms part of the present-day border between the U.S. and Mexico.


They passed north through the land of the twelve Rio Grande Pueblos. That’s an area by the Rio Grande River. It was occupied by Native Americans who the Spanish called the Tiguex Indians. There they observed the Great Plains. That’s where they saw great herds of buffalo roaming. The Spaniards were fascinated by the shaggy buffalo. At first they found it a difficult animal to hunt. In time, though, they learned to hunt the animal with spears. That’s just as the Native Americans did.

The Spanish were on the Plains, admiring the buffalo. There, one of their native guides told them of a place far to the east. He called it Quivira. He said it was a wealthy city. Hearing this, Coronado marched east. He hoped to find Quivira and the gold that he had missed in Cibola. During their searches, the Spaniards treated the natives they encountered horribly. They killed many of them. Eventually, they crossed into Texas. Then they headed onto the Great Plains. There, tens of thousands of buffalo grazed around them.


During their journey, they met the Querechos. These were nomadic natives of the Great Plains. They lived by moving with the buffalo herds. These Native Americans of the Great Plains were hunters of the buffalo. They used the meat of the buffalo for food. They supplemented their diet with plants that they gathered. They used the skins to make clothes and shoes. They used the bones of the buffalo, as well as stones, to make tools. They burned buffalo dung, or manure, for fuel. Coronado and his men learned a lot about the Querechos’ way of life. Of course, part of what they learned was that they had no gold! Coronado and his men moved on, yet again. This time they made their way through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Finally, Coronado and his men reached Quivira. But is was not a wealthy city. All they found were a few villages and some grass huts. There was no gold at all. He and his men spent the winter near Quivira. When spring came, they began their long journey back to Mexico.

Coronado and his men had ridden forth on this expedition so confidently. They all had high hopes of finding gold. But in the end, they had no success in finding wealth. He and his men limped back southward to Mexico with no gold. In fact, Coronado had lost a large sum of money that he had invested in the expedition.


Chapter Six: Spanish Settlements
The journeys of de Soto and Coronado were quite telling. They showed that the great age of the conquistadors would soon end. Both men had hoped to find huge riches. They aimed to outdo the achievements of Cortes and Pizarro. But both of their journeys would fail. Both found little gold. De Soto didn’t even make it home. Coronado did. But he came home beaten down and depressed. Plus, he’d lost the large investment that he had made in his journeys.

So, how did the Spaniards now view the North American mainland? They now knew that there was just no gold to be found there. They’d now turn most of their efforts to the colonies that they’d set up farther south. These were spread throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. But they did not forget about the rest of North America entirely. They had built a few forts to protect their colonies and ships. And they had sent some missionaries to convert the Native Americans to Christianity.

In the 1560s, the French were exploring Florida’s east coast. They set up a fort named Fort Caroline. Some men from the fort became pirates. They would attack Spanish ships that sailed in the Caribbean.


The Spanish knew that they had to build their own fort on Florida’s coast. This was for a number of reasons. The French now had a fort in the region. But the Spanish did not want competition in this part of North America. Mostly, though, the Spanish wished for a fort to protect their ships.

They sent a man named Pedro Menendez de Aviles. He would set up just such a fort. He got there in August of 1565. He found a safe harbor. It was where a river flowed into the Atlantic. His men set up the fort. They named it St. Augustine. That name was after a Christian saint. Soon, the Spanish attacked the French Fort Caroline. They caught the French off guard. They defeated them soundly. The fort was renamed San Mateo once the Spanish had captured it.

St. Augustine, Florida, was set up in 1565. That was twenty years before the English settlement on Roanoke Island. It was forty-two years before Jamestown. There have been people living there ever since. In fact, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental U.S!

The Spanish sent missionaries to the New World, as well. Their job was to convert the natives to Christianity. They set up communities called “missions.” Pedro Menendez was a key influence in having them brought to North America. He was the first Spanish colonial governor in Florida. He said that ships that came from Spain must have a priest on board. They would serve as a missionary. The Spanish set up a number of missions in the 1570s. These were in Florida and on the islands off the coast of Georgia. Spanish missions were set up in Mexico, too. These were near the border of the current-day U.S.


A few decades passed. We now turn to the 1590s. The Spanish were setting up missions in the Southwest. That was in today’s New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Then in the 1700s, the Spanish built a string of missions on the Pacific Coast of California. The Spanish did this not just to convert the natives to Christianity. They also aimed to develop allies among these converted people.

Lots of U.S. cities in the Southwest began as missions named for Christian saints. Here are some of them. San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Barbara in California. And San Antonio in Texas. Each mission was centered around a church. Churches were made of stone masonry or adobe (clay bricks). That depended on where they were. Missionaries would often live in one building. The converted Native Americans would live within the mission in their own homes. They were made of stone or adobe, too. Most missions had farms and orchards. The natives were taught to grow crops like corn, wheat, and barley. But they were to use farming techniques from Europe. Some natives were taught crafts, as well. Some of these were carpentry, woodworking, weaving, soap-making, and candle-making. Depending on the locale, some missions raised livestock. These included cattle and sheep. The cattle ranches were set up just outside the mission. Most missions had bakeries and craft shops. And they had storerooms for the crops grown on the farms and orchards. Lots of missions had tailors, carpenters, and blacksmiths, as well.


In the missions, the natives went to a school. They were taught by priests. Their classes included religious teachings. They were taught about Christianity. They learned of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They learned to say Christian prayers. A normal day in a mission had religion classes and religious services. It was likely that adults and older siblings would work in the mission’s farms or orchards. The young children were taught to read, write, and speak in Spanish. They were not taught in their native language.

Some missionaries and conquistadors shared some similarities. But there were differences, too. Most missionaries did not try to conquer people using force. Some were, though, trying to defeat the natives’ ways of life. They would promote Christianity and European ways of living. That meant that some of them tried to extinguish the natives’ traditional religion, culture, and language. Some thought that removing their way of life would be helpful to the natives. Similar to conquistadors, some of the missionaries made slaves of the natives. They would put them to work on the farms. Lots of local native populations also suffered the same fate as those who had first met with Columbus. Many became infected and died of diseases to which most of the Spanish were now immune.


Some Native Americans accepted Christianity. They lived in the local missions. Lots of others did not like being forced to take on the new European way of life. Nor did they want to take on Christian religion. They wished to keep their language, their religion, and their traditional ways of life. In time, some natives rebelled against the missions in their regions.

In 1680, we meet a Native American from the Tewa Pueblo tribe. His name was Pope. He successfully led a rebellion that evicted the Spanish from their pueblos. This restored their way of life for a brief time. They regained control of their pueblos. They extinguished the Spanish culture and Christian religion. They restored their native customs. But a decade passed after Pope’s death. The Spanish returned and reconquered the land.

In time, the U.S. would expand to the south and west. It took over Spanish lands in Florida and the Southwest. Most of the Spanish missions were abandoned when Spanish lands came under control of the U.S. government. But a few of them still operate today. Many can still be visited. If you live in the Southwest, or can travel there, you can visit a historic mission yourself.

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 42 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: Algonquian, Amsterdam, Breton, Bristol, Cartier, Cartier’s, Confederacy, Croix, Dutchmen, Hopewell, Hudson’s, Kebek, Labrador, Mannahatta, Matthew, Novaya, Scotia, Spitsbergen, abounds, accomplishments, approbation, archipelago, beleaguer, cheaply, circumference, claiming, colonize, commandeer, conceits, credited, cultivation, cultures, designation, desires, distinctions, forays, geographer, geometry, honed, honorary, identic, investors, itinerary, latitudes, locals, mariner, maximal, mayhap, misfortunes, mutinied, narrowed, narrows, nascent, navigational, northerly, paving, ponder, populous, prerogative, preys, profitable, prospered, purlieus, pursued, requisite, seawater, speculated, spherical, sponsored, supposedly, threatening, undertakings, voyaged, walruses, widening, zemlya

Chapter Seven: John Cabot
A while back, you learned of Columbus. He was the Italian who sailed on behalf of Spain. Now you’ll learn of John Cabot. He was an Italian explorer, too. But he sailed on behalf of England.

We don’t know much of Cabot’s early years. It’s thought that he was born in Genoa, Italy. That’s where Columbus was born. He was born close to the same time as Columbus, too. When he was young, he was known by his Italian name. He went by Giovanni Caboto. He lived for years in the Italian city of Venice. There, he worked as a merchant and a mariner. His work led him to sail along the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. There, he honed his navigational skills. As a merchant, he wondered how he could get spices more quickly and cheaply. He wished to find a westward water route. That would take him to the East. In 1493, Columbus had the same conceits. All of Europe, then, wished to find a water route to Asia. But they wished to get there by heading west. A number of years passed while Cabot was in Venice. Then he relocated to Bristol, England. That was in 1495. Soon, Cabot took steps to go on a voyage of his own. But this one would not be identic with Columbus’s.


Cabot began to ponder a nascent thought. He knew that the Earth was spherical. And he knew one of the key distinctions of a sphere. That is that the distance around it is maximal at the middle. That would be at its circumference. The distance is shorter on the top or the bottom. He applied this geometry to the Earth. It means that the distance around the Earth is greatest at the equator. And it’s less, if one is north or south of the equator. Think about a basketball. The circumference of a basketball is thirty inches. But what if you measure at a point closer to the top? It’s only fifteen inches.

Cabot thought about Columbus’s undertakings to sail to the East Indies. Mayhap he had made a strategic mistake. He had sailed in the middle latitudes. He sailed close to the equator. That’s where the distances would be longest. Cabot thought he could get to the East Indies faster. He would sail at a more northerly latitude. There, the distances would be shorter. He thought it would be smart to head north. He hoped to find a “Northwest Passage.” That would lead to Asia and the East Indies.

Cabot looked for sponsors and investors. He needed approbation for his voyage to find the Northwest Passage. In 1496, Henry VII, the king of England, sponsored him. Merchants in Bristol helped to back the trip, as well. The king gave Cabot the prerogative to explore and commandeer new lands for England. Cabot was also encouraged to bring any merchandise that he acquired back to Bristol. He was told that he would get a great share of the trade profits if the trip was a success.


Cabot made three journeys across the Atlantic. The first voyage from Bristol was not a good one. Cabot and his men faced bad weather. And they ran short on supplies. Further, Cabot had some fights with his crew in regard to his itinerary. There were too many misfortunes that took place. Thus, he made the call to turn and sail back to Bristol.

Cabot’s second voyage was more of a success. Again, he had just one ship. It was a small ship. It was called the Matthew. There was a crew of just eighteen men. They set sail from Bristol in May of 1497. They sailed past Ireland. Then they went across the Atlantic. On June 24, they sighted land. It’s thought that they made landfall somewhere in the area of southern Labrador, Newfoundland, or Cape Breton Island in present-day Canada. But the exact place is not known for sure.

Cabot barely occupied himself with any time on land. It seems that he and his men got off the ship just once. And they did not walk inland more than a few hundred feet. They did not meet any Native Americans. But they did find signs of their village. Cabot claimed the land for England. Then he collected some fresh water and got back on board his ship. Cabot and his men spent time exploring the coast of what’s now known as the Cabot Strait. That’s a channel sixty miles wide. It’s between northern Cape Breton Island and southwestern Newfoundland. They found one key thing. They saw that there were good fishing grounds where they sailed. One more thing seems likely. Cabot was the first European to set foot in this part of North America since around the year 1000 A.D. That’s when the Vikings had voyaged to the New World.


Cabot went back to England. He went to see King Henry VII. He was sure that he had been to the northeast coast of Asia. He said that he had found good land in a place with a nice climate. He talked of the good fishing grounds. He said that England could make great use of them. That made the king quite happy. That’s because, at the time of Cabot’s voyage, fish was quite an expensive commodity.

Cabot saw that his findings were welcomed. So, he wished to return to the land that he’d explored. He planned to sail until he reached another land in Asia full of spices and riches. That was the land that is now called Japan. In February 1498, he got permission from the king to head out on a new voyage. Little is known of this third trip. Historians don’t know this for sure. But this trip likely had around two hundred men, and maybe five ships. But there was lots of bad luck. When Cabot and his team set off, one of his ships became damaged. And the whole fleet had to stop in Ireland. That was due to bad storms. Cabot was supposedly not heard from again. Some think that he might have died on that trip. Others think that he came back from his voyage and lived in London for a short time. That would have been near the year 1500. There is little known about this trip, or the purlieus of Cabot after it. So, we can’t be sure of its outcome.


Cabot was like Columbus in lots of ways. Both men were born in Genoa, Italy. Both men got foreign kings to fund their journeys. Both men tried to sail to the East Indies and found something else altogether. Cabot’s journeys proved to be key for England. His attempts to find a Northwest Passage to the East Indies failed. But finding and claiming land in North America, instead, were requisite toward paving the way for England to later set up British colonies.


Chapter Eight: Henry Hudson
Cabot was not the sole man who wished to find a better route to the Indies. English explorer Henry Hudson had the same aspiration. He, too, thought of a Northwest Passage. Not much is known about Hudson’s young life. But we do know that he wondered about Arctic geography. He made his first trip to find the Northwest Passage in 1607. That was more than a hundred years after Cabot’s trips. Hudson’s thought about how he might get to the Indies was a lot like Cabot’s. But he pursued a plan to sail straight north. He hoped to sail right over the North Pole. He knew the polar lands were cold and icy. But he knew that the sun did not set in the summer months. He thought that the summer sun might melt a lot of the ice. That could make it possible to sail over the top of the Earth. Then he’d come out on the far side of the world. He’d be in Asia.

It was May of 1607. Hudson left England with one ship. It was called the “Hopewell.” Six weeks later, it was mid-June. His men saw the eastern coast of Greenland. Hudson sailed along that coast. Then he turned and sailed northeast. He would have gone due north. But ice got in the way. Over the course of their trip, he and his men saw many unfamiliar creatures. These included whales, seals, and walruses. In mid-July, they reached the Spitsbergen archipelago. That’s a chain of islands that has an arctic climate. Hudson tried to sail through this region. But it was surrounded by pack ice. That’s frozen seawater. On May 16, Hudson’s ship almost got stuck in the ice. For a while, it was “touch and go.” A few days passed. Hudson knew that he could not reach the North Pole this way. That was due to all the ice. He turned and sailed back to England.


In 1608, Hudson made a second attempt to sail through the North Pole. He sailed north of Scandinavia and Russia. He sailed more than 2,500 miles. He made it to some islands off the coast of Russia. They were known as “Novaya Zemlya.” (That means “New Land”). But there was too much ice in the water. He had to turn back.

In 1609, Hudson made a third attempt. This time he sailed for the Dutch. He sailed under the flag of the Dutch East India Company. That was a trading company. It was formed to protect their trade in the East Indies. They hired Hudson. They gave him clear orders. He was to take a route like he’d tried on his last trip. He’d sail north of Scandinavia and Russia. They all had the same hope. They wished to sail over the top of the Earth. They aimed to emerge in Asia. Hudson left from Amsterdam in April of 1609. That city is in the Netherlands. He was on board a Dutch ship. It was called the “Half Moon.” He made his way north. But he saw more and more ice. This was the same bad luck. There was just too much ice. Hudson had to give up. He turned around in mid-May. But he did not sail back to Amsterdam! He did not do as he had been told to do. He boldly made the call to sail west. He sailed across the Atlantic. They saw Newfoundland on July 12. They sailed up and down the coast of North America. He saw much of what is now the east coast of the U.S. He and his men sailed as far south as Virginia. That’s where Jamestown had just been set up. Then they turned north.


On September 3, they came to a large river. It emptied into the Atlantic. Hudson saw the river widening out. He thought it might be a passage that would lead all the way through North America. Could this be his Northwest Passage? They sailed upstream and explored the river. Farther upstream, the river narrowed. So, Hudson began to think that it wouldn’t lead him through the continent. But, it was still quite a discovery. Hudson claimed the region for the Netherlands and the Dutch.

Hudson and his crew met lots of Native Americans up the river. They were of the Algonquian-speaking tribes. Some Native Americans tried to beleaguer them. Others came to the ship to trade. The Indians offered furs to Hudson in trade. This started the fur trade along the Hudson River! One group had Hudson to dinner. Later, Hudson told of what he had experienced in his journal.


“I sailed to the shore in one of their canoes. There was an old man. He was the chief of a tribe. The tribe had forty men and seventeen women. There was a house, well-constructed of oak bark. It was circular in shape. So, it had the look of being built with an arched roof. It contained a great quantity of maize or Indian corn. And there were beans from the last year’s growth. They lay near the house for the purpose of drying. There were enough to load three ships. And that was besides what grew in the fields. I came into the house. Two mats were spread out to sit on. Some food was quickly served in well-made red wooden bowls. Two men brought in a pair of pigeons which they had shot. They speculated that I would remain with them for the night. But I went back, after a short time, to board the ship. The land is the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon. It also abounds in trees of every designation. These natives are a very good people. When they saw that I would not stay, they thought that I was scared of their bows. So, they took up their arrows. Then they broke them in pieces and threw them into the fire.”


In late September, Hudson made the call to sail back to Europe. He wanted to stay in the “New World” for the winter. But his men were tired of exploring. They were threatening to mutiny.

The river that Hudson found on his third voyage was named for him. Even now it’s known as the Hudson River. More Dutchmen came to this part of the world after Hudson. They built a city at the mouth of the river. It was on an island that the Indians called “Mannahatta.” The Dutch called this city New Amsterdam. Later, its name was changed to New York. Today, Manhattan is the name of one of the parts of New York City. They are called “boroughs.” And New York City is the most populous city in the U.S.

In 1610, Hudson set off on a fourth voyage. This time he was sponsored by two English Companies. One was the Virginia Company. One was the British East India Company. They were much like the Dutch East India Company. They were trading companies, too. Hudson’s goal was the same. He wished to find a Northwest Passage.


Hudson sailed west. But he stayed far to the north. He reached Greenland in early June. A few weeks passed. Then, they found a large strait. It led into the center of North America. Hudson hoped it might lead all the way through to Asia. On August 2, Hudson sailed out of the strait. He found himself in a large bay. Now this bay is known as the Hudson Bay. And the strait is known as the Hudson Strait.

Hudson spent the next few months exploring the coast of the bay. In November, his ship got stuck in the ice. He and his crew had to go ashore for the winter. It was a tough, freezing cold winter. The men fought with Hudson. They fought with each other. A lot of them fell ill with scurvy. That’s a disease that preys on people who have not been eating a healthy, balanced diet.

At last, spring came. Hudson wished to explore some more. But most of the men wanted to sail back to England. A big fight broke out. In the end, the men mutinied. They gathered Hudson, his son, and some others who they did not like. They put them in a small, open boat. Then they sailed away. Henry Hudson, the great explorer, was never heard from again.


Chapter Nine: Samuel de Champlain
We now turn to the French explorer Samuel de Champlain. He made his first voyages to North America at the time that Hudson was trying to find the Northwest Passage. Champlain earned a good reputation for himself. He was known as a talented navigator. He had led a two-year journey to the West Indies and Central America. He was the son of a sea captain. So, he was not born into high social status in France. But King Henry IV gave him the honorary title of “royal geographer.” He earned that through his accomplishments as a navigator and talented mapmaker.

In 1603, Champlain was asked to sail in a French fur-trading journey. They would go to a region known then as “New France.” That was in what is present-day Canada. Let’s go a few decades back, for a moment. This is well before Champlain’s expeditions. In 1534, we’ll meet a French navigator and explorer, Jacques Cartier. He made many claims of land to honor France. Here are some of those places. The St. Lawrence River. The Gulf of St. Lawrence. The regions now known as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Cartier had tried to colonize an area around present-day Quebec. It failed at that time. But some good came out of it for France. Cartier’s trips were the start to a strong fur trading relationship between France and the local natives.


Champlain’s 1603 expedition had a goal. It was to trade with the natives in “New France.” They were to return with beaver pelts and other furs that could be sold in France. During this voyage, Champlain learned much. He talked to fur traders and fishermen. He met with lots of native people in the places that he visited. He made a map of the St. Lawrence River, too. That’s a long river that flows away from the Great Lakes. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean. When he went back to France, he wrote a report of his journeys.

By 1604, Champlain took part in an attempt to start a colony in “New France.” This was with just a small group of French colonists. They suffered a hard winter where they first settled. That was near the mouth of the St. Croix River. Sadly, almost half of the colonists died. Champlain and a few men went on to scout out the nearby lands. The colonists who lived then moved to what’s now Nova Scotia. This colonization attempt was not a success. But Champlain took this time to explore and map places along the Atlantic coast. At one point, he sailed as far south as Cape Cod.


Champlain kept looking for a good spot for a colony. He focused on the northeastern Atlantic coast. He finally made his choice. He thought that the best place for a French colony was along the St. Lawrence River. He had a vision. He wished for this place to be a control center for the fur trade. This was a sign of a key change in the way that Europeans thought of North America. Cabot and Hudson had tried to find a way to go AROUND America. Or a way to go THROUGH it. They were not interested in America and its resources. They wished for goods from Asia and the East Indies. It was all about spices and silk. They thought of America as blocking their way. With Champlain, there was a new way of thinking. Yes, he would still like to find a Northwest Passage. He went on some journeys where that was a key goal. But he and many of the men who came after him began to think of North America in new ways. It was no longer just an obstacle on the path to more profitable lands. It was now seen as a place that was profitable in its own right. And it might just be a place worth settling!


In 1608, Champlain had new orders. He was to lead a voyage of three ships. There would be some thirty-two colonists from France. He sailed up the river. He started a settlement. It was named Quebec City. They faced yet another brutal winter. Only nine of the original colonists, including Champlain, lived through it. But more settlers came that next June. At first, Quebec City was little more than a fort. But Champlain had a dream. He had big hopes for Quebec City. He wished that it could be the capital of a large, prosperous French colony. He spent the rest of his life working to make that dream come true. He set up a fur-trading station in Quebec City. Native Americans could bring furs to the city. And French traders would buy the furs and ship them back to France.

Champlain wished to make sure that the settlers at Quebec City would not be attacked by the locals. So, he made an alliance with some of the nearby tribes. They all lived along the St. Lawrence. They included the Huron and the Algonquin people. He backed up these tribes in a war against the Iroquois. That was a large confederacy of tribes who were to the south. They lived in what’s now New York State. Champlain led forays against the Iroquois. In 1609, he was the first European to see the lake that’s now named for him. That’s “Lake Champlain,” of course. In 1615, he was the first known European to see the Great Lakes. And there was more than just a military alliance between Champlain and the tribes. They learned things from each other, as well. Even the name of the new city, Quebec, was borrowed from the Algonquian language. That was spoken by many Native Americans throughout North America. The word “Quebec” comes from the Algonquian word “kebek.” It meant “where the river narrows.”


Champlain made a number of trips to France. He would recruit new settlers. He would secure French government support for his colony. He got married and brought his new wife to settle with him in Quebec City. He brought missionaries to “New France,” too. They would teach the natives about Christianity. The missionaries worked with the fur traders and the settlers. They helped to extend French settlements farther inland. In the end, Champlain was a success. Quebec did not just survive. It prospered! It was the first permanent French settlement in North America. The lands that made up “New France” were part of the French empire for more than a hundred years. In time, they became part of a larger country now known as Canada.

You’ve now learned of lots of European explorers. What exciting journeys they must have had! You’ve learned of their desires for wealth, spices, and gold. You’ve found that they were brave to explore unfamiliar lands and seas. These explorers went on investigative travels to find answers to their questions. Now it’s our turn to ask a question. Who was the first known European to “discover” America?


As you’ve heard, Columbus is the European often credited with “discovering” the Americas. He searched for a route to the East Indies. He accidentally bumped into islands in the Caribbean. That’s what we now call the West Indies.

But there is another European who came to the New World first! The Viking explorer Leif Eriksson had also come to the Americas. He landed in Vinland. That’s in present-day Canada. It’s now called Newfoundland. Historians think that the Vikings came to North America five hundred years before Columbus and Cabot. Cabot landed in the same region as the Vikings. Newfoundland was not continuously inhabited. But it had certainly been by the time Columbus went to the Caribbean.

Think of all of the European explorers who we’ve learned about. Columbus, Ponce de Leon, de Soto, Coronado, Cabot, Hudson, and Champlain. They came to different parts of the Americas. They claimed their discoveries in honor of their countries. But it’s important to remember what they saw after these explorers had made landfall. They learned that there were already people living in North America. Who were these people?


What do you remember about the Native Americans? They had already been in the Americas for many long years. Archaeologists debate exactly when and how they came here. Most think that they came from Asia. That would have been between 15,000 and 50,000 years ago. There’s strong proof suggesting that there were some 20,000,000 native people in North America when Europeans first arrived. Let’s do some quick math. For each of Columbus’s men who came to North America, there were 10,000 Native Americans already living here!

The native peoples lived according to their own customs and cultures. They planted corn and squash. And they built great civilizations in the Americas. Europeans exploring, and later settling in, the Americas brought with them their own cultures and curiosity. Sadly, they brought deadly diseases, as well. The Europeans brought great changes to the natives’ way of life.

We can’t know for sure who were the first people living in the Americas. And we can’t say when or how they arrived. But we CAN know this. The history, culture, and legacy of both the Native Americans and the European explorers are still evident today.

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 43 – Part Four (The “History & Geography” Unit)

NEW WORDS: Alamo, Appalachian, Dominican, Erie, Fe, Haiti, Incans, Italians, Junipero, Manoa, Nevada, Norway, Ontario, Paso, Portuguese, Serra, Tampa, Valero, Wichita, accidental, ambitions, assaulted, chilies, conqueror, converting, courageously, craftsperson, enslave, expedition’s, exploited, facilitated, foreseen, glows, inspirational, invigorated, jeweled, lethal, loyalty, mapmakers, meshwork, outpost, plastered, presidio, presidios, proving, rainbows, reclaimed, region’s, rejoinder, resisted, shellfish, shipwrecked, sicknesses, subjugated, swaths, vaqueros

Chapter One: Early Spanish Explorers
Big Question. What were European explorers searching for when they sailed west?


Spice, a plant used to add flavor to food.

Unexpected Finds

Have you ever gone to look for something? But you ended up finding something different? Maybe you walked in the woods to pick flowers. But instead, you found a pretty rock.

Well, that’s the way Europeans came to North and South America. Explorers from Europe were on a search. They wished to find a shortcut to the East Indies. But they found the West Indies and two continents.

You know of one of these explorers. Columbus was an Italian. But he sailed for the king and queen of Spain. In 1492, he led three ships out of a Spanish bay. He sailed due west from there.


Columbus Goes West

Columbus was looking for a shortcut to the East Indies. That was a group of islands in Asia where valuable spices grew.

He was guided by three beliefs. He thought that the world was round. He believed that it was smaller than most folks thought. He also thought that he could get to Asia by trying a new route. He’d get there by sailing west across the Atlantic.

What if he’d been taking a test? He’d have just answered one of the three questions correctly. It turned out that the world WAS round. He’d been right about that. But the world was much larger than he thought.

And what of his third belief? It turned out that a large body of land stopped boats from sailing straight to Asia. This land became known as the continents of North and South America.

It was October 12, 1492. He’d been sailing more than a month. Columbus and his men spied an island. He went ashore. He planted a flag in the sand. He claimed the island for the king and queen of Spain. He thought that he had sailed all the way around the world. “This must be the East Indies.” That was why he called the natives who he met “Indians.”


A New World


Colony, an area, region, or country that is controlled and settled by people from another country.

Empire, a group of countries or territories under the control of one government or one ruler.

In fact, Columbus had not found a new route to Asia. He had come to a land that was new to folks from Europe. It was not the world of spices that he had hoped to find. But it was still an interesting place. This place became known as the West Indies.

In the early 1500s, lots of Spanish explorers came to this “New World.” They set up colonies. They would now build a Spanish empire.

Columbus sailed to this new world four times. He set up a colony on Hispaniola. That’s an island in the Caribbean. Now, that island is the location of two countries. They are Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Later, the Spanish set up colonies in more parts of the Caribbean. New colonies were set up on the Islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Spaniards subjugated the Incans of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico. They explored lands that are part of the present-day U.S., too.


Ponce de Leon


Expedition, a special journey taken by a group that has a clear purpose or goal.

Juan Ponce de Leon was the first Spaniard to come to lands that would become part of the U.S. He, like Columbus, was looking for one thing. But he’d end up finding something else.

Ponce de Leon was born in Spain. Some think that he sailed to the Americas with Columbus on his second voyage. In any case, by 1502, Ponce de Leon was in the Americas. He helped the Spaniards take control of Hispaniola from Native Americans. A few years passed, and he led a journey that explored and settled the Island of Puerto Rico.

In Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, de Leon traded in gold and enslaved people. He became very rich. He had everything a man could want. Or did he?

During his travels in the Americas, he heard tales of a magical island called “Bimini.” These tales said that Bimini had gold and pearls. And it was the home of a life-giving fountain. It was said that anyone who drank water from it would stay healthy and young forever. It was called “the Fountain of Youth.”


Season of Flowers

In the spring of 1513, Ponce de Leon sailed north from Puerto Rico. He wished to find this Fountain of Youth. One morning he reached a new coast. He anchored his ship. He waded through the shallow water up onto a beach.

As Columbus had done, he claimed the land for Spain. And he gave the land a new name. The Spanish call the Easter season “Pascua Florida.” That means “season of flowers.” Ponce de Leon came to this land with beautiful flowers on an Easter Sunday. So, he named it “Florida.”


Exploring Florida

For Ponce de Leon, Florida was a new land. But it was not for the Native Americans who lived there. For them, it was an ancient home. Native Americans had lived in Florida for many generations. They’d hunt small animals. They’d fish and gather plants, nuts, and shellfish.

They lived in villages near fresh water. And they had firewood, and stones for making tools. They traded to get things that they could not make or find for themselves. They had lots of traditions and ceremonies. Their way of life had grown over thousands of years.

Ponce de Leon met lots of Native Americans in Florida. Some of them were prepared to fight to keep their homes and way of life. At some point, Ponce de Leon went back to Puerto Rico. There, he spent the next seven years.

In 1521, he went back to Florida. He would try to finish what he had set out to do. He wished to set up a Spanish colony there. But the Native Americans had the same rejoinder as before. They assaulted Ponce de Leon and his crew. The Spaniards could not build a settlement. So, they fled to Cuba. Ponce de Leon was wounded in the fighting. He died in Cuba. And, of course, he did not find the Fountain of Youth.


Chapter Two: De Soto’s Long March
Big Question. What regions in North America did de Soto explore, and what was he looking for?

A Restless Man


Exploit, to take unfair advantage of a person or group.

Let’s meet another Spanish explorer who came upon interesting places in North America. This was Hernando de Soto. Like Ponce de Leon, he was looking for riches. Instead, he came upon the most important river in North America.

De Soto was born in Spain. He came to the Americas when he was just fourteen or fifteen. He became a soldier and explorer. In the early 1530s, he was part of a Spanish expedition. That’s the one that conquered the Inca empire in Peru, South America. He was second in command to the expedition’s leader. That was Francisco Pizarro. Both of them became quite rich. They exploited the people and the riches of Peru.

De Soto took his riches from South America back to Spain. For a number of years, he lived quietly. He just enjoyed his great wealth. Then in 1538, he set out again on another expedition. His wish for more treasure was so great that he helped pay for his own expedition.



The Spaniards Attack


Armor, metal outer covering worn to protect the body in battle.

Disease, sickness.

Smallpox, a serious disease that spreads from person to person and causes a fever and rash.

De Soto sailed first to the West Indies. Then he headed for Florida. He landed on the west coast of Florida. This was not far from Tampa Bay. Once on land, de Soto and his men began to march north.

De Soto knew that natives in Florida had fought Ponce de Leon. So, he came to Florida with about six hundred men. And they had with them European weapons. They would use those weapons against the natives.

The Native Americans who saw de Soto’s men must have been surprised. The Spaniards came with animals that the natives had not seen before. This included horses and pigs. The Spaniards had metal tools and nails, too. And they had guns and armor. These things were not known to the natives.


The Spaniards attacked. The Native Americans fought courageously. But they could not hope to win against the soldiers’ weapons. De Soto marched further north. He and his men burned Native American villages. And they forced native prisoners into slavery.

It’s easy to see why the natives were scared of de Soto and his men. They wished for the Spaniards to leave them in peace. They told de Soto that the gold and silver he was looking for could be found farther north, and perhaps farther west. They told him to just march about ten days in this or that direction. Then he would find what he was looking for. So, he followed their advice.

So, the Spanish moved on. But sadly, they left diseases behind. They did not know this, but they had brought diseases from Europe. The natives had never faced these sicknesses before. Thus, their bodies could not fight them. Large numbers of Native Americans got sick and died. In the years after de Soto’s journey in North America, European diseases killed thousands of Native Americans. One such lethal disease was smallpox. Diseases, as it turned out, did more harm to Native Americans than weapons.

As for de Soto, he was soon exploring much broader domains than he had foreseen. His travels took him through vast swaths of land. He passed through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.


The Mighty Mississippi


Pioneer, one of the first people to settle in a region.

In May 1541, de Soto and his men became the first Europeans to see the river that the natives called “Mississippi.” This likely happened just south of present-day Memphis, Tennessee.

This was a huge find. The Mississippi was (and still is) the most important river in North America. It flows from northern Minnesota all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all of the rivers between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains flow into the Mississippi.

The Mississippi and the rivers that flow into it make up a large network of rivers. These were important to the Native Americans in de Soto’s time. Later, this meshwork was important to the pioneers and farmers who settled the American West. It’s still important to us today. But de Soto did not understand the importance of his find. He had set out to look for gold, not rivers.


In 1542, de Soto caught a fever. He grew ill and died. His men wrapped up his body. Then they placed it in the Mississippi River. Some of de Soto’s men floated down the river on rafts. It took time, but they made their way to Mexico.

Like other Spanish expeditions in America, de Soto’s failed to find gold. But it did lead to surprising finds. These discoveries facilitated the further exploration of North America.


Chapter Three: The Search for El Dorado
Big Question. Why did Coronado and others explore what is now the American Southwest?

A Golden City

What if you could have been with Spanish explorers in the 1500s? You might have heard tales of El Dorado. It was thought to be a famed city of gold. Here are some tales that you might have heard about it.

“El Dorado is a place of great mystery and magic. It is only found after a long journey. To get there, you must travel for many months. You must cross rushing rivers. You must climb steep mountains. You must cross deep valleys and deserts. You’ll see the kingdom for miles before you reach its borders. That’s because it glows like a second sunrise in the light of day. You’ll see its silver towers first. Emeralds, rubies, and pearls shine like rainbows on every rooftop. The chief of this wonderful kingdom is magnificent. He’s covered in gold dust. He wears a jeweled crown. Emeralds fall from his fingertips wherever he goes. No one who lives in this kingdom is ever thirsty, hungry, or sick. No one who lives there has any worries at all. The streets are always filled with dancing and singing. In the fountains in each square, precious stones gently drop into pools of liquid silver.”


The Legend of El Dorado


Plain, a large area of flat land that has few or no trees.

Rainforest, a thick forest that gets a lot of rain and has very tall trees; the tops of the trees create an unbroken layer, or canopy, across the top.

The legend of El Dorado dates back to the first Spanish explorers in the Americas. It was passed around for a long time. When little is known about a land, it’s easy to believe all kinds of tales.

Lots of explorers called the city of gold “El Dorado.” But some said that its real name was perhaps “Manoa,” or “Quivira,” or “Cibola.” Some said that there was just one city of gold. Others insisted that there were seven golden cities located near each other. They were called the Seven Cities of Cibola.

But the greatest mystery of all was the location of these cities. Indeed, they seemed to move. As soon as one place had been explored, Europeans would decide that the cities must be elsewhere.


Explorers from all over Europe wanted to believe the legend. Each one wished to be the one to claim this golden land for himself. They searched from the Amazon rainforest in South America to the plains of Kansas. They searched through the American Southwest. They followed the Rio Grande. They climbed the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The magnificent landscapes may have invigorated them in continuing their search. But for all of them, the search would end in disappointment.




Canyon, a deep valley between mountains, cut through the rock by river water.

Livestock, the animals kept on a farm.

“Scouting party,” (phrase) a few members of a group who are sent out ahead of the rest of the group to get information about an area.

One man who heard these tales was Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. He was a Spanish official in Mexico. He had heard rumors about the Seven Cities of Cibola. He wished to take them for Spain and for himself.

In 1540, he led an expedition north from Mexico into the American West. He took with him three hundred soldiers, more than one thousand Native Americans, and huge herds of livestock. He had what he thought was good information. He thought he knew where the Seven Cities of Cibola were. But his search for gold and treasure would end in the main square of a small Zuni village.


When Coronado arrived, he urged the Zuni people to accept the Christian religion. He told them to pledge their loyalty to the king and queen of Spain. The Zuni people resisted. Coronado’s men then overpowered them. They drove them out of their own village.

Cibola turned out to be a big disappointment. There were no golden towers. There were no walls plastered with silver, and no rubies and emeralds shining on rooftops. There were just some plain mud homes. The villages nearby were just the same. The Seven Cities of Cibola turned out to be seven little villages!


Coronado was disappointed. But he did not give up. He sent scouting parties out in various directions. One day in 1540, one of these parties came upon a gigantic, twisting canyon. The walls of the canyon rose up thousands of feet above the river. They were shining red, orange, and gold in the sun. Coronado’s men were the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon.

These men may have admired the Grand Canyon for a few minutes. But it was not long before they thought of the cities of gold again. They soon moved on.

Coronado and his men spent the winter on the river called the Rio Grande. In Spanish, that means “big river.” It’s not far from where Santa Fe, New Mexico is today. Then they continued their explorations.

Coronado had heard of another golden city called Quivira. He marched northeast to find this city. He got to the place where natives had said Quivira was. But he found just a small village of Wichita people. That was in what is now Kansas.

This time, Coronado did give up on finding the cities of gold. In 1542, he went back to Mexico. He and his men had not found what they were looking for. But they had gained great knowledge of this new land.


Chapter Four: Spanish North America
Big Question. Why did the Spanish decide to build settlements in North America, north of Mexico?


Conquistador, the Spanish word for conqueror.

Mission, a settlement built for the purpose of converting Native Americans to Christianity.

Priest, a person who has the training or authority to carry out certain religious ceremonies or rituals.

Roman Catholic Church, the branch of Christianity led by the pope, whose headquarters is in Rome, Italy.



Let’s look back to the 1500s and early 1600s. Spanish conquerors built a huge empire in the Americas. This empire included islands in the Caribbean Sea. It covered large areas in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

These Spanish conquerors were called “conquistadors.” At first they were not interested in conquering North America. They had not found treasure there.


But their ambitions changed. Spanish merchant ships often sailed from South America. They’d sail along the coast of Florida to Spain. These ships took treasures from the settlements in South America back to Spain. English, Dutch, and French pirate ships took note of them. They tried to capture the Spanish treasure ships. The Spaniards wished to protect their ships. They thought that the best way to do that was to set up forts and settlements. They’d locate them along the coast of Florida.

Let’s visit with a Spaniard named Pedro Menendez de Aviles. It’s 1565, and he has landed 1,500 colonists on the northeastern coast of Florida. He landed not far from where Ponce de Leon had come ashore. That was more than fifty years before. Menendez achieved the goal that Ponce de Leon had not. He set up a successful Spanish colony in Florida. It was called St. Augustine. It still exists. It is the oldest continuing European settlement in the U.S.

The Spaniards built other settlements in parts of Florida. The Roman Catholic Church sent priests to build religious outposts. They called them “missions.” Native Americans were brought in to do the work. Catholic priests taught them about Christianity. These settlements helped Spain to gain control of a wide region of Florida.


The Southwest and California


Blacksmith, a type of craftsperson who makes iron tools by hand.

Spain also expanded its empire by moving north from Mexico. They pushed into the American Southwest. Those areas are now Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. To do this, they built a network of forts and missions. The forts were known as “presidios.” They helped the Spanish control natives who rebelled against them.

Lots of Native Americans joined the missions. For that, they received food and a safe place to live. In return, they had to work and worship there. They had to learn to live like the Spaniards. This meant that they had to give up most of their old ways of life. That included their religious beliefs.


Mission Life

Mission life centered on the church. The priest was at the center of the community. The mission bell rang to tell people what to do during the day. The bell told them when to wake up. It told them when to go to church, and when to pray. It even told them when it was time to work, to eat, to learn, or to sleep.

Most missions had a ranch for raising livestock. They’d raise cattle, sheep, and goats. Native American men worked on these ranches. They’d take care of the animals. These men were called “vaqueros.” They were the first cowboys!

Crops were raised on land near the mission. Natives worked the fields. The crops included corn, beans, chilies, squash, melons, and cotton. There were orchards and vineyards, too. They grew apples, peaches, and grapes.

Native Americans were also taught skills that helped keep the mission going. There were carpenters, blacksmiths, and weavers. They were trained to meet the needs of the community. Women and girls made pottery and woven baskets. They also prepared food for the big noontime meal.

The Spanish settlers set up lots of missions in the Southwest. One of the best known is San Antonio de Valero. It was founded in 1718. Today it is known as “the Alamo.” The Alamo played an important role in the later history of Texas.


In the 1700s, a Spanish priest named Father Junipero Serra set up a number of missions in California. His dream was to set up a chain of them. He wanted them to stretch from Mexico to Alaska. Serra did not attain this goal. But many of the missions that he founded became key cities. San Diego and San Francisco are just two examples.      

The Pueblo Revolt

In some parts, relations between the Spanish and Native Americans were friendly. In lots of other places, though, relations were not good. The Spaniards often used their weapons to conquer and enslave Native Americans. This caused great sorrow and anger for natives. They suffered the loss of their freedom. They witnessed the destruction of their traditional culture.

During the 1670s, the Spanish governor of New Mexico pushed things too far. He tried to force the Pueblo people to give up their religion. He wanted them to become Christians. Those who would not were punished or killed. One of the Pueblos who was punished was an important man named Pope. He responded by fighting back. He said that the spirits of the Pueblo ancestors had talked to him. They told him to drive out the Spanish settlers and their religion.

In 1680, Pope led a huge rebellion. It included more than two dozen Pueblo communities. The groups involved in this lived in widely scattered villages. In some cases, they spoke different languages. But they were united in their wish to drive out the Spaniards. They pushed the Spaniards south to El Paso, Texas. Then, they reclaimed their homelands.


The Pueblo Revolt led by Pope was a success. The Pueblos preserved their independence for twelve years. But in 1692, the Spaniards took over New Mexico again. In the Southwest, and elsewhere in the Americas, European expansion was proving hard to stop.


Chapter Five: Exploring for England
Big Question. What were John Cabot and Henry Hudson looking for?


Merchant, a person who buys and sells goods to earn money.

Trading center, a place where people buy and sell goods.

Meet John Cabot

John Cabot was born in Genoa. He was given the name Giovanni Caboto. Genoa is the Italian city where Columbus was born. As a young man, Cabot was a merchant. He traded goods in lots of ports. In 1490, Caboto moved his family to Spain. Perhaps he hoped to go exploring.

At that time, the Italians did not care to send explorers across the Atlantic. It was the Spaniards and the Portuguese who were intrigued by that. In 1492, Spain sent Columbus on his first trip. Meanwhile, the Portuguese were busy setting up trading centers. These would be on the route that they controlled. That route ran around the tip of Africa. It then crossed the Indian Ocean to India.


A New Found Land


Fleet, a group of ships sailing together with the same purpose and under the direction of the same leader.

Caboto could not get Spain or Portugal to send him out to explore. So, he moved to England. He settled in the port city of Bristol. He changed his name to John Cabot. At last, he persuaded King Henry VII of England to pay for him to sail the Atlantic.

Cabot set sail in May 1497. He sailed under an English flag. He chose a different route than Columbus had used just five years prior. He headed farther north. Five weeks after he left England, he sighted land. Like Columbus, he thought that he’d found an island near China. He named it “New Found Land.” Today, it has the same name. But we write it as a compound word, “Newfoundland.” This land is located along the eastern coast of Canada.

Cabot went back to England. He had no spices or treasures to show the king. But he described the land that he had explored. Of most interest, he told of the rich fishing waters. Cabot said that there were so many fish! All you had to do to catch some was to drop a basket in the water and pull it back up!


King Henry agreed to a second voyage for Cabot. But he would pay for just one ship. Merchants from Bristol paid for three more ships. They hoped that Cabot would find a new trade route to the Spice Islands.

Cabot’s small fleet sailed in May 1498. This time he hoped to reach the Spice Islands of Asia. But he was never seen or heard from again. Perhaps he and his crew drowned in a storm. Or perhaps he and his crew were shipwrecked. They might have been on some lonely coast where no one could rescue them.


The Northwest Passage


Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

European explorers knew that the North American continent was in their way. It blocked an easy route to Asia. So, they quickly began to look for a way around it. Or maybe they could go through it. Columbus looked for this shortcut. And so did John Cabot. Explorers searched for this for hundreds of years. Many thought that it would be a “Northwest Passage.” They thought that there had to be a sea route that would take them on to Asia. They could hardly wait to get there. They’d load their ships with valuable spices.

So, they explored every river mouth that they found in North America. They sailed inland as far as they could. Sooner or later, the rivers would become too narrow or too shallow. Often, the water would freeze into ice. The explorers would have to turn back. They failed so many times. But they did not give up the search.

These trips were still valuable. Key knowledge about the land was gained on every try. Mapmakers used the new knowledge to make more accurate maps in the 1500s. Europe began to understand the shape and size of North America. They now knew that it was so big that it should be called a continent.



Henry Hudson

Now let’s turn to more than one hundred years after John Cabot was lost at sea. We’ll meet an English explorer. He’s named Henry Hudson. He sailed through some of the same waters as Cabot. He too, would try to find a shortcut to Asia. Sometimes Hudson sailed for the English. Other times he sailed for the Dutch. In 1609, he got a job with the Dutch East India Company.

This company made a lot of money from the spice trade. They sent ships all the way around Africa to East Asia. But they wanted to find a quicker route. Hudson had thoughts about finding a passage to the East. He’d try to sail over the top of the world. He’d sail along the northern coast of Russia.

With a small crew, Hudson set sail on board a ship called the Half Moon. He sailed the ship up the coast of Norway. The Half Moon got farther and farther north. And the weather got worse and worse. It was very cold. The crew was not happy. Hudson had to keep the crew from turning against him. So, he changed the ship’s course. He headed toward North America.


A Great River

The Half Moon made it to North America. She sailed down the Atlantic Coast. They looked for a waterway that would lead to the Northwest Passage. This route took them to the mouth of a great river. Could this be the way? Hudson explored the wide, deep channel. He claimed the land on its banks for Holland.

Today we call that waterway the Hudson River. It flows out of New York State. It passes New York City, one of the world’s greatest ports. But there were no cities by the river when Hudson sailed it. And he did not get what he hoped for. The river did not lead to the Pacific Ocean. The water became too shallow for the Half Moon. The disappointed Hudson turned the ship around. He sailed back to Holland.


The Final Voyage


Mutiny, a rebellion of a ship’s crew against the captain.

It was the spring of 1610. Hudson began another voyage. This time he sailed on behalf of England. He sailed northwest in a new ship. She was called the “Discovery.”

The weather was freezing cold. It got colder the farther north he went. The water became icy and dangerous. Hudson took the ship past what’s now Iceland and Greenland. They had sailed for four months. They came upon a great sea and sailed into it. He thought it was the Pacific Ocean. Thrilled by his find, Hudson sailed on.

They sailed west for three more months. The weather grew even colder. Ice soon surrounded the ship, and food ran low. The crew turned against Hudson. In a mutiny, they forced him, his young son, and a few others into a small boat. They left them behind. Then they sailed home. They left Hudson in the bay that now bears his name. He and his son were lost forever.


Chapter Six: Champlain and New France
Big Question. What were some of the things that Champlain noticed about the St. Lawrence River Valley that made it a good place to settle?

The French Get Involved


Custom, a traditional way of acting or doing something.

Let’s meet one of the greatest French explorers. His name was Samuel de Champlain. He made many voyages to North America in the early 1600s. Like Cabot and Hudson, he searched for the Northwest Passage. Champlain also made maps. He collected information about the things he saw. He observed Native Americans and reported on their customs.

On one trip, Champlain sailed south along the coast of what’s now Maine. He went as far south as Cape Cod, in what’s now Massachusetts. On a later trip, he sailed up the St. Lawrence River into what’s now Canada.


A French Colony


Natural resource, something from nature that is useful to humans.

Trading post, a small settlement or store that is set up to sell or trade goods.

Champlain liked the St. Lawrence River Valley right away. That was due to the region’s natural resources. Trees provided timber for building and fruit and nuts for food. There was grassland for raising livestock. There were berries, herbs, and roots for cooking. There were fish in the rivers and streams. And there were lots of different animals to hunt and trap in the forests and meadows. Champlain decided that this was the perfect spot. Here’s where he’d build the first permanent French colony in North America. In 1608, he and thirty other Frenchmen set up a trading post. It was along the St. Lawrence River. Champlain named his outpost “Quebec.”


Only nine of the initial settlers survived the first winter. Still, Quebec eventually began to grow. Champlain and his men traded with Native Americans. They offered knives and tools in exchange for beaver furs. The furs were shipped back to Europe. There, beaver hats were very popular. In time, the French set up more towns along the St. Lawrence River. Quebec became the center of the French colony known as “New France.”


The Great Lakes

The St. Lawrence River went deep into the North American continent. It led Champlain and other explorers to yet more amazing finds. There, they found five gigantic lakes. Today, we call these lakes the Great Lakes. They’re so large that to sail on them feels like sailing on the ocean!

Champlain himself explored Lakes Ontario and Huron during the 1610s. Later in the 1600s, other French explorers found Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

In 1678, there was a French priest who was living in the area between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. He came upon Niagara Falls. It’s one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in the world. More than three hundred thousand tons of water pour over the edge of these amazing falls each minute!


Accidental Finds

Here’s a remarkable thing about the exploration of North America. That’s how much was accomplished by accident. The French priest who came upon Niagara Falls was not looking for a waterfall. Columbus was not looking for the Caribbean. De Soto did not hope to find the Mississippi River. Coronado was looking for glittering cities, not glittering canyons. Cabot stumbled upon Newfoundland. But that was not the land he had hoped to find. Hudson was disappointed that neither the river nor the bay named for him led to Asia. Champlain hoped that the St. Lawrence River would lead him to Asia. It led him into the Great Lakes instead. These stories are inspirational. It shows that, when you explore, surprising things can happen. And this is true, no matter what you are exploring.

You might be sailing to other countries. You might just be exploring your neighborhood. You might be exploring nature in a forest or park. Or you might be exploring other cultures by reading books or surfing the Web. But it does not matter what you choose to explore. There is always a chance that you will find something remarkable and new. So keep on exploring!


Armor, metal outer covering worn to protect the body in battle.

Blacksmith, a type of craftsperson who makes iron tools by hand.

Canyon, a deep valley between mountains, cut through the rock by river water.
Colony, an area, region, or country that is controlled and settled by people from another country.
Conquistador, the Spanish word for conqueror.
Custom, a traditional way of acting or doing something.

Disease, sickness.

Empire, a group of countries or territories under the control of one government or one ruler.
Expedition, a special journey taken by a group that has a clear purpose or goal.
Exploit, to take unfair advantage of a person or group.

Fleet, a group of ships sailing together with the same purpose and under the direction of the same leader.

Livestock, the animals kept on a farm.

Merchant, a person who buys and sells goods to earn money.
Mission, a settlement built for the purpose of converting Native Americans to Christianity.
Mutiny, a rebellion of a ship’s crew against the captain.

Natural resource, something from nature that is useful to humans.
Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Pioneer, one of the first people to settle in a region.
Plain, a large area of flat land that has few or no trees.
Presidio, a fort.
Priest, a person who has the training or authority to carry out certain religious ceremonies or rituals.

Rainforest, a thick forest that gets a lot of rain and has very tall trees; the tops of the trees create an unbroken layer, or canopy, across the top.
Roman Catholic Church, the branch of Christianity led by the pope, whose headquarters are in Rome, Italy.

“Scouting party,” (phrase) a few members of a group who are sent out ahead of the rest of the group to get information about an area.
Settlement, a small village.
Smallpox, a serious disease that spreads from person to person and causes a fever and rash.
Spice, a plant used to add flavor to food.

Trading center, a place where people buy and sell goods.
Trading post, a small settlement or store that is set up to sell or trade goods.
Illustration subtitles

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed for Spain. Columbus was sure that he had reached the East Indies. Columbus made four voyages to the New World. Ponce de Leon imagined finding the Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon was struck by the beauty of the place he called Florida. De Soto and Pizarro took riches from the people of Peru and shipped them back to Spain. Native Americans had not seen horses or armor before. De Soto and his men went north and west in search of gold. De Soto died in the land that he had come to explore. Coronado and other Spaniards traveled across the American Southwest. Explorers searched high and low for El Dorado. Coronado found Zuni villages instead of cities of gold. The Spanish needed to protect their treasure ships, so they decided to build settlements in Florida. The missions were a big part of Spain’s plan to colonize parts of North America. Catholic priests taught Native Americans about the Christian religion. Some Spanish missions eventually became important cities. Native Americans struggled to stop Europeans from taking their land. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were very interested in exploration because new discoveries might lead to more land and riches. Cabot told King Henry about the great quantity of fish in the waters of Newfoundland. This map shows where historians believe that Cabot sailed on his first voyage. While looking for the Northwest Passage in the far North, Henry Hudson and his crew had to deal with cold weather and icebergs. Henry Hudson’s second trip to North America ended with a mutiny by his crew. Samuel de Champlain explored North America during the early 1600s. The trading post of Quebec was established along the St. Lawrence River by Champlain in 1600. The settlement started by Champlain became the colony of New France.


Lesson 44 – “Text Project” Vocab-Builder

NEW WORDS: Adolf, Carle, Hitler, Kardashians, Linda, Monroe, Nixon, Steve, abhorrent, advancement, albino, anomalies, approximates, arteries, aspects, attachment, audience’s, biological, calorie, carbohydrate, chinchillas, clogged, colorfully, complexity, compounds, conflicting, considering, continually, derived, descend, difficulties, dissolve, doctrine, efficiently, enclose, endocrine, enzyme, explosive, females, follower, fragment, government’s, grandparent, hormones, illustrates, increase’s, industries, inhabitant, interrupting, kilometers, leaning, mechanics, moderate, necessity, neglect, nineteenth, occasions, particle, pepsin, posted, prehistoric, pressures, professions, progressive, province, provisions, psychologists, quantum, reactions, sciences, scores, stimulus, summarize, sustained, timer, transmitted, tuition, turnout, twentieth, urbanization

Pepsin is an enzyme that helps with digestion.

The Republican Party’s “mascot” is an elephant.

Quebec is a Canadian province.

Many aspects of his behavior are odd.

Eric Carle colorfully illustrates his own books.

Our college has expert professors in all the major sciences.

I’m considering changing professions.

The audience’s reactions to his speech were negative.

Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Can you summarize your findings on a single page?

There’s a particle of lint on your blazer.

A grandparent loves it when their own children have babies.

There was explosive technology advancement in the twentieth century.

Water levels in the canals of Venice, Italy are rising.

A potato is a carbohydrate.

You need to do more moderate exercise.

During a long prehistoric era, dinosaurs ruled!

Stop continually interrupting me!

Do you have all of the provisions for our camping trip?

Congress is the “Legislative Branch” of the U.S. government.


The test scores will be posted today.

I’d like to introduce your new boss, Linda Nixon.

Auto mechanics surely get their hands dirty.

I’m so stuffed that I can’t eat one more calorie.

All four of your tire pressures should be the same.

Before flash drives, computers used a floppy disk.

Hormones in humans are produced by the endocrine glands.

The Burmese python is now an unwelcome inhabitant of Florida.

Enclose both of these toys in the same package.

The concepts of quantum physics are hard to understand.

The government’s stimulus package helped those in poverty.

Her techniques for developing photos are amazing.

The King demands loyalty from all his Lords and Ladies.

Much of the world moved toward urbanization in the nineteenth century.

Adolf Hitler was the abhorrent leader of Nazi Germany.

Clogged arteries lead to heart attacks.

Steve raises chinchillas and sells them as pets.

Something like a third of English words are derived from French.

Over there is a desirable location for our picnic.

Our band has played here on many occasions.

Set the timer for twenty minutes.


An example of chemical compounds is water, which is part hydrogen and part oxygen.

No one on the team sustained any injuries in today’s game.

Antarctica is one of the driest regions in the world.

After the accident, he suffered many physical difficulties.

I fear that I transmitted the flu to half of my classmates.

She’s an avid follower of the Kardashians.

Many industries face rising costs due to environmental regulations.

I’m leaning toward voting for the Democratic candidate.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I’m extending the deadline another two weeks.

The constraint I’ll place on you is that you can’t spend more than $1,000 on this.

Ireland is not a member of the United Kingdom.

This is an equation of great complexity.

The Progressive candidate wants free college tuition for everyone.

Females represent 50% of our class.

Albino animals are biological anomalies.


I wonder if this is a fragment of a meteorite.

Their two cultures have many conflicting beliefs.

There’s lush vegetation around our new house.

Don’t neglect to brush your teeth!

The price increase’s effect will be to lower sales.

You’ll find the contract as an attachment to this email.

Eight kilometers approximates about five miles.

We’re proud to have just hired a disabled veteran.

Be careful when you descend into the cave.

The Monroe Doctrine warned European countries to not form any more new colonies in the Americas.

Voter turnout will likely be deciding the election results.

They put on our new roof very efficiently.

The Prime Minister will dissolve the government and hold new elections.

Psychologists help people work through their personal problems.

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.)
The Human Body 

Lesson 45 – Part One 

NEW WORDS: abdomen, antecedent, avocation, bandages, bicep, bleeds, brain’s, burrito, burritos, buttock, cables, capillaries, captivate, cardiac, checkup, checkups, churns, cleanses, collectively, commixture, commutes, conjoin, contracting, coordination, crisscross, digested, dispatch, elbows, eructing, exercising, gluteus, handstand, homogeneous, intestine, lub, movable, mushier, mushy, particularities, pediatrician, pints, potentiate, pulse, randomly, raveled, rehabilitate, relaxes, replenish, salubrious, skinned, socket, speculate, stabilize, stethoscope, superhighway, temperament, totality, transubstantiate, valves, wavy

Chapter One: Everybody Has a Body
“Human” means having the particularities of, or acting like, a person.

Pleased to meet you. I’m Dr. Welbody, the rhyming pediatrician. Being a pediatrician is my job, and that means that I’m a medical doctor who takes care of children. When healthy children come to me for checkups, I help them to stay salubrious. When sick children come to me, I help them to get better.

I know how to do these things because I studied quite hard in medical school, the kind of school you go to if you want to be a doctor. I learned all about how the human body works. As for rhyming, that is an avocation for me. Do you like rhyming, too? I think it’s fun to make up rhymes.

Here’s one that I made up about my favorite subject, the human body.

“Everybody has a body, and I have one, too, it is grand to understand, the things our bodies do.”

Skin comes in different colors, and hair does, too. Hair may be curly, wavy, or straight. Eyes may be brown, blue, or green. People are also different sizes and different ages, too.


Although people may look somewhat different from one another on the outside, on the inside, all humans are pretty much homogeneous.

All humans have organs, such as stomachs and intestines, inside of them. The organs work together in systems to keep each person alive and healthy. For example, the stomach and intestines are part of the digestive system, which turns the food that you eat into energy.

During our time together, I’m going to teach you about the skeletal system, muscular system, digestive system, circulatory system, and nervous system. These systems allow you to grow, move, think, hear, see, feel, and speak. They also potentiate your body to breathe air, digest food, and even heal itself. And the systems are all tied together into a network that is called the human body. So, the human body is a network of different systems that work collectively, and each system is made up of certain organs that help it do a special job.

What is our body’s biggest organ? The outside of your body is covered by skin, the body’s biggest organ. Your skin keeps your “insides” inside you. Your skin grows with you. It stretches when you move and keeps out dirt and water. It keeps you cool in the heat and warm in the cold. You can feel things with your skin. If you cut yourself, your skin will rehabilitate itself. It’s pretty amazing!


The organs and systems that keep the body working are mostly hidden inside the body, where we can’t see them. Almost everything inside a human has a purpose. Touch your tummy. Inside your abdomen, the stomach and the small intestine transubstantiate food into fuel. Other nearby organs, called the liver and the kidneys, help clean out waste.

Now put your hands on your chest. The lungs are inside your chest. They are the organs that take in air when you breathe. Take a deep breath. When you do this, your lungs are filling up with air, like balloons, and your chest rises. We need oxygen from this air to stay alive. The oxygen from the air that you breathe goes into your blood. Then your heart pumps the blood with oxygen to all parts of your body.

Now, put your hands on your head. Inside your head is your brain. The brain is your control center. Try wiggling your finger. Your brain just sent messages through tiny cables called nerves to tell the muscles in your finger to move. Your brain helps you learn, see, talk, laugh, and dream.


In our time together, I will captivate you with fascinating facts about the body, such as these. How many bones you have, which muscle is the biggest in your body, why food that you ate two days ago is still in your body today, how long it takes for your blood to circle all around your body, what controls your five senses, and much, much more. I hope that you are as excited as I am.

Now, before I go, let’s say the body rhyme together again.

“Everybody has a body, and I have one, too, it is grand to understand, the things our bodies do.”

Okay, then, bye until next time!”


Chapter Two: The Body’s Framework
Did you think that a skeleton was just a scary thing that you might see in a movie or on Halloween? Well, I, Dr. Welbody, am here to tell you that there is a lot more to a skeleton than that. We are about to explore some facts about your skeleton and mine.

That’s right, we all have skeletons hidden underneath our skin. A person’s skeleton is made up of bones. There are about two-hundred-and-six in all. If you did not have a hard skeleton like this to support you, your body would be as soft and floppy as a rag doll’s.

Feel your arm. That hard thing inside is a bone. Bones give your body shape and protect the softer parts of you. If you touch the sides of your chest, you can feel the bones called ribs. They look something like bars on a cage. In fact, that part of your body is called your rib cage, and it protects your heart and lungs.

Now tap lightly on your head to feel the bone called your skull. It’s like a helmet made of flat bones, and it protects your brain. Bones are amazing! Did you know that one bone in your ear is as small as a grain of rice?


Your bones are not very heavy because they are filled with a light, spongy material called marrow. Yet they are stronger than steel. And if you break a bone, the broken ends will heal by growing together again. Isn’t that amazing?

A joint is a place where two bones meet or join together. Bones cannot bend, but at a joint, the bones connect in ways that let us move and bend our bodies. Stand up and try bending your knees. Now stand up straight again. Do this a few times.

Did you notice how your knees moved forward and back, like hinges on a door? But your knees cannot bend in the other direction. That is how your knee joint works.

Your hip joint is at the place where the top of your leg meets your body. Your hip joint is like a ball on the end of one bone that fits into a socket (an opening in the shape of a bowl) on another. It lets you move your leg up and down, and turn it so that you can kick, walk, run and jump.

Now, touch your wrist. It contains lots of tiny bones and different sorts of joints. These joints let you draw, write, and throw a ball. Can you find other places in your body where there are joints?


The spine is the column of bones that forms your backbone. The word spine can have other meanings. For example, a spine of a book is the outside edge of a book that you see when it’s on a shelf.

Run your hand down the middle of your back. Do you feel the line of small bones that runs up and down it? Those small bones are called vertebrae (that’s the plural for the word “vertebra”). Each vertebra is a joint, and together they let you bend and twist your body in different directions.

Taken all together, your amazing skeletal system is made up of bones that are linked together to support your body, to give you shape, to protect your organs, and to help you move.

Would you like to hear a rhyme about my skeleton? Here goes.

“Without my hidden skeleton, I could not stand up tall, and so, ‘Hurray for bones,’ I say, two hundred six in all!”

Let’s say it all together now.

“Without my hidden skeleton, I could not stand up tall, and so, ‘Hurray for bones,’ I say, two hundred six in all!”

That’s all for now, but before I go, let me see each of you stand up and move your skeleton! Wow! Tomorrow, we are going to learn about another system that works with your skeletal system to help you move. See you next time!


Chapter Three: Marvelous Moving Muscles
Hi everyone! It’s Dr. Welbody, the rhyming pediatrician, back to talk about the human body. Did you figure out what we’re going to talk about this time? That’s right, muscles! Your muscles help your body move, so you can walk, breathe, swallow, speak, and do lots of other things. Together, your muscles make up your muscular system.

There are six-hundred-fifty muscles in your body. Some muscles are big, like the ones in your legs, and some are small, like the ones in your face. Muscles crisscross the body so that you can move in lots of ways. Muscles move by contracting (or getting shorter) and then relaxing (or getting longer).

Tendons are part of your muscular system. Feel behind your knee, and you’ll find some strong rope-like bands under the skin. They are called tendons, and they are cords that attach your muscles to your bones.

The muscles that move your bones are called your skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles. That is because you control them with your brain by thinking. Pretend that you are throwing a ball. Your brain tells your arm muscles to move back first and then move forward. At the same time, your brain is telling your hand muscles when to grasp the ball and when to let it go.


Two muscles often work together, in a pair, to move bones. Touch the top of your upper arm, and that is where your biceps muscle is found. Now touch the underside of your arm, and that is where the triceps muscle is located. When you threw that pretend ball just now, the bicep muscles bent your elbows, while the triceps straightened your elbows.

The muscles of your hand and arm work together in lots of ways. They help you make tiny, exact movements like picking a crumb up off the table. And they are there for you, too, when you need great strength, like doing a handstand. The most movable part of your hand is your thumb. Try wiggling yours. It can move in lots of different directions, more than any of your other fingers.

There are lots of muscles in your face, mostly attached to your skin. Did you know that you need muscles to help you laugh, frown, or even raise your eyebrows? All the muscles that we’ve talked about so far are voluntary, meaning that you have to decide when to move them.

Other muscles in your body are involuntary. That means that you don’t have to think about telling these muscles to move. They do it automatically. Involuntary muscles keep your blood flowing and your food moving through your body. Think about these two actions that your body does: kicking a ball and blinking your eyes.


Do you have to tell your heart to beat, or does it work automatically on its own? Your heart is another kind of involuntary muscle. It’s called cardiac muscle. This thick, powerful muscle contracts and relaxes over and over and over again on its own, without stopping. It pumps the blood all around your body, once every minute! Your heart is a very important muscle that is necessary for your body to live.

Do you want to know which muscle is the largest muscle in your body? Here’s a hint. You are probably sitting on it right now! It’s your gluteus maximus, or your buttock muscle, and you have two of them, one on each side.

Now, since our time together is coming to a close for today, here is a goodbye rhyme from Dr. Welbody, the rhyming pediatrician (that’s me).

“I’m glad that I have muscles, they help me to have fun, to jump and kick a soccer ball, to smile and speak and run.”

“I’m glad that I have muscles, and glad that you do, too, so, you can wave goodbye to me, and I can wave to you!”

When we meet next time, we’ll have a lot to chew on. That’s a clue to what system of the body we’ll be learning about. Can you guess what it is? See you again soon!


Chapter Four: Chew, Swallow, Squeeze, and Churn
Yum, a chicken burrito! I, Dr. Welbody, the rhyming pediatrician, am feeling hungry, and I think that a chicken burrito would taste mighty good right about now.

Healthy foods like chicken burritos, homemade pizza, apples, and carrots are extremely important to our bodies. We cannot live without food. Food is the fuel that gives us the energy that we need to stay alive, to walk, talk, think, and breathe.

The energy from food helps us stay warm, and we use its energy even when we are sleeping. Food helps children grow, and it helps us to heal when we are hurt or sick. So, how do our bodies process, or digest, the food that we eat? Your digestive system makes all of this happen, so, let’s find out how it works.

Pretend that you just took a bite out of a cracker. What are you going to do now? That’s right, chew! And while your teeth are crushing and chomping on the cracker, a liquid called saliva is helping to soften the food in your mouth and make it even mushier. Does anyone know another name for saliva? It’s spit!


Once your food is good and mushy, it’s time to swallow. When you do, the chewed-up food goes into a tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. This tube is called your esophagus. It’s about half as long as your arm and about as wide as your thumb. The food doesn’t just slide down it. There are muscles in your esophagus that squeeze the food along, the way that you squeeze toothpaste from a tube. From there, the food goes into your stomach.

Do you know where your stomach is? If you point to a spot a little above your belly button and then move your hand a little more to the left, you can feel your rib bones. Your stomach is there, partly behind your ribs. Your stomach is like a big bag or balloon.

It expands, or gets bigger, as it fills with food. Powerful muscles in your stomach squeeze the food and churn it around like clothes in a washing machine. At the same time, stomach juices, a watery commixture made by your body, help turn the mushy food into liquid. Food stays in your stomach for about three or four hours. Digestion is happening while you work, play, and sleep.

Every time you eat a meal, you swallow a little air. As your stomach churns the food, the air makes noises, sometimes called “tummy rumblings.” When the air passes back out through your mouth, sometimes with a loud noise, it’s called belching or eructing.


The liquid moves from your stomach a little bit at a time into a tube called the small intestine. Your small intestine is narrow, but it’s quite long, about fifteen feet in all.

Since you are probably only around four feet tall, how does your intestine, more than three times longer than you are tall, fit inside you? The answer is that your intestine is all coiled (or folded) up inside you, underneath your stomach.

Food stays in the small intestine about six hours. In the small intestine, all the good things from the liquid food get absorbed by, or taken into, your blood. The blood carries these nutrients and vitamins – from the liquid food that’s been digested – around your body so that they can give you energy, help you grow, and keep you healthy.


But there are still some bits of food that aren’t used up, and they are left behind in the small intestine. These leftover bits are called waste, and the waste gets pushed into your large intestine. This is a tube like your small intestine, only shorter and wider. It’s curled like an upside-down “U” around your small intestine.

From there, the waste gets pushed out of your bottom when you go to the bathroom. It may take TWO days for food to travel through the totality of your digestive system.

And that is how digestion works. Here’s my little rhyme about the digestive system.

“A healthy body needs good food, there really is no question. Your body gets the things it needs, just leave it to digestion!”

The next time we get together, I’ll help you find out all about the most important muscle in your body, one that works all the time, but never gets tired!


Chapter Five: The Body’s Superhighway
Ouch! Yesterday I cut my finger. Yes, even a pediatrician like me sometimes has little accidents. The fun part is that I got to put on one of these cool polka-dot bandages that I keep in my office! 

Have you ever cut yourself or skinned your knee? When people get a cut or scrape that breaks the skin, it usually bleeds. The blood that comes out is just a tiny part of all the blood that you have in your body, and your body will make more to replenish it. Blood keeps us alive, as it commutes itself through the body and carries everything that your body needs to live. A grown-up like me has about ten pints of blood. That’s about the same amount as twenty glasses of water.

The blood is not just sloshing randomly around inside of you. It moves around through tubes called blood vessels. Some are big and some are small. A map of the blood vessels in a human body looks like a bunch of raveled spaghetti. But your blood vessels are actually laid out very carefully, like a well-planned system of highways and roads. They carry blood to every single part of you, from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. They are part of a system called the circulatory system, that includes your heart and blood.


The blood is able to move through your blood vessels because of your heart. Your heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. Put your right hand on the middle of your chest, and then move it a little to the left. Your heart is underneath there, inside your chest, protected by your rib bones. Your heart is a hard worker! Its job is to pump your blood around your body through your blood vessels. This movement of your blood around your body is called circulation.

OK, everybody stand up. When I say, “go,” run in place right where you are until I say, “stop.” Ready, set, go! Now stop running. Place your hand on your chest. Can you feel your heart pounding in your chest? When you exercise, your heart has to work harder than when you rest, and it’s easier to feel it beating.

Your heart is hollow on the inside. It’s divided into four parts, like little rooms. They are called chambers. The two top chambers hold blood coming into your heart. The two bottom chambers hold blood going out of your heart. Heart valves, like tiny gates, separate the chambers. They open and close to let the blood in and out of the chambers.


Now, everyone make a fist. In order to do this, you made the muscles of your hand tighten. That is what happens over and over to your heart, without you ever having to think about it. When the heart muscle contracts, or tightens, blood goes out of the chambers. When the heart muscle relaxes, blood flows in.

Your body needs two things to stay alive. They are oxygen and nutrients. Oxygen is taken out of the air inside your lungs. Nutrients come from the food that you eat as it moves through your intestines. Your blood carries the oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body so that you can stay alive, move, think, and grow. Your blood also cleanses your body, taking away waste, or things that your body does not need. It takes about a minute for your blood to travel from your heart, all around your body, and back to your heart!

The blue lines represent veins, and the red lines are arteries. The very fine lines are capillaries. Veins, arteries, and capillaries are the types of blood vessels that are found throughout your body. Veins bring blood to the heart. Arteries carry blood away from it. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that conjoin with your arteries and veins. They carry blood to even the smallest parts of the body.

It’s very important to have a strong, healthy heart. If you came to me for a checkup, I would use my stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat. A healthy heart makes a sound with each beat that sounds like this, “lub-dub.” The sound comes from the heart as it pumps the blood.


Even without a stethoscope, you can feel your heart working. You can feel your pulse in places where there is an artery close to the skin. Try putting two fingers on the palm side of your wrist, just below your thumb. Press lightly. Can you feel a small beat under your skin? Each beat is caused by the squeezing of your heart, “lub-dub, lub-dub.”

Remember that your heart is the most important muscle in your body. How do we make a muscle strong? By exercising it! That means moving hard and fast. When you dance, play basketball, swim, or jump rope, you are exercising not just your arms and legs, but your heart as well. Another way to take care of your heart is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are good for you, instead of soft drinks, chips, and candy. By exercising and eating healthy foods, you will be helping your heart stay healthy and strong for many years to come.

Now, here’s a rhyming cheer for the part of our circulatory system that keeps it all going.

“My heart is always working, it’s busy night and day. It’s pumping while I’m sleeping, and while I work and play. Let’s give a cheer for hearts now, for hearts, HIP, HIP, HOORAY!”

Next time, we’ll learn about the control center of our bodies. That’s the brain. So, don’t forget to bring yours along! See you soon!


Chapter Six: Control Central, The Brain
Hi, students. As your teacher reads to you today, you are listening with your ears. You are seeing a picture of me, Dr. Welbody, with your eyes. Your face may be smiling.

But your ears and eyes could not work if it were not for your brain. Your mouth and face muscles could not smile. And without your brain working, you could not understand or learn. In fact, your brain controls everything that your body does. It controls your thoughts, your movements, your memory, and your five senses. Your brain also controls your temperament and your feelings. That’s whether you feel happy, sad, or angry, for example.

You heard the word skull in an antecedent lesson. Who remembers what the skull is? Your brain is inside your skull. The hard bones of your skull protect the brain’s soft tissue.

Your brain looks like this. It’s wrinkly and wet. Your brain is not very big. It could be held in two hands. It weighs about three pounds, about as much as a big dictionary.

Your brain tells your muscles what to do and how to move. Messages travel back and forth from your brain to other parts of your body, by moving up and down your spinal cord with lightning speed. Attached to the spinal cord are thin fibers called nerves. Your nerves go to every part of your body. Your brain, spine, and nerves make up your nervous system.


Let’s speculate that you are playing soccer. One of your teammates takes control of the ball from the other team and kicks the ball toward you. When you see the ball flying in your direction, your brain sends a dispatch down your spinal cord to your nerves. Your nerves send a message to your muscles, in less than a second, to help you move and kick the ball. Goal!

A billion is a really, really big number! That means that your brain has many, many cells. Your brain is made of as many as a billion cells. The cells in your brain send millions of messages, every single second, to each other and to the rest of your body. The cells send messages back and forth through branches that connect one cell to another. Different parts of your body receive the messages. Your brain sends messages, even while you are asleep, to help you breathe and dream.

Your brain gets messages about the world from your five senses, through organs called sense receptors. Here are the sense receptors and what they control. Eyes are for sight, ears are for hearing, skin is for touch, the mouth and tongue are for taste, the nose is for smell.

When you watch a cloud changing shape in the sky, hear a fire truck zooming by, lick an ice cream cone, pet a kitty’s soft fur, or smell cookies baking, your senses and your brain are working together.


There are three parts to our brains. They are the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. Each part has a different job to do. Your cerebrum, at the top of your head, is the biggest part of your brain. It controls things like seeing, hearing, thinking, speaking, remembering, and moving. Your cerebellum, at the back of your head, controls balance and coordination.

Stand up and try to stabilize yourself on one foot without holding on to anything. Can you do this for a long time? Your cerebellum is helping you. It helps you move different muscles together in coordination, to do things like catch a baseball, dance, or write. Your brain stem connects your brain to your spinal cord. It controls things that your body does without you having to think about them, like breathing and the beating of your heart.

Now, aren’t you glad to have that very important organ called a brain? Here’s a rhyme about it that we can all learn.

“Without a brain, where would I be? I could not move or think or see, or write my name or count to three. In fact, I just would not be me, without my trusty brain! In sun or wind or rain, I’m glad I have a brain!”

The next time we meet, we’re going to talk about some icky things. They are everywhere around us, and they can make us really sick. They’re called harmful germs. But we will also learn about some quite smart and famous germ-fighters who figured out ways to zap those nasty germs. Tune in next time to find out how these germ-blasting heroes have made life safer for you and me.

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.)
The Human Body

Lesson 46 – Part Two 

NEW WORDS: Jenner, Jenner’s, Pasteur, Pasteur’s, Steph, Steph’s, ailments, bloodstream, blueberries, canola, cavities, commended, compulsory, cowpox, dental, disseminate, eradicated, fathom, fending, fingernails, floss, immunities, inoculation, insalubrious, jellies, malaria, mayonnaise, narrower, paladin, participating, pasteurization, pasteurized, polio, preventing, rabies, recharge, refined, shampoo, skateboarding, sneezes, stave, stealthily, terrific, triangular, undercooked, urine, vaccinated, vaccinating, vaccination, vaccinations, vaccines, wellness

Chapter Seven: Dr. Welbody’s Heroes
Germs are all around us. These tiny living things are so small that you can see them only by looking through a special type of instrument called a microscope. But even though you cannot see them, germs are everywhere, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we eat, and on our skin. Most of the time germs do not hurt us. Some germs even help us, like the ones in our intestines that stave off harmful germs and help us digest our food.

But other germs can make us sick. They get into our bodies in different ways. Some stealthily creep in through insect bites or cuts in our skin. Others float in when someone sneezes nearby. Still others come from food that is poorly cleaned or undercooked. We have natural immunities in our bodies. That means that our bodies have ways of fending off germs on their own. But sometimes, this is not enough.

Did you know that doctors have heroes? I’m going to tell you about two of my heroes, both brave germ-fighters. Their names are Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. Jenner was a doctor. Pasteur was a scientist. Both lived long ago. Their work made the world a safer place for all of us.

That is why doctors and scientists are always working to find new ways to fight sicknesses, also called diseases. One very important way that they fight diseases is by giving people medicines called vaccines. Vaccines give you immunity. That means that they keep bad germs from harming you in the first place, before you get sick. Doctors give vaccines by vaccinating people. That usually means giving a child or grown-up a shot. Lots of people don’t like getting shots, because the needle stings a bit, and sometimes they cry. But vaccinations give us inoculation to, or protect us from, very terrible and insalubrious diseases, like measles, mumps, flu, smallpox, and polio. Those are diseases that can make people quite sick, and they can even cause them to die.


Long ago, people did not know about germs. They did not understand what made people sick. They did not know how important it is to wash your hands, to eat clean food, and to drink clean water. They did not know how to protect themselves from getting bad germs in their bodies. Sometimes thousands of people at a time would die from a disease, as germs disseminate quickly from one person to another.

About two hundred years ago, an English doctor discovered something amazing. He discovered a way to keep people from getting one of the most terrible ailments in the world, a disease called smallpox. Edward Jenner, one of my heroes, invented the first vaccine.

Dr. Jenner was living in a country village in England, where there were lots of farms all around. He knew what the farmers in his village knew. People who milked cows sometimes got a disease called cowpox, and the disease made blisters on their hands. But it was not a serious disease; people got over it quickly. Dr. Jenner also noticed that people who got cowpox almost never came down with smallpox. That was a much worse disease that often killed people, or, at the least, it left horrible scars on their skin. He thought that cowpox might give people protection from getting smallpox.

Dr. Jenner’s practices would not be used today. Doctors wouldn’t intentionally give healthy people germs, even if it was to test a new way of preventing disease.


After a lot of thinking and studying, Dr. Jenner decided to test his idea. He decided to give a healthy boy a small amount of the cowpox germs. The boy got sick with cowpox, just as Dr. Jenner thought he would. Then after the boy got better, Jenner gave the boy a small amount of the smallpox germs. Just as Jenner hoped, the boy did not get smallpox.

Dr. Edward Jenner, this brave germ-fighter, created the first vaccine in the whole world! From then on, people were vaccinated with cowpox so that they would have immunity to smallpox later on. Many years later, because the smallpox vaccine was being used all around the world, smallpox was eradicated.

But Dr. Jenner did not understand exactly how the vaccination had worked. It was up to other doctors and scientists to find out. Another germ-fighter, and another one of my heroes, is Louis Pasteur. 

Louis Pasteur was born in France a year after Dr. Jenner died. As a boy, he worked quite hard in school and was very curious, always asking a lot of questions. When he grew up, he became a science professor, teaching at a university. He was also a medical researcher, someone who tries to find out what causes diseases and how they can be cured.


Using a microscope, Pasteur saw that liquids, like milk and fruit juice, contain tiny living things called germs. Some of these germs caused the milk or juice to spoil, or to go bad. Pasteur discovered that he could kill the harmful germs by heating the liquid to a high temperature. Heating liquids this way to get rid of germs became known as pasteurization.

Today, because of Pasteur’s discovery, the milk we drink, as well as some other foods, are pasteurized to make them safe before we buy them. Just as important, Pasteur’s work on pasteurization convinced other doctors and scientists that germs are real and may cause disease. People began to fathom how compulsory it is to keep harmful germs out of our food and water.

But Pasteur did not stop there, and he continued Jenner’s work with vaccines, working to discover how to prevent lots more diseases. One of the vaccines that he developed fought rabies, a very dangerous disease that often kills humans. Pasteur had been working on the rabies vaccine for quite a while, when a nine-year old boy was badly bitten by a dog. The dog was carrying rabies, and Dr. Pasteur thought that his new vaccine would help the boy. Dr. Pasteur’s vaccine worked, and he was commended as a paladin! He led the way for other scientists to make vaccines for lots of other diseases.


Today, once you are vaccinated against a disease, you become immune to it and no longer have to be afraid of catching it. There are still diseases, like malaria and cancer, for which scientists have not yet found the right vaccine. But they are working hard at it. New vaccines will be discovered by other germ-fighters. If you study medicine or science and become a researcher, that germ-fighter could even be you!

“So, if you are a scientist, you’ll discover something new, and you could be a germ- fighter, who is a hero, too!”


Chapter Eight: Five Keys to Health
Hi, everyBODY, and I do mean BODY. It’s your old friend, Doctor Welbody. We’ve been learning a lot about the human body. Now I’m back to talk about how you can take good care of yours. Remember that there is only one you. That makes you special. You can take good care of your body by giving it certain things that it needs to keep it healthy.

“So, here are five things to do, to take good care of special you.”

1.) EAT WELL. Your body needs lots of energy to keep it going. You need energy to work and play. You need energy to grow. Energy comes from food. Food is the fuel that your body runs on, just like a car runs on gas. But some foods are much better for you than others. The best foods to keep you going and growing are nutritious foods. They have lots of nutrients, such as protein and vitamins that help keep you well. Nutritious foods include fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, nuts, fish, and chicken.

What about sweet, sugary foods like candy or cookies? They may taste good and give you some quick energy, but it wears off fast, leaving you feeling weak and hungry again. These foods are only good to eat once in a long while, as a special treat. Eating these foods regularly can make you gain weight and give you cavities, or small holes, in your teeth. Fatty foods like bacon, French fries, and chips are not very nutritious either. They can make you gain weight and slow you down. By eating nutritious foods, you’ll be able to think better, jump higher, run faster, and grow stronger.


Part of eating well means knowing what to drink. Do you have some plants at home or in your classroom that need to be watered? Every plant and animal needs water. You do, too!

Much of your body is made up of water. You have water in your muscles and around your brain. Your spit (saliva), sweat, urine, and blood are mostly made of water. Because water is so important to your body, make sure to drink plenty of water every day.

2.) EXERCISE. Your body is made for moving. For running and jumping. For pushing and pulling. For dancing and diving. For throwing and catching. For leaping and skipping. Participating in an activity in which you are moving your body to keep it healthy and fit is called exercising. Exercising helps your bones stay strong. It makes your muscles bigger. It makes your lungs and heart stronger. It helps you fight germs, and it can help to put you in a good mood. You can exercise by hitting a baseball, kicking a soccer ball, jumping rope, dancing, climbing a tree, rowing a boat, skating, or doing lots of other activities. Just choose something that’s fun for you, and get moving every day!

3.) SLEEP. After you have spent a day at work and play, you feel tired. That is a sign that you need to recharge your body. How can you do this? By going to sleep! Sleep rests your body and helps clear your mind for the next day. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may feel grouchy, and your brain won’t work as well. Children need between ten and twelve hours of sleep every night. That means that if you have to get up at seven o’clock in the morning to get ready for school, you should be in bed sometime between seven and nine o’clock at night. A well-rested body will stay healthier, too.


4.) KEEP CLEAN. Washing with soap and water will get rid of germs that could make you sick. So, jump into that bubble bath or shower, and scrub. Don’t forget to wash your hair with shampoo, too. You will look, smell, and feel good!

Wash your hands often during the day. Do so before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, and whenever they look dirty. When your fingernails look dirty, you should scrub underneath them with a brush. Washing your hands often is a great way to wash germs down the drain.

And don’t forget to brush, brush, brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use dental floss in between your teeth. This washes away the germs that cause cavities. Then you will have a bright, clean smile that says, “I take good care of my body!”

5.) HAVE CHECKUPS. Germs are all around us. They are on plants and animals, in food and in water. Most of the time germs don’t harm us, but what if you wake up one morning with a headache, a fever, and a sore throat? Uh-oh! Some germs have made you sick! Since your body has natural ways to fight most germs, you will probably feel better in a few days. If not, you should go to see a doctor like me who can give you medicine to help you get well.


Even when you’re feeling terrific, it’s important to have regular checkups with a pediatrician at least once a year. Your doctor will make sure that you are healthy and growing. He or she will also help keep you from getting diseases by giving you vaccinations or other medicines. I always look forward to seeing how much my patients have grown when they come in for their wellness checkups after each birthday.

There you have it. You’ve now heard Dr. Welbody’s five fun and easy ways to take care of your body, and I hope that you’ll try them all. And now, before I go, let’s give a healthy body cheer!

“YES, YES, YES to veggies, to fruit and chicken, too! NO to too much candy, ’cause it’s not good for you! YES, YES, YES to washing, to exercise and rest! ‘Cause strong and healthy bodies, are bodies at their BEST! YES!”


Chapter Nine: The Pyramid Pantry
Hi, I’m Chef Steph, a friend of Dr. Welbody’s. Welcome to my restaurant, the Pyramid Pantry! Dr. Welbody eats lunch here every day. It’s a very cool restaurant, if I do say so myself.

Do you know what a pyramid is? It’s a shape with triangular sides. My restaurant is shaped like a pyramid, and the menu is like a pyramid, too. The food we serve is delicious. But that’s not all. It’s nutritious! That means it’s good for you!

Have you ever heard of vitamins and minerals? They are nutrients that your body needs to stay alive. Nutritious foods supply your body with the nutrients you need. They give you the energy you need to play and learn all day. They keep you healthy and help you grow. But not all foods have the same amounts of nutrients. So which foods are the best for you?

My pyramid menu is one way to help you figure all this out. The foods are divided into groups. Each group has a different-colored stripe on the pyramid.

Orange, for grains, like bread and cereal.

Green, for vegetables, like carrots and green beans.

Red, for fruits, like apples and oranges.


Blue, for milk and milk products.

Purple, for meat and beans.

Some stripes are wider than others. You should choose most of your foods from the groups with wider stripes, because you need more of these foods to stay healthy. Each stripe gets narrower as it goes up the pyramid. That’s because every food group has some foods that are better for you than others.

There is one skinny yellow stripe on the pyramid, too. Do you see it? It stands for oils, and for fats like butter and mayonnaise. Why do you think this stripe is so skinny? You need to eat a little oil or fat every day, but not very much. Oils help you grow, keep you warm, protect your bones, help your brain think, and keep your skin and hair healthy. Some oils are better for you than others. For example, olive oil and canola oil are better choices than margarine and mayonnaise.

What do I hear? Is all this talk of food making your tummy growl? That’s what happens when you are hungry. If you were quite hungry, your legs might feel a little weak. You might even feel a bit cranky. These are signs that your body needs food. Time to look more closely at the pyramid menu!


So, which do you think is better for you? Whole wheat bread made from nutrient-filled whole grains, or white bread?

Grains are special types of grasses. Wheat, rice, oats, barley, and rye are all grains. Foods that belong to this group are either whole grains or refined grains. For example, bread is in the grain group. Some breads, like whole wheat bread, are made from whole grains. Other breads, like white bread, are made from refined grains. Refined grains have had most of their healthy parts taken out, whereas whole grains still have all of the nutrients that your body needs to grow.

Whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, whole wheat crackers, oatmeal, rice cakes, and popcorn (yum!) are all good choices. Always choose smaller amounts of refined-grain foods like white bread, white bagels, and corn flakes. And remember to choose only a little bit of sugary, refined-grain foods like cupcakes, donuts, and sweetened cereals. Too much sugar is not good for your body!

Look at the picture and tell me what foods you think belong to the next group on the food pyramid. That’s right, it’s vegetables! Vegetables come in a rainbow of colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white. Did you know that the color of a vegetable tells what it can do for your body? For example, dark green veggies like broccoli and spinach help build strong teeth and bones. Orange vegetables like carrots help you see well. Fried vegetables like onion rings and French fries are less healthy for your body, because they are cooked in oil and fat. So, just remember to choose a rainbow of vegetables, raw or cooked (but hardly ever fried), and your body will get the nutrients it needs.


Raise your hand if you like to eat fruit. Fruits are delicious and come in beautiful colors. Does anyone see one of your favorite fruits in the picture? Just like vegetables, it’s important to choose a rainbow of fruits to get all the nutrients your body needs. The best fruits to choose are fresh fruits like the ones you see in the picture. Yum, pineapples, oranges, bananas, grapes, pears, and blueberries. Dried fruits and canned fruits, jams and jellies, and fruit pies are all good, too. Just don’t eat too many of them. Can anyone guess why? That’s right, because they often contain sugar.

Look at this picture and tell me what you see. This is the milk group. But, as you can see, it includes other things, as well. There are lots of products made from milk, like cheese and yogurt. These things provide your body with calcium and protein, things it needs to make strong teeth and bones, and help you grow.

It’s best to choose low-fat milk and milk foods, like skim milk, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt. Eat fewer fatty or sweet foods, like American cheese, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and milk shakes.

The last group is meat and beans. Beef, pork, chicken, fish, and turkey all belong to this group. But look at the picture. Do you see anything that doesn’t seem to belong? Yes, eggs and beans. So, why are they there? They contain protein, just like meat.


Now we have looked at foods in all six categories, or groups, included in the food pyramid. Can you name the six categories with me? The most important thing to remember is to eat a balanced diet. That means that you must choose a variety of foods from each food group. Eating only grains or only meats will not provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Your body needs foods from each group on the pyramid to help it grow.

Are you ready to order some healthy meals from Chef Steph’s menu? Don’t forget, it’s important to eat three, that’s one, two, three, healthy meals a day, and to eat healthy snacks, too.

These different foods all work in the same way to help your body grow and move, because they all contain protein. It’s best to eat the meats grilled or roasted, instead of fried in fatty cooking oil or butter. That means that you should choose smaller amounts of fried chicken, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, and fish sticks.

For breakfast, how about oatmeal with some fresh strawberries? Adding a glass of orange juice is a healthy choice, as well.

For lunch, may I recommend my roasted turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread? How about some carrot sticks with yogurt dip, followed by an apple? A glass of cold milk is not only a yummy addition, but it’s healthy, as well.


And for dinner, three-bean vegetarian chili with a baked sweet potato. For dessert, low-fat pudding with peaches sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Snacking between meals is fine, as long as you make healthy choices. Which would be better for your body? Ice cream or a low-fat yogurt with fruit? Potato chips or whole wheat crackers and cheese? A candy bar or an orange? Remember, healthy snacks will give you longer-lasting energy and a healthier body. 

That brings me back to my pyramid. Did you notice the stairs going up the side? Do you know why they are there? To remind you to keep moving. It’s very important to not just eat healthy foods, but to also be physically active every day.

That means that you should participate in skateboarding, swimming, riding your bike, climbing in the playground, or any other sport that you like to do. Keeping active helps you stay the right weight for your body. It keeps your bones and muscles in good shape. It makes your heart and lungs stronger. If you get into the good habit of having fun while you are moving, it will help you stay healthy for the rest of your life!


Chapter Ten: What A Complicated Network! 
This is the last time that I, Dr. Welbody, the rhyming pediatrician, will be meeting with you. I’ve had a great time getting to know you, and I hope that you’ve learned a lot. Here is a poem that talks about some of the things that we’ve discovered. 

“I have a special body, and it just belongs to me. 

There are some parts on my outside, and others I can’t see. 

I know about my body, from my heels up to my head, 

‘Cause I’ve listened well to all that Dr. Welbody has said. 

The parts that make my body keep me healthy and alive. 

They are joined in groups called systems. I’ve learned about all five. 

There are skeletal and muscular, which help me stand and move. 

And the system called digestive that makes fuel out of food. 

My heart and vessels move my blood. (That’s known as circulation.)


My nerves work with my brain to get and process information. 

My systems form a network. It’s amazing as can be,

That this complicated network makes the person that is me.” 

After all that we’ve learned about our amazing bodies, I’ll bet that now you will be able to answer the questions that I asked you in our very first meeting. Let’s go through them and see what you know!

How many bones do you have? There are over two hundred, joined together to form your skeleton. Your skeleton keeps you standing tall. Your bones are joined together by joints wherever you can bend or move, like your knees, arms, and shoulders. Some of your bones protect the softer parts of your body. Remember what protects your brain? That’s right, your skull. And what bones protect your heart? Your ribs!

Which muscle is the biggest in your body? It’s your gluteus maximus, or buttock muscle. Did you know that you use muscles every time that you move? Often you decide when you want to move your muscles. For example, you have control over when you raise your arm or lift your leg. But some muscles work by themselves, without your having to think about them. Does anyone remember what we call the muscle that works like a pump all day and all night to keep you alive? Yes! It’s your heart!


Why does your body still have food in it, today, that you ate two days ago? Food moves slowly through your body. It takes time for your body to digest food, taking all the nutrients from it that your body needs, before getting rid of the waste. Food goes from your mouth, down your esophagus, and into your stomach before reaching your intestines. The saliva in your mouth and the juices in your stomach help break it down. Nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream from your small intestine. The waste passes into your large intestine, and you get rid of it when you go to the bathroom.

How long does it take for your blood to circulate all around your body? It only takes about one minute. Your heart muscle works hard to pump your blood all around.

The blood moves through your blood vessels. Does anyone remember what the blood carries with it on its superhighway? The blood carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. It carries nutrients from your food, too. Your heart works night and day to keep your blood circulating.


What controls your five senses? Your brain! You find out about the world through your senses, by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling. Nerves that connect to your spinal cord carry this information to your brain. Your brain is not only in charge of your senses. It also controls your thinking, learning, speech, and memory. It controls the movements that you make, and lots of other things that your body does. Your brain is the control center of the body.

Remember that none of the systems of your body can work properly unless you take care of them. That means eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water, exercising, keeping clean, and getting plenty of sleep. Oh, and don’t forget to visit a doctor like me for checkups.

Now before we say goodbye, here’s one final rhyme for you to learn and take away with you.

“I’ve got a complicated body, but I understand it well. Its systems form a network, to keep me feeling swell! I’ll take good care of my body, I’ll exercise and rest. I promise to eat healthy foods, and to stay clean, I’ll do my best!”

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.)
Early World Civilizations 

Lesson 47 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Amur, Babylon’s, Etemenanki, Iddin, Ili, Ipi, Marduk, Meret, Nebuchadnezzar, Rensi, Rensi’s, Warad, abate, abating, adjudge, affably, appercipient, behoof, bestowed, cacophonous, caravan, casting, cavalcade, colligated, commotive, conceptualization, contrasting, cranks, cubits, dispensed, disperses, displeased, emanate, engendering, enriched, equitable, expediently, extracted, fallow, farmlands, footpads, fortuitous, glazed, guaranteed, hearken, hillocks, homesteaders, impermanently, infertile, interposed, irradiant, jetties, laud, lawlessness, loony, marveled, menials, mightiest, mountainous, nicknames, outskirts, overlooking, overuse, palpably, penman, peristyle, platforms, plenitude, privileged, progenitor, propagated, ramps, reaped, refresh, regulating, remorseless, resultant, retracing, reverted, sanctuary, sandstorm, stairways, statutes, steeds, tablets, temporized, toilworn, venerated, voluminous, wigwagged, zestfully, ziggurat, ziggurats

Chapter One: A Father And His Son In Mesopotamia

Let’s hearken back to things that went on 4,000 years ago. A father and a son walked with each other. They were on the jetties of a great river. They were close to what was then the biggest city in the world. It was called Babylon.

The father’s name was Warad. He talked to his son Iddin. “See, my son, the great Euphrates River. What if this river did not flow? Then there would be no great city of Babylon. There’d be no palaces, no gardens. There would be no homes.”

Iddin said, “But I don’t get it, Father. Did all of these things emanate from the water?”

“No,” his father laughed. “No one just floated the palaces down here. And no one extracted them from the water. Let me explain, Iddin.” They sat down on a bench. It was overlooking the wide river. The water rolled in front of them. It reflected the palaces and religious temples that rose high on both banks of the river.

“The first homesteaders who lived by this river found something out. The land near the river had rich soil for crops. Some of these were like wheat and barley for bread. These folks stayed by the river because the land farther from the river was infertile desert.”


“So, these folks built their homes by the river. That way they could grow crops to feed their people. Now, let me ask you this. Why do you think people built our city right here?”

“Due to the water?”

“Yes. The water kept alive the plants that were reaped for food. Now look around.” And Warad wigwagged his hand in a circle. “Now we have our great and beautiful Babylon. Of course, the folks who came here weren’t the only ones who had the appercipient conceptualization to live by the river. Others came and settled up and down the river, too. They propagated more towns and cities.”

“Soon, they found that they could use the Euphrates to do more than just grow food. What else do you think they could use the river for?”

Iddin thought for a bit. Then he asked, “To take things from one city to another? That’s like what we do now.”

“Got it!” his father yelled. “They cruised in boats up and down the river. They’d trade with folks from other cities. They would soon trade crops, material to make clothes, and other things that they had need of. The Euphrates River is not the only river that is used in this way. Folks also use the Tigris River. They, too, grow crops and trade with lots of cities.”


“It’s hard to think of a time when folks did not use the river to grow crops and to travel as we do now!”  Iddin said.

Warad said, “That it is. I have more to tell you. You see, in a while, lots of folks had made their homes by the Euphrates. And some had land farther back from the river. Soon, it was hard for everyone to reach the water expediently. Folks wondered if there was a way to get the water from the river to other parts of the city. Soon, they found that there WAS a way!”

Iddin thought for a bit. Then he cried, “The canals!”

“Yes!” said his father. “They dug ditches cut into the Earth. We call them canals. The water flowed out of the river. And it flowed through the canals. It then got to the parts of the city farther from the river. Then farmers could grow crops where the rivers did not flow.”

“Our venerated king, Hammurabi, did the same thing. He had canals dug to move water all through our country. It came from the two great rivers. Those are the Tigris and the Euphrates. And the king and his menials used an old way to catch rain water. The winter rains would come. The water would not just wash away downstream. They made the waters run into a reservoir. So, the rains would stop. But now there would be water to drink, or to water crops. Once this was done, folks could stay in one place near the river. They could make that place better and better, until finally we had, what?”

“Babylon!” yelled Iddin. “Our king must be the best king of all.”

Warad agreed, “Yes! He is a great king. And now I think it is time for us to head home.”


Chapter Two: Writing In Mesopotamia
It was the day after Iddin and his father, Warad, had their talk about King Hammurabi. Iddin was with his older brother, Amur. They were out kicking a leather ball. The boys went inside to cool off. They found their father. He was sitting at a wide table in the sunny, central peristyle around which their home was built. On the table lay a number of tablets. They were smooth rectangles made of clay. 

Wedge-shaped symbols were pressed into the clay. This sort of writing is called “cuneiform.” “What are you reading?” Amur asked. 

Warad looked up and smiled. “This first tablet shows how much cloth we have sold this month in our store. The other shows how much we sold at the same time last year. I am contrasting the numbers. I’ll adjudge how much cloth I need to buy from the weaver for the store next week. These sorts of notes help me recall how much we sold last year. If not for them, I would forget.” 

Iddin sat on a wooden bench next to the table. “Father,” he asked. “Who figured out how to write in the first place? Who said what each symbol meant?” 

Before Warad could answer, Amur spoke up. “The king did it. Right? Hammurabi can do anything.”


Warad said affably, “Well, Amur, our king has done many bright things. But someone else made up writing. That was way before the king was born. And Iddin, I’m afraid we don’t know just who it was that figured out how to write. Nor do we know how they decided what each symbol should mean.” 

Iddin laughed. “Maybe they should have kept notes on clay tablets in cuneiform!” 

Warad laughed, too. “Well, whoever it was did us all a great favor. What if we couldn’t write? It would be hard to remember information for long periods of time.” 

Iddin interposed, “Like how much cloth you sold last year?” 

Warad smiled, “Like how much cloth I sold last year.” 

“People around here, between our two big rivers, have known about writing for nearly 1,500 years. That’s important. In fact, the king may not have been the progenitor of writing. But he had great thoughts about how to use it. He was so powerful that he made up a set of rules, or laws, for people to live by. That way, they would know how to behave in different situations. Then he had his scribes write them down. In fact, did you know this about your uncle, my brother? He’s one of the scribes who helped the king write down the laws of our country. This set of laws is called the “Code of Hammurabi.” There are 282 laws in all.”


“That’s a lot of statutes!” Iddin piped up. “That must have taken Uncle and the other scribes a long time to write.” He temporized. “How did Uncle get to be a penman, anyway?” 

“Our father, your grandfather, was a scribe. That’s why all of our family can read and write. Your grandfather taught your uncle. Then he taught me. It’s fortuitous that we know how to read and write. And if your uncle and the others had not written down all the laws of the king, they would be lost.” 

“Who could recall all 282 of them?” Iddin asked. 

“Good point,” said Warad. “Amur, what do you think it would be like if we could not remember the laws?”

The older boy said, “If we could not remember the laws, people would not go by the same rules. Someone going to another town might break that town’s rules. They would have engaged in lawlessness and not even have known it.” 

Warad said, “And Iddin, what if I bestowed upon you one set of rules? And then I gave Amur a second set of rules?” 

“That would not be equitable,” said Iddin. “Unless I liked my rules more than his.” 

They all laughed. Then Amur said, “I like to write for another reason, too. When Uncle came to see us, I wrote down that story he told us of being caught in a desert sandstorm. He said that they had to lie down and cover their heads. That was due to the strong winds that blew the sand so hard all around them. I read it to Iddin last night.” 

Iddin smiled. “Why don’t you write a story about us, Amur?” 

His brother thought impermanently about it. Then he answered, “That’s a loony idea, Iddin. Who would want to read a story about us?” Then the boys went back out to play some more.


Chapter Three: The Religion Of Babylon
One day, we come back to Warad and his older son, Amur. They were walking in the voluminous city of Babylon. Amur said, “I guess Babylon is the best city in all the world, Father. Just look at the palace of King Hammurabi! I bet no other king has a palace as grand as this one. And, yes, the city is commotive and cacophonous and dirty. But our ziggurats, with their temples, where the priests feed, clothe, and pray to the gods and goddesses for us, are calm and beautiful!” 

“Yes, my son,” said Warad. “The temples are quite beautiful. And the priests in charge of our religion make sure that they stay that way. After all, we want our gods and goddesses to be happy. What if the sun god grew displeased with us? He might not come up in the sky the next day.” 

“Well that, palpably, would not be good,” Amur said. “Then we could not grow food. Nor could we see each other clearly.”


“And thanks to Marduk, the god of our city,” Warad said. “He protects us. He makes sure that we live well. In return, we must be sure to laud him. And we must give him thanks for all that he does for us. Let’s go see the temple of Marduk.”  

Amur zestfully agreed to go to the temple. It was one of his favorite parts of the city. Even from afar, they could see the lofty ziggurat upon which the temple sat. It rose up many feet into the air. Its wide steps climbed up and up to the small temple on top. Only the king and the priests of Marduk were privileged to go up there. But all could visit the base of the tower. The ziggurat was called “Etemenanki.” That meant “house of the platform of Heaven and Earth.” The sanctuary of Marduk was at the top. 

“Recall this, my son,” Warad said. “There are lots of gods and goddesses besides Marduk. We must give thanks to all of them.”  

“I know,” Amur sighed. “We believe that each god and goddess has power over a certain part of the universe. There’s one for the sky and one for the water. There’s one for all the plants that grow out of the ground. I’m just glad that Marduk is the god of our city and that we have this grand temple for him.” 

They all marveled at the temple for a while. Then Warad and Amur saw that the light in the sky was abating. Warad said, “The sun god has done his work for the day. He’s now ready to rest. It is time for us to rest, as well.” 

Then, they turned away from the temple of Marduk. Warad and Amur headed home.


Chapter Four: The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon
You may remember this. Babylon stood on the banks of the Euphrates River. It was the home of King Hammurabi. He wrote the laws called “The Code of Hammurabi.”

Let’s go to many years after Hammurabi ruled Babylon. There was another famous king there. He, too, had a long name. This king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar. That could be a hard name to say. But everyone in Babylon learned it.

Here we find a whole group of travelers. They make up a caravan that’s headed for Babylon. Let’s pretend that you and I are traveling to Babylon with this cavalcade. We have been traveling for weeks to get there. That way, we can sell fine cotton cloth, which for now is all colligated on the backs of our donkeys. Most of us hope to sell things in Babylon. Then we’ll buy new things to trade back home.

There are guides and guards to lead us through the desert. They will protect us from footpads on the way. Some of the travelers even come from Babylon. One of them is a merchant named Ili. We’ve made friends with him. Ili has been far from home for months. He’s glad now to get home to Babylon. As we approach the high walls of the city, you tell him this. “I have seen lots of cities with walls. But I have not seen a wall as big as this one.”


“Yes,” Ili tells us, with pride. “It’s about sixteen thousand cubits long. That way, it can go all around Babylon. The wall is strong and wide. Soldiers have room to turn their chariots and steeds around on top! But, wait a few more minutes. You will see one of the best sights along that wall.”

A few minutes later, up ahead we glimpse a tall, wide gate in the wall. Blue-glazed bricks cover the gate. They’re glittering in the irradiant sunlight. “That’s the famed Ishtar Gate,” Ili tells us. “Our king had it built. Then he named it for one of Babylon’s goddesses.” 

Half an hour later, soldiers at the Ishtar Gate let our group come in. Now we find ourselves walking on streets made of stone. This feels strange after the weeks that we have spent on the shifting sands of the desert. Large statues stand, every so often, by the sides of the street. “Look! The statues are made of gold!” 

We continue on our way. We pass marvelous palaces and busy shops filled with things to buy. The next day, we’ll take our cloth to one of the shop owners. He has promised to buy it. 

Our friend Ili has invited us to dinner at his home tonight. “You are lucky,” he says. “The windows of the inn where you’ll be staying look out upon the most amazing sight in all of Babylon.”


“Do you mean the famous gardens?” I ask. 

“Yes,” Ili says. Then, he looked around with care to make sure that no one else could hear. He says this to us quietly. “King Nebuchadnezzar can be remorseless if he does not like you. But he also has a good side for those who he likes or loves. And the person he loves most of all is his queen. The queen came from a land of hillocks and mountains, with green meadows rich with tall trees and colorful flowers.”

“Some say that after she moved here, the queen missed her home. So, our king thought to build her a mountain covered with green plants. That’s the famous Hanging Gardens. That way, the queen would not be so homesick. But now I must leave you. This is my street. Recall, you will dine with us tonight. Come starved! There will be lots to eat.” And smiling again, Ili leaves us to head toward our inn. 

We have gone just one block more. Then you glance over the rooftops ahead and stop in your tracks. 

“Look!” you exclaim. Your eyes are wide open in wonder. When I look up, I have the same reaction. There, rising above the roofs of the city, we see the famous manmade hill. Many stories high, it is a series of level platforms built one on top of another. And it is connected by ramps and stairways.


It narrows in size the higher you look. The platforms are almost completely covered with trees, vines, and blooming flowers. The flowers are in such plenitude that they hang over the sides and give the place its name. We stand in awe of this sight. How on Earth can Nebuchadnezzar grow all these plants in the middle of hot, dry Babylon? 

That night when we are at dinner, Ili explains. “The level parts of the garden are made of mud bricks covered in lead. That way, the water does not leak through. Workers had to carry up the tons of dirt to cover those parts. And then they set all the plants in place. The water for the plants is lifted up in buckets. They’re attached to a long chain. This chain runs around the edges of two great wheels. One’s at the bottom of the building. And one’s at the top.”

“Workers turn these wheels with cranks. The buckets dip into a pond of water at the bottom. That has been filled from the river nearby. As the wheels keep turning, the buckets become full. Then they’re lifted up to the top of the chain. There, they empty their contents into another pond. From this pond, channels direct the water down to the different garden levels and out among the plants.” 

I tell Ili, “I’m amazed at how clever all this is, and how rich King Nebuchadnezzar must be!” But you ask, “And does his queen like it?” 

Ili just smiles at us and says, “Wouldn’t you?”


Chapter Five: People Of The Nile
Mesopotamia was not the only place where folks were creating cities and nations. Another group of people doing this were the Egyptians. They were engendering another great civilization. But they were on the banks of another river, the Nile.  

The Nile is the longest, and one of the mightiest, rivers on Earth. It flows all the way through Egypt. Then it empties into the sea. The Nile has always given the people of Egypt their own behoof.  

Most farmers outside of Egypt had a hard time growing crops. They often had to farm the same land year after year. There was a problem with this. By using the same land each year, the crops they planted would overuse the natural vitamins and minerals in that land. Those nutrients would get used up. Then the farmers could no longer grow crops on that land. 

So, the farmers would have to stop farming. They’d have to give the land a few years to “rest.” They say that “their fields must lay fallow” for some time. By not growing crops on that land for a few years, the natural vitamins and minerals the plants needed to grow would start to build up again. Then the farmers could farm on that land again, at least for a few more years. But what was resultant was that the farmers could never be guaranteed that they could grow enough food each single year. It was quite a hard life.


But the Egyptians COULD farm the same land over and over again. Do you know why? The reason that they could do this had to do with the Nile. 

The Nile begins its long journey to the sea in the high mountainous areas of central Africa. Every spring, heavy rainstorms fill Africa’s mountain lakes. The water disperses into the Nile. This floodwater rushes down the mountain sides. It flows with enormous speed and power. The tumid river carries mud, rich with minerals and vitamins, in its currents. The floodwaters reach the flat lands of Egypt. Then they spread out for miles on either side of the riverbanks. Thus, the nutrients are dispensed into the farmlands. When the rains and the flooding abate, the river goes back to its normal size. 

Long ago, the ancient Egyptians planted crops in the muddy fields that were enriched with vitamins and minerals. In this way, the Nile floods meant life for the Egyptians. But the rains might be light for a year or two. Then, the floodwaters would not bring enough rich soil. The people might go hungry. That’s because they would not be able to grow as much food. 

The Egyptians knew their lives depended on the river. Most Egyptians lived within twelve or thirteen miles of the Nile, on one side or the other. It was there that the floodwaters would refresh the land each year.


The floodwaters could be quite dangerous, too. When the spring floods came, the Nile could destroy homes and villages. That was if they were built too close to the river. So, lots of ancient Egyptian villages were built up above the level of the river. That way, when the spring floods came, the river would not destroy the buildings and homes. 

Some villages, though, were built on the same level as the river itself. Each year the folks who lived there would have to leave their village when the water rose too high. They’d move to a safe place. Then they’d come back a few weeks later when the river had reverted back to a lower level. The Egyptians in those villages would have to repair a lot of the damage. Still, they were used to doing that each single year. 

Some villages had another way of regulating the flood waters. The people who lived in these villages dug canals. These were ditches cut into the Earth that spread from the edge of the river. They would carry away the extra water from the spring floods. The water flowed through the canals, past the village, and into the farm fields beyond. So, the village did not get damaged. And the water could be transported out farther from the Nile. But the Egyptians used the Nile for other reasons. We shall see about that in this next tale of an Egyptian family.


It was one day thousands of years ago. An Egyptian woman named Ipi was with her daughter named Meret. They had gone down to the Nile to gather some soft, muddy clay. They planned to make clay pots. Nearing the river, they heard a voice call to them. “Ipi! Meret!” They looked up and smiled. At sail out in the middle of the Nile was Rensi. He was the husband of Ipi and the father of Meret. Rensi was a fisherman who sailed his narrow boat up and down the river, casting out rope nets to catch fish. He did this just as the men in his family had always done before him. As Rensi’s mother had told him, “Once a fisherman, always a fisherman. And once a fisherman’s son, always a fisherman, too.” 

Rensi began retracing his route back to Meret and Ipi. After a bit, he reached shore. He pulled his boat a little way onto the sand. That way, it would not drift back into the water. Then he made his way towards them. 

Meret turned to her father. He hugged her and kissed her. “Little fish,” he said gently. He was using one of his nicknames that he had for Meret. 

The three of them took the rope fishing nets from the boat. They hung them to dry on wooden racks in the sun. Then Rensi, his wife, and his daughter took the fish from the boat back to their village. There, they would sell them at the market. That night, they were toilworn from their long day. They made their way back to their small house, made of mud bricks, at the outskirts of the village.

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.)
Early World Civilizations 

Lesson 48 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Ahweru, Ahweru’s, Amon, Djoser, Djoser’s, Giza, Hatshepsut’s, Imhotep, Karnak, Khafre, Khufu, Khufu’s, Meret’s, Ra, Setna, Setna’s, Shep, Sobek, Sphinx’s, Sphinxes, Thutmose, admixture, afterlife, amenable, artwork, bedazzling, blueprints, caretaker, carvings, chafed, co, connote, counselors, couriers, crocs, dazzles, denotations, diligence, doted, facade, facile, flotillas, foreshore, galvanizing, glisten, glyphs, gratifying, hieroglyphics, hobbled, imposing, incredulous, infinitely, inquisitiveness, invincible, journeyers, lotus, magically, maturing, memorize, mentioning, mustaches, perceptible, perpetuity, physiognomy, pier, portrayal, predilection, qualified, relay, reposeful, revealing, rite, succumbed, truculent, vaporized, vertex, wearily, wonderment, wonderments

Chapter Six: Writing In Ancient Egypt
Once in a while, Meret went with her father while he went to fish. Late one night, Meret and her father came back from a long day of fishing. They were both tired from being out in the hot sun all afternoon. They were relieved to be back on the banks of the river. Meret’s mother waited for them by the shore. When she saw Meret, she scooped the tired girl up and gave her a huge hug. 

“I will sing you your bedtime song as we walk home, my child,” she told Meret. Meret nodded. She wearily looked up at her mother. 

Her mother sang the pretty song. Then Meret asked with inquisitiveness, “How did you learn and memorize that song?” 

“I learned it from my mother, who learned it from her mother,” Meret’s mother replied. “I learned everything I needed to know by listening to my mother. I will teach you everything that you need to know. And I hope that you will be able to listen well.” 

“I will,” Meret said. “But isn’t there another way to pass on information?”


“Well, yes,” Meret’s mother said. “The kings and scribes know how to draw symbols called ‘hieroglyphs.’ They connote the words that we say. Then, someone else can come along and read these symbols much later. They can then understand exactly what was written.” 

“But why would we need to write things down? Can’t we can just pass them on by talking?” Meret asked. 

“Sometimes messages need to be carried by messengers over very long distances,” Meret’s mother explained. “And in the time that it took to go those great distances, the messengers might forgot the messages. They might get some of the words mixed up when they tried to relay their message.” 

“That is not so good!” Meret exclaimed. “Then the person could get the wrong message!” 

“Exactly,” Meret’s mother continued. “But when the message is written down, there is no chance that the messenger will forget the message, or get it mixed up. This is one reason why reading and writing are so important. We Egyptians thought it was important to write things down accurately.” 

“That seems like a good idea.” Meret agreed. “So, writing things down using symbols helps messengers deliver the correct message. But are there other things that writing is used for?”


“Lots of things,” Meret’s mother said. “Writing is used so that the important things that happen will be remembered for a long time. It is how we can look back and recall things that went on before you and I were even born!” 

“Wow!” Meret said in wonderment

Her mother continued, “So, we write to record our history. But we also use it to write down laws that each of us should know. We use these symbols to write down stories, poems, and even songs, too.” 

“Like the pretty song that you sing to me, Mother?” Meret inquired. 

“Yes, the song that I sing to you each night has been written down. That way, it will be known forever,” Meret’s mother answered. 

“That’s good,” Meret said. “I like that song.” She paused and then asked, “So, the carvings on the stones of the temple are a form of writing?”


“Yes,” her mother said. “People also paint or write on wood or papyrus. The couriers that I was mentioning earlier normally take messages written on papyrus.”  

“Well, I bet that a stone would be quite heavy to carry!” Meret laughed. 

Meret’s mother laughed, as well. Then she said, “But now, my dear, it is time for you to sleep. We are now at home.” 

“Will you sing me the song one more time?” Meret asked as they went in. 

Meret’s mother nodded. Then she began to sing. Before she was done, Meret was fast asleep. 

Meret’s favorite song had been written down using hieroglyphics. That was the ancient Egyptian way of writing. In ancient Egypt, kings, scribes, priests, and craftsmen were some of the few people who understood the denotations of the glyphs. These hieroglyphs, or single pictures and symbols, were used instead of the letters and words that we have in our language today. They were used to communicate and write down important messages, laws, songs, stories, and prayers. That way, they would be recalled for many years to come. It was not until hundreds of years later that the word “hieroglyphics” was given to this form of writing.


Chapter Seven: AmonRa And The Gods Of Ancient Egypt
There are lots of old tales from Egypt. Many said that some of the gods and goddesses looked like the creatures that the Egyptians saw around them in their own country. Sometimes, they could be an admixture of animals and human beings! Here’s one for you. One common Egyptian bird was a small hawk called a falcon. The ancient Egyptians believed in a god named Horus. He was a portrayal of a man’s body topped with the head of a falcon. 

Another god was called Sobek. He was depicted as a human body with the head of a crocodile! There have always been real crocodiles living along the banks of the Nile River. And they are always hungry. They often try to catch and eat other creatures. In the old days, people believed in Sobek. That way, they could pray to him to keep real crocs away. The Egyptians were careful to say nice things about him. “See,” they would say. “We made a handsome statue of you, great Sobek. And we will leave meat and fish by the statue for you to eat.” 

Another Egyptian god was depicted as a cat. Another was a hippopotamus. And so on. Others just looked completely human. But they were still thought to have special powers.


The ancient Egyptians’ most important god had different names in different parts of Egypt. Some people called him Amon. Some called him Ra. At times, they’d put these together as Amon-Ra. These were all names for the Egyptian god of the sun. They said that he had created everything. He’d even created lots of the other gods and goddesses. 

Let’s listen, as Meret’s mother tells her a story about Amon-Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun. We’ll learn what the ancient Egyptians thought about the creation of the world. 

Meret and her mother were washing clothes down at the edge of the Nile. Meret’s mother said, “Amon-Ra started out by living inside a large, pretty flower. It was called a lotus. In those days, everything was covered with water. So, the lotus flower was under the waves. Finally, Amon-Ra thought, ‘It is time for this lotus to rise up out of the water. It’s time for it to open its petals.’ And since he was powerful, it happened.”  

“That’s wild!” Meret said. She turned to set some wet clothes on a large rock. That way, the sun would dry them.


Her mother said, “You’ve not yet heard the best part! After the lotus blossom opened, Amon-Ra said this. ‘Now I will make everything else in the world. I just need to think about each thing and use my powers. I will think up other powerful gods and goddesses. Then I won’t be lonely. I will make stars and planets, and the sun and the moon. I’ll make the birds, fish, plants, and animals. And I will make the first humans, too.’ Soon, he made everything. Amon-Ra then picked up the sun. He put it into a big boat.” 

“The whole sun?” asked Meret. 

“Yes. Amon-Ra is very strong. He sailed his boat, with the sun in it, across the whole sky until he reached the other side. Then he rested. He did it again the next day. He still does this each day. And when he rests, it is night.” 

Meret thought this over. She asked, “Why can’t we see him or his boat?” 

“Maybe he and the boat are too far away, up in the air. We can only see the bright sun shining from the back. Or perhaps the sun dazzles so brightly that we can’t look carefully enough to see the boat. After all, you must not stare at the sun. That will hurt your eyes.” 

Meret said, “Well, I’m glad that Amon-Ra made the sun. If he had not done so, we could not dry our clothes.” Meret’s mother laughed.


Chapter Eight: Approaching The Great Pyramid
Long ago, there was an Egyptian priest. He was named Setna. He was the caretaker for one part of a huge temple. It had been built to honor the gods in his city. Setna had a daughter. She was named Ahweru. He doted on her and loved her infinitely. After maturing to Setna’s satisfaction, he took Ahweru on a boat trip. They would head down the Nile. They’d go to a place called Giza. She could see the Great Pyramid there! It would be kind of a “rite of passage” for her. 

They sailed for days. They were journeyers on a large sailing ship. During the trip, Setna told his daughter what the Great Pyramid was. He told her why it had been built. He said, “We Egyptians say that far to the west lies a place called ‘the beautiful west.’ When one dies, he or she has the chance to go there. If they get there safely, their spirit will be happy forever. The good god Osiris is the king there. He takes good care of each person. But the trip to this reposeful place is dangerous. It’s hard to make it there. And not everyone who tries to get there reaches it. So, we pray to Osiris. We pray to his wife, Isis. And we pray to their son. He’s the falcon-headed god Horus. If they wish to do so, these three gods can use their powers to help us reach the beautiful west. So, we must be quite sure that they have a predilection to like us.”


“And the god Osiris is so amenable. He will even let us bring any treasure that we have with us when we go there. That could be pretty artwork, fine clothes, or jewelry. It could be whatever we most like in this life. That way, we may have a gratifying afterlife.”

“Well, some years past, there was a pharaoh named Djoser. One night, Djoser had a dream. One of the gods told him to build a special place. Djoser’s family and servants would put his body and treasures there when he had succumbed to death. Now, Djoser had a friend who worked for him. He thought that he was the smartest man alive in those days. This friend’s name was Imhotep. Imhotep was the greatest architect in Egypt.” 

At this point, Ahweru interrupted. “Father, what is an ‘architect’?” 

“That’s a person who decides how a building should look. They also know how it should be constructed. That way it will be sturdy, and never collapse! They draw up the plan. That’s called a “blueprint.” Then the builders follow that plan. Today in Egypt, our builders usually use the same blueprints that our architects have used for thousands of years. But Imhotep was the one who first drew up most of those plans.” 

“He must have been the best architect ever.”


“Pharaoh Djoser thought so, for certain. He called Imhotep to the palace. He told him of the dream. The pharaoh said, ‘Imhotep, build me a building that reaches up toward the sky in honor of the gods. Make the middle of it an open space for me. It can also contain my treasures, for after I die. Make it special.’ So, Imhotep built the first pyramid. The bottom of it is an enormous stone square. And then the four sides reach upward. They lean in toward each until they meet at the top. The sides of that first pyramid are built as steps. That makes it more facile to climb up the outside. Well, Djoser’s pyramid was, indeed, quite a wonder. The pharaohs after him wanted pyramids, too. But they wished for smooth sides, not steps.”

“Much later came a pharaoh named Khufu. Khufu wanted people to know what an important pharaoh he was. So, he commanded his people to build him the biggest pyramid of all. That’s the Great Pyramid.” 

Setna and his daughter Ahweru continued to sail for days. They were nearing the end of their long journey. Suddenly, Setna pointed up ahead. He cried out, “Look! My dear Ahweru! What do you see?”

Ahweru’s eyes opened wide with excitement. “Is that the top of the Great Pyramid? Are we close?”


“It is the top. But we’re still a long way from it. We will not be there until tomorrow. It will start to get dark soon. We will stop shortly. But it is so tall that we can start to see it. Even from this far!” 

The top of the pyramid shone brightly. “It’s like the sun, Father!” Ahweru yelled. 

“That’s because the top is covered in gold. The pharaoh ordered gold to be brought from his mines in the desert. And the sides are covered in smooth, white stone. The pyramid shines in the sun.” 

“The whole top is gold?” 

“Yes. You see, Khufu wanted to show how much power he had. He said, ‘I am the greatest ruler on Earth. The god of the sun, Amon-Ra, is the greatest of the gods. He’s the one who created the world. My pyramid will glisten in the sun to honor Amon-Ra. And it will remind everyone that, just as he created the world, I created this pyramid, and that I am also great. I will be famous into perpetuity!'” Setna looked again at that bedazzling peak. “And all these years later, Ahweru, we stand here talking about Pharaoh Khufu.” 

“But now it’s time for our boat to dock for the night. We will go into that town over there. We’ll get some dinner. Then we’ll go to sleep. Because I am a priest at the temple of Karnak, we’re invited to stay at the temple in this place. Come on, then. You will get to see the Great Pyramid up close tomorrow. It’s the most amazing building ever made!” And they stepped off their boat onto the wooden pier at the foreshore.


Chapter Nine: The Sphinx
The next morning, their boat sailed closer and closer. Ahweru kept thinking, “Surely this must be all of it. There can’t be any more.” But more and more of the pyramid became perceptible to them. Soon she could see more pyramids near the great one, too. She was sure that they must be quite large. But they looked tiny compared to that of Khufu’s pyramid. She could not take her eyes off of that one. 

No wonder she was amazed. Today, we have skyscrapers that reach over one hundred stories into the air. But they pale in comparison. The Great Pyramid is still one of the world’s most galvanizing wonderments. But part of the pointed top is gone now. Later, people took some of the stone to build other things. And they kept the gold for themselves. Also, the smooth, white stone has worn away from the sides. That’s revealing enormous blocks of tan limestone that the white stone initially covered.

But even without the vertex, the Great Pyramid is 450 feet tall. That’s thirty-six stories high. Yes, we have much taller buildings today. But the stone blocks the Egyptians moved, with just sheer muscle power, weighed thousands of pounds each. That’s more than lots of large cars put together. They’d cut the stone blocks from mountains farther up the Nile. Then they had them in flotillas. They were coming downstream to Giza on flat-topped boats. Then they’d throw ropes around the blocks. They’d gather dozens of workers to pull the ropes. They’d drag the blocks across rows of smooth, heavy logs to the pyramid. Then more workers tugged and tugged on the ropes to pull the blocks up big ramps and into place.


Ahweru stepped off the ship and approached the Great Pyramid. Something else caught her eye. Ahead of her, something was rising out of the sand. There lay a giant statue. It had the body of a lion and the head of a man. She asked, “Father, what is that?” 

Setna said, “that is the Great Sphinx. It is nearly as famous as the pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu. But it’s nowhere near as big.” 

“Did Khufu build the Sphinx, too? Or did one of the gods do that?” 

“It was a pharaoh.” 

Ahweru interposed, “Then I was right. It was Khufu.” 

“Well, it was his son, the Pharaoh Khafre. I guess, like his father, he wanted to be remembered for something. But he knew that the people of Egypt had spent twenty years building his father’s pyramid. And it had cost an incredulous amount of gold to do it. Perhaps Khafre did not wish to spend that much time and money. So, he built the second largest pyramid. That one over there.”

He stopped and pointed. Ahweru said, “When we were on the boat, that one looked bigger than the Great Pyramid. But now I see it is smaller. Why is that, Father?”


“It’s built on higher ground. So, as you approach, the second pyramid seems to be the bigger of the two. Once you reach this place, though, both of them are right in front of you. It’s then clear which is truly the most imposing. Khafre knew that he could not match his father’s pyramid. So, he must have wondered what he could do, so that he, too, would be remembered. I bet that was one reason for building the Great Sphinx. Look at the face. It’s the physiognomy of Khafre himself.”

“The Sphinx’s facade is made to look like the pharaoh’s face? Why?” 

“We don’t know for sure. You can see that the years have not been kind to the Great Sphinx. Twice since it was built, the sands of the desert have swallowed it up. They covered it almost completely. I think that there may once have been writing on the base. But the sand chafed that away. Maybe the writing told why the pharaoh put his own face on it. But if so, those words have vaporized.


“However, here’s an old tale. It says that the lion was given the pharaoh’s face to show that Khafre was as truculent and invincible as a lion. The story adds that he set it in front of the pyramids to protect them.” 

“That makes sense. After all, there are smaller sphinxes up near the temple at Karnak. They’re there to help guard it magically.” 

“Yes. This one is not the only sphinx in Egypt. Nor is it the sole statue set up to guard a place. But this one is the biggest and most beautiful. So, it is called ‘great.’ And today we Egyptians say that the Great Sphinx is a form of the sun god. And now, my daughter, it is time to start our long journey home.” 

Ahweru stood still. She looked at the huge statue for a time. Then she said, “I’m glad that I could see the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Thank you for bringing me, Father.”

“You’re most welcome,” Setna replied. And father and daughter went back to the boat to start their trip home.


Chapter Ten: The Story Of Hatshepsut
In ancient times, kings of Egypt were called pharaohs. But the word pharaoh didn’t always mean “king.” At first, it just meant “big house” or “palace.” That’s because the pharaoh was the person who lived in the biggest house in Egypt. That was the royal palace.

Pharaohs were thought to be much more than kings, though. The Nile floods meant life or death to the Egyptians. They thought that the pharaoh had something to do with making the Nile flood each spring. In fact, they thought that the pharaoh was not just a man. They thought that he was a god, too. Because he was such a key person, the Egyptians had rules that told how a pharaoh should be chosen. 

These rules were like lots of other things that the Egyptians did. This was whether it was the way that they’d paint their pictures, or dress, or pray. Once they’d landed on how to do something, they did not like to change the rules. But let’s go to about 3,500 years ago. Then, someone changed the rules for them! And that person was a princess.


Her name was Hatshepsut. Think of her name as “hat, shep, soot.” She was the daughter of a pharaoh. He was Thutmose the First. He was old when he was named pharaoh. He wished to do all that he could for Egypt in the time that he had left. So, he worked with diligence. As he aged more, he could not keep up this pace. Lucky for him, his daughter, Hatshepsut, said this to him. “I will help you run Egypt, father.” 

“Thank you, daughter,” he said. Then he gave her more of his duties to handle. She enjoyed this. And she did a fine job. But then, Thutmose the First grew ill and died.

So, the Egyptians had need of a new pharaoh. You might think that they would pick Hatshepsut. After all, she was highly qualified! She’d learned how to do the job. But tradition said that the pharaoh had to be male, not female. And we know how the Egyptians felt about a change to the rules! So, Hatshepsut’s cousin became Pharaoh. He was Thutmose the Second.


Then Thutmose the Second soon died. The royal court chose Hatshepsut’s young nephew to become Pharaoh. He was Thutmose the Third. But Hatshepsut had had enough of this. Why should she do all of the work, while someone else got to be the pharaoh?! So, she claimed, “I will be the co-ruler of Egypt with my nephew, Thutmose the Third. We will be pharaohs together.” 

One of the wise, old counselors hobbled up to her. He said, “But Princess. I’m sure that you remember this. The pharaoh has to be a man!” 

But, oh my, what she did next! For this, some folks have called her “the first great woman in history.” She simply said this. “That is no problem. I now officially declare myself a man!”

So, Hatshepsut and Thutmose the Third were both called “pharaoh.” But she ran the country. She directed builders and artists to put up pictures and statues of her dressed as a man. They even had her wearing a beard. It was quite hot in Egypt in those days. Of course, it was before air conditioning. So, how did they stay cooler? Egyptians shaved their heads. And the men wore no beards or mustaches. But pharaohs DID wear skinny, fake beards. That was to make them look wise. But now it was a woman wearing the beard!


Hatshepsut was a superb pharaoh. She built one of the greatest temples to the Egyptian gods. And she built up trade between Egypt and some of her distant neighbors. Every time she did something good, her builders would carve advertisements into the walls of buildings. These would tell of the great job that she was doing. 

After Hatshepsut’s death, Thutmose decided to put up walls. These were to cover up the images of her accomplishments. He wanted people to forget her. Thutmose III also set out to conquer lots of other countries around Egypt. This made Egypt and its people incredibly rich and powerful. Today he’s thought to be one of the greatest of all the ancient pharaohs. 

Thousands of years later, modern scientists took down the walls that hid the temple carvings. But those walls did not just hide the carvings. They had actually kept harsh weather, or other things, from destroying both Hatshepsut’s image and the words that she had chosen to tell about herself! This was quite ironic. Thutmose had wished to make people forget her. But instead, he had preserved, by accident, her memory! Because of this, we now know of Hatshepsut. She was the woman who made herself a pharaoh!

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.)
Early World Civilizations 

Lesson 49 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: Bibles, Canaan, Carter’s, Hebrew, Hebrews, Islamic, Maira, Muhammad’s, Muslim, Pesach, Qur’an, Shabbat, Tutankhamun, alaikum, archaeologist, assalamu, assistants, branched, chapel, depicts, descendants, enslaving, faiths, festivals, feverishly, gangs, guarding, hieroglyphic, holiest, hymns, imam, leveled, lifetimes, matzoh, menorahs, minarets, monotheistic, mosques, nativity, needy, obeying, offerings, pacem, parted, passageway, poetic, prophets, readings, rebirth, reentered, relight, removal, resealed, respectfully, sarcophagus, savior, scriptures, sepulcher, shahada, shalom, sins, surprises, surrender, synagogues, testament, torchlight, ul, unmarked, worshiped, worshiping, wrongdoings

Chapter Eleven: Tutankhamun, The Golden Pharaoh, Part One
It’s now many years past Hatshepsut’s rule. Another pharaoh would rule for nine years. Then he’d be forgotten for 3,000 years. His name was Tutankhamun. But he has a nickname. He’s now known as “King Tut.” Tut was only nine years old when he was named pharaoh. And he died when he was just nineteen. 

We’re not sure why he died so young. Some thought that he may have had some sort of accident. When he died, he was not placed in a pyramid like the pharaohs in Hatshepsut’s time. Instead, in Tut’s time, pharaohs were buried in the hillsides of a valley. That valley was called “the Valley of the Kings.” None of the tombs of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings were marked. So, in an unmarked tomb in that valley, Pharaoh Tutankhamun would rest. He was surrounded by treasure. But he was forgotten by the world. He was “lost” for nearly thirty-three centuries. That’s 3,300 years, a very long time.

Now we’ll jump way ahead in time. We go from ancient Egypt to a time closer to today, just 100 years ago. There was a British archaeologist named Howard Carter. He wished to find the lost tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Carter’s partner was a British nobleman. He was Lord Carnarvon. Carnarvon wished to find the lost tombs in the Valley of the Kings, too.


For the next few years, these men went to work. Carter was often accompanied by Lord Carnarvon. Carter had found a number of ancient objects scattered through the valley. But he had in mind a greater prize. Another archaeologist had found objects that had hieroglyphs written on them. These objects mentioned Tut. Carter was determined to find Tut’s tomb. He was sure that somewhere in the Valley of the Kings lay Tut’s hidden burial site. Could he find it? 

Trying to find the tomb was neither easy nor safe. Thieves often showed up. They’d steal valuable objects whenever they heard of new finds. 

There’s a book about Carter’s career. He wrote of one dangerous encounter with such thieves. A band of robbers had learned of a discovery. It was a moonlit night. The thieves crept through the shadows of the valley. They planned to steal whatever they could carry with them. But what happened just as they started to gather the loot? A second band of robbers showed up with the same idea! At once, the two gangs attacked each other in a fierce battle. There they fought, in the moonlight amid the burial sites of the ancient pharaohs. The second gang chased off the first. But Carter, in his nearby camp, heard the noise of their fight. Here is how he calmly told of what next took place.


“I gathered the few of my workmen still nearby. We set out for the scene of action. This was an expedition that involved a climb of more than 1,800 feet. We tramped over the hills in the moonlight. It was midnight when we got to the scene. The guide pointed out to me the end of a rope dangling down the face of the cliff. Listening, we could hear the robbers at work. I first cut their rope. That cut off their means of escape. Then, I made secure a good, stout rope of my own. Then I lowered myself down the cliff.” 

“There were eight robbers at work. When I neared the bottom, there was an awkward moment or two. Finally, the robbers saw reason and departed. The rest of the night I spent guarding the spot.”


For six years, Carter searched for the tomb of King Tut. The two men had focused their attention on one area in the Valley of the Kings. All that was left was the ground beneath some huts. These huts were where ancient workers had lived while they dug the royal tombs. Carter decided to give this area one last try. He and his men removed the huts. They leveled off the soil below. Carter finished removing the first of the workers’ huts. He found something quite exciting! There, lost to the world for thirty-two centuries, was a stone staircase. It led down into the rocky floor of the valley! This had almost been overlooked by Carter and Carnarvon in six years of digging.

Carter and his men uncovered the steps one by one. They cleared the dirt from the top of the twelfth step. They saw beyond it, in Carter’s own words, the upper part of a doorway. Atop the door was a hieroglyphic seal. It showed that the door had been sealed shut under royal authority. Whoever had been buried here was either royal, or someone very important to the pharaoh. 

Carter was almost overcome with excitement. He cut a small hole in the door. He shone a light through the hole. Inside, he saw a hallway filled to the top with rocks. It took all of his self-control not to break through and start to fling the rocks out. He left some of his men to guard the place. He covered the door up again and rode off through the moonlight. He thought, “Anything might lie beyond that passage!” Yet none of them was sure what Carter had found.


Chapter Twelve: Tutankhamun, The Golden Pharaoh, Part Two
He had cleared what turned out to be the last of sixteen stairs. Carter and Carnarvon saw something carved into the door. It was a few inches lower than Carter had been able to see the first time. It was the royal sign of King Tut. But Carter also saw signs that part of the door had been opened before. Then it had been resealed. After all their work, would they find an empty tomb? 

For days, the crew worked to clear the rock-filled passageway. They were anxious to move ahead. But they were afraid of destroying anything important if they moved too fast. Thirty-two feet in, they found another door! This one also had Tut’s seal. There were more signs that part of it had been broken open, too. Carter cut another hole. He lit a candle and looked through. The others were fairly dancing with excitement behind him. They waited. But he said nothing. It was because, as it turned out, he could not speak. He was too overcome. At last Carnarvon demanded, “Can you see anything?” Howard Carter turned slowly, and answered, “Yes! Wonderful things!”

What they saw was just a hint of what appeared a number of days later. They soon opened that door. They entered by the light of flashlights. As they lit up the room beyond, light flashed back at the explorers. There were reflections in gold! There, shining in the torchlight, were so many beautiful things. A golden throne. A statue of a golden snake. Couches made of gold. Golden clothes draped over two large, black stone statues. And much more awaited them.


They looked around some more. They saw ancient Egyptian art pieces of great beauty. Some were unlike any they had ever seen before. These were priceless. Not only did they have gold and jewels all over them. But they would also give new clues to the religious beliefs and way of life of the ancient Egyptians. Then one of Carter’s assistants called, “There’s another door.” Sure enough, there was another, smaller room. It was filled with more objects. But unlike those in the first room, these were thrown about. It was as if a robber, feverishly searching through the riches of the place, had been interrupted. He had left them behind in a hurry. 

But among all of these wonders, something was missing. There was no mummy. There was not even a mummy case, or sarcophagus. Thus, there was a moment of mixed triumph and disappointment. But the surprises of that day were not over. Carnarvon and Carter reentered the first room. They glanced at the far wall. At the same moment, they shouted, “Look!” For in that wall, they saw a fourth door! 

Already, they had found the largest, most valuable collection of ancient Egyptian treasures ever discovered. It would take a number of months before their team could check everything. They’d have to gently move it all out. Finally, Carter gently pulled away some stones atop the fourth door. Holding up a light, he peered in.


At his side, an assistant held up a microphone to carry Carter’s words, by radio, around the world. Here is how Howard Carter later told of what he saw beyond the door. “There, within a yard of the doorway, stretching as far as one could see, stood a solid wall of gold! There was no clue as to its meaning. But with the removal of a very few stones, that mystery was solved. We were at the entrance of the actual burial chamber of the king. That which barred our way was the side of an immense, golden shrine. It had been built to cover and protect the sarcophagus which held the long-lost pharaoh!” 

They had found the burial chamber of Tutankhamun. It was almost 3,300 years after his death. The great cover surrounding his mummy case stood eighteen feet wide, eleven feet long, and nine feet high. And it was all covered in gold! Carved into this were hieroglyphic symbols. The walls of the room were covered with hieroglyphic words and paintings of Tut and the Egyptian gods.


The sarcophagus itself turned out to hold a series of cases. One was inside the next. Some of the wood was covered in gold. The innermost case held the mummy. It would become one of the most famous images in the world. It was made of solid gold. Inside it was the king’s mummy. It had a mask over his face. It was made of gold and of shining blue stone. 

The discovery of King Tut and his treasures excited people all over the world. Wherever the news spread, people said, “We want to know more about ancient Egypt. We want to learn how we are different from those ancient Egyptians, and how we might be the same.” Nearly a hundred years later, people are still saying it. All this happened because of two men, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. They had wondered about someone who had lived more than three thousand years before them. That was Tutankhamun, Pharaoh of Egypt.


Chapter Thirteen: Three World Religions
Have you ever wondered how the universe came to be? Or why the stars shine at night? Or what makes a rainbow? Perhaps you’ve asked what causes a thunderstorm or an earthquake? Why does the Earth have more water than land? Well, you’re not alone. Lots of folks have asked about these same things for thousands of years. 

How does one find answers to these questions? People have looked at the natural world around them. They were amazed by the power of the sun and moon and stars. Some people believed that some animals were sacred, or holy. They worshiped them. 

The ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians worshiped many gods and goddesses. They were believed to have controlled each thing that happened on Earth. They made offerings to these gods. They held festivals and ceremonies in their honor. 

People began following religions long ago. People have always asked lots of questions. How did people come to live on the Earth? What are the stars in the sky? Who, if anyone, controls everything that happens? Their explanations of all the mysteries of the universe became stories that they told each other. This was long before writing was invented.


Not everyone in ancient times had the same beliefs or religions. The same is true now. There are lots of different religious beliefs. There are lots of different religions.

You’ll now learn a bit about three of the different religions practiced in the world today. The oldest of these that you’ll learn about is called Judaism. The second one is called Christianity. And the third one is called Islam. All three of these religions had their beginnings in an area of the world known as the Middle East. In fact, all three religions call the city of Jerusalem a holy, or sacred, city.

People who practice Judaism, Jewish people, worship at many places. They include a place known as the Western Wall. This is the only remaining support wall that was part of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. It’s on the western side of the Temple Mount. That’s why it’s called “the Western Wall.” This site is very holy to Jewish people. Sometimes when people pray there, they get very emotional as they worship. This leads some people to refer to this wall by its nickname, “the Wailing Wall.”

Christians are people who practice Christianity. They worship at many places. That includes a place known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A “sepulcher” is a place where dead people are placed. This church is the main Christian shrine in Jerusalem.


Muslims are people who practice Islam. They worship at many places. That includes a place known as the Dome of the Rock. It’s made of marble and tile. It is the oldest complete example of an Islamic building that is still standing today. 

Jewish people, Christians, and Muslims worship in many other places around the world. That’s in addition to these three holy shrines in Jerusalem. 

How did these religions begin? Why do all three consider the city of Jerusalem to be a holy city? Well, about four thousand years ago, there was a land called Ur. In that place, there lived a man by the name of Abraham. The people of Ur worshiped lots of different gods. There was one for the sun, one for the moon, one for the stars, etc. But Abraham had a different belief. He thought that there was just one God.


Stories tell us that this one all-powerful God spoke to Abraham. This God promised to lead him out of Ur. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, packed their things and traveled far. They went away to a place called Canaan. Some people refer to Canaan as “the promised land.” Today, it is known as the country of Israel. That’s where the holy city of Jerusalem is located. It was here that Abraham remained faithful to his one God, who is often called “the God of Abraham.” 

All three religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are “monotheisticfaiths. They are all faiths that believe in just one God. Over the next few days, you’ll learn important differences about each of these world religions. It’s important to know that all three religions started long ago in the Middle East. All three religions have sets of beliefs that help people to make sense of their universe. All three religions have influenced the laws and customs of people around the world for many years.


Chapter Fourteen: Judaism
Hi. I’m Miriam. I am Jewish. Jewish people practice a religion called Judaism. Judaism began long ago with the Hebrew people. They were descendants of Abraham. You’ve already heard about Abraham. Jewish people believe that God made a “covenant,” or agreement, with Abraham. God promised to take care of Abraham and his descendants. In return, Abraham promised to worship only God. That was a break from following the common practice of worshiping many different gods. 

Long after Abraham died, the Hebrews had to leave the “Promised Land” of Canaan. That’s because there was not enough food to eat. They moved to neighboring Egypt. There, they were made to work as slaves for the king, or pharaoh, of Egypt. 

After many years, God sent a prophet named Moses. He was to help free the Hebrew people and lead them back to Canaan, “the promised land.” 

Moses asked the Egyptian pharaoh to free the Jewish people from slavery. But the pharaoh refused. God punished the pharaoh for enslaving the Jewish people. Finally, the pharaoh let the Jewish slaves leave Egypt and return to Canaan. Moses led them to freedom by obeying God. God then parted, or pushed back, the waters of the Red Sea. That was so that the Jewish people could walk through to Canaan. This journey out of Egypt is called “the Exodus.”


Today, I celebrate the holiday of Pesach, or Passover, with my family. It is one of our most important Jewish holidays. Passover is when we celebrate the freedom of our people from slavery in Egypt and their journey back to Canaan. I’m going to the synagogue to hear the story of Moses once again. Won’t you come with me? 

This is my synagogue, or temple. You can tell it apart from other houses of worship. That’s because it has the Star of David on it. King David was one of our finest kings. His six-pointed star has become a symbol of the Jewish faith. Let’s go in! 

Inside, I will introduce you to my uncle, the rabbi. A rabbi is a religious leader for the Jewish faith. He will read from the Torah. It is a beautiful handwritten scroll. 

The Torah refers to all of the Hebrew scriptures. But most often, when Jewish people say “Torah” they mean the first five books that are mostly about Moses.

There’s my uncle. We’re a little bit late. He’s already begun to read the story. He reads in Hebrew. That’s the ancient language of the Jewish people.


Tonight, as part of our celebration, we will tell the Exodus story. Would you like to join my family at our Seder? Seder is the name of our special Passover dinner. It’s a lot like our weekly Shabbat, or Sabbath. That’s our holy day of rest, on Saturday. The whole family gathers together for a big, special meal. The youngest person in the room who can speak is the one who begins the Seder. They will ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

At a Seder, the food that we eat is quite important. Each food that’s put on the Seder plate has a special meaning. That’s to help us remember the story of Moses and the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt. 

Passover lasts for one week. Each day we eat matzoh, or flat bread. That’s because when the Jewish people fled Egypt so quickly, they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise. All they had to eat was flat bread. See what I mean about each food at our Seder having a special meaning? 

Passover is a really important holiday for my people. But we have lots of other holidays, as well.


We also celebrate Rosh Hashanah. That’s the Jewish New Year. It happens during late summer or autumn. We eat sweet foods such as apples and honey. They represent our wish for a sweet year ahead. That is when we thank God for the creation of the world. 

There’s another Jewish holiday called Hanukkah. That means “the Festival of Lights.” Jewish people all around the world light nine-branched candlesticks. They’re called “menorahs.” They light the menorahs to remember the past. They think of the time when they rebelled against the rulers who had conquered them. These rulers told the Jewish people that they could no longer pray to God. Here’s how the story goes. When the Jewish people went to the temple, they only found a small jar of oil with which to relight the lamp. But the oil lasted, miraculously, for eight days. That covered them until they were able to get more. 

Another of our holidays is Yom Kippur. It’s a time when we ask God to forgive our sins. We try to live our lives by the Ten Commandments. Those were special laws given to Moses by God. They tell us that there is only one God. And we are to respect him by treating others respectfully

Shalom. Peace to you.


Chapter Fifteen: Christianity
Today is Easter. That’s one of the most important holidays in Christianity. My name is Peter. I am a Christian. So, I am a follower of Jesus. Miriam is my good friend. I know that she has told you a bit about her religion, Judaism. Well, Christianity grew out of Judaism. In fact, Jesus was Jewish.

Remember how Moses freed the Jewish people? He led them back to “the promised land” of Canaan, or Israel? Well, long after that, the Jewish people again struggled to be free. Their land had been conquered and ruled by Roman soldiers. They were no longer free. They prayed for a Messiah, or savior. He would bring peace and justice to the world. They thought that this would include freedom from Roman rule. It was at this time that Jesus was born. Some Jewish people believed that Jesus was the Messiah for whom they prayed. 

Jesus was a holy leader and a special teacher. Christians today believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He was sent to save the people here on Earth. Christians also believe that Jesus is the son of God. 

Jesus spent long hours teaching people about God’s love for them. And he instructed them to be kind to each other. Jesus seemed to care about everybody. He loved the rich and the poor. He cared for the healthy and the sick. He loved the good and the bad. He became very popular with the people. Some began to call him the king of the Jewish people.


According to the Bible, on the third day after Jesus died, he rose from the dead and came back to life. Christians believe that Jesus died so that his followers might also experience life after death. And they would receive forgiveness for their “sins,” or wrongdoings. This is why Christians all around the world celebrate Easter. 

So, now you know why today is so special for me. Come to church with me. I have some things that I’d like to show you. 

This is my church. Some of my friends go to a chapel. That’s a small church. Still others go to a great big cathedral. You could say that my church is medium-sized. You can tell that it is a Christian church. That’s because of the cross on the top. 

The cross is an important symbol of the Christian faith. Since Christians believe that Jesus died on a cross, according to my religion, we could live with him forever. 

Holy Week is the week before Easter. The cross is draped in a purple cloth to remember the miracle of Jesus’ “resurrection.” That’s a long word for his rising from the dead and coming back to life. Today, I will place flowers on the cross. They’ll be a symbol of rebirth and eternal life.


Let’s go inside. The church is full of Easter lilies. The minister, priest, or pastor gives a sermon, or talk, every Sunday. He reads from the Bible, our holy book. Part of our Bible is the Old Testament. It contains the same books of Jewish scriptures. But today’s readings will come from the New Testament. It is full of stories about the life of Jesus. It includes today’s story of the Resurrection. We will sing some special Easter songs and hymns. Then, musicians with big brass instruments will play and join in with their loud and joyous praise! 

Christians also celebrate the birth of Jesus. That day is called Christmas. That’s celebrated on the twenty-fifth of December. Christians sometimes act out the nativity scene. That depicts when the baby Jesus was born in a manger. 

At Christmas, Christians also give presents to one another. That’s to remember the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus when he was born. They gave him presents over two thousand years ago. There are other special days for Christians. But the two biggest celebrations are Christmas and Easter. 

What happened after Jesus died on the cross? His “disciples,” or followers, continued to spread his teachings to others. Today, Christianity is widely practiced around the world. There are many different groups of Christians. But they share lots of the same practices, or ways of doing things. Most practicing Christians go to church on Sunday morning. They call that their “day of rest.” They meet at church to pray and sing songs. Christians also try to live their lives by the Ten Commandments. Finally, Christians believe that Jesus is God’s son and the Messiah, our savior. 

Pacem. Peace be with you.


Chapter Sixteen: Islam
Hi. My name is Maira. That means “moon” in Arabic. That’s my home language. I like that my name matches the symbol of my religion. That’s a crescent moon and a star. 

I’m Muslim. My religion is Islam. It has a lot in common with Judaism and Christianity. My friends are Miriam and Peter. They’ve shared their key holidays with you. Now I want to do the same. 

Today we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. That’s the end of Ramadan. That’s a month-long time when we fast. That means that we don’t eat or drink a thing from sunup to sundown. We do that each day for a month. Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. But you need to know the story of my faith. Then you’ll understand why.


Let’s turn to six hundred years after Jesus was born. The prophet Muhammad was born in the land that we now call Saudi Arabia. In those days, Christians and Jewish people already believed in one, all-powerful God. But the people in Saudi Arabia still believed in lots of gods and goddesses. Muhammad believed that he heard the voice of God. God sent him messages of how to lead a better life, a life of helping others. According to our religious teachings, Muhammad became a prophet. He began to spread God’s words throughout the land. He taught that the rich should share their wealth with the poor. During Muhammad’s life, the stories that he received from Allah, the Arabic word for God, were never written down. That’s because Muhammad could neither read nor write. But later, they were written. They were collected into the Muslim holy book, the “Qur’an.” (That can also be spelled “Koran”).

The Qur’an has some stories that are the same as those told in both the Hebrew Torah and Christian Bible. The Qur’an also has laws about how to live a good life. The month of Ramadan celebrates the time that the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad. One reason that Muslims fast at this time of year is this. It’s because Muhammad fasted in the desert before he received God’s messages. Another reason is to help us remember the poor and the hungry. It is a month of close family activities and much praying. Speaking of prayer, let me show you my mosque.


A “mosque” is the Muslim place of worship. It’s the spiritual center of the Islamic community. Sometimes mosques are very fancy like the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Ours is not quite so fancy as that. But it is a place that I love to go. It’s especially nice to go at night during Ramadan. Usually, a mosque has one or two towers known as “minarets.” It’s from there that the holy man calls us to prayer. 

Inside the mosque, you will not find rows of seats like there are in churches and synagogues. Instead, we remove our shoes outside the mosque. Then we gather on prayer rugs. Often women and men pray in different areas. But all of them listen to the Imam. He’s the man who leads the prayers. Tonight, Muslims will gather under the crescent moon “to surrender.” That means to give control of our lives over to God. That is, after all, what the word Islam stands for. It means “surrender to God.” Then we will break the fast together. First, we’ll eat a date and drink some water. That’s as we always do. Then we’ll have a huge feast. Yum!


All Muslims must follow the Five Pillars of Islam. These are the five most important duties that we should do to be good Muslims. We pray five times each day. We pray in the direction of Mecca, Muhammad’s birthplace. That’s one of the five pillars, or duties, that we must perform. Another pillar is fasting during Ramadan. Other pillars include helping the poor and needy, and making a pilgrimage, or visit, to Mecca, at least once in our lifetimes

The most important pillar is the “shahada.” That is to declare our faith in one God. We say, “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” We believe that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were all great prophets. But Muslims believe that the greatest of the prophets is Muhammad. Likewise, we believe in some of the teachings of both the Hebrew and the Christian Bibles. But all of our beliefs are in the poetic book known as the Qur’an. 

Miriam, Peter, and I follow three different religions. But I hope that you have learned how many things that we share are alike. I have the same wish for the world as Peter and Miriam have. “Assalamu Alaikum.” Peace be unto you.


Lesson 50 – Misc Iconic Word List “Filling Final Gaps” Vocab-Builder

NEW WORDS: Burke, Iraqi, Israeli, Manitoba, PC, Rubens, Sabine, absentee, accumulation, acumen, ancestor, annotate, anticipated, approximated, arthritis, asylum, ballot, bike’s, blatant, bombing, boorish, brighten, cemetery, character’s, citation, cited, compiled, compliment, comprehension, conceived, condemned, confirmed, constitutes, consultation, contradiction, correlate, corresponding, counselor, credible, critic’s, deduction, defendant’s, differentiation, dimensions, disobey, displacement, disposal, economist, embassy, emission, enforcement, entities, exaggerate, excluded, exploitation, expository, expressway, figurative, fingerprint, fluctuations, focaccia, foreshadow, gush, handlebars, hawkish, hearted, huddle, hypothesize, illiberal, immigration, impending, imposed, induced, insights, irrelevant, italics, lipase, livid, luckless, manipulation, medication, megaphone, minimized, minorities, monitoring, monograph, morality, nomination, nonresident, norms, notation, orientation, outcomes, parameters, paraphrase, parlance, photographer, plaque, plausible, posed, preclude, prodding, proofread, provider, rape, rating, registered, rejected, reorganize, reservation, respondent, restate, restraints, retiring, revision, salami, sanctions, shatterproof, simulation, slime, snatch, spew, subjective, subsidiary, successive, suicide, suspect’s, sustainable, synthesize, tapes, technological, thirteenth, timeline, traffic’s, trapper, trifle, typhoon, utility, validity, viewpoint

The refugee compounds were overflowing.

I’d describe her politics as “moderate.”

Insulin is one of our key human hormones.

The defendant’s story is credible.

I’ve never had bad reactions to a flu shot.

Put the angry prisoner in restraints.

This oil spill is a biological disaster.

Enclose this area into a screened porch.

His actions break the parameters of basic morality.

The experiment’s outcomes were as expected.

Hand me that bolt and its corresponding nut.

We’ve imposed sanctions on Iran.

I’d paraphrase the critic’s article as “that movie stinks.”

Ghostly entities floated above the cemetery.

I anticipated that you’d like this gift!

Summarize this article in a paragraph.

Based on what we know so far, that’s a plausible theory.

That island claims only one inhabitant.

We need to extend the timeline on vetting the vaccine.

Ten to one he’ll exaggerate his story.

Where do you hypothesize that the virus came from?

Mom is a career public utility employee.


I’m going to the doc for a consultation about this pain.

They rejected today’s products due to quality problems.

I’ve seen her give speeches on many occasions.

The price increase’s effects for the company were disastrous.

I’m learning to read musical notation.

The king posed for his portrait painting.

Your opinion is subjective, and not based on research.

You should print foreign words in italics.

The officer shouted at the crowd through a megaphone.

This fingerprint does not match the suspect’s.

The gift that I gave her was a small trifle.

That villain is a cold-hearted brute.

That plastic cup is shatterproof.

Your visit with me tomorrow will brighten up my day.

I need to reorganize this messy closet.

The alien drooled slime when it opened its mouth.

The fee for a nonresident of the state is $10 higher.

This thirteenth egg will make it a “baker’s dozen.”

I must compliment you on your pretty new dress.

He’s a member of the Iraqi Army.

I accept your nomination to run for President!

He ordered a bombing of their military base.


She’s a law enforcement officer.

He is a follower of the Muslim religion.

Did you remember to take your medication?

Today’s the orientation session for the new students.

I gave the movie a 4.5 rating.

The dentist said, “There’s an accumulation of plaque on your teeth.”

What are the dimensions on your chest of drawers?

Minorities are well-represented at our company.

We need more differentiation between these two products.

She approximated that there were 400 jelly beans in the jar.

Our new child gave us a tax deduction this year.

We need more sustainable energy sources.

I wish that someone would annotate this difficult novel.

Do you think that our immigration policies are too illiberal?

She cited Shakespeare in her monograph.

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books.

Add this clause into the revision of the contract draft.

Proofread your book report before turning it in.

His comment was figurative for saying that he didn’t like me.

Class, this week we’ll learn to write an expository essay.

The Monroe Doctrine said to Europe, “stay out of the Americas’ affairs!”

I’m at your disposal to help out if you need me.


I don’t know if that act constitutes a crime or not.

The cop gave me a traffic citation.

I’m continually prodding him to wash his hands.

That medication induced sleep for her last night.

I think that this chapter will foreshadow the character’s impending doom.

It was an ill-conceived plan.

Principal Burke is retiring in June.

I bet this is a fragment from a meteorite!

“The Charge Of The Light Brigade” is a poem about a suicide mission.

Our lack of evidence will preclude our getting a conviction.

I’ve confirmed our reservation for dinner out.

That comment illustrates my point about his boorish behavior.

They minimized typhoon damage by boarding up their windows.

I sent in an absentee ballot in the last election.

She is seeking asylum in the American Embassy.

I have an ancestor who was a Canadian fur trapper in the 1700s.

My doc gave me a clean bill of health at my checkup.

You should never disobey your parents!

Floss between your teeth every night!


Grab your bike’s handlebars tightly.

Traffic’s backed up three miles on the expressway.

See if you can snatch the football away from me.

Tears always gush from my eyes at weddings.

I’ll have a salami and cheese sandwich with focaccia bread.

The new emission law will make the air cleaner.

An economist on the news said that stocks are about to go up.

Which photographer got such a great shot at the finish line?

He’ll be livid when he finds out that he’s a respondent in a court case.

Amy, how did your huddle today go with your guidance counselor?

Which company is your healthcare provider?

The Israeli government condemned yesterday’s restaurant bombing.

My PC is sluggish, and it needs more random access memory.

Eight kilometers is just under five miles.

“The Rape of the Sabine Women” is one of Rubens‘ best-known paintings.

The boss excluded me from his big meeting today.

We’re noticing odd fluctuations in Arctic weather patterns.

Synthesize this information and see what you make of it.

Linda is quite a progressive politician.

Manitoba is a Canadian province.


This important book is about the exploitation of Native Americans.

I dare not speculate what garbage he’ll spew in his next speech.

He must learn to follow the norms of our society!

Please see if these two experiments correlate with each other.

She has strong insights on how to deal with kids who bully.

Please restate what you just said in more kid-friendly parlance.

The General’s viewpoint on strong defense is pretty hawkish.

Dad works for one of their subsidiary companies.

The recession has caused much displacement in the job market.

Have you registered for the trade convention?

This computer simulation projects how the disease will spread.

Their luckless team has had three successive bad coaches.

His kind of business acumen is fairly irrelevant in our industry.

I highly question the validity of these test scores.

With her father, that little girl is a pro at manipulation.

Have you listened to any of the Presidential tapes from the Oval Office?

Sometimes what he’ll say, and then how he’ll act, are a blatant contradiction.

Granny is having difficulties with her arthritis.

There were lots of technological changes in the twentieth century.

You should be monitoring your comprehension while you read.

A lipase enzyme helps the body digest fats.

Click on this link to move forward to Module E, Lessons 51 – 60


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