Module E – Lessons 51 to 60


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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.)

Lesson 51 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Babylonians, Canis, Copernicus’s, Orion, Orion’s, Scorpio, Taurus, Turks, accumulating, acknowledged, adverse, agleam, allegorical, ancients, ascended, asserted, astronomical, behemoths, benefiting, binding, binoculars, blazon, breakthroughs, broadening, celestial, circumfuses, circumnavigated, circumnavigating, circumvolves, clasps, colliding, completes, concocting, confines, confronting, contention, contingent, contour, coruscating, craters, deceive, designating, dispersed, dissipates, dissipation, editor’s, educating, eggshell, emerging, empyrean, entrusted, envisaged, explodes, fantasies, fantastical, faultlessly, finalizes, firmament, fleas, forefathers, forefront, furnishes, glittery, gloated, hypothetical, illuminating, inchmeal, indicator, indomitable, inexhaustible, infinite, intensified, inventively, lifeless, luminous, mapped, marvels, materializing, mechanisms, metamorphic, mirroring, morphing, mountaintops, orbital, patterned, plummeting, proficiency, reappearing, recline, reproved, retires, revel, revolved, revolves, scintillating, scorpion, skewered, spotlighted, stargazers, stargazing, starlit, streaked, stunningly, tethers, translucid, turbulent, unimaginably, universe’s, unswerving, waning, waxing

Chapter One: Introduction To The Sun And Space
Have you looked up at the sky lately? What did you see? Did you see a translucid, blue sky? Were there a few distant, eggshell-colored clouds? Was the sky streaked with gray clouds?

Sometimes you can see an airplane or a bird flying by. Or even a red balloon that had been let loose. Some days, it’s fun to recline on your back in the grass. You can stare up at the metamorphic shapes of the puffy, white clouds overhead. Perhaps you have flown in an airplane. You were up among the clouds, high above the Earth’s surface.

You can think of the sky in two layers. There is a big blanket that circumfuses Earth. It’s like a big bubble of air. This bubble covers the whole Earth. It surrounds all of the ground and oceans. It surrounds everything else on the Earth’s surface, including you! This bubble of air is called the “atmosphere.” But the blue atmosphere does not tell the whole story. The second layer of the sky is all of outer space. That lies beyond the atmosphere. It’s an infinite expanse of stars, moons, and other astronomical objects.


Of course, it’s easy to forget that outer space is there. Especially on a sunny day! But it’s always there. The Earth, your home, is just one little object in space. It’s moving around in the middle of it all. It’s like a speck of sand amidst all of the sands in the ocean.

During the day, the sun shines over the Earth. It’s shedding light on all the animals and plants that live on the Earth’s surface. The sun’s rays are dispersed across the skies. Of course, the sky appears blue to your eyes.

The sun itself is a star. It is not part of Earth or Earth’s sky. In fact, the sun is far, far away from Earth. On average, it’s 93 million miles away! It would take more than three months to reach it. And that would be in our fastest rocket ship. But what if you could reach the sun in a rocket ship? You’d never be able to get close to it. That’s because the sun, like other stars, is an enormous ball of very hot hydrogen gas. The surface is around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit! Each thing that gets too close to it burns up instantly.

Just how enormous is the sun? Think about this. Let’s say the sun was a huge bowl, and the Earth was a little marble. You could stuff about one million marbles into that bowl! That’s right! It would take a million Earths to fill the sun!


The sun is just one out of billions of stars in space. However, the sun is our star. It is the Earth’s star. Without the sun, Earth would be a cold, lifeless hunk of rock. All living things on Earth rely on the sun in one way or another. That includes the trees, the bees, the flowers, and the fleas. We need the heat, light, and energy of the sun. Life is thriving here on Earth because of it.

The rising sun is an indicator of the start of a new day. In the morning, the sun rises in the east. Then, its rays shed light across the land. People wake up and get ready for a new day. They’re getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then, they’re traveling outside to wherever it is they go. That could be to school, to the office, to a store, or simply out for a walk.

Have you ever noticed your shadow on the ground? That’s when the sun is behind you while you’re walking down the sidewalk. Then your body blocks the sun’s rays. That creates a shadow on the ground. Your shadow is not the only shadow in the world. Clouds cast shadows as well. So do buildings and trees. Have you ever rested under the shade of a tree on a hot summer day? If so, you were resting in the shadow cast by the tree’s leaves and branches.


Think back to a hot summer day. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. And if you don’t use sunscreen, then you may get a sunburn. Ouch! The sun’s energy can burn your skin. That’s bad for you. Sunburns don’t just hurt. If you get sunburned too often, it can cause serious damage to your skin.

On the other hand, the sun’s light is good for you, too. When your bare skin is exposed to sunlight, your body creates Vitamin D. That’s one of the many vitamins that your body needs in order to stay healthy and strong. So, playing outside in the sunshine isn’t just fun. It’s good for you, too!

Now, what happens at the end of each day? The sun goes down in the west. You can see it morphing, minute-by-minute. Soon, it’s not blue anymore. It becomes black, and new sights are materializing. Instead of clouds and birds and blue sky, you may see an array of coruscating stars. You may see something else, as well. That would not be the sun. It would be another object hovering in the skies above. You guessed it. It’s the moon.


Over the next few days you will learn lots about outer space. We’ll go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. We’ll talk about the sun, the moon, and the stars. You’ll learn all sorts of amazing and interesting facts. This study of the stars, and other things in outer space, is called “astronomy.” What you’ll read in the coming days will give you a basic introduction to astronomy. But it’s only a beginning. There is so much to learn about the stars and other objects in space. Why, you could spend the rest of your life educating yourself about it. And you’d never run out of new things to learn and discover. That is because astronomy is the study of everything beyond our little home that we call Earth. And astronomers know this. There is just no end to the amount of new knowledge and surprises to be discovered in the study of outer space.


Chapter Two: The Earth and the Sun
All plants, animals, and people rely on the sun for life. The sun’s energy furnishes life to plants. That, in turn, provides food for animals and people. The sun’s heat keeps the surface of the Earth warm enough for plants and animals to survive.

For people on Earth, it’s allegorical to say that the sun “rises” in the morning. What happens each morning at dawn? The sun appears on the horizon in the eastern sky. At dawn, some folks say, “Look! The sun is coming up!” This first view of the sun above the eastern horizon is called sunrise.

What happens over the course of the day? The sun seems to move across the sky. It slowly follows a path from east to west. In the evening, the sun sets in the west. Ever so inchmeal, it gets lower in the sky. Then it retires below the horizon. That’s when people say, “The sun is going down.” This dissipation of the sun’s light below the western horizon is called sunset.

So, we view the sun the way that we can see it from where we live on Earth. It makes sense to say that the sun moves across the sky each day. It’s rising, or moving up, in the east. And it’s setting, or sinking down, in the west. But that’s not quite true. What really makes the sun appear to rise and set each day? It’s the daily rotation, or spin, of the Earth that makes it seem like that.


Earth spins, or rotates, on its axis. Imagine the Earth’s axis as a hypothetical pole. The pole is skewered through the center of the planet, from north to south. It takes twenty-four hours, or one day, for the Earth to spin, or rotate, all the way around one time. This daily rotation explains why there is always night and day on Earth. As it spins, certain parts of Earth’s surface face the sun. They are then benefiting from its heat and light. When it’s light on one side of the Earth, it’s dark on the adverse side. So, if it is daytime where you are right now, then on the other side of the Earth, it is nighttime. The children there are sound asleep. And what about when you’re nestled in your bed tonight? Children on the other side of the planet will be waking up to a bright new day.

This rotation of the Earth, though, is not the only way that Earth moves in space.

Earth is a planet. So, it also moves, or revolves, around the sun. The word “planet” means a large object in space that revolves around a star for light. Earth moves, or revolves, around the sun. It follows a constant path. The path that Earth follows around the sun is called the Earth’s orbit.


Earth follows the same path as it orbits the sun. It takes about 365 days, or one year, for Earth to make one complete revolution around the sun. But how and why does Earth orbit the sun? The answer to this question involves one of the key lessons that you can learn in astronomy.

In space there are large objects, like the sun. And there are smaller objects, like the Earth and moon. All objects in space actually pull on all other objects. But larger objects pull harder than smaller objects. This binding force that causes objects to pull on each other is called “gravity.” As this pulling action happens, the force of the sun’s gravity holds Earth in its “orbital” place. Earth continues to follow its orbit around the sun. And it cannot wander off into space.

So, the sun pulls on the Earth and other objects out in space. In the same way, the Earth pulls on objects on or near its surface. Because of this, your feet stay planted firmly on the ground. And if you jump up, you come straight back down. If you throw a ball in the air, it falls straight back down, too. This force of gravity holds things on the ground. And it confines the planet Earth to its orbit around the sun. Similarly, it tethers Earth’s moon to its orbit around the Earth.

You can’t tell that the Earth is always moving. It rotates, or spins, all day and every day, as it travels in its year-long course around the sun. These two types of movement are the rotation and the revolution of the Earth. They create the days and years that we keep track of on the calendar.


Chapter Three: Stars
Night comes each day. At that time, you say “good night” to the sun. Our daytime star, the sun, disappears. And you can say “hello” to all the inexhaustible numbers of other stars that blazon in outer space. Remember, the stars are always out there. Outer space does not disappear during the day, reappearing at night. Here’s how you can see those stars at night. It’s because the sun’s light is no longer illuminating your part of the Earth. But the stars are always there.

Let’s head to dusk. It’s just after the sun has set in the west. But it’s before all of its light has faded. The first stars of night are emerging. One, two, three, and then more and more. The darker it is, the more stars you can see. What if you live in the city? Then you can’t see as many stars as people who live in the country. Lights in the cities brighten the night sky. They make it hard to see the stars. Out in the country, though, it’s not the same. The night sky explodes with glittery, scintillating stars. And further out in the wilderness, it’s far from buildings, street lights, and cars. There, the night sky is even more fantastical!


They may look small. But lots of stars that you see are behemoths. Lots of them are larger than our own sun. And do you remember this? Our sun is so big that you could fit a million Earths inside of it! The stars look small because they are so far away. And the stars look like they’re blinking. But they’re really shining steadily. The gases in our atmosphere cause their light to look like it is twinkling.

Just how far away are the stars? Here’s one way to think of it. Let’s say that you were put on the fastest rocket ship today. They launched you into space. It would take you thousands of years to reach the nearest star beyond our sun! That’s about 73,000 years, to be more precise. That’s unimaginably far away. But you can still see the light from that massive, hot star. That’s even though it looks more like a tiny, twinkling diamond from here on Earth.

At night, astronomers study the stars. They work in “observatories.” These are buildings where large telescopes are housed. They’re built high up on hills or mountaintops. That way, there aren’t buildings or trees to block the telescope. The roof of the observatory is inventively designed. It can open up. That lets the telescope move up, down, and all around without colliding into anything.


Astronomers need big, powerful telescopes to do their work. This is the kind of telescope that you find in an observatory. They are stunningly big!

But what if you don’t have a massive telescope. What if you don’t have a fancy mountaintop observatory? You can still revel in the marvels of stargazing. There’s another way to get a decent look at the stars, or the moon. A pair of binoculars will do the trick. Or you can use a telescope like this one. You’d be surprised by all the things that you can see through one!

Through lots of study, astronomers have found out lots of cool facts about stars. And that’s even though no one can go to and check out a star up close. Astronomers have learned that some stars are older than others. Some stars are hotter than others. Some appear red through the telescope. Others appear blue. Stars change color depending on how hot they are. And how hot a star is depends on its age, size, and other factors.


But you don’t need a telescope to have acknowledged the wonders of outer space. If you look at the sky long enough on any given night, you’ll finally see a meteor. Our nickname for that is a “shooting star.”

A meteor is just a rock that flies through space. It looks like a streak in the sky. And then it’s light dissipates fast. It happens in the blink of an eye. At first glance, it may look like a star that’s plummeting through the sky. But stars don’t move like that. Meteors are not stars at all. There are billions of meteors out there. Some of them are quite large. But most are tiny. They’re between the size of a grain of sand and a baseball.

Meteors are whizzing around all over the place in outer space. Sometimes, a meteor crashes toward Earth. But before it can hit Earth’s surface, it crashes into our atmosphere. For a space rock, hitting the Earth’s atmosphere is like a person running into a brick wall. Except that the atmosphere doesn’t stop the meteor. It hits the atmosphere at a very high speed. Then it keeps moving through the atmosphere. As it does so, it creates intensified heat. The meteor burns up as it enters the uppermost parts of Earth’s atmosphere. That’s when it creates its streak of “shooting star” light.


Sometimes, bits and pieces of meteors survive their trip through the atmosphere. They fall on through to the surface. This is rare. But it does happen from time to time. You can find pieces of them on the ground. What do we call it when part of a meteor lands on Earth? It’s then termed a “meteorite.” That’s fancy for “space rock.”

The meteorite in this picture is not the most exciting rock you’ve ever seen. But it’s amazing to think that it came from space. Sometimes, by studying meteorites, scientists find new types of rock that don’t exist on Earth!

Outer space is a strange, wonderful place. We’ve learned much by studying the stars, planets, and other objects in space. Astronomers now know lots of things about the universe. And we and our planet Earth are but a teeny, tiny part of it. Feast your eyes on this massive star cluster for a moment. Imagine, if you can, the massive number of stars. Ponder the incredible distances between us and them. And think of how much more there is to learn about our universe. For instance, look at the center of this photo. There in the middle is a little cluster of fourteen bluish stars. Added together, it’s estimated that these fourteen stars, combined, are over 20,000 times larger than our sun! That’s so huge, it’s hard to think about. And that’s just fourteen stars out of all the stars in this photo!


Chapter Four: Stargazing and Constellations
Let’s go back thousands of years. There were no telescopes or spaceships. People did not have the mechanisms and knowledge that we have now. But they were just as curious as we are. They, too, pondered the stars and other celestial bodies. Think of the ancient Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, Turks, Mayans, and Babylonians. They, and countless others, all studied the stars. They tried to figure out what they were. They wondered why they were there.

They did not know what the stars were made of. They did not know how far away they were. But ancient peoples were in the habit of designating names for the stars. And they mapped them out, as well. They knew which stars shone in the sky at certain times of year. Now, thousands of years have passed on Earth. But the stars have pretty much stayed the same. So, think of when you look up at the stars at night. You see the same stars that the ancient forefathers saw, as well!


The ancient Greeks thought that the stars had been placed in the sky by gods. It must have been some kind of magic. They thought they were there to tell stories. There were lessons to be learned from them. The Greeks called out groups of stars in the night sky. They seemed to form shapes. These shapes are called “constellations.” In the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world, we still call the stars by the names that the ancient Greeks or Arabs used so long ago.

Here’s one of the first groups of stars that young stargazers in the U.S. learn about. It’s also the easiest one to spot. It’s called the “Big Dipper.” It looks like a huge soup ladle up in the sky. It’s made up of seven stars. And it looks different in the sky, based on the time of year. Sometimes the Big Dipper looks right side up. Sometimes it looks upside down. Sometimes it seems to be standing on its handle! That’s not because the Big Dipper moves. It’s because the Earth is rotating on its axis and is circumnavigating the sun.


The Big Dipper has a friend called the “Little Dipper.” It also contains seven stars. The bright star at the end of the handle is special. It’s called Polaris. It’s also termed “the North Star.” It’s unlike other bodies among the universe’s firmament. It stays in the same place in the sky as we observe it from Earth. And it’s always in the north.

Since ancient times, people have entrusted themselves to this star. It has helped folks to find their way in the world. Knowing which way is north is a key need. It’s the first step to knowing in which direction you’re heading. Columbus and other sailors used to look for the North Star on starlit nights out on the wide seas.

This picture shows one of the most famous constellations of all. It’s call “Orion.” Ancient Greeks told myths about Orion. He was a famous hunter. The constellation Orion is known all over the world. It contains eight main stars. Orion’s Belt is made up of the three stars in a row across his body. It’s the easiest part to spot. It takes a bit of imagination to look at these stars and see a hunter. The single star in the upper left is supposed to be the contour of a raised arm. It’s holding a club or a sword. With his other arm, extending from another single star, he clasps a shield.


According to one myth, Orion gloated that he had high proficiency as a hunter. He asserted that he could kill all the animals on Earth. The gods reproved him by creating Scorpio. That was a giant scorpion that Orion could not defeat.

Not far from the Orion constellation is Taurus. It shows the head and horns of an indomitable bull. It’s often said that the hunter Orion is confronting the bull, Taurus. So, according to the myths, Orion has a turbulent time up there. He’s being chased by a giant scorpion. And at the same time, he’s fighting a giant bull!

Fortunately, Orion has a couple of friends. He has two unswerving hunting dogs. They’re called Canis Major and Canis Minor. These dogs follow Orion through the sky. They help him to fight Taurus the Bull.

There are eighty-eight major constellations. And most people around the world use the same basic list. When they were first named, most ancient people could only guess what stars really were. They told stories and myths about them. These were patterned on what they could see with their own eyes when they looked up at the sky. But we’ve learned that there’s much more to space than meets the eye. Sometimes when we look into outer space, our eyes can deceive us.


The first astronomers used math and science to explain what they saw in the sky. They no longer made up stories. They developed hypotheses. These were based on facts that they learned about space.

Here’s an example. Ancient people saw that the sun ascended on one side of the sky in the morning. And it set on the other side of the sky at night. What they saw was the sun’s “movement” across the sky. It made them think that the sun moved, while the Earth stood still. Most ancients thought that everything in the universe went around the Earth. That included the sun and all of the stars. It took thousands of years before folks thought that the opposite was true. Beliefs changed. At some point, most thought that the Earth, in fact, revolved around the sun. This discovery was made by an early astronomer. He was named Nicolaus Copernicus.

Copernicus was the first to use science to explain that Earth revolves around the sun. But hardly anyone believed him at the time. That was about 500 years ago.


An astronomer named Galileo came after Copernicus. He believed what Copernicus said. He, too, thought that the Earth circumnavigated the sun. He invented telescopes that helped astronomers prove that Copernicus’s contention was true. Galileo did not invent the first telescope. But he did invent more powerful telescopes. These helped him and other astronomers make lots of key discoveries about space. For this reason, he’s thought by many to be the “father of modern astronomy.”

Much time has passed since these early astronomers. In that time, we’ve been accumulating an incredible amount of knowledge about the stars and the universe. And we now use tools like telescopes so that we’re broadening that knowledge each day. Copernicus and Galileo would be amazed by the breakthroughs that people have made in astronomy. And much of that has occurred over just the past century. Compare this large modern telescope to the one that Galileo was holding in the last picture. Astronomers today use telescopes like this one. Thus, they can study the stars and other distant parts of outer space that Galileo could not have envisaged.

Yes, we have gained new knowledge about outer space. But our understanding of the stars is still built upon the stories and knowledge passed on by people for thousands of years. Think of this the next time you find a constellation in the sky. You’ll know that other stargazers have been studying and telling stories about that same group of stars for thousands of years.


Chapter Five: The Moon
Earth’s closest empyrean neighbor is spotlighted in this photo. What is this famous celestial body called? It’s the moon.

We’ve been looking at the moon and wondering about it for thousands of years. And we’ve always been concocting stories about it. Some ancient myths claimed that the moon was the sun’s sister. Others said that the moon was a huge face looking down on Earth. Some children’s fantasies even said that the moon was made of cheese!

In fact, the moon is really just a big, cold, dark rock. You heard that faultlessly. Yes, the moon can appear to be agleam and luminous in the night sky. But the moon does not produce any light of its own. It’s not a star, like the sun. It’s just a rock. The light that you see when you look at the moon is really light from the sun. The moon is mirroring the sun’s light.

While Earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits Earth. How long does it take Earth to orbit the sun? It’s about 365 days. Right, that’s one year. How long does it take for the moon to orbit Earth? It takes a little more than twenty-seven days. Right, that’s about a month. In that time, the moon makes a complete trip around the Earth. But the moon also rotates on its axis as it orbits Earth. In fact, the moon circumvolves exactly once, as it orbits Earth exactly once. This is a remarkable feature. It keeps the same side of the moon always facing Earth. This means that we can’t see the back of the moon when we look up in the sky.


The appearance of the moon’s forefront changes each day of the month. That’s contingent upon where it is in its orbit. Follow the arrows in this diagram. You’ll see that the moon orbits Earth in a counterclockwise transit. The sun is over on the right-hand side of this diagram.

This image gives you a better idea of what the moon looks like during each of its phases.

During the first half of its orbit, the moon is said to be “waxing.” That means that over the course of a few nights, more of it becomes visible from Earth. Then, halfway through its cycle, the full moon appears. That means that the side facing Earth is also facing the light of the sun.

Then the moon completes the last half of its monthly orbit. Less and less of it is visible each night. During this time, we say that the moon is “waning.” Less of the moon is seen. By the time it finalizes its cycle, it looks like just a shiny sliver of light in the sky.

On other nights, it looks like there’s no moon at all! Remember how the moon does not make any light of its own? Well, sometimes the moon is between the sun and the Earth. So, the side of the moon facing the Earth does not reflect any sunlight. When this happens, the side of the moon facing the Earth is dark. It looks like there’s no moon in the sky.


This is called a “new moon.” The moon never looks exactly the same from one night to the next. The moon does not change its shape. It’s always a big, round rock. Instead, it only APPEARS to change shape. That depends on how sunlight hits the moon during its orbit.

On some nights, you can see just a sliver of the moon. This is called a “crescent moon.”

On other nights, it looks like the moon has been sliced in half. This is called a “half-moon.” Remember, the moon only LOOKS like it is changing shape. It is always a big, round rock. But it can look different during its orbit. That depends on how the light reflects off of it.

Halfway through its cycle, the moon looks like this. This is called a “full moon.” That’s because the full, round moon shines in the night sky. It’s possible for a full moon to appear twice in one calendar month. That’s just every once in a while. That’s because it takes only twenty-seven days for the moon to complete its orbit around Earth. Most months have about thirty days. When this happens, it’s called a “blue moon.” But this is rare. It only happens every few years. Have you heard someone say that something only happens “once in a blue moon?” They simply mean that it does not happen very often.


Some folks say they see a man’s face when they look at the full moon. That’s why we sometimes talk about the “man in the moon.” That’s as though there really were a face on the moon. Can you see what appears to be two eyes, a nose, and a mouth on the moon? Of course, there is no face on the moon. It’s just a big, round rock.

Part of the reason that we see a man’s face is because of dark areas on the moon’s surface. What made these dark areas? They’re places where lava from inside the moon poured out onto the moon’s surface. This happened long ago. These areas no longer have lava in them. But the holes left behind reflect sunlight differently than the rest of the moon’s surface. So, what happens when you look up at a full moon? You’re really seeing deep and dark holes across the moon’s surface.


Notice this when you take a close-up look. You can see that the moon’s surface is also covered with hundreds and thousands of craters. To understand why these craters are there, you need to know a few more facts about the moon. Unlike Earth, the moon has no atmosphere. There is not a protective bubble of air around the moon. Nor does the moon have any water, soil, plants. There are no other signs of life whatsoever.

(Editor’s note: In October 2020, NASA released information that claims that “water has been definitely found on the moon.”)

Without an atmosphere, the moon has nothing to protect it from all the meteoroids that zoom through outer space. As you learned, meteoroids strike Earth all the time. But most of them burn up in the atmosphere in a streak of light known as a meteor. Meteoroids, however, do not burn up when they hit the moon. They just crash right into the moon’s surface. They leave what are known as impact craters.

Later, you will learn the amazing, true story about real men on the moon. These were not just lava lakes that look like a man’s face. These were actual men who traveled to the moon and walked around on it. How do you think they got there? Keep listening over the next couple of days. You’ll soon learn the answers.

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


Lesson 52 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Canaveral, Europa, Europa’s, Gagarin, Mars’s, Shepard’s, Soviets, Sputnik, Uranus’s, Venus’s, abstracted, affirmation, ammunition, annals, antecedently, applauding, apprehensively, befitting, bewitching, bounteous, capped, capsule, categorize, circa, collections, construe, contemplating, copiousness, cratered, debris, deter, disconnected, dispatching, distinguishing, enhancing, enmeshes, escalate, fixated, gyrate, horizon’s, humanity, imaginations, impingements, initiated, inventive, irregularly, memorable, monitored, murky, mythos, naut, ogled, ominous, operable, orbiter, parachute, pinpointed, precondition, preposterous, propel, proximately, resolute, revolve, robotic, rovers, samplings, scrutinizing, signified, solely, spacecraft’s, spacecrafts, spacesuits, strikingly, succeeding, tempests, treadmills, turbulence, unattainable, undergoing, underlying, underway, unduly, velocities, woolgather

Chapter Six: History of Space Exploration and Astronauts
Think about when people first ogled the stars. It’s human nature to woolgather about people flying into outer space. What might that be like? For most of the annals of humanity, the thought of heading into space was viewed as preposterous. Humans traveling in space, most folks thought, was utterly unattainable. There was no way that we’d ever be able to go there. Still, this did not deter people from using their imaginations. They kept coming up with inventive ideas for space travel.

The Chinese invented the first rockets. That was hundreds of years ago. They used gunpowder. That’s the same type of ammunition used to fire guns and cannons. Lighting the gunpowder would propel the rocket into the air. Things changed about one hundred years ago. Scientists started to make huge advances in rocket technology.

Let’s move to circa 1950. We had been continually enhancing rocket technology for many years. We were now to the point of seriously contemplating space travel and exploration. Back then, there was a nation called the Soviet Union. It no longer exists today. It consisted of Russia and other countries near Russia. At the time, the U.S. was the only other nation in the world as large or as strong as the Soviets. The leaders of the Soviet Union and the U.S. had strong egos. Each wanted to show the world that theirs was the more powerful country. They’d do this by being the first to launch a rocket into outer space.


This photo shows scientists in the U.S. They were launching the first rocket. It was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1950. This was just a test. It was to see whether this type of rocket engine was operable for successful space flight. This was the first of hundreds of rockets to be launched from there.

The Soviets succeeded in putting the first man-made object in orbit. That was on October 4, 1957. They launched a satellite called Sputnik One. A “satellite” is any object that moves in a constant orbit around another object in space.

Sputnik One was carried into space aboard a rocket. Then, it was released. It orbited Earth for a number of months. Then, it reentered the atmosphere and burned up.

Sputnik One was a great success. Because of it, the “Space Race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was now underway. Each country was fixated on proving that it had a better space program. For many years, the Soviets continued to lead in the Space Race. The leaders and people of each country took this quite seriously. It was not a game. It was a true matter of national pride.

The U.S. built its own space program. It was called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It’s called “NASA,” for short. The scientists at NASA hurried to try to catch up to the Soviets. A few months passed after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik One. NASA scientists in the U.S. launched a satellite of their own. It was called Explorer One. You’ll see it pictured here.


The Space Race went on at a heated pace into 1961. That’s when Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into space and return safely. This picture of Gagarin was taken on the way to the launch pad for his historic journey. You can bet that he was feeling quite nervous at that point.

The Americans were close behind. A couple of months passed after Gagarin made his famous flight. Then a man named Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space. This picture was taken shortly before Shepard boarded the Freedom 7 spacecraft. Notice that, like Gagarin, Shepard was wearing a helmet and a special suit. Space travelers need special gear like this. It allows them to survive the extreme conditions of outer space. In space, there is no air. And the temperatures can be both incredibly hot or cold.

Returning from outer space is just as dangerous as launching into outer space. This photo shows the Freedom 7, Alan Shepard’s ship, after his flight. Shepard is inside that little capsule! When his flight was finished, the capsule reentered the atmosphere. A parachute opened to lower it gently to Earth. Shepard landed in the ocean, as planned. The capsule floated there until a helicopter came to recover him.


Space travelers like Alan Shepard are called “astronauts.” The word astronaut comes from two Greek words. They are “astro,” meaning “star,” and “naut,” meaning “sail.” So, an astronaut is a “star sailor.” Being an astronaut can be one of the most interesting jobs in the world. But it is by no means an easy job.

Astronauts spend years in training to prepare for journeys into outer space. Astronauts must be healthy and strong. That’s because space travel can be tough. Astronauts are stuffed into tiny spaces. Then they’re launched into space in a rocket powered by thousands of gallons of powerful fuel. It is scary. And it is uncomfortable. But astronauts put up with it.

This picture shows astronauts undergoing training. These Apollo 17 astronauts are learning to use equipment for their mission.

Early NASA astronauts also spent hours and hours running in place on treadmills. They would soak their feet in ice water. And they would undergo a number of other difficult, painful tests. All of this was intended to make them tough. They had to be tough to be astronauts.


Chapter Seven: Exploration of the Moon
In 1961, the U.S. president was John F. Kennedy. He announced that the U.S. would send astronauts to the moon. And we’d do it within ten years. This seemed impossible to many folks. But Kennedy and the NASA scientists were resolute about succeeding. Thus, they initiated the Apollo Program. This team would send people to the moon. But there was a lot of work to be done before anyone could get near the moon.

Surveyor 1 was the first spacecraft that Americans sent to the moon. But it was unmanned. There were no people aboard. The purpose of Surveyor 1 was to survey the moon’s surface. It carried equipment to study the land, temperature, and other things about the moon. NASA needed to know these things before dispatching people to the moon.

The Apollo program flew lots of missions. The first one, Apollo 1, was a disaster. The spacecraft caught on fire before they had a chance to launch it. After that, the Apollo scientists had better success. First, there were unmanned missions to test a number of rockets and systems. This picture shows Apollo 4. It was an unmanned mission to test a rocket engine. This is the type of engine that would later fly men to the moon.


Next came manned missions. But these astronauts did not get to go to the moon. Instead, they were practicing and testing equipment. They had to make sure that everything would work properly. This photo shows the crew of the Apollo 7 mission.

Finally, on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There were three astronauts aboard. They were Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. This picture was taken shortly before they went on their memorable mission.

It took four days for them to travel the 239,000 miles from Earth to the moon. During the launch, the astronauts were sitting in the very top of the rocket. Once it reached space, the part that they were in disconnected from the rocket. That part continued on toward the moon. The rocket was not needed once the ship had reached space.

Michael Collins was the pilot for the command module. This drove the lunar module close to the moon. But it did not actually land there. The lunar module was called the Eagle. It was attached to the command module during the journey from Earth to the moon. Once they got close enough to the moon, the Eagle broke off from the command module. Then it was to land on the surface. The Eagle orbited the moon, as Aldrin and Armstrong prepared to descend and land on the surface.


The Eagle was approaching the surface. Hundreds of scientists back at Mission Control were scrutinizing their computers apprehensively. They wanted affirmation that everything was going as planned. There is little room for error in space travel. The NASA scientists monitored every single part of the ship. They were making sure that every fuse and wire were working properly.

At the same time, people all over America were glued to their television sets. They were also nervously waiting to see what would happen. The Eagle was equipped with television cameras. So, everyone back home could see and hear everything that was happening 239,000 miles away on the moon! The moon landing excited people all over the world.

It took longer than expected. But finally, Neil Armstrong announced the famous words, “The Eagle has landed.” Great sighs of relief and cheers went up from mission control. And folks were applauding in living rooms across America.

Next, Armstrong prepared to leave the Eagle. He would soon step out onto the moon. This picture shows what Americans back home saw on their television sets. As you can see, the picture was not very clear. But look closely. You can see Armstrong about to set foot on the moon’s surface.


Armstrong stepped down. He landed on the fine, soft dust of the moon’s surface. With his first step he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What did he mean? He meant that he himself had taken a small step. He went just from the Eagle’s ladder onto the moon. But that step signified a huge leap in terms of the advances that humans had made by landing on the moon.

Aldrin followed Armstrong down the ladder. Both astronauts wore special spacesuits. They were designed to endure the harsh temperatures on the moon’s surface.

The astronauts conducted lots of experiments. These would help future astronauts and scientists. The first thing that they noticed was their mobility. They found out how easy it was to walk and move around. The moon has very little gravity compared to Earth. Here on Earth, when you jump up, you come straight back down. But that’s not so on the moon. When you hop on the moon, you stay up for a few seconds. And then you come down rather slowly.

The astronauts collected samplings of the moon’s dust and rocks. Then they planted an American flag in the moon’s soil. Antecedently, they had specially prepared the flag. They had inserted wires into it. That way, it would be firm and appear to be waving. It looked realistic, even though there’s no wind on the moon.


Five more Apollo missions landed successfully on the moon. In the end, the Apollo astronauts brought back a total of 842 pounds of moon rocks. Lots of these rocks are on display in museums around the world.

Apollo 17 was launched in 1972. It was the last mission to reach the moon. No one has returned to the moon since then. That is bound to change as humans continue to explore outer space.



Chapter Eight: The Solar System, Part One
Think of what we’ve known for thousands of years. Stargazers have known that the sun, moon, and stars are not the only celestial bodies in the night skies above Earth. Ancient stargazers knew that there are other planets up there, as well. What they did not know is that these planets, like Earth, revolve around the sun. Astronomers now know of eight major planets, including Earth, that revolve around the sun. In addition, there are a number of “dwarf planets,” or little planets.

The word “solar” is used to construe something that relates to the sun. Here’s an example. Solar energy refers to the heat and light that come from the sun. Planets and other bodies that orbit the sun make up what is known as the “solar system.”

This diagram shows the eight major planets in our solar system. These eight planets have little in common. But they do all orbit the same sun on their own special path. Beyond that, each planet is unique. The first four planets you’ll learn about are called the “inner planets.” Those are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. And it’s the smallest of the eight major planets in the solar system. Mercury can be seen from Earth. But it is hard to spot. You can only see it in the early morning or early evening.


Most planets in the solar system are named after Roman gods and goddesses. The planet Mercury is named after the Roman god Mercury. In mythology, the god Mercury was very fast. So, it makes sense that this planet is named after him. It takes just eighty-eight Earth days for Mercury to complete a revolution around the sun. So, it is a quick little planet. Unlike Earth, Mercury does not gyrate much. It spins on its axis just one and a half times during its revolution around the sun.

At first glance, you might notice that Mercury looks a lot like our moon. It has a rocky, heavily cratered surface. Mercury has some of the largest known crater impingements in the solar system. That means that it has taken a real beating from some very large meteors. In fact, some craters are about fifty miles wide.

Mercury has no atmosphere to protect it like Earth does. And because it is so close to the sun, the surface of Mercury is very hot, or very cold. Temps on the surface facing the sun can range anywhere from 300 degrees to nearly 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. On the surface facing away from the sun, it can be as low as 350 degrees below zero.

Venus is the second planet from the sun. It is named after the Roman goddess of love. Aside from the sun and the moon, Venus is the brightest celestial object that you can see from Earth.


It takes Venus proximately 225 Earth days to revolve around the sun. However, like Mercury, Venus does not rotate on its axis very fast. In fact, Venus actually rotates in the opposite direction that Earth does.

Venus is sometimes referred to as the “morning star,” or the “evening star.” That’s because it often appears as a bright object in either the evening sky, or in the morning sky. Venus is also known as Earth’s sister planet. That’s because it’s the closest planet to Earth. Further, the two planets are roughly the same size.

Beyond that, though, Earth and Venus have very little in common. Venus’s atmosphere consists of a very thick layer of clouds. So, it is hard for astronomers to study its surface. We do know, though, that the surface is very hot and dry. Venus’s murky atmosphere enmeshes much of the sun’s energy. That means that temps on the planet can escalate to above 800 degrees Fahrenheit!

You should recognize the planet in this photo. It’s your home planet, Earth. We’re the third planet from the sun. Earth is the only planet that does not take its name from a Roman or Greek god. The word “Earth” is an ancient word. It originally meant “ground.” When the word Earth was invented, the people living here did not even know that it was a planet. This photo was taken by the astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission. They did not get to land on the moon. But they did get to fly around it.


One of the distinguishing factors that sets Earth apart from other planets is our bounteous supply of water. Water is a precondition for life. Without water, there could not be any living things like people, plants, or animals. Yes, some other celestial bodies in our solar system have some water. But Earth is the only planet whose surface is mostly liquid water. And Earth is also the only planet with a copiousness of oxygen in the air. Oxygen is also an underlying requirement for life.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. Mars is named after the Roman god of war. Mars is often referred to as the Red Planet. That’s because of its color. You can see Mars from Earth. And even without a telescope, it’s fairly easily pinpointed because of its reddish tint.

The farther you get from the sun, the colder it is. Further, the longer it takes to complete a single revolution around the sun. It takes Mars 687 Earth days to revolve around the sun. It’s interesting, though, that Mars rotates on its axis at about the same speed as Earth.


Mars has two moons. But they are small and irregularly shaped. One of them is pictured here. Astronomers believe that these moons are really large asteroids. They think that they became trapped in orbit as they passed by Mars billions of years ago.

Because Mars is somewhat close to Earth, NASA has been able to send several spacecrafts to explore that planet. NASA has sent several unmanned spacecrafts to orbit Mars. NASA has also managed to send several small robotic vehicles, called rovers, to explore Mars’s surface. The photo that you see here is the first color photo ever taken on another planet! It was snapped by the Spirit Exploration Rover. Most of the rocky surface of Mars is covered in a layer of rust. That’s why Mars is a reddish-brown color.

NASA scientists hope to send astronauts to Mars one day. But it may be many years before technology exists that might allow them to accomplish this. Perhaps you’ll decide to be an astronaut when you grow up. Maybe you can be the first person to set foot on Mars! It will not be easy to put a person on Mars. But people used to think it was impossible to go to the moon, too.


Chapter Nine: The Solar System, Part Two
In the last chapter, you learned about the four inner planets of our solar system. Those are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Now you’ll learn about the outer planets. They are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. And we’ll talk about the famous dwarf planet, Pluto, as well.

The first key difference between the inner and outer planets is this. The inner planets are all made up of rocks and metals. Whereas the outer planets are made of different types of gases.

The planet Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun. In Roman mythos, Jupiter was the king of the gods. He was the strongest and most powerful of all. The largest planet in our solar system is named after him. Jupiter is so big that you could stuff about 1,300 planet Earths inside of it.

It takes Jupiter nearly twelve Earth years to make one revolution around the sun. But Jupiter rotates on its axis faster than any other planet in the solar system. This massive planet rotates all the way around on its axis in less than ten hours. Jupiter is made mostly of hydrogen and other gases. Because of its fast rotation and the mixing of its gases, it is planet of turbulence and tempests.


The best-known feature on Jupiter is its large, red spot. This spot is actually a massive storm. The storm is so big that you could fit three planet Earths inside of it! Jupiter can be seen with the naked eye from Earth. And sometimes you can see its red spot with an ordinary telescope.

There are at least ninety-two moons in orbit around Jupiter. Most of them are very small. But four of these moons are well-known. They were all discovered first by the famous astronomer Galileo. These are easily perceptible with a pair of binoculars. Each is interesting in its own way. Europa, the small one in the upper right, is a lot of folks’ favorite.

Europa is slightly smaller than our own moon. Yet it is one of the most bewitching celestial bodies in the solar system. Europa’s surface is covered in ice. And its atmosphere contains a lot of oxygen. Many astronomers believe that beneath Europa’s ice there is an ocean of liquid water. This means that maybe there is some form of life on this distant little moon.

The next planet in the solar system is Saturn. It’s the sixth planet from the sun. It’s the second-largest planet in the solar system. But it’s still much smaller than Jupiter. Saturn is famous for its rings. It’s not the only planet with rings. But no other planet has rings like Saturn’s. This incredible photo was taken by an unmanned orbiter in 2004.


Saturn has a number of layers with different types of clouds. And it is quite stormy, too. Though it’s not as stormy as its neighbor Jupiter. Because it is so far from the sun, it takes Saturn nearly thirty Earth years to make one complete orbit. Different parts of Saturn rotate at different velocities. But for the most part, Saturn rotates on its axis very quickly. It takes a little over ten hours to complete one rotation.

The rings of Saturn are always moving around the planet. They are made up mainly of ice and a few other types of materials. The rings are pretty much huge collections of dust. And there are some larger chunks here and there. No one is sure how the rings got there. Some astronomers believe that the rings formed when one of Saturn’s moons exploded. They think that the debris became trapped in orbit. Others say that the material in the rings is left over from the time when Saturn was formed. That would have occurred billions of years ago. You can see Saturn from Earth during certain times of the year. And with an ordinary telescope, you can see the rings.


The seventh planet is Uranus. It has the coldest atmosphere of any planet in the solar system. It is really far from the sun. So, it takes Uranus eighty-four Earth years to make one complete orbit. Uranus is made of hydrogen. But its atmosphere also contains a lot of ice and other substances not found on Jupiter or Saturn. Uranus is named after a Greek god of the sky. That makes it the only planet other than Earth that’s not named after a Roman god. It’s possible to see Uranus from Earth with the naked eye. But you really have to know where and when to look for it. That’s because it appears very dim from here on Earth.

Uranus has one very special characteristic. It rotates on its side! You can’t see it in this image. But in comparison to Earth and the other planets, Uranus’s axis is sideways. It’s as though someone turned the planet on its side.

The planet Neptune is the eighth and final major planet in the solar system. In Roman mythology, Neptune was the god of the sea. So, this is a befitting name. That’s because of the planet’s beautiful, blue color. We still don’t know why Neptune is blue. And it will probably be a while before we figure it out. That’s because Neptune is nearly three billion miles from the sun. That makes it hard and expensive to send unmanned probes to explore it.


It takes Neptune nearly 165 Earth years to orbit the sun. The planet is never visible to the naked eye from Earth. And you’ll need a fairly powerful telescope to get a good view of its coloring.

Not so very long ago, students in school were taught that there were nine planets in the solar system. That count included Pluto. Ever since Pluto was discovered in 1930, it had been considered a planet. However, in 2006, astronomers decided to categorize Pluto as a “dwarf planet.” There are other such bodies in our solar system.

In Roman mythology, Pluto was the god of the underworld. That was an ominous and dreary place. This is a good name for such a cold and abstracted dwarf planet. Pluto is about four billion miles from the sun. So, it is unduly cold and dark out there. The planet is made almost solely of frozen nitrogen. Nitrogen is a type of gas. It takes Pluto about 243 Earth years to orbit the sun.


We have a lot to learn about Pluto and other celestial bodies in the outer reaches of the solar system. But it’s not easy to explore this area. For now, this is about the best photo we have of Pluto. And it was taken from three billion miles away by a special spacecraft called the Hubble Space Telescope. So far, Pluto remains unexplored. A special probe was launched toward Pluto in the year 2003. But it did not reach the planet until 2015.

(Editor’s note. Here is a link to a brief but fascinating NASA article about the above-noted 2015 probe to Pluto. Trailer: “The mountains discovered on Pluto during the New Horizon’s spacecraft’s flyby of the dwarf planet in 2015 are covered by a blanket of methane ice, creating bright deposits strikingly like the snow-capped mountain chains found on Earth.”   )

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

Lesson 53 – Part Three (“Sun, Moon, and Stars” Unit)

NEW WORDS: Danielle, Galilei, Gan, Gordon, Lin, Lin’s, Luna, Shen, Shi, Wu, Xian, autumnal, brewed, chamomile, comprised, discernible, duskiness, equated, equator’s, equinox, establishes, foresee, graduates, hemisphere’s, incorrectly, indeterminate, manifestation, nonchalantly, planetarium, planetarium’s, predictable, repetition, sequencing, setter, solstice, solstices, sunrises, sunsets, supervisor, transitioning, transitions, universities, unquestionably, vernal, welkin

Chapter One: The Mysterious Movement of the Moon
It’s early in the morning on a school day, while Lin establishes himself at the kitchen table. It’s still dark outside, and he’s tired. It’s hard to wake up on these dark, cold mornings! Sleepily, Lin looks out the kitchen window, and the sky is just beginning to brighten. He takes a sip of the soothing chamomile tea that his mom has brewed for him. Lin can see the moon. “It’s morning,” he thinks, “so, why is it still dark, and why is the moon still in the sky?”

Just before dinner that evening, Lin walks his pet Gordon setter, Luna. The sun has set beyond Lin’s ken, and the duskiness presses onwards. Lin again notices the moon in the sky, but it’s in a different place than it was that morning. Again, he wonders why the moon is visible when it’s not yet nighttime. He thought that the moon came out only at night. But, in fact, the manifestation of the sky is transitioning all the time.


When he sits down to dinner, Lin looks for the moon through the kitchen window. But the moon is not there! Lin saw the moon when he walked Luna just a few minutes ago. He knows it’s in the sky. So why can’t he see it through the window, like he could at breakfast this morning? He knows that he saw the moon this morning when he was sitting in this same spot. He was looking through this same window.

Lin thinks back to the beginning of first grade. The mornings were bright and sunny, not dark. He walked the dog before bedtime instead of before dinner, because it was still light outside later in the day. “But where was the moon?” Lin thinks to himself. “Why can I only see the moon sometimes? And why does it seem to move from place to place?”


Chapter Two: What Causes Night and Day?
Lin saw changes in the day and night welkin, and what caused these changes is indeterminate for him. Think about the difference between day and night. It’s the sun! When the sun is out, it’s daytime, and it’s light outside. When the sun is not in the sky, it’s nighttime, and it’s dark outside.

To learn about day and night, we first need to understand some things about the Earth. Earth gets light from the sun, and our sun is a star! It looks much bigger and brighter than the other stars that you see in the night sky. That’s because it is much closer to Earth. Lots of other stars are larger and more luminous than the sun. They just seem tiny because they’re so far away.

How do we describe where the sun or moon is in the sky? You’ve probably heard people use the words north, south, east, west, up, and down. These are directions that let us describe the locations of objects or places. They can help us tell where the sun or moon is in the sky.


The sun always rises in the east, and it appears to move across the sky during the day. Then it sets in the west. One daytime plus one nighttime are equated with one Earth day, which is twenty-four hours long. Where Lin lives, the sun rises and sets once in every period of twenty-four hours. Look at the labels for east and west. Can you point to where the sun rises and sets?

You may be wondering why you cannot see the sun in the sky all the time. We have sunrises and sunsets because Earth is shaped like a ball, and it spins. When one side is facing the sun, the other side is facing away from the sun.

Only one half of Earth at a time faces the sun. It is light, and daytime, on that side. It is dark, and nighttime, on the other side. But as Earth spins, the light side transitions to dark, and the dark side becomes light. This is why we have night and day. This pattern happens every twenty-four hours. Where is it daytime in this picture, and where is it nighttime.


Chapter Three: Longer and Shorter Times of Daylight
Lin noticed that sometimes it was dark outside when he ate breakfast, and sometimes it was light. But he eats breakfast at the same time every day. That must mean that on some days the sun rises earlier, and on some days it rises later. The length of day and night changes throughout the year. If you collect data, you can see a pattern.

Think about the changes that Lin noticed. Then think about what you have learned about Earth and the sun. What time of year do you think it was when it was dark outside in the morning? What time of year do you think it was when he could walk his dog before bedtime?


By collecting data and using statistics, you’ll see that the sun rises and sets at predictable times. The times change a little bit each day. You can play outside much later in the summer than you can in the winter. That’s because the sun rises very early and sets very late in the summer. So, summer unquestionably has the most daylight.

In the fall, our days get shorter and shorter. Winter has the least amount of daylight. The shortest day of the year is in December where Lin lives. Then, as winter turns to spring, the amount of time between sunrise and sunset nonchalantly grows longer and longer. The longest day of Lin’s year is in June. Then the amount of the daylight slowly decreases as summer turns to fall. The days get shortest in December. This pattern is an annual repetition. It is the same time of day in both pictures. Why is it bright daytime in one picture and getting dark in the other?


Chapter Four: Why Does the Moon Seem to Move?
What did Lin notice about the moon when he saw it both in the morning and at night? He saw it when it was still light outside, and he saw it when it was dark. He saw it in different places in the sky. Just like the sun, the moon’s place in the sky changes. And just like the sun, its movement follows a predictable pattern.

The moon is very bright against the dark night sky. But it is not only a night sky object. The moon appears in the sky both during the day and at night. The sun’s bright light sometimes makes the moon harder, or even impossible, to see during the day.

Like the sun, the moon rises and sets. It rises in the eastern sky, then it sets in the west. During the time that the moon is discernible, it appears to move across the sky. Unlike the sun, the moon actually moves! It moves in a path around Earth. Earth also spins. So, the moon’s place in the sky changes.


Can you tell if the moon is rising or setting here? Not unless you know which direction the picture is facing. If the picture shows a view to the east, which is it? Can you tell if the moon is rising or setting here? If the picture shows a view to the west, which is it?

The moon has the shape of a round ball. Because we see only one side of the moon, it sometimes looks like a circle. But sometimes its shape looks different. The moon’s shape changes over the course of one month. These changes happen in a predictable pattern, and these changes in shape are called the moon’s “phases.”

The full moon has a complete circle shape. The quarter moon is a half-circle shape. The crescent moon looks like the shape of the white part of a fingernail. During the new moon phase, the moon is hard to see. The whole circle is dark.


Chapter Five: How Does The Starry Sky Change?
Lin has figured out that the appearance of the sun and moon changes in the sky. But what about the stars in the sky? Do those change, too? The sun is just one of many billions of stars. Except for the sun, stars are very far from Earth. They are so far away that they look like tiny points of light in the sky. You can see stars because they make their own light.

Stars are in the sky all the time, but we can only see them at night. During the day, the sun’s bright light blocks out light from other stars. When the sun sets, the stars show up against the dark sky once again. Some stars appear to be larger and brighter than others. Still, it is hard to tell them apart.


With so many stars in the sky, how can we tell which one is which? A long time ago, people imagined picture patterns from stars, much like you can connect dots to draw a picture. These star pictures are called “constellations.” Look at these constellations. What do their shapes make you think of? Does this look like a hunter? Does this look like a scorpion?

Constellations can contain just a few stars or many stars. The Big Dipper is one of the easier groups of stars to spot in the night sky. The Big Dipper is comprised of seven stars and is shaped like a ladle. (A ladle is a type of deep spoon that you might use to serve up soup.) The Big Dipper is visible in the northern night sky.

Remember what Lin noticed about objects in the sky. He noticed the way the positions of the sun and the moon change. Do you think that the positions of stars change, too? How could you find out?


Chapter Six: Science in Action — Meeting an Astronomer
Lin has learned a lot about the objects in the sky since he started noticing them through his kitchen window. He knows where the sun rises and sets. Sometimes, Lin sees a full moon, and at other times, he sees a skinny crescent moon. Sometimes he can’t see the moon at all. Lin has made enough observations that he now knows the sequencing. He can foresee how the moon’s shape will appear from one week to the next.

Now Lin is excited to be on a class field trip. The students are visiting a planetarium, which is a special kind of dark theater. Stars are projected on the curved ceiling, and it makes the dome look like the night sky.

The planetarium’s supervisor is named Danielle. “The planetarium can show what the night sky will look like here tonight,” Danielle says. “It can also show what the night sky would look like on any other night, and from any other place on Earth!”

Danielle explains that scientists who study stars and other objects in space are called astronomers. “Astronomers have been observing the night sky for thousands of years,” she tells the class. “Long ago, people looked at the stars, and they noticed that they saw different groups of stars during different seasons. They recorded what they saw and discovered patterns. Now scientists know that they can use those patterns to predict which stars they will see on any given night. In a planetarium, we can display what that looks like.”


Astronomers a long time ago recorded what the stars looked like in the sky. They made maps of the stars. A planetarium combines lots of information from many star maps, from many places. Danielle tells the students about some of the first makers of star maps. She also tells the students that some of the lights in the night sky are not stars at all. They are other planets!

Danielle then tells the class about Shi Shen, Gan De, and Wu Xian. They were Chinese astronomers who lived more than two thousand years ago. They mapped the positions of stars, and their star chart used lines to connect groups of stars together into constellations. Those constellations are different from the ones that Lin is used to. They imagined different pictures made from stars in the night sky.

Then Danielle talked of Galileo Galilei, who was an Italian astronomer. He lived more than four hundred years ago. Galileo used a telescope to view objects in the night sky. He looked more closely at the moon than anyone had before him. Galileo discovered that there were many more stars in the sky than people had ever seen before. He recorded the way that they moved and changed, and he found many patterns. Galileo’s data changed how people thought about the universe.


APPENDIX: Editor’s Note — Don’t EVER fall for this trick!
There’s a well-known story from 1989 that a number of Harvard graduates and faculty flunked a very basic test about the Earth and the sun. Harvard is one of the most respected universities in the world. And you have to be really smart to do well there! But, SURPRISE!

Twenty-five people were asked why it’s warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. Twenty-two of them answered the question incorrectly. Those 22 said that the Earth was closer to the sun in summer, and further from the sun in winter. WRONG!!

Never get caught on this one! The correct answer is that the temperature swings are due to the Earth rotating on its axis at a 23-degree angle. As the Earth makes its annual rotation around the sun, it’s tilt determines how much sunlight hits both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres each day.

In the north-of-the-equator’s “summer,” more sunlight hits the Northern Hemisphere. There’s more sunlight, so that warms things up more. In the Southern Hemisphere, during that time, it’s their “winter.” In the south-of-the-equator’s “summer,” the Earth’s tilt provides more daylight to them. Therefore, at that time, it’s “winter” in the Northern Hemisphere.


There are two specific days in the year when both hemispheres receive virtually the same amount of sunlight. The “vernal equinox” describes the day that the Northern Hemisphere’s spring begins, and that’s usually around April 21. The “autumnal equinox” describes the day that the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn begins, and that’s around September 21.

Then we have our “solstices.” The Northern Hemisphere’s “winter solstice” is the day that winter officially begins, which is around December 21. So, on that day, the Northern Hemisphere is receiving its lowest dose of daily sunlight. That also means that in the North, it’s the “shortest day of the year.” Then there is the “summer solstice,” the day that summer officially begins in the North. That’s around June 21. And that marks “the longest day of the year” for the Northern Hemisphere.

So, think back to Lin’s story above. Not only does the Earth’s “tilted” rotation explain the Earth’s changing annual temperatures as we move from season to season. It also explains why the “length of our days” also constantly changes!

So, now keep this in mind for the rest of your lives and never get tricked! If you get to go to Harvard, you’ll be one of the graduates who gets this question right!

Here’s a brief article describing the 1989 questioning of some folks at Harvard:

Lesson 54 – “” Academic Word Builder

NEW WORDS: abbreviate, articulate, attributed, ballet, book’s, condos, contend, continuum, deviation, devise, diminished, ethical, flawed, font, footer, fugue, ignores, inferred, instincts, irony, justification, optional, origins, page’s, plagiarism, presumption, rephrase, societal, stanza, substitution, symbolic, termination, transformation, variables, violation, vomit, waive, wildfire   

I saw two ghostly entities.

This liquid has a high concentration of bleach.

Make this deviation from our plan.

I’ll compose a fugue for the piano.

That act constitutes fraud.

What’s your justification for saying that?

She highlighted this stanza of the poem.

Do that, and you’ll suffer bad consequences.

We acknowledged her help with the project.

Caterpillars go through a major transformation.

The patient’s in the recovery room.

She’s a resident of Maine.

“Raining cats and dogs” is a figurative phrase.

The coach questioned his team’s motivation.

Rate it on a continuum of one-to-ten.

There are fluctuations in the radio signals.

I have a persistent cough.

She cited Shakespeare in her paper.

That’s the dominant wolf in the pack.

I never conceived that he’d say that!

Choose from these five categories.

Sherlock Holmes posed as a chimney sweep.


I predicted that they’d win!

I’m at your disposal to help out.

Stealing is a violation of the law.

How would you characterize her mood?

Sign this revision of the contract.

My bank account is low on funds.

What’s the timeline for the project?

I’ll waive my fee for this consultation.

His mental state has diminished.

She played the hymn with intensity.

Many in the audience yelled, “Bravo!”

Paraphrase it to make it simpler.

The end of her novel was full of irony.

They’ve learned about the origins of these species.

Solve the problem for these two variables.

Is this brand a good substitution?

He made another antique car acquisition.

The two lawyers began corresponding with each other.

What’s your assessment of her thoughts?

Dessert is optional.

Increase the font on this page’s footer.

Their country has known ten years of stability.


This region has a broad diversity of plant life.

His story was credible.

Your main assumption is flawed.

You can abbreviate “doctor” as “doc” or “Dr.”

That criminal is not ethical.

He’s devoted to his wife.

A cop gave me a parking citation.

This book’s illustrated with lots of color.

This flute composition is hard to play.

She wrote a terse conclusion to the experiment.

My car’s registered in the State of Utah.

She has a strong reliance on her instincts.

Don’t get too much exposure to the sun.

Our teacher’s name is Mrs. Burke.

Ultimately, these actions will get him in trouble.

The project’s implementation occurs next month.

Let’s persuade mom to let us stay up late.

They converted these apartments into condos.

Inevitably, we have four seasons each year.

I learned much from his narrative of Lincoln’s life.

Use this hot sauce at your own discretion.

The eagle is symbolic of the American spirit.


That saying is attributed to Mark Twain.

It’s my presumption that you’re hungry.

That crook is dependent on the manipulation of people.

I speculate that the stock market will go up soon.

Our school has a high percent of minorities.

Let’s devise a tricky play to show the coach.

I’m mad at you as a consequence of your bad manners.

After my intervention, the two stopped fighting.

I accompanied mom to the ballet.

Rephrase that so that I can understand it.

You need great coordination to be a tightrope walker.

What went on in the show’s preceding episode?

He sought out his dad in the crowd.

That married couple has a great relationship.

My job termination is effective this Friday.

Courts are supposed to protect our constitutional rights.

His political orientation is left-wing.

I love classical music.

I contend that the Bears will beat the Rams.

The doc induced her to vomit.

Articulate your plan’s details to me.

The virus’s transmission is spreading like wildfire.

Hypothesize who will win the election.


She inferred that I am dumb!

What are the requisite skills of a nurse?

His behavior ignores societal norms.

They rejected my offer to buy their house.

Ice cream sales correlate with hot weather.

I’ve compiled a list of good movies for you.

You exaggerate your skills.

What’s the underlying reason she did that?

Is this a meteor fragment?

Our kids have lots of interaction at school.

He’s guilty of plagiarism in his book report.

I proofread my test and found two spelling errors.

What insights did you gain from her lecture?

I can’t emphasize enough how careful you need to be.

There’s been a huge displacement of people in their civil war.

What did you conclude from your analysis?

We welcomed her participation in the brainstorm session.

I’ve been assigned to the dorm on the hill.

Invariably, we can count on some snow days this winter.

This chapter will foreshadow a surprise at the end of the book.

My financial advisor sold some of my stock.

I still need to annotate my thesis.

This info is irrelevant to the court case.

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


Lesson 55 – Early Explorers And Settlers 

NEW WORDS: Anglican, Pocahontas, Powhatan, Raleigh, Rolfe, abandonment, acquiring, backfiring, bankrolled, befell, belatedly, chancy, coerced, colony’s, commissioned, commonwealths, confiscated, cooperating, covetous, craving, cultivating, declined, denomination, directive, disembarking, disinter, dominion, earmarked, egalitarian, endeavors, excursion, expedited, gallant, harboring, heeled, highborn, lucrative, miscalculation, oceangoing, opportunistic, overlong, overran, pathfinder, protectorates, pummeled, puritan, puritans, reconnaissance, seaway, sustaining, swampland, upshot, urgently, validated, vanquished, weathered

Chapter One: The Conquistadors
Christopher Columbus was a pathfinder. He had sailed the Atlantic. He went to the Americas. That was in 1492. We used to think that he discovered America. But we now know that’s not true. The Vikings had been there centuries before.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were Spain’s monarchs. They had bankrolled his excursion. The upshot of his trip was that it made the king and queen quite happy. The land that Columbus went to was “new.” It was not known by the Europeans of that time. The king and queen planned to be very opportunistic. They hoped to find lots of riches in the Americas!

Let’s turn to the decades after Columbus. The Spanish and the Portuguese did lots of reconnaissance in the New World. They validated much about Central and South America. These lands did, indeed, have gold and silver. People just had to disinter it out of the ground.


We’ll now meet the “Conquistadors.” That means “conquerors” in Spanish. They went to Central and South America. They had a blunt directive. They were to gain dominion over the land and the people.

Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro were such men. They helped to make Spain rich. Cortes vanquished the Aztec of Mexico. He took all of their land. Francisco Pizarro overran the Inca of Peru. The Spanish killed many of these people. Some also died from diseases that the Spanish brought with them. Others were coerced into digging for gold and silver.

These conquerors came back to Europe. They brought back much gold and silver. Some European kings and queens were covetous. They wanted their countries to get rich, too! And Spain and Portugal were not just acquiring riches. They were setting up protectorates there, too.


Chapter Two: Queen Elizabeth and the Lost Colony
So, other European commonwealths wished to be in the game. They sent their traders and fishermen to the New World to make money. Let’s see what England did. Queen Elizabeth wanted English settlers to go there and take land, too. She was craving to do what the Spanish and Portuguese had done.

So, she had need of someone gallant. He’d have to set off on a chancy voyage. He’d have to find land that could be settled on. She chose Sir Walter Raleigh. This highborn noble set sail for the eastern coast of North America. He was commissioned to find the best place to build an English colony. He found just the spot! When he returned, he sent a group of men to Roanoke Island. That was just off the coast of what’s today North Carolina.

The first English settlers sent there did not last long. Life there was too hard. They came back to England. Later, Sir Walter sent a second group. These were English men, women, and children. They went to Roanoke Island to try again. For a while, things went well.

A child named Virginia Dare was born there. But only three years went by. By then, all of these settlers had disappeared. The colony was in a state of abandonment. No one knows for sure what befell them. That’s why it’s called “The Lost Colony.”


Chapter Three: The English Travel to Virginia
For a while, the English did not send more folks to the New World. But they were sustaining lucrative trade and fishing there. These traders brought back lots of valuable goods. They had furs, lumber, and pearls. They got rich.

Some of these traders went to King James. He was the new king of England. They had a plan. They wished to try settling again in the New World. They wished to send settlers to search for gold and silver. King James said, “yes.” The traders expedited their endeavors to find oceangoing vessels, supplies, and men.


It was just before Christmas in 1606. Three ships sailed into the Atlantic. Here were their names. The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. There were 105 male passengers on board. There were 39 sailors. Also on board was a note from King James. It told them what to do. It told them how to behave when they got to the New World.

Soon after they set out, the weather was not cooperating. The winds died down. The ships went nowhere. They were stranded for six weeks. The ships just sat there. They waited for a wind to fill the sails to take them west. They had to dig into their supplies. They ate food that was earmarked for use in their new home. They drank the water that they had brought with them. The weeks went by. Lots of them became sick.

Belatedly, strong winds did come. But these winds were too strong. They blew the ships in the wrong direction! Bad storms swept across the seaway. Enormous waves pummeled the ships. Things eventually calmed down. An overlong four months after they left England, the three ships reached what is now Virginia.


Chapter Four: John Smith and the Powhatan
Right after disembarking in Virginia, the king’s note was read out loud. The king wanted them to find a good place to settle. He did not want them to be seen by passing Spanish ships. The land should also be near a wide, deep river. This colony was to be named Jamestown, after King James. The settlers were to urgently search for gold and silver.

A number of men had been chosen to run the colony. One of them was a young adventurer named John Smith. Smith was a natural leader. But the other leaders didn’t like him. He was not well-heeled and powerful. They declined to treat such an ordinary person as him in an egalitarian way. Instead, they left him tied up on one of the ships.

This was a big miscalculation. The other leaders chose swampland to settle on. The land was also bad for farming. The damp swampland was good for one thing, though. And that was for harboring mosquitoes. Further, these deadly creatures carried a disease called malaria. The settlers were also not near clean drinking water. Half of the settlers died in the first few months. Then, to add to their problems, the Powhatan were not happy that they had come. These were the Native Americans whose land the settlers had confiscated.


After some time, John Smith DID become the colony’s leader. He persuaded those who had weathered the first few months to get to work. They chopped down trees. They built homes. And a strong log wall was built around the settlement.

That first winter was very hard for the settlers. They were all cold and very hungry. Smith also knew they would have to make peace with the Powhatan. They needed to trade with the Native Americans for food. John Smith set off to do just that.

Smith became friends with Chief Powhatan. He was the leader of the Powhatan. He had a daughter named Pocahontas. She also became a good friend to Smith. The Powhatan agreed to trade corn and meat for axes and blankets. The food that the Powhatan gave to the settlers was enough to last them through the winter. In the spring, those who had survived were able to plant their own crops.

Pocahontas helped the settlers a lot. She encouraged her father to give the starving settlers food. And she may even have saved John Smith’s life. After a time, she married a settler by the name of John Rolfe. Pocahontas then traveled all the way to England and met King James.


Chapter Five: Enslaved People in the Colonies
The settlers got to know the Powhatan. They saw that they grew tobacco plants and smoked tobacco in pipes. The English settlers had not found gold. But they had found a plant that could make England rich. They realized how smart cultivating their own tobacco would be. Then, they could ship it back to England and sell it.

Before long, the English were smoking lots of tobacco from Virginia. In fact, Jamestown was making tons of money. Now, the colony’s farmers wanted to grow even more tobacco. But to grow more tobacco, they needed more people. Some people came from England to do this hard work. But before long, there was a need for even more workers.

Over a period of time, people were enslaved. They were brought from Africa to work on large farms. These were called “plantations.” These were mostly in the English colonies in the South. Enslaved Africans were not free. They did not choose to plant tobacco. These enslaved people were bought and sold like the tobacco that they were growing. This is an abominable part of our U.S. history.


Chapter Six: Pilgrims Arrive in Plymouth
One community of people, called the Pilgrims, set off for Virginia for different reasons, as they did not want to grow tobacco or find gold. Instead, they wanted to pray to God in their own way, which was not possible in England at that time. So, the Pilgrims set sail on a ship called the Mayflower.

The Mayflower was a small ship, and there was not much room for its hundred-and-two passengers and thirty sailors. The passengers slept mostly on the floor, and in hammocks below the main deck. For the first month, the voyage went well, however, then stormy weather arrived, and the passengers became very ill.

The storms at sea were so bad that the Mayflower was blown off course, so, the Pilgrims never actually arrived in Virginia. Instead, they arrived in what is today Massachusetts, in New England. The place they chose to settle had once been a Wampanoag village, and the Pilgrims named their new home Plymouth.


The Pilgrims had also arrived as the weather was turning cold, and it was too late to plant crops, so somehow the settlers needed to get through the cold winter months.

The Pilgrims set about building homes, but because it was so cold, the women and children slept on the Mayflower. Many people died due to the cold, sickness, and lack of food. People began to lose hope, but then spring came, and help arrived, too!

There was a Native American by the name of Squanto, who spoke English, and he demonstrated to the Pilgrims the best ways to plant crops on land that was new to them. Squanto also showed the Pilgrims how to be good hunters and fishermen.

With more food to eat, the Pilgrims grew strong again, and to celebrate, Squanto and members of the Wampanoag joined the Pilgrims for a feast of thanksgiving. They ate roasted deer and turkey, and they ate the fish that they had caught and the vegetables that they had grown. Once again, Native Americans had generously helped people from another land to survive, which over time, in a sense, largely ended up backfiring on them. This is another very sad chapter in U.S. history.


Chapter Seven: The Puritans
Just a few years after the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, another group of people came to New England, and they were called the Puritans. Like the Pilgrims, they left England because the king would not let them worship as they wanted, and his orders were that they could only worship in the religious denomination of the Anglican Church.

King Charles the first was actually happy to get rid of the Puritans, so he signed a paper called a “charter,” giving them permission to start a colony in Massachusetts Bay. With things going so well in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, more Puritans arrived, and within ten years, there were over ten-thousand people living there.


This colony also did well because the Puritans made sure that everyone worked. Even young people had to work, because the Puritans believed that children should be taught jobs that they could do as adults. This way they would always be useful.

The Puritans wanted their children to learn skills, as well as to know how to read and write, and they wanted everyone to read the Bible. Because education was so important to them, Puritan law said that every town must have a school, where all of the townspeople had to pay for both the school and its teacher. We still pay for public schools this way. The Puritans also started Harvard College.

After a while, the Puritans and others began moving to areas farther away, and new settlements began in what would become today’s states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Before long, there were thirteen colonies. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the colonists were helping to create a new country, the United States of America.


Image subtitles.

This is what gold looks like when it is first taken out of the ground. Sir Walter felt sure that they would be able to set up an English colony on this small island. Many different Native American groups had tobacco pipes.

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

Lesson 56 – Ancient China

NEW WORDS: Confucius, Qin, Qingming, adherents, archaic, burdens, chi, cocoons, conjoining, constituents, contended, deserves, discord, doctrines, emanates, emulating, encounters, flourished, folktale, forebears, foreigner, foreigners, fussy, graves, guarded, herding, honoring, imagining, inundated, jubilee, kinder, loosen, mashing, nomads, popularity, potentate, resolving, scion, spacious, suboptimal, swells, terminates, traditionally, trustworthy, upsurge, virtuous, watchtowers, yields


Chapter One: China’s Great Rivers
China is a giant land with flat plains, rich farmland, high mountains, and hot deserts. Across part of this spacious land swells the second longest river in Asia. That’s the mighty Huang He. The Huang He is yellow in color, because of the silt that the river water carries with it. “Huang He” means “Yellow River.”

The Huang He emanates high in the mountains and flows for 3,400 miles. It finally terminates when it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Until recently, the Huang He’s flooding often inundated farmland near its banks. The river water covered land that was often dry, and it brought with it lots of rich silt. That helped the crops to grow. Too much floodwater, though, could be a suboptimal problem!

The Yangtze River flows 3,915 miles. It, too, begins high in the mountains, and it, too, brings water to farmers. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia, and it’s so large and fast that it takes most of its silt out to sea.

But what have these rivers got to do with China’s archaic times? Well, lots of early civilizations began near rivers, and an ancient Chinese civilization grew first along the banks of the Huang He. It flourished because farmers there could increase their crop yields on the rich farmland. More crops meant that more people could be fed; thus, over time, there was an upsurge in the population.


How do we know about a civilization that began over 4,000 years ago?
Archaeologists spend time digging up the past. This pot is thousands of years old, and it was found in a place by the Huang He. Over time, other civilizations and kingdoms developed all across ancient China.

These rivers weren’t just good for farming, and riverboats carrying key people, as well as food, sailed along the Huang and Yangtze Rivers. Then, let’s move to about 1,400 years ago, where people had begun to build human-made waterways. These are called “canals.” They would connect the two rivers, and that way, it helped in conjoining many parts of China. This was the oldest, and longest, human-made waterway, and it was used to transport food to the cities of ancient China. It earned the name “the Grand Canal.”


Chapter Two: Family and Ancestors
In ancient China, each family member had a job to do, but the head of the family had the greatest burdens. They had the job of looking after the farm or business, and they had to take care of the entire family. Key decisions were also made by the family head, like resolving who someone would marry, or they might have to decide what job someone would do.

Taking care of the family also called for honoring the “ancestors,” who were all of the past family members who had died. People honored their forebears by continuing to treat them like part of the family. They talked to them, they told them about key events, they brought them gifts, and they carved their names on little wooden blocks. Lots of these things are still done today!

The Qingming Festival is an ancient celebration that’s held in honor of all ancestors. Traditionally, people visited their ancestors’ graves, and they brought gifts of food and flowers. People still do this today. The Qingming Festival is also a celebration of spring. “Qingming” means “clear and bright,” like a beautiful spring day.

Another jubilee that’s held in honor of the ancestors is the Hungry Ghost Festival. This happens each year in August, and its popularity is greatest in the southern part of China. During this festival, unloved ancestors, or angry ghosts, are offered food, so that they will not be hungry or angry! Here you can see a painting from long ago that shows the angry ghosts being fed.


Chapter Three: The Teachings of Confucius
Before China was one country, it was made up of lots of kingdoms. Each one had a different potentate. They often had hostile encounters with one another. A man named Confucius spoke out against this frequent discord. Confucius said that if people were kinder, there would be fewer wars. He contended that people could change their ways. He became a famous teacher. He traveled throughout all of China. Lots of people listened to his teachings. They called him “Master.”

Confucius taught his adherents many things. He said that goodness, or virtue, is shown by how people act. He also said that every person can be a prince by emulating one. They don’t really have to be the scion of a king. And he said that a king only deserves his job if he is kind to his people.


Confucius taught that family should be very important. He said that families are special. That’s because they last across time. We go from parents and grandparents, to children and their children. He thought that the people of China were one big family. He wished that the rulers would act like thoughtful parents.

One day, the rulers of ancient China made a big decision about Confucius. They thought that people should study his teachings in order to be a ruler. They thought that disciples of Confucius would make the most virtuous and trustworthy constituents of the government. So, what would you have to do if you wanted to work for the government? You had to pass a test on the doctrines of Confucius!


Chapter Four: The Great Wall of China
Long ago, nomads lived in the lands outside of ancient China. They lived by hunting and herding animals. Nomads moved from place to place. They were always looking for good places to feed their sheep or goats. The Chinese did not want the nomads on their land. They did not like that the nomads did not settle in one place. Further, they lived without a government. And so a gigantic stone wall was built across part of China. That was to keep out the nomads. This wall was called “the Great Wall!” Can you see its route on the map?


The building of the Great Wall began under Emperor Qin. He was the very first emperor of China. He was a powerful leader. He defeated the rulers of many kingdoms. He took their land and made China larger. He wished to help protect his citizens and their farmland. So, he ordered that a long wall be built on the northern border of China.

Millions of people worked on building the Great Wall. They had to stack large, heavy stones to build a wall that is at least three stories high! It took many years to complete just part of the Great Wall. Lots of people died building it. Today the wall is about 5,500 miles long.

The Great Wall was built to keep the Chinese people safe from the nomads and other invaders. It also helped to protect the rich fields where wheat and rice crops grew. Soldiers stood guard along the wall and in the watchtowers at all times. Even so, nomads did still try to raid their rich and powerful Chinese neighbors. Sometimes they succeeded. Some even became rulers of China. But they always ended up following the Chinese way of life. Throughout China’s long history, lots of battles were fought along the Great Wall.


Chapter Five: Writing the Chinese Language
Remember that Emperor Qin wanted a great wall across parts of China. But he also wanted there to be one style of writing in all of China. He believed that this would help to unite the people. He asked a man named Li Si to create this new style of writing. In China today, everyone uses what Li Si created. It is, in fact, the oldest written language still used in the world.

Chinese does not use letters to spell words. Their people have a different picture for each whole word. These pictures are called “characters.” They sometimes look like the words that they stand for. The written characters for blossom and plum are shown here.

Why might learning to write Chinese words be more difficult than learning to write English words? Well, children in China have to learn new characters for every word. And there are thousands of words. We learn the twenty-six letters that make up the English alphabet. And with them, we can write every word in English. Which one sounds easier to you?

In China, people can write their characters across the page or down the page. Chinese writers begin by imagining that there is a small square on the page. Inside the lines of the imaginary square, they carefully draw the characters. A character is made up of a certain number of lines, or strokes.


Chapter Six: Chinese Inventions
Look at your book. What is it made of? It’s made of paper. Think about all the times today that you have seen or used something made of paper. A long time ago, in ancient China, people learned to make paper. They were the first people to do so. And they were the first to make and use paper money.

Early paper was made by mashing up rags, old rope, the bark of trees, and water. This mixture was then flattened and dried. Paper became easy and cheap to make. And many things could be made from paper!

Imagine that every book in the world had to be made by hand. Someone had to write each word on every page. For a long time, even for hundreds of years after the invention of paper, books were made this way.


Then, in ancient China, people came up with a better way to make books. They developed an early form of printing. They made small blocks of wood and carved a character on each block. They put the small blocks together. Then they put ink on the blocks. Paper was pressed on the blocks. Then, a page of printed words appeared in seconds. The blocks could be put together in different ways to make other pages.

In America, fireworks light up the night sky on the Fourth of July each year. But did you know that fireworks were invented in ancient China? One day, an experiment went wrong. As a result, a gray powder, called gunpowder, was invented. Gunpowder exploded when lit. People began to add ingredients to the gunpowder so that the explosions would be colorful. Today we call these explosions fireworks!

Many hundreds of years ago, the Chinese learned how to make porcelain. Porcelain is made from special white clay instead of the usual brown clay. Clay is a sticky, muddy substance. It comes from the Earth. It’s used to make pots, cups, plates, and other things. The Chinese used porcelain to make beautiful, delicate dishes. These dishes were nicer and more valuable than the ones made from brown clay. Porcelain is often called “china” in English. Can you guess why?


Chapter Seven: Beautiful Silk
An old folktale tells us that thousands of years ago there was a queen named Si Ling-chi, who was sitting in the garden of her royal palace, drinking tea and watching little caterpillars spin their cocoons. They were up in some mulberry trees, and suddenly, one of the cocoons fell into her teacup!

Si Ling-chi watched the cocoon floating in her tea, and she saw that a tiny thread had come loose from the cocoon. She pulled on it and was amazed to find that the cocoon was made from one very long thread. This was a silk thread. As the story goes, Queen Si Ling-chi learned to spin silk thread, and she used it to make beautiful cloth.

The making of silk became a closely guarded secret. In fact, in China, you could be killed if you ever told a foreigner the secret of how silk was made. The reason for this was that silk could make people a lot of money, and the Chinese wanted to be able to sell their silk to foreigners. Beautiful silk robes were made for the rich and powerful, and that included the rulers of China. Chinese rulers often wore the color yellow.


So many people went to China to buy silk that the main road from Europe to China became known as the “Silk Road.” There were many dangers on the Silk Road, where there were lots of bandits and many miles of hot, dry desert. But silk was so desired that people were willing to travel a long way to get it.

You may be wondering exactly how silk is made. Well, some of what’s involved in making it is the same now as it was thousands of years ago. To begin with, you need silkworms, and silkworms are fussy. They must have mulberry leaves to eat, and they munch on mulberry leaves for about forty-five days. Then, the silkworms spin their cocoons, and they spend three or four days making a single thread. When the cocoons are ready, silk makers put the cocoons in steam or hot water to loosen the ends of the thread. The thread from just one cocoon might be three thousand feet long, which is more than half a mile! The thread is used to make many things, including beautiful silk cloth.


Chapter Eight: The Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year is the most important of all the Chinese celebrations, and the celebration lasts for two weeks. This celebration goes back hundreds of years. People everywhere fill their homes and streets with bright red decorations. Red is the color of good fortune and happiness. Special wishes for the New Year are often written on the decorations, and food is an important part of the two-week celebration, too. The food that is eaten is meant to bring good luck!

After a New Year’s Eve dinner that includes lots and lots of food, families spend time together playing games and talking, often staying up all night. At midnight, fireworks light up the sky, and in the morning, Chinese children are excited because they get presents. Their parents give them little packages of “lucky money” wrapped in red paper. The rest of the day, people visit relatives, friends, and neighbors and wish one another good luck. And the present giving lasts for the next five to seven days!

The New Year’s Day parade is a part of the celebrations, and the star of the parade is the Chinese dragon. People carry a large, colorful dragon through the streets, and they perform a dragon dance, but the Chinese dragon is not like other dragons, as it has a camel head, tiger paws, and eagle claws, and it blows steam instead of fire. That’s because the ancient Chinese believed that dragons controlled the rains.


Lesson 57 – Poems And Rhymes

NEW WORDS: April’s, Blake, Casey’s, Charlestown, Cooney, Flynn, Frietchie, Frietchie’s, Lulu, Medford, Middlesex, Mudville, Parian, Somerset, Stonewall, Stonewall’s, aery, alders, aloft, artificer, awatching, barrack, barrows, batsman, beats, belfry’s, bier, blaming, borne, bouquets, bugle, carols, churchyard, clung, clustered, courier’s, crowding, defiance, delayed, doffed, doubting, drowsing, embattled, encampment, essence, exult, exulting, fleck, foes, forevermore, fourscore, fruited, gazes, girth, gleamed, grandeur, grenadiers, grim, hoary, housemates, impetuous, impostors, instep, intermission, invests, keel, kennel, kindled, knaves, ladder’s, lusty, maddened, maugre, melodious, mockingly, moorings, mournful, musket, muster, mystic, nobler, outlook, peril, phantom, ploughboy’s, preceded, raids, recoiled, redeem, regulars, responding, ribboned, scornful, seaward, sentinel’s, shaft, silken, sires, slouched, sneer, spar, spectral, spheroid, spires, spurred, stealthy, stilled, straggling, strangeness, swaying, tapering, throats, tides, trills, trumpets, tumult, unfurled, unheeded, votive, weathercock, whited, widens, windward, winnings, woodcutter’s, wreaths

Paul Revere’s Ride
Listen, my children, and you shall hear,
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.
Hardly a man is now alive,
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march,
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch,
Of the North Church tower as a signal-light.
One, if by land, and two, if by sea,
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm,
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good night!” and with muffled oar,
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore.
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay,
The Somerset, British man-of-war.
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar,
Across the moon like a prison bar.
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified,
By its own reflection in the tide.


Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears,
The muster of men at the barrack door.
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch,
On the somber rafters, that round him made,
Masses and moving shapes of shade.
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Mere he paused to listen and look down,
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still,
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went,
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell,
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread,
Of the lonely belfry and the dead.
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent,
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,
A line of black, that bends and floats,
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.


Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride,
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the Earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth.
But mostly he watched with eager search,
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height,
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight,
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark,
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet.
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and, the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night.
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.


He has left the village and mounted the steep.
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides.
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock,
Swim in the moonlight as he passed.
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast,
At the bloody work they would look upon.


It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze,
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed,
Who at the bridge would be first to fall?
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball?

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall.
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again,
Under the trees at the turn of the road.
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere.
And so through the night went his cry of alarm,
To every Middlesex village and farm,
Aery of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door.
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear,
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Poem By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Barbara Frietchie
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand,
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple- and peach-tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord,
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde.

On that pleasant morn of the early fall,
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind, the sun,
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten,

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down.

In her attic-window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.


Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right,
He glanced, the old flag met his sight.

“Halt!” The dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” Out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash,
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff,
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came.

The nobler nature within him stirred,
To life at that woman’s deed and word.

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head,
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

All day long through Frederick street,
Sounded the tread of marching feet.

All day long that free flag tossed,
Over the heads of the rebel host.


Ever its torn fields rose and fell,
On the loyal winds that loved it well,

And through the hill-gaps sunset light,
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear,
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw,
Round thy symbol of light and law,

And ever the stars above look down,
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

Poem By John Greenleaf Whittier

Concord Hymn
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled.
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept,
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps.
And Time the ruined bridge has swept,
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare,
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Poem By Ralph Waldo Emerson   

After Apple-Picking
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree, 
Toward heaven still, 
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill, 
Beside it, and there may be two or three, 
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough. 
But I am done with apple-picking now. 

Essence of winter sleep is on the night, 
The scent of apples, I am drowsing off. 
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight, 
I got from looking through a pane of glass 
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough, 
And held against the world of hoary grass. 

It melted, and I let it fall and break. 
But I was well, 
Upon my way to sleep before it fell, 
And I could tell, 
What form my dreaming was about to take. 
Magnified apples appear and disappear, 
Stem end and blossom end, 
And every fleck of russet showing clear.


My instep arch not only keeps the ache, 
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. 
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend. 
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin, 
The rumbling sound, 
Of load on load of apples coming in. 

For I have had too much, 
Of apple-picking, I am overtired, 
Of the great harvest I myself desired. 
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, 
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall. 

For all, 
That struck the Earth, 
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble, 
Went surely to the cider-apple heap,
As of no worth. 
One can see what will trouble,
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. 
Were he not gone, 
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his, 
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, 
Or just some human sleep.

Poem By Robert Frost 

The Snow-Storm
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow. And, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight. The whited air,
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped. The courier’s feet,
Delayed, all friends shut out. The housemates sit,
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed,
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north-wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, naught cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths.
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world,
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art,
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

Poem By Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl singing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Poem By Walt Whitman 

Oh Captain! My Captain!
Oh, Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done.
The ship has weathered every rack. The prize we sought is won.
The port is near. The bells I hear, the people all exulting.
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
But Oh heart! Heart! Heart!
Oh, the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Oh, Captain! My Captain! Rise up and hear the bells.
Rise up, for you the flag is flung. For you the bugle trills.
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths. For you the shores a-crowding.
For you they call. The swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
Here, Captain! Dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer. His lips are pale and still.
My father does not feel my arm. He has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchored safe and sound. Its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.
Exult, Oh shores! And ring, Oh bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Poem By Walt Whitman

Casey At The Bat
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest,
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that,
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake.
And the former was a lulu, and the latter was a cake.
So, upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.


But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And Blake, the much despise-ed, tore the cover off the ball.
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Johnny safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell.
It rumbled through the valley. It rattled in the dell.
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat.
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place.
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.


Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye. A sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air.
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman, the ball unheeded sped.
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar.
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stem and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand.
And it’s likely they’d have killed him, had not Casey raised his hand.


With a smile of Christian charity, great Casey’s visage shone.
He stilled the rising tumult. He bade the game go on.
He signaled to the pitcher. And once more the spheroid flew.
But Casey still ignored it. And the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands. And echo answered fraud.
But one scornful look from Casey, and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold. They saw his muscles strain.
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip. His teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball. And now he lets it go.
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere. And somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing. And somewhere children shout.
But there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey has struck out.

Poem By Ernest Lawrence Thayer 

If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting, too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies.
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream, and not make dreams your master,
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss.
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone.
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them, “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings, nor lose the common touch.
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much.
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And, which is more, you’ll be a Man, my son!

Poem By Rudyard Kipling

Lesson 58 – OUGH Builder

NEW WORDS: Anthony, Francisco’s, Marines, Norton, Throughline, Yarborough, afterthought, afterthoughts, auction, borough, cougher, coughers, den’s, disgusted, doughboy, doughboys, doughface, doughfaces, doughier, doughiest, doughlike, doughnut, doughnuts, doughy, dreadnought, dreadnoughts, droughty, fitness, forethought, furlough, furloughed, furloughing, furloughs, handwrought, latrine, listens, methought, misthought, nemesis, northerner, nought, outbought, outfought, overbought, overwrought, rebought, refought, resought, rethought, rigs, roughage, roughed, roughen, roughened, roughening, roughens, rougher, roughest, roughhewn, roughhouse, roughhoused, roughhouses, roughhousing, roughing, roughish, roughneck, roughnecks, roughness, roughrider, roughriders, roughs, roughshod, sergeant, slough, sourdough, southerners, stalled, suffrage, tames, tanked, thoroughbred, thoroughbreds, thoroughest, thoroughfare, thoroughness, thoughtfully, thoughtfulness, thoughtless, thoughtlessly, thoughtlessness, thoughtway, thoughtways, throughput, throughputs, throughway, throughways, toughed, toughened, toughening, toughens, toughie, toughies, toughing, toughish, toughly, toughness, toughs, toughy, troughs, underbought, unsought, unthought, whist, wrought

1) The “oh” sound of OUGH:
Gramps was a World War 1 doughboy.

We need thoroughness with your work.

These are the Derby thoroughbreds.

Queens is a New York City borough.

You did a thorough job.

He’s thoroughgoing with his inventory counts.

This veggie has a doughlike texture.

Though he studied hard, he got just a “C.”

There’s a wreck on the thoroughfare.

Her army furlough ends in 2 weeks.

This doughy bread is undercooked.

They invest in thoroughbred horses.

Although it’s on sale, it’s still costly.

There are 5 boroughs in New York City.

I’ll be furloughing on a beach somewhere.

A doughface was a Northerner who sided with the Southerners‘ wish to own slaves.

That’s the doughiest bread I’ve eaten.

That’s one of our busy city thoroughfares.

She comes home for a month during her furloughs.


World War 1 doughboys were named after Mexican-American War soldiers.

We’ll study Civil War doughfaces in History.

I’m thoroughly disgusted with your actions.

Your cookies are doughier than hers.

I love San Francisco’s sourdough bread.

I want a raspberry-filled doughnut.

Policemen love to eat doughnuts.

A “Yarborough” is a hand with no card higher than a 9. (In the games of Whist and Bridge.)

Has the dough risen?

This author gives the thoroughest description of quantum physics.

When he was furloughed, he went to France.


2) The “aw” sound of OUGH:
“Milady, methought you were radiant at the Ball!”

As an afterthought, he took off his shoes.

Ali outfought Norton for the Title.

They have wrought iron chairs on their porch.

We underbought this product, and we’ve run out.

His sculptures are handwrought, without any machinery to help.

He misthought the solution and really blew it.

He refought his nemesis 2 years later.

He thoughtlessly yelled in front of us.

He’s a thoughtless boss.

I’ll NOT be outbought on that Munch painting at the auction.

I bought roses on sale.

I thought we’d go on Sunday.

Her thoughtlessness ruined her friendships.

Their thoughtway is that college should be free.

His thoughtfulness earned him friends.

It’s unthought of to ask that of the Queen.


I rethought things, and you can go, now.

Our thoughts are with your family.

This gift was thoughtful of you.

She sought a way where both sides could win.

She brought her pet to school.

She thoughtfully pondered how to best handle things.

She was overwrought with panic when she heard noises.

Susan B. Anthony fought for women’s suffrage.

The sturdy dreadnought won all its battles.

Their thoughtways are dangerous to the concept of democracy.

Their fleet of dreadnoughts made their Navy strong.

Their strategy was planned with careful forethought.

Thankfully, the possible war went unfought.

They suffered unsought consequences.

They had afterthoughts after they put their plan in place.

She resought a chance to be the Party’s nominee.

Their effort was for nought, as the other team had more talent.

Knock 50% off of these unbought goods.

We overbought on that costly Christmas toy.

She rebought some blue-chip stocks when the Market tanked.

You ought to see that film!


3) The “uff” sound of OUGH:
Mom toughs it out with her exercises.

He toughed it out in Marine Boot Camp.

Sis roughhouses with our dog.

Coach says we need roughening up.

This class is a real toughie. (Or “toughy.”)

Kurt loves roughing it in the woods.

The sergeant rode roughshod over the soldiers.

Playing rugby roughens you up.

Roughage in your diet is good.

Roughen the wall before you paint it.

Toughen up and stop those whines.

She toughens the surface with this sandpaper.

The Marines were toughly trained.

His 4-day beard roughened his “look.”

The final test was tough.

You’ll need roughly 4 pints of milk.

Roughhouse outside, not in here.

Of the 2 rugs, this one is rougher.

He roughs it when he camps out.

Had enough to eat?


The roughnecks were taken to safety before the storm hit.

These jeans have a roughish feel.

He needs toughening up to be a pro.

He toughened up in the army.

He shows toughness on the ball field.

That roughrider tames wild horses.

Slough off the pain, get back in the ring.

This rock is rough to the touch.

They roughhoused till they were tired.

My dad’s tougher than yours.

She’s toughing it out in fitness class.

I like the roughness of this canvas.

The bully roughed Jon up a bit.

This is the roughest sandpaper.

The den’s ceiling has roughhewn beams.

That’s the toughest steak I’ve ever had.

No roughhousing in the gym!

Don’t fall for his toughish look, he’s quite kind!

We read about Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders.

That “roughneck” works on oil rigs.

Our last 2 tests were toughies.


4) The “off” sound of OUGH:
Kids were coughing on me all day.

There are deep troughs on the sea floor.

My cat coughed up gross hairballs.

I need a cough drop.

Dad coughs a lot when he wakes up.

There are lots of coughers in the room.

Dig a trough to use as our latrine.

He’s a loud cougher.


5) The “eww” sound of OUGH:
Our factory’s throughputs are at all-time highs.

Use the throughway lane to get there.

Cheers went up throughout the room.

Their factory throughput was low.

She listens to NPR’s Throughline.

The MRI was a huge breakthrough for doctors.

All the throughways have stalled traffic.

This drug is one of our big breakthroughs.

A bird flew in through the open door.


6) The “ow” sound of OUGH:
The doughty knight won the joust.

Our state has bad droughts.

We see droughty conditions here.

We have not had a drought in 10 years.

The bough breaks, the cradle falls.


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 History Of The Earth


Lesson 59 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Ayers, Bernardino, Gerry, Hawaii’s, Helens, Idaho, Wyoming, Yellowstone, aboveground, bedrock, boulders, clank, crevices, disasters, discouraging, dissolving, divides, eroded, erupts, formations, geo, geologic, geological, geologist, geologists, geology, geyser, geysers, gravitational, gurgles, hardened, igneous, magma, mantle, moles, mountain’s, northernmost, ology, outermost, pickax, releasing, remnant, reshaped, sea’s, spewing, spews, sputters, squished, stickier, thinnest, vents, weather’s, whopping

Chapter One: Our Home, Earth
Hi, kids! My name is Gerry. I’m a geologist. A geologist is a type of scientist. A scientist studies and learns all about the world in which we live. Geologists are scientists who study rocks and what’s inside the Earth.

That’s right, rocks! From pebbles to stones to boulders, from a grain of sand to the highest mountain, rocks are everywhere. And I want you to know all about rocks. I want you to know how they’re created. I want you to know how they’re used in people’s everyday lives.

People used rocks to make the jewels on this crown. People use rocks to make buildings, walls, and streets. A sculptor carved a big rock to make this sculpture of Abraham Lincoln.

Geologists use rocks to learn about the Earth. In the ancient Greek language, the word “geo” means Earth. And “ology” means “the study of.” We combine these word parts. Then we have “geology.” That means “the study of the Earth.” Since the Earth is mostly made of rock, we geologists spend most of our time studying rocks. Lots of the rocks that we see on the surface of the Earth are created by incredible forces at work deep inside the Earth. That’s from mountains down to pebbles. Thus, we don’t just study rocks. We also study the forces at work inside the Earth and on the Earth’s surface. We study the whole Earth.


Some scientists think that the history of the Earth begins a little over 4.5 billion years ago. That’s a very long time ago. Before that, some scientists believe that the materials that now make up Earth were orbiting the sun. That would have been when the sun was newly formed. And what’s Earth today was billions of little bits and pieces orbiting the sun. Over many years, these floating bits and pieces gradually stuck together. At some point they made up Earth. They also made up Earth’s neighbor, the moon. They also made up the other planets.

Let’s go back to when Earth was newly formed. It was pretty much one big ball of hot, melted rocks. Over time, though, some of these materials cooled and hardened. That allowed Earth to become what it is now.

Maybe you already know that Earth is a planet. Earth is one of eight major planets that orbits the sun. Do you know the names of any of the other planets? I do! Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Here’s where Earth is like the other planets in the solar system. Earth is trapped in the gravitational pull of the sun. This causes Earth to orbit the sun. It takes one year, about 365 days, for Earth to complete an orbit around the sun. But does Earth just move around the sun? Absolutely not! Earth moves through space, too.


This map shows the Earth’s north and south poles. These are imaginary points at the northernmost and southernmost parts of the Earth. The axis of rotation is like an imaginary “stick” going right through the Earth. And the “stick” goes through the north and south poles. There is not really a stick running through the Earth, around which it turns. The axis is an imaginary line around which Earth rotates. The Earth rotates in the same way that a globe spins, on its axis. It takes one day, or twenty-four hours, for Earth to make a complete rotation.

The map also shows the equator. That’s an imaginary line around the middle of the Earth. The equator divides the Earth into two equal halves. The area along the equator receives the most direct sunlight. Thus, it’s generally the warmest area on the surface of the Earth.

Earth is sphere-shaped, like a ball. And it’s surrounded by a thick blanket of air, called an “atmosphere.” That’s where clouds float around. Most of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Most of the water is in the form of our five oceans. These are the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern (or Antarctic). And between these oceans there is land in the form of our seven continents. These are North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica.


People haven’t always known these important facts. 1) The Earth is round. 2) The Earth rotates on its axis, as well as orbits the sun. 3) There are five oceans. 4) There are seven continents. 5) Most of Earth’s surface is covered in water. It has taken hundreds of years for scientists and explorers to develop all of this knowledge. But this barely begins to scratch the surface of what we now know about Earth.

There are three important words you need to know. Keep these in mind whenever you are thinking about geology. “Heat” is the first. You can feel heat from a flame, or from the sun on a sunny day. Heat causes many changes to the Earth. The second word is “pressure.” That’s like the force that you use when you push on something. Pressure, or the force of weight, also causes many changes to the Earth. “Time” is the third word. To understand geology, you need to think about time in a whole new way. Forget about minutes, hours, and days. These amounts of time don’t mean much in geology. Geologists think in terms of many years. It takes a long time for pressure and heat to do what they do.


Think about the Grand Canyon. That’s in Arizona. It provides a lot of clues about the Earth’s formation. It took millions of years for it to form like it has formed. Rushing water in a giant river carved through the rocks to make this canyon. No other place on Earth allows us to see and study so many different layers of rock at the same time. The rock on the upper rim of the canyon is thought to be about 230 million years old. The rock layers at the bottom of the canyon are thought to have formed over two billion years ago. That rock is half as old as the Earth is believed to be itself!

Remember, heat, pressure, and time are the main factors of geology. If you understand those three words, then you are ready to learn lots of things about the history of the Earth.


Chapter Two: The Earth Inside-Out, Part One
Hello! Gerry the Geologist here again. I woke up this morning and started digging this hole in the ground. Each time I push my shovel into the Earth, I bring up a load of soil. And I’ve noticed that each load of soil has a few rocks in it. I’m digging this hole today to teach you about the outer layer of the Earth.

It’s beneath your backyard, the sidewalk, the school. It’s pretty much beneath most every place that people live. I’m talking about soil, which is sometimes called dirt. Different types of soil appear in the Earth in layers. Each layer of soil is made of different things. They can give it a different color, or a different texture.

The thickness of the soil varies depending on where you live. In some places on the Earth, the soil is several feet thick. In other places on the Earth, it is just a few inches. And in some places on the Earth, there’s no soil at all. Here, where I live, the soil is rich and dark near the surface. However, as I dig deeper into the Earth, I can see a definite color change. The color in this soil has changed from dark brown to bright red. That color change means that I’ve reached a layer of reddish clay. It’s getting a little harder to dig now. So, now I’ll have to use my pickax.


Clank! My pick just hit something really hard below the red clay. The farther down I go, the harder the clay becomes. Pretty soon, I will hit bedrock — a solid layer of hard rock that I won’t be able to dig through with my shovel. 

I dug this hole to show you that there are different layers of soil and rock beneath your feet. The farther you go into the Earth, the more things change. The dark soil on top is fairly easy to dig into with a shovel. But the deeper layer of clay is harder to dig. That’s because it’s been compacted, or squished. That’s due to the weight or pressure of everything above it.

What would you see if you could cut out a big chunk of Earth? This diagram shows you what the inside of the Earth would look like. The crust is the outermost layer of the Earth. It’s represented here by a thin, brown line. I’ve been digging into the very outermost portion of the crust today. Most of the Earth is rock. And most of that rock is beneath the crust in the other three layers. They’re called the mantle (red), the outer core (orange), and the inner core (yellow). From the surface to the middle of the inner core is nearly 4,000 miles. This is one thick planet!

I’ll teach you more about the mantle, outer core, and inner core next time. For now, let’s focus on the thinnest layer. That’s the crust. The Earth’s crust is between three and twenty miles, depending on where you are on Earth. Most people, plants, and animals live on the surface. That’s the outermost edge of the crust.


Remember, the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans and continents. Everything alive on Earth lives in, on, or above these oceans and continents on the crust. For example, you and your dog live on the crust. Worms and moles, on the other hand, live underground, or in the crust. Birds fly in the air above the crust. And fish swim in the water that is flowing on the crust.

The crust is where geologists, like me, look to learn about the history of the Earth. In the crust, we find different layers of rock. These teach us about different periods of time in the Earth’s history. Each layer of rock was formed during a different period of time in the Earth’s history. So, we can study each layer to learn about each period of time.

Geologists search the crust for clues about the history of the Earth. I already introduced you to this place. Remember the Grand Canyon? Here, the geology of the Earth’s crust sits like an open book waiting to be read. Layer upon layer of different rock tells a story. We can tell when this place was covered with a cool ocean, and when it was not.


Geological changes can do all sorts of tricky things to the rocks on the Earth’s crust. These formations are in Arches National Park. That’s in the state of Utah. They show what thousands of years of wind, rain, and ice can do to this type of stone.

Some rocks are mysterious. This is called “Uluru,” or “Ayers Rock.” It’s the only tall thing in an otherwise flat, barren grassland in the middle of Australia. Geologists have figured out that this is a remnant left over from a time when the entire surface there was covered in this type of rock. Eventually, all the other rock eroded away. That was due to wind and rain. Now, only this one mound of rock remains.

Different places tell different stories. Not all interesting rocks are aboveground. This photo was taken down in a cave. That’s a large hole or space underground. A cave is basically an area in the Earth’s crust that has been hollowed out for one reason or another. It’s usually as a result of underground water flowing in, and dissolving the rock over millions of years. Caves are really amazing places to explore!

People usually don’t think too much about what’s happening underground, deep below our feet. But the fact is that what happens deep underground has everything to do with what we see in the world around us. Next time, we’ll take a closer look at what goes on in those other layers. I’d better go ahead and fill in this hole now. See you next time!


Chapter Three: The Earth Inside-Out, Part Two
Let’s pretend that we can go deep into the Earth. We’ll go all the way to the center. That’s 4,000 miles from where you’re sitting now.

The first stop is the layer beneath the crust. That’s called the “mantle.” The mantle is a whopping 1,800 miles thick. It contains most of the Earth’s rock. As you’ve learned, most of the Earth is made of rock. Thus, most of the Earth is contained within the mantle.

The mantle is mostly solid rock. The closer to the crust, the cooler and harder the mantle tends to be. But as you go deeper the mantle gets hotter. It also becomes soft and gooey. Heat closer to the core causes the rock inside the mantle to move around quite a bit. But in most places, it’s still solid rather than liquid.

The mantle surrounds the Earth’s core. The core has two parts. They’re the inner core and the outer core. The inner core is a solid metal ball. It’s just a bit smaller than Earth’s moon. The outer core is also metal. But it’s not solid. It’s made up of melted, or molten, metal. So, what’s deep down inside the Earth is amazing. Think of what’s thousands of miles beneath your feet. There’s a giant sea of red-hot, molten metal. And it’s surrounding a solid metal ball.


Scientists think that the center of the Earth is hotter than the sun’s surface. And that’s a blazing 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit! The inner core is much hotter than the outer core. This may seem strange. How can the inner core of the Earth, which is hotter than the outer core, be solid, and not molten?

Here’s the reason. There’s incredible pressure that bears down on the inner core. Most of the Earth’s entire weight is pressing inward on top of it. Here’s what happens when  you put more pressure on something. It takes more heat to cause that thing to boil or melt. That’s why the metal at the center of the Earth is solid instead of liquid. Despite the intense heat, there is massive pressure caused by the weight of the rest of the Earth. So, the center of the Earth can’t melt. It remains solid.

The crust upon which we live is constantly being changed and reshaped. That’s due to heat and pressure caused by activity in the Earth’s mantle and core. Look at the San Bernardino Mountains in this picture. They’re a lot like other mountains along the West Coast of the U.S., from Mexico to Alaska. They were created by changes inside the Earth.


Remember, the parts of the mantle that are closest to the core are soft and gooey. That hot, gooey material in the mantle does not always stay in the mantle. Sometimes it rises  to the surface. Sometimes, some of that extremely hot molten rock, or magma, “escapes.” It pushes up through the mantle. It forces its way into cracks and crevices in the crust.

Over time, the magma collects in a magma chamber. There’s one near the bottom of this picture. The heat in the magma chamber releases gas from the magma. This builds up and creates pressure. The pressure builds until, one day, BOOM! The magma erupts in a volcano of lava, ash, gas, and fire. Once it’s released from the Earth, the magma becomes “lava.” That’s flowing liquid rock. It flows across the ground until it cools. Then, it hardens into rock once again. We call that kind of rock “igneous” rock.

Volcanoes can be very dangerous to humans. Let me explain something. Thanks to geologists, we have a pretty good idea when and where these geologic events are likely to occur. We help to predict where volcanoes are most likely to occur. This helps keep people safe by discouraging them from building homes close to dangerous areas. It’s not always possible to predict when and where geologic disasters will occur. But geologists work hard to give people as much warning as we can.


Chapter Four: The Earth Inside-Out, Part Three
Ah! Hawaii! I just love this place. The land is gorgeous. The folks are nice. The weather’s great. And the surfing is awesome. But for me, here’s the best part. It’s the volcanoes. If you like them, and all geologists do, then there’s no better place than Hawaii!

Here’s what most folks think of volcanoes. They think of the top blown off a mountain. Then lava flows out everywhere. Volcanic activity comes in lots of forms. And not all of them are as wild as a mountaintop eruption.

Hawaii is made up of eight major islands. Seven of them are inhabited. The islands were formed by volcanic activity. If it weren’t for volcanoes, Hawaii would not be there at all.

Hawaii is one of the best known volcanic hot spots in the world. A hot spot is a place where there’s been continuous volcanic activity. And it’s been that way for a long time. In Hawaii’s case, this activity started underwater. In fact, most of this type of activity occurs underwater. It happens deep down near the sea’s floor. Down there, the crust is fairly thin. So, it’s easier for magma to seep up from the mantle.


Here’s what goes on when a volcano erupts underwater. The lava that it lets loose cools quickly. Over time, millions of years, this lava piles up. That’s what happened in Hawaii. Over time, the lava, erupted often from the hot spot. It built up a pile that now reaches from the deep ocean floor all the way to the surface. There, it became new, dry land.

Hawaiian volcanoes erupt gradually. The lava bubbles, gurgles, and sputters. It does not just shoot up out of the Earth all at once. There’s still lots of volcanic activity on some of their islands. That means that the island chain is still growing.

Now let’s compare their volcanoes to another type. That’s the kind where a mountaintop DOES explode! This volcano erupted in the state of Washington. Remember, that’s on the West Coast of the U.S. This is what Mount St. Helens looked like until the year 1980. Mount St. Helens proves that it is often easy to predict WHERE a volcano will erupt. The hard part is figuring out WHEN.

Mount St. Helens has erupted many times over the course of 40,000 or so years. And during this time, the mountain’s size and shape has changed. Magma is always building up within Mount St. Helens. But it’s unlike the magma in the Hawaiian volcanoes. The magma in this area is much stickier than Hawaii’s magma. So, it does not gurgle and sputter through little vents. Instead, the magma gets stuck. Then, immense pressure builds up within the mountain. At some point, the pressure becomes quite intense. It gets to a point where the mountain can’t hold it any longer. So, what happens? BOOM!


When Mount St. Helens “blew” in 1980, it was the most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. Thousands of acres of forest were leveled. In an instant, the top and one side of the mountain were completely blown away. Lava was not the main problem with Mount St. Helens. First, it was the immense amount of rock and ash that exploded into the air. Second, there were massive landslides that followed as the mountain came crashing down into the valley below.

This is what Mount St. Helens looks like today. It’s still tall enough to rise above the clouds. But compare this to the first picture that you saw. You can see that it’s not the same as it used to be. It has erupted a number of times after that day in 1980. And it still erupts here and there, to this day.

Here’s another place in the U.S. with volcanic activity. This is Yellowstone National Park. The park is mostly in Wyoming. But parts of it extend into Idaho and Montana. This National Park is home to many interesting and beautiful sites. Like Hawaii, Yellowstone is situated on top of a hot spot. That’s a place where there’s lots of magma close to the surface. Here, the magma has stayed underground. It has not erupted onto the surface. 


Yellowstone is famous for its geysers. A geyser is a rare geologic event. It occurs when water seeps down through cracks into the crust. It then meets up with hot rocks. When the water touches the hot rocks, it turns into steam. More water seeps in. More steam is created. So, pressure starts to build. At some point, all of this heat and pressure forces the steam to find a way back out. This is a lot like other types of volcanic activity that you have learned about. This process, too, is caused by the build-up and release of pressure underground.

The result is a geyser. That’s steam and water spewing up out of the Earth. These particular geysers are pretty small. They spurt and bubble all day long in water pools, or springs. And they have a pretty, bluish-green color. That’s created by certain minerals that collect there.


This geyser has a name. It’s “Old Faithful.” The word “faithful” means trustworthy, or reliable. It got its name since you can count on the fact that it will erupt several times each day. We can’t predict exactly when it will erupt. But it typically blows its lid about every ninety minutes, give or take a few.

Old Faithful spews out steam and hot water for anywhere from one to five minutes. It can spew as much as 8,000 gallons of water, up to 185 feet in the air. You should see it in the summer. That’s when the park is full of visitors. Hundreds of people gather around to watch the world’s most famous geyser.

Although they come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, all volcanoes and geysers have two things in common. First, they are the Earth’s way of releasing heat and pressure from deep underground. Second, each one tells us a bit more about the history of the Earth. And one other thing. All volcanoes and geysers are extremely hot. So, always keep a safe distance and admire them from afar!


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 History Of The Earth


Lesson 60 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Bryce, Yosemite, agate, amethyst, beryl, camarasaurus, chloride, compsognathus, corundum, critter, defending, dimetrodon, dimetrodons, dissolves, erupting, excavating, excavation, exoskeleton, facets, fossilized, gemstones, guesses, halite, imprint, imprinted, intrudes, jasper, judging, metamorphose, mineshaft, obsidian, oozing, oysters, paleontologist, paleontologists, paleontology, phenomena, rectangular, sedimentary, sediments, sludge, spoonful, stegosaurus, subjected, tetrapod, tetrapod’s, tetrapods, textures, traces, triceratops, trilobite, trilobites, turquoise, tyrannosaurus, unakite, unmixed, whirlwind, whopper


Chapter Five: Minerals
As a geologist, it’s my job to study rocks. There are so many kinds of rocks out there. And I’ve gathered up quite a few rocks in my time as a geologist!

Here are some of the rocks and minerals from my stash. I’ve polished these in a machine called a rock tumbler. It makes them shiny. And it really brings out the color. Look at what I have in just this one pile. I can see amethyst, tiger’s eye, rose quartz, turquoise, red jasper, agate, unakite, and onyx. Whoa! Sorry. I get carried away sometimes.

Minerals are the building blocks of rocks. All rocks contain minerals. Sometimes you can find pure minerals unmixed with other minerals. But most rocks contain a number of different minerals. There are over 3,000 types of minerals. And scientists still discover new ones from time to time.

Minerals come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. We use these characteristics to divide them into groups. Some of these groups are quite common. But others are quite unusual, and even hard to describe. I’ll tell you about a few of the best-known minerals.


This is a picture of “quartz.” Quartz is the most common mineral in the Earth’s crust. It’s not the most common in the whole Earth. It’s just the most common in the crust. This picture shows a type of quartz called milky quartz.

Quartz comes in many varieties. Those are clear quartz crystals on the top left. Some minerals form into perfect crystals like these, and some don’t. It depends on where and how they’re formed within the Earth.

Crystals can come in all different sizes. Some are as small as a pea. Some are the size of your arm, or longer.

What explains the color variations in the many types of quartz? These are largely caused by the addition of small amounts of other types of metals into the mineral. For instance, the gorgeous purple color of amethyst is caused by traces of iron and aluminum metal.

Examples of rare gemstones are some varieties of “corundum.” This is a mineral composed mostly of aluminum and oxygen. Red corundum is known as ruby. Blue corundum is known as sapphire. Rubies and sapphires are among the most beautiful mineral crystals on Earth.


Here’s another beauty. This is called “emerald.” Emerald is a variety of the mineral “beryl.” It also comes in lots of colors. That includes green, blue, yellow, and red. Deep-green emerald is my favorite.

And here’s one of the most famous minerals. Do you know what these beauties are called? These are “diamonds.” A diamond is the hardest mineral in the world. A diamond is hard enough to cut through glass, or scratch other minerals. The diamond on the left is a raw diamond. It’s how you see it fresh from the Earth. The diamond on the right has been cut and polished. The sides of a cut diamond are called “facets.”

You need special equipment and skills to cut and polish gems. That includes diamonds, or other gemstones such as rubies and emeralds. People who cut diamonds look through strong magnifying glasses. As they do their work, this helps them to see all the tiny little facets, or sides.

Here is one mineral that we use each day! Have you ever heard of “salt?” Salt, or “sodium chloride,” is a common mineral. It’s found in both the oceans and in the Earth. Sodium chloride is called “table salt” when we use it in food. It’s called “rock” salt when we use it to make roads safer in winter storms.


Some folks put table salt on food to make it taste better. In fact, salt is a key nutrient for people, as well as for animals. Your body needs salt. Not too much, but just enough. Too much salt is bad for you. What if you eat too much salt? Your body will tell you so. It’s because you’ll feel thirsty.

Salt appears in lots of forms in nature. Rock salt can be found in the form of “halite” crystals. They’re like the rectangular-shaped crystal pictured on the left in the image. You can’t see salt in water because it dissolves. But you’ll know it’s there if you ever taste ocean water.

Why do all these different minerals look the way they do? Each has its own story. And it gets pretty complicated. But you can bet that there were three basic things in common. These are heat, pressure, and time. These factors play a role in the formation of each mineral.

One thing to remember about the rocks that you find in nature is that you should leave them there. That’s so that other people can also enjoy them. If each person took even one rock, there soon would not be many rocks left! Without rocks, environments change dramatically. If the environment changes, the plants and animals that live there might have a hard time finding food and shelter.

Now I’ve told you a bit about some of my favorite minerals. Take a look at the ground the next time you go outside. You might see something interesting to you!


Chapter Six: The Three Types of Rocks
The right amount of heat can turn a solid rock or metal into a liquid. Pressure from the weight of the Earth can crush rocks. So can movement of materials inside the Earth. Over time, heat and pressure have strong effects. They create the rock formations and other geologic phenomena that we find in the world.

Working together, heat, pressure, and time create the three types of rocks that exist in the world. Each rock in the world can be placed into one of three categories. The three types of rocks are “igneous,” “sedimentary,” and “metamorphic.” Try saying each of these rock types out loud. Igneous. Sedimentary. Metamorphic.

The first rock type, igneous, is the most common. Igneous rocks come in many forms. Some form entire mountains. Some appear as boulders jutting from the Earth. This picture shows a close-up of one type of igneous rock. This plain, old, gray rock contains different types of minerals. But it hasn’t always been a plain, old, gray rock.


The word igneous comes from the Latin word for fire. That’s because igneous rocks begin deep down in the heat of the Earth’s mantle. As you’ve heard, the Earth’s mantle is full of a hot, gooey, oozing substance. That’s known as magma, or melted rock. The magma is constantly being forced toward the surface by pressure from within the Earth. It travels upward from the mantle through the crust. Then, the magma begins to cool and harden. Sometimes, the magma will erupt from a volcano. But sometimes, the conditions aren’t quite right for an eruption.

This formation is called “Half Dome.” It’s located in Yosemite National Park in California. When you look at Half Dome, you’re looking at an old magma chamber. A magma chamber is a pocket in the Earth’s crust where magma collects. As more magma enters the chamber, it gets hotter and pressure builds. Then, the magma can force its way up to the surface in the form of a volcano.


Or, sometimes, things happen as in the case of Half Dome. The magma just gathers in the chamber. It stays there without erupting. For whatever geologic reason, the heat and pressure did not get great enough to force the magma through the crust and onto the surface in the form of lava. Instead, the magma cooled and hardened within the chamber. Over time, the rocks and soil around the chamber eroded away. That left beautiful Half Dome alone, sticking high up above the Earth. Half Dome is certainly a big igneous rock!

Another type of igneous formation occurs when magma intrudes, or pushes itself, between two existing layers of rock. This means that not all the layers in this mountain were formed one on top of the other. Rather, some of the layers forced their way in between other rocks.

This is my favorite type of igneous rock. It’s “obsidian,” better known as volcanic glass. Volcanic glass forms when certain types of lava cool and harden. They then become smooth, shiny, and glass-like. Only certain types of lava, under certain conditions, become volcanic glass.

Some Native Americans used volcanic glass to make arrowheads and spearheads. What happens if you break a piece of volcanic glass?  You’ll find that it’s incredibly sharp and strong. Every now and then, I find ancient artifacts like this when I’m out rock hunting.


After igneous, the second major rock type is sedimentary. Sedimentary rocks are not formed like igneous rocks, which form from cooled magma. In fact, heat does not play much of a role in forming sedimentary rocks. Instead, pressure and time are the key factors.

The word “sediments” refers to tiny particles. These can be made of dirt or rock, which are carried along in water, ice, wind, or landslides. If you dump a spoonful of sand into a glass of water, you’ll see the sand gradually sink down and settle on the bottom of the glass. That’s much in the same way that sediments settle on the bottoms of lakes and oceans. Sediments are always floating around in lakes, oceans, and rivers. Over time, sediments in lake water settle and form a thick sludge on the bottom of a lake. More and more sediments settle on the bottom. Then, more and more weight presses down on the sludge. Over time, the pressure from the weight of the upper sediments can cause the sludge to harden into rock. Through time and pressure, layers of sediments are turned into sedimentary rock.

Coal is a type of sedimentary rock. It comes from decayed plants that have been under pressure for many years. Coal is a key energy source. People burn coal in order to create electricity for homes, and to make energy to power machines in factories. People get coal and other important rocks, minerals, and metals by mining them from the Earth. One way to mine coal is by digging a mineshaft, or tunnel, deep down into the Earth.


Another sedimentary rock is called iron ore. An ore is a rock that contains valuable minerals or metals. There are lots of types of ores in the world. But iron ore is one of the most important. Iron ore is the source of iron. That’s a strong metal which is used to make steel. Steel, in turn, is used to build lots of things. Some of these are bridges, cars, buildings, tools, and other things that you see and use each day.

Sandstone is one common type of sedimentary rock. Wherever you find sandstone, there’s a good chance that you’re walking in a place that used to be completely underwater. At one time or another, every place on Earth has been completely submerged in water. Thus, sandstone is quite common throughout the world. This photo was taken in Bryce Canyon. That’s in the state of Utah. This place is known for its unique sandstone formations.

Here is another sandstone canyon that I thought you’d like to see. Antelope Canyon, in Arizona, is a very special place. It is known as a “slot canyon.” It’s formed over many years. Water from rain and floods rushes through the sandstone. That causes it to erode.


These cliffs are made of limestone. That’s another type of sedimentary rock. Limestone is interesting, because it’s composed mainly of minerals left over from ancient sea creatures. These could be like clams, oysters, and other shellfish. When these creatures died, their shells sank down to the ocean floor. They settled in with the other sediments. Over time, the churning oceans ground the shells into a fine white powder. The powder settled. Then, more shells and sediments put pressure on it. It took many years, but eventually all the powdery shell leftovers were compressed into limestone.

Limestone can be subjected to intense pressure for an even longer period of time. When that occurs, it can turn into another kind of rock called marble.

Marble is very hard. And it often has a beautiful, pure white color. People have used marble for thousands of years. It’s used to make fine buildings and sculptures.

Marble is known as a “metamorphic” rock. That’s the third and least common type of rock. Metamorphic comes from the Greek word for transformation, or change. Metamorphic rocks are formed when other types of rocks undergo intense heat and pressure and change, or metamorphose, into new kinds of rocks.

Congratulations! You’re becoming a geologist! Now you know about the three rock types. They are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Won’t everyone be impressed when you tell them about the new words that you’ve learned?


Chapter Seven: Fossils
Hi there. My name is Pam. I’m a “paleontologist.” Gerry the Geologist is a friend of mine. He called me last night. He asked me to come in and finish teaching you about the history of the Earth. He’s sorry that he can’t be here. But all this rock-talk has him itching to see some neat rocks himself. So, he is off to hike in the mountains.

A paleontologist is a scientist. We study “paleontology.” That’s the study of life that was on Earth in the distant past. We study bones. That way, we learn about life on Earth long ago. This is not just any bone. It’s a dinosaur bone! I’ll teach you about dinosaurs soon.

Gerry told me that you now know about basic geologic facts. Those are heat, pressure, and time. And you know about sedimentary rocks. Some of these are sandstone and limestone. They’re formed from layers of sediments. They’ve been pressed together over time. These layers offer lots clues about the history of life on the Earth. Past life on Earth is my specialty.


Paleontologists need to know lots about rocks and geology. That’s in order to study living things. This is because of something called a “fossil.” A fossil is the preserved body, or imprint, of a plant or animal that lived long ago. That could be thousands, millions, or even billions of years past! Most fossils, like this one of a seashell, show you where the body of an animal or plant died and was buried. You find them under layer after layer of sediment. Over many years, more and more sediment pressed down on it. So, this shell became part of the stone that formed as a result of geologic pressure. You just see the impression, or shape of it. This is not the real shell. The creature itself, and its shell, decayed and rotted away. But its shape stayed imprinted in the rock.

As you dig down into the Earth, the soil and rocks are divided into layers. These layers show lots of geologic periods. These were times during which the crust and surface of the Earth changed. For instance, what if you find a layer of sandstone on dry land? Then you know that there may have been an ocean or river over that land at some point in the distant past. We can estimate how old some fossils may be. That’s thanks to our understanding of geology and rock layers.


Fossils are usually found in layers of sedimentary rocks. But they can be found in other rock formations, as well. It looks like the paleontologist in this picture has found a good place for fossil hunting. He has to dig with care to make sure that he keeps the fossils in good shape.

Every fossil is part of the Earth’s fossil record. The fossil record includes each thing that we’ve learned about the history of life from studying fossils. The fossil record is what paleontologists study. That’s in order to figure out what life on Earth was like many years ago. We can find when the animals and plants imprinted in the fossils lived. That’s based on the rock layers in which they were found. They use information from all fossils to create a timeline of life on Earth. Today, I’d like to show you a number of fossils from different time periods in the history of the Earth.

This is a fossil of a “trilobite.” That is an animal that’s believed to have lived some 550 million years ago. Trilobites may look like insects. But they are more closely related to lobsters and crabs. They came in many varieties. You could find them from a half-inch up to twenty-eight inches in length. They had antennas and lots of legs. And they had a hard outer shell called an “exoskeleton.” That exoskeleton is key. It meant that dead trilobites were easily fossilized when they became buried in the sand.


At about this same time, the fossil record suggests that the first plants appeared on land. Back then, there was no soil on the land. That’s because soil contains dead, decayed plants. Since these were the first plants on land, no plants had yet died in order to create soil. The first plants did not have the same characteristics as plants today. These plants were less than half an inch tall. And they had no roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds. But they WERE plants, nevertheless.

Soon came the Age of Fish. Lots of types of fish ruled the waters. Also during this time, plant and animal life on land began to spread quickly. The first soils formed on land. This allowed new types of plants with leaves, stems, and roots to grow. With new plants, came new land creatures ready to eat those plants. “Tetrapods” were the first amphibians. They made their way onto the beaches. An “amphibian” is an animal that lives part of its life in water, and part on land. A frog is such a creature.


Paleontologists have found many tetrapod fossils. An artist drew this sketch using a tetrapod fossil. It shows what a real tetrapod might have looked like. Do you think any of this tetrapod’s body parts look like they belong to a fish?

Then, lush forests full of trees and plants, such as ferns, began to grow. As forests increased, so too did the types and sizes of animals. The first giant reptiles appeared. Let’s look at this “dimetrodon.” The one in this picture is just a model that someone made. But they based this model on fossilized dimetrodon bones found in the Earth. We call the body part sticking up on its back a sail. That’s because it looks like the sail on a boat.

Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur. But it surely looked like one. And dinosaurs were soon to come. We will learn more about them next time. That is as far as the fossil record will take us today!


Chapter Eight: Dinosaurs
Hey there, fellow scientists! It’s Pam the Paleontologist again. Last time I was here, I gave you a whirlwind tour of the history of life on Earth. We went right up through the time of the dimetrodons, the first giant reptiles that had big sails on their backs. The age of the dimetrodons was followed by a time known as the Age of Reptiles. This era, according to some scientists, began approximately 245 million years ago.

This is a “Tyrannosaurus Rex,” or “T. Rex,” as some people call it. It was one of the largest and most fearsome predators ever to walk the Earth. We can tell by its teeth that the T. Rex was a meat eater. We also know that it was over forty feet long, and up to twenty feet tall. Judging by the size of its bones, it weighed about seven tons, or more than two average-sized cars.


This painting shows T. Rex facing off against a triceratops, a dinosaur with long horns and a shield-like plate on its head. Keep in mind when you look at artwork like this, that nobody today really knows what dinosaurs looked like. We have only seen their bones. Artists use information supplied by scientists today to try to make good guesses about what dinosaurs looked like when they were alive. They do all this based on their bones! Many people think of dinosaurs as giant reptiles, and in fact, the word dinosaur means “terrifying lizard.” However, many paleontologists now believe that dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than they are to lizards. Whatever the case may be, there are no dinosaurs on Earth anymore. They have all been “extinct,” or dead and gone, for many years. Now there are just fossilized bones of dinosaurs buried in the Earth’s crust.

Here is my personal favorite, the “stegosaurus.” Like the triceratops, the stegosaurus was an herbivore, or plant eater, but it had some pretty good ways of defending itself against the likes of T. Rex and other meat eaters. Stegosaurus had hard, sharp plates on its back, which would have made it difficult to bite. But just in case anyone tried, the stegosaurus also had a spiky tail that could really do some damage.


How do we find and learn about these incredible animals? Some scientists believe that dinosaurs ruled the Earth for more than 100 million years, and their fossilized bones can be found in many parts of the world, including the U.S. Dinosaur fossils are hard to find, and “excavating,” or digging up, their bones is not as easy as you might think.

Once paleontologists find an area that is likely to have dinosaur bones, we move in with our tools and begin careful excavation. Paleontologists must use sharp little knives and small brushes to gradually scrape away the sedimentary rock surrounding the fossils. It will take this paleontologist days, and maybe even weeks, to excavate this one bone. It’s slow work, but to me there is nothing more exciting in the world than carefully uncovering a bone that may have been buried in rock for 100 million years.

Here a paleontologist is excavating a large collection of bones from the sandstone cliffs of Dinosaur National Monument, an area located in the states of Colorado and Utah, where we have uncovered hundreds and thousands of dinosaur bones.


Can you see all the bones in this picture? That was one big dinosaur! But what did it really look like? It’s hard to tell because, over time, the bones have moved around and become broken. As a paleontologist, I sometimes feel like I spend half my life putting puzzles together. Often, we only find a few bones. The rest of the skeleton was long since destroyed, or perhaps even dragged away by a predator many years ago. Other times, lots of different dinosaur bones can be mixed in together. We paleontologists have to use our detective skills to figure out which bones belonged to which type of dinosaur.

In fact, those bones belonged to a mighty “Camarasaurus.” I knew as soon as I saw its head. This plant eater was sixty feet long and weighed about twenty tons. A real whopper!


Here is one artist’s idea of what the Camarasaurus looked like. It could use its long tail to fend off predators. Good thing that you don’t have to worry about these things anymore!

Not all dinosaurs were huge. In fact, some were really small. Take the “compsognathus.” This little critter stood just two feet tall and scurried around on two little bird-like legs. Compsognathus was a meat eater that fed on little lizards. We know this, because paleontologists found parts of fossilized lizard in the stomach cavity of a compsognathus fossil.

What happened to the dinosaurs? You can’t go and see a live T. Rex today at the zoo. That’s because dinosaurs are extinct. Some scientists believe that dinosaurs all died about 65 million years ago. According to fossil records, the extinction of the dinosaurs was quite sudden. Why? That’s something that we’ve been trying to answer since the first dinosaur bones were discovered and identified nearly 200 years ago.


For years, many scientists believed that extraordinary geologic events, such as super volcanoes, must have had something to do with it. These days, however, many scientists believe that the dinosaur extinction was caused by a giant meteorite from outer space. There are billions of meteors, or burning chunks of debris in outer space. Some meteors are quite large, but most are tiny, between the size of a sand grain and a baseball. Meteors are whizzing around all over the place in outer space. Occasionally, a meteor crashes toward Earth. When this happens, the meteor hits the atmosphere at an incredible speed, and usually burns up as it enters the uppermost parts of Earth’s atmosphere. Occasionally, bits and pieces of meteors survive their trip through the atmosphere and actually fall to Earth. This is very rare, but it does happen from time to time, and it is possible to find pieces of them on the ground. When part of a meteor survives the trip through the atmosphere and lands on Earth, the meteor becomes a meteorite, or space rock that has landed on Earth.


Now, let’s go back to dinosaur extinction. Some scientists think that the dinosaur extinction was caused by a giant meteorite from outer space. When the meteorite struck the Earth, it sent massive plumes of debris up into the atmosphere. This debris would have blocked out the light and energy of the sun, causing much of the Earth’s plant life to die, and severely lowering the temperature. Most creatures at the time would have been unable to adapt, and they would have died out before the skies had a chance to clear.

Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. But geologists have discovered at least one very large crater that was caused by a meteorite impact about the time that the dinosaurs became extinct. Whatever the case, we know that dinosaurs became extinct. And that made the way for new kinds of life on Earth. I, for one, will continue to study the Earth’s fossil record. I’m sure that we will find the answer some day. That’s because the clues about the history of the Earth are all there in the rocks. Ask my friend Gerry the Geologist. He will tell you the same thing!

Click on this link to move forward to Module E, Lessons 61 – 70


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