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Module E – Lessons 71 to 80


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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.)
Animals And Their Habitats     

Lesson 71 – Part Three: “Changing Environments”

NEW WORDS: Alex’s, Stevenson, aerosol, affirmed, analyzing, apparatuses, ascertaining, beaver’s, blockaded, ceaselessly, coaxed, colocated, derelict, detects, discards, disordered, ecosystems, efficaciously, encroachments, endemic, evaluating, hectic, impactful, impinge, implementing, invasive, kudzu, limiting, monolithic, nutshell, nutty, optimize, pandemonium, procedural, readjust, replant, repurpose, restraining, reutilize, sabotage, soybeans, specimens, sprays, stimulated, supplanted, sweetgum, unforeseen, unwraps, wrapper


Chapter One: Alex’s Nutty Lunch
Alex’s class is quite stimulated today. It’s a warm spring day, and Mrs. Stevenson affirmed that they could eat their lunch outside! Alex detects a spot that he likes under a sweetgum tree, and he unwraps his granola bar. He’s about to take a bite when he sees a squirrel digging a hole nearby. The squirrel finds a walnut and begins to nibble. Alex’s granola bar has nuts in it, too! He and the squirrel are eating nuts at the same time, and Alex thinks that this is quite funny. Alex wonders how the squirrel’s nut got there. Where did it come from, how did it get buried, and how did the squirrel know where to find it? Then he looks at his own food. He didn’t have to dig a hole in the ground to find his own lunch.

He knows that it came from the grocery store, but where did it come from before that? He is eating nuts just like the squirrel, but how did his get into a granola bar and also inside a plastic wrapper? Think about your lunch. Where did the parts of it come from? Soon, the squirrel finishes eating and runs away. Bits of shell are left behind next to a hole in the ground, and it looks a little disordered. “How long will that hole and nutshell stay like that?” Alex wonders.

Alex decides that he will be neater than the squirrel, so, he will throw away his own trash. Where does the trash go next? There is always a story of where a meal came from, and after each meal, there is a story of what is left over and what happens to it.


Chapter Two: Living Things Have Needs
Alex thinks about how both he and the squirrel got hungry. A hungry feeling means that you have a need for food, and a thirsty feeling means that you have a need for water. People and other animals need food and water to stay alive. Thus, all plants and animals have needs.

Animals need food to stay alive, they need water and air to stay alive, and they need shelter to stay alive. Plants need land and space to stay alive, they need water to stay alive, and they need air and sunlight to stay alive. Plants and animals live where they can get what they need. The place around a living thing is called an environment. Plants and animals live in many kinds of environments.

The desert is a dry environment. A pond is a wet environment. A forest floor is a shady environment. An environment has many parts, and the parts work together. Some parts of an environment are alive. Plants and animals are living parts of an environment. Other parts are not alive. Rocks and water are not alive, but they make up parts of environments. What are some parts of this environment?


Environments can change. Seasons are one kind of change. Fall, winter, spring, and summer happen every year. Weather can change every day. It can get warmer or colder, and it can become wet, dry, sunny, or cloudy. Changes impinge upon the living things in an environment. Plants and animals have to readjust to these changes to help them survive.

A deciduous tree discards its leaves in the fall. This helps it since there is less sunlight in winter. Some animals sleep all winter. This helps them when there is less food available. This fox’s fur changes from brown to white in winter. This helps the fox hide when its environment becomes snowy.

Some changes happen suddenly. Plants and animals cannot get ready for them. Food and water may be hard to find after an unforeseen change. Animals can lose their homes. Wildfires are a sudden change. Movement of rock and dirt can be a sudden change. Sometimes an environment changes too much. Living things in the area cannot survive. A change can be so impactful that it can even endanger or kill a whole group of living things. They become extinct. Extinct plants and animals will not live anywhere on Earth again.

A big change may have happened to the environment when dinosaurs lived. A meteor hit the Earth, and it caused changes to the air and land. Many living things could not survive this sudden change, as Earth’s ecosystems were sent into monolithic pandemonium.


Chapter Three: Plants Can Change Environments
A squirrel can change the environment. It can dig a hole and bury a nut. The nut can grow into a tree. Can a plant change the environment? Think about the plant called kudzu. It can climb and grow on top of other plants. This changes the environment for other plants. It blocks their light. Trees can begin growing in small cracks in rocks. When they run out of room, they can grow around the rocks. The roots stretch out into the space that they need. Sometimes the space where a tree is growing does not have enough room for the tree’s roots. The tree roots keep pushing. They can break sidewalks apart.

Plants need sunlight. Trees that grow large make it shady below them. This changes an environment that used to be sunny. Vines that need sunlight climb to where they can get it. They can shade other plants when they grow on top of them.

Plants that have always lived in an area are called native plants. Other plants can start growing in areas where they are not endemic. If these plants grow and spread so quickly that they invade the space of native plants, they are called invasive plants. Water hyacinths are invasive plants in this lake. What will happen if they are allowed to continue growing?


Chapter Four: Animals Can Change Environments
Animals can change environments as they live to meet their needs. Do you remember the squirrel that Alex saw when he was eating lunch? Squirrels bury nuts so that they can always find food. Nuts contain seeds that can grow into new trees if they are left in the ground. Squirrels don’t mean to plant new trees. It is just a change that can happen.

Other animals change their environments on purpose to help them meet their needs. For example, birds build nests to lay eggs in. Ants hollow out wood so that they can live in large groups. Inside, the ants build many rooms. The beaver is one animal that changes its environment to meet its needs. Beavers chew through trees to cut them down. They drag the trees into piles in streams. The pile in the stream is called a beaver dam. The dam blocks the stream water. The blockaded water floods the surrounding land. It makes a deep pond. The beaver swims and finds food in the pond. From beneath the water, the beaver can climb up inside a pile of trees and sticks and make a room inside. The room inside the pile is called a lodge. It is the beaver’s home.


When a beaver changes the environment to meet its needs, it does not mean to sabotage other living things. However, a beaver dam changes a stream environment so much that some other living things can’t survive there anymore. Certain fish need the running water of a stream to lay their eggs. They cannot survive in the still water of a beaver pond. Many plants that live near a stream cannot survive the change when the land is flooded with water.

Alex now knows how plants and animals can change environments. Maybe by making things like granola bars, people can change environments, too. Changes that people make can turn into damaging encroachments on other living things. What do you think was here before these houses?


Chapter Five: Humans Can Change Environments
Alex thinks about the granola bar. He wonders about how the granola bar came to be inside a package. Foods like granola bars are packaged in factories. Stores have foods in boxes, metal cans, glass jars, and plastic bottles. The materials used to package food came from the environment. Paper, plastic, and glass come from natural materials. Plants and oil are some natural materials used to make these packages. Humans gather these materials to package things like granola bars.

Humans change environments to meet their need for food. Humans farm, and farmers grow crops like corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats. When some farms are built they use a lot of land. Huge areas of land are cleared. Animals that lived on the land cannot live there anymore. Trees and other plants that lived there naturally are supplanted with crop plants. In meeting our need for food, people change the environment.


Some farmers spray crops with materials that help their crops grow, or kill bugs that might harm the plants. When it rains, some of the aerosol can run into nearby streams. The streams can become dirty. Then animals that live in the streams might become sick, and some may even die. Meeting our need for food can sometimes create important changes in our environment. How can you tell that this stream is not healthy?

Some things that are grown on farms are used to make food in factories. Like farms, factories are built on land that was once home to living things. Land is cleared to make room for both farms and factories. If we are not careful, our factories can pollute the air and water around them. Pollution can make nearby environments unsafe for plants and animals.

What happens when food leaves the factories? Trucks and trains transport it to stores all around the country. Highways and train tracks run through environments. This affects the places where animals live. Sometimes animals cannot safely cross hectic roads. They can have a hard time getting what they need to survive.


Chapter Six: Humans Can Help Environments
People change environments to meet their needs. But people can make choices that help environments, too! You probably help the environment in small ways every day. You help when you throw away your trash after lunch, like Alex did. You help when you walk or ride your bike someplace instead of riding in a car. Alex met his need for food. Then he protected the environment.

People can help the environment by limiting water usage. If you turn the water off while you brush your teeth, less clean water goes down the drain. Then your city has less dirty water to clean. This helps the environment. Another way to save water is to do a few full loads of laundry instead of many small loads.

People can help environments by producing less trash. The trash we put into garbage cans is collected and taken to garbage dumps. Trash from many people piles up there. It changes the environment. We can do things to make less trash. For example, we can take our own bags to the grocery store. We can reutilize bags instead of throwing them away. We can find ways to reuse other containers instead of throwing them away. We can recycle plastic paper, cardboard, metal, and glass. Recycling means turning the material into something new.


People can help environments in big ways, too. They can replant trees or prairies on large areas of land that have been changed by human activity. When derelict buildings or farmland are no longer used, people can repurpose the land to what it was like before.

Farmers can care for the environment. They can find ways to use less water. They can allow other plants and animals to use the land to make the soil healthy. They can avoid using materials that cause pollution. Some farmers grow food indoors and without soil. This way of growing food means less harm to the environment. Some farmers use hay or straw for restraining weeds. This way they do not need to use sprays that can wash into streams when it rains.

Alex wonders what he could do to help the environment where he lives. Perhaps he will plant a garden for bees and butterflies. This kind of garden can help replace lost homes for these animals. They lose their homes whenever people clear land to build buildings and roads. Or maybe Alex’s class can push for implementing recycling bin usage at school during lunch. Alex can also pick up litter around his neighborhood. You can, too!


Chapter Seven: Here’s Science in Action: Let’s Meet a Soil Tester
Since Alex saw the squirrel while he was eating his lunch, he learned more about the needs of plants and animals. He knows that people and animals get what they need from their environments. He also knows that his environment is colocated among other living things’ living spaces. Alex now tries to take care of the environment. He always throws away his trash. He picks up litter in the park with his family every Saturday. He got other families interested in recycling. He even coaxed his teacher to create a classroom recycling bin.

One day in class, Alex asks his teacher how people know whether the land and water are healthy. She explains that scientists are often evaluating the water to find out what’s in it. They spend time analyzing soil, too. They are ceaselessly ascertaining if soil or water contains chemicals that could hurt living things. Scientists test soil to find out whether it has the nutrients that plants need to grow.


The students want to know more. Alex’s teacher takes them to a farm. A soil scientist will show them how he tests the soil. He collects data about what he finds. His data help farmers know whether the soil needs more nutrients. If the soil is missing nutrients that plants need, farmers can add them. Plant fertilizers can help plants grow more efficaciously.

The scientist uses a sharp tool to take soil specimens from deep in the ground. Then he takes the samples to a lab. In the lab, special apparatuses look for metals, nutrients, and other chemicals in the soil. The scientist collects data again and again over time. He compares the data. He shares his results with farmers.

How do these data help farmers? Sometimes soil does not have enough nutrients. Sometimes it has too much. This scientist will use the data to optimize the nutrients in soil. He will use data to find out whether soil has enough water. Data will help him find out if the level of any chemicals in the soil is too high or too low. Data from soil samples help farmers grow healthy plants.

Alex asks the scientist how he got interested in studying soils. He tells Alex that when he was a boy he learned about a man named George Washington Carver. Professor Carver was a very important African-American botanist and inventor who studied plants and soil. He used the data that he collected to develop ways to keep soil healthy. He taught farmers a procedural method called crop rotation. He showed them how planting different crops each year could keep the soil from losing nutrients. As a result, farmers grew healthier plants.


Lesson 72 – Ghost Stories


NEW WORDS: Airedale’s, Bernard, Chambord, Closser, Granville, Maupassant, Myla, O’Shanter, Rouen, Tammy, alluding, anguish, apparition, aristocratic, aroused, arrivals, assented, astonishment, avidity, barriers, blowflies, breakfasted, brethren, caressed, chateau, collapsing, complexion, cunningly, deathly, diplomacy, disorders, dreamlike, ecstasy, embarrassment, explainable, gaunt, ghastly, glades, groomed, hallucination, highroad, hilt, homesickness, immovable, impartially, inconsequently, indefinable, indistinct, inmost, inquest, inscriptions, irresistible, jaunty, mansions, marquis, merit, mongrel, muzzles, nobodies, notified, numbing, pardonable, perplexity, pined, plaited, plaits, portal, quartered, quavering, questioningly, quivering, reassured, regiment, reproof, rhythmical, romped, rustle, sadnesses, scout’s, screens, sensitiveness, sequestration, serpents, snuffled, softened, somniferous, sorrowful, stony, straining, strays, sunstroke, supernatural, swiftness, threshold, translation, tunic, unalloyed, unbound, unconsciously, understandingly, unendurable, unexhausted, unrest, weaknesses

At the Gate 

By, Myla Jo Closser

A shaggy Airedale scented his way along the highroad. He had not been there before. But he was guided by the trail of his brethren who had preceded him. He had gone unwillingly upon this journey. Yet with the perfect training of dogs, he had accepted it without complaint. The path had been lonely, and his heart would have failed him, traveling as he must without his people. But the traces of countless dogs before him promised companionship of a sort at the end of the road.

The landscape had appeared arid at first. The translation from his recent agony into freedom from pain had been so numbing in its swiftness that it was some time before he could fully appreciate the pleasant dog-country that he was passing through. There were woods with leaves on the ground that he could scurry through. There were long grassy slopes for extended runs. And there were lakes into which he might plunge for sticks, and bring them back to, well, who? But he did not complete his thought. You see, the boy was not with him. A little wave of homesickness possessed him.

It made his mind easier to see far ahead a great gate as high as the heavens, wide enough for all. He understood that only man built such barriers. And by straining his eyes, he fancied that he could discern humans passing through to whatever lay beyond. He broke into a run, that he might the more quickly gain this enclosure made beautiful by men and women. But his thoughts outran his pace. Now he remembered that he had left the family behind. And again, this lovely new compound would not be perfect, since it would lack the family.



The scent of the dogs grew very strong now. And coming nearer, he discovered, to his astonishment, that of the myriads of those who had arrived ahead of him, thousands were still gathered on the outside of the portal. They sat in a wide circle spreading out on each side of the entrance. There were big, little, curly, handsome, mongrel, and thoroughbred dogs of every age, complexion, and personality. All were apparently waiting for something or someone. And at the pad of the Airedale’s feet on the hard road, they arose and looked in his direction.

That their interest passed, as soon as they discovered the newcomer to be a dog, puzzled him. In his former dwelling-place, a four-footed brother was greeted with enthusiasm when he was a friend. He was met with suspicious diplomacy when he was a stranger. And he was given sharp reproof when he was an enemy. But never had he been utterly ignored like this.

He remembered something that he had read many times on great buildings with lofty entrances. “Dogs not admitted,” the signs had said. And he feared that this might be the reason for the waiting circle outside the gate. It might be that this noble portal stood as the dividing-line between mere dogs and humans. But he had been a member of the family. He had romped with them in the living room. He had sat at meals with them in the dining room. He had gone upstairs at night with them. And the thought that he was to be “kept out” would be unendurable.


He despised the passive dogs that he saw. They should be treating a barrier after the fashion of their old country. They should be leaping against it, barking, and scratching the nicely painted door. He bounded up the last little hill to show them by example. He was still full of the rebellion of the world! But he found no door to leap against. He could see large masses of people beyond the entrance. Yet no dog crossed the threshold. They continued in their patient ring, their somniferous gaze upon the winding road.

He now advanced cautiously to examine the gate. It occurred to him that it must be fly time in this region. That was the time of year when houseflies and blowflies were at their most annoying. So, he did not wish to make himself ridiculous before all these strangers by trying to bolt through an invisible mesh like the one that had baffled him when he was a little chap. That’s what the humans had used to keep the flies at bay.

Yet there were no screens here, oddly, and despair entered his soul. What bitter punishment these poor beasts must have suffered before they learned to stay on this side of the arch that led to the human beings! What had they done on Earth to merit this? Stolen bones troubled his conscience, runaway days, sleeping in the best chair until the key clicked in the lock. These were sins.


At that moment, an English bull terrier approached him. He was white, with liver-colored spots and a jaunty manner. And he was snuffling in a friendly way. No sooner had the bull terrier smelt his collar than he expressed his joy at meeting him. The Airedale’s stony reserve was quite softened by this welcome. Though, to be frank, he did not know yet just what to make of it.

“I know you! I know you!” exclaimed the bull terrier. Then he added, inconsequently, “What’s your name?”

“Tam O’Shanter. They call me Tammy,” was the answer, with a pardonable break in the voice.

“I know them,” said the bull terrier. “Nice folks.”

“Best ever,” said the Airedale, trying to be nonchalant, and scratching a flea which was not there. “I don’t remember you. When did you know them?”

“About fourteen tags ago, when they were first married. We keep track of time here by the license-tags. I had four.”

“This is my first and only one. You were before my time, I guess,” said the Airedale. He felt young and shy.

“Come for a walk, and tell me all about them,” was his new friend’s invitation.

“Aren’t we allowed in there?” asked Tam. He was looking toward the gate.


“Sure. You can go in whenever you want to. Some of us do at first, but we don’t stay.”

Tam asked, “Like it better outside?”

“No, no. It isn’t that.”

“Then why are all you fellows hanging around here? Any old dog can see that it’s better beyond the arch.”

“You see, we’re waiting for our folks to come,” said the terrier.

The Airedale grasped it at once. He nodded understandingly. Then he said, “I felt that way when I came along the road. It wouldn’t be what it’s supposed to be without them. It wouldn’t be the perfect place.”

“Not to us,” said the bull terrier.

“Fine! I’ve stolen bones, but it must be that I have been forgiven, if I’m to see them here again. It’s the great good place all right. But look here,” he added as a new thought struck him. “Do they wait for us?”

The older inhabitant coughed in slight embarrassment. “The humans couldn’t do that very well. It wouldn’t be the thing to have them hang around outside for just a dog. That wouldn’t be dignified.”


“Quite right,” agreed Tam. “I’m glad they go straight to their mansions. I’d hate to have them missing me as I am missing them.” He sighed. “But, then, they wouldn’t have to wait so long.”

“Oh, well, they’re getting on. Don’t be discouraged,” comforted the terrier. “And in the meantime, it’s like a big hotel in summer, watching all of the new arrivals. See, there’s something going on right now.”

All the dogs were aroused to excitement by a little figure. It was making its way uncertainly up the last slope. Half of them started to meet it. They crowded about it in a loving, eager pack.

“Look out! Don’t scare it,” cautioned the older animals. Word was quickly passed to those who were the farthest from the gate. “Quick! Quick! A baby’s come!”

Before they had entirely assembled, though, a gaunt yellow hound pushed through the crowd. He gave one sniff at the small child. Then, with a yelp of joy, he crouched at its feet. The baby embraced the hound in recognition. Then, the two moved toward the gate. Just outside, the hound stopped to speak to an aristocratic St. Bernard who had been friendly.

“Sorry to leave you, old fellow,” he said. “But I’m going in to watch over the kid. You see, I’m all she has up here.”


The bull terrier looked at the Airedale for appreciation.

“That’s the way we do it,” he said proudly.

“Yes, but?” The Airedale put his head on one side in perplexity.

“Yes, but what?” asked the guide.

“What about the dogs that don’t have any people. I guess you’d call them the nobodies‘ dogs?”

“That’s the best of all. Oh, everything is thought out here. Crouch down. You must be tired. Now watch,” said the bull terrier.

Soon they spied another small form making the turn in the road. He wore a Boy Scout’s uniform, but he was a little fearful since this was such a new adventure. The dogs rose again and snuffled, but the better groomed of the circle held back. In their place, a pack of odds and ends of the company ran down to meet him. The Boy Scout was reassured by their friendly attitude. Then, after petting them impartially, he chose an old-fashioned black and tan, and the two passed in.

Tam looked questioningly. “They didn’t know each other!” he exclaimed.


The terrier responded, “But they’ve always wanted to. That’s one of the boys who used to beg for a dog, but his father wouldn’t let him have one. So, all our strays wait for just such little fellows to come along. Every boy gets a dog. And every dog gets a master.”

“I expect that the boy’s father would like to know that now,” commented the Airedale. “No doubt he thinks quite often, ‘I wish I’d let him have a dog.'”

The bull terrier laughed. “You’re pretty near the Earth yet, aren’t you?”

Tam admitted it. “I have a lot of sympathy with fathers and with boys, having them both in the family, and a mother, as well.”

The bull terrier leaped up in astonishment. He cried out, “You don’t mean to say they keep a boy?”

Tam grinned and said, “Sure! Greatest boy on Earth. Ten this year.”

“Well, well, this is news! I wish they’d kept a boy when I was there.”

The Airedale looked at his new friend intently. “See here, who are you?” he demanded.

But the other hurried on. “I used to run away from them just to play with a boy. They’d punish me, and I always wanted to tell them it was their fault for not getting one.”


“Who are you, anyway?” repeated Tam. “Whose dog were you?”

“You’ve already guessed. I see it in your quivering snout. I’m the old dog that had to leave them about ten years ago.”

Tam asked, “Their old dog Bully?”

“Yes, I’m Bully.” They nosed each other with deeper affection, then strolled about the glades shoulder-to-shoulder. Bully then more eagerly pressed for news. “Tell me, how are they getting along?”

Tam answered, “Very well indeed. They’ve paid for the house.”

“I suppose you occupy the kennel?”

“No. They said that they couldn’t stand it to see another dog in your old place.”

Bully stopped to howl gently. “That touches me. It’s generous of you to tell me that. To think that they missed me!”

For a little while, they went on in silence. But evening fell, and the light from the golden streets inside of the city gave the only glow to the scene. Bully grew nervous and suggested that they go back. “We can’t see so well at night. And I like to be pretty close to the path, especially toward morning.”


Tam assented. He said, trying to be helpful, “And I will point them out. You might not know them just at first.”

Bully said, “Oh, we know them. Sometimes the babies have so grown up that they’re rather hazy in their recollection of how we look. They think we’re bigger than we are. But you can’t fool us dogs.”

“It’s understood,” Tam cunningly arranged, “that when he or she arrives, you’ll sort of make them feel at home while I wait for the boy?”

“That’s the best plan,” agreed Bully, kindly. “And if by any chance the little fellow should come first, there’s been a lot of them this summer, of course, you’ll introduce me?”

“I shall be proud to do it,” said Tam.

And so with muzzles sunk between their paws, and with their eyes straining down the pilgrims’ road, they waited outside the gate.


A Ghost

By, Guy de Maupassant

Translated for this volume by M. Charles Sommer.
We were speaking of sequestration, alluding to a recent lawsuit. It was at the close of a friendly evening in a very old mansion near Granville Street. And each of the guests had a story to tell, which he assured us was true.

Then the old Marquis de Chambord, eighty-two years old, rose from his seat. He came forward to lean on the mantelpiece. He told the following story in his slightly quavering voice.

“I, too, have witnessed a strange thing. It was so strange that it has been the nightmare of my life. It happened fifty-six years ago. Yet there is not a month when I do not see it again in my dreams. From that day, I have borne a mark, a stamp of fear. Do you understand?”

“Yes, for ten minutes I was a prey to terror. It was so powerful that – ever since – a constant dread has remained in my soul. Unexpected sounds chill me to the heart. Objects which I can ill distinguish in the evening shadows make me long to flee. I am afraid at night.”


“No! I would not have admitted such a thing before reaching my present age. But now I may tell everything. One may fear imaginary dangers at eighty-two years old. But before actual danger, I have never turned back, my friends.”

“That affair so upset my mind to the core. It filled me with such a deep, mysterious unrest that I never could tell it. I kept it in that inmost part, that corner where we conceal our sadnesses, our shameful secrets, and all the weaknesses of our life which cannot be confessed.”

“I will tell you that strange happening just as it took place. But I will make no attempt to explain it. Unless I went mad for one short hour, it must be explainable, though. Yet I was not mad, and I will prove it to you. Imagine what you will. Here are the simple facts.”

“It was in 1827, in July. I was quartered with my regiment in Rouen. One day, as I was strolling on the quay, I came across a man who I believed that I recognized. However, I could not place him with certainty. I instinctively went more slowly, ready to pause. The stranger saw my impulse. He looked at me, and he then fell into my arms.”


“It was a friend from my younger days. I had been very fond of him. He seemed to have become half a century older in the five years since I had seen him. His hair was white, and he stooped in his walk. It was as if he were exhausted. He understood my amazement, and he told me the story of his life.”

“A terrible event had broken him down. He had fallen madly in love with a young girl. He had married her in a kind of dreamlike ecstasy. After a year of unalloyed bliss and unexhausted passion, she had died suddenly of heart disease. She was, no doubt, killed by love itself.”

“He had left the country on the very day of her funeral. He had come to live in his hotel at Rouen. He remained there, solitary and desperate, grief slowly mining him. He was so wretched that he constantly thought of suicide.”

“‘As I thus came across you again,’ he said, ‘I shall ask a great favor of you. I want you to go to my chateau and get some papers that I urgently need. They are in the writing desk of my room. Alas, it was OUR room. I cannot send a servant or a lawyer. The errand must be kept private. I want absolute silence.'”

“‘I shall give you the key of the room, which I locked carefully myself before leaving, and the key to the writing-desk. I shall also give you a note for the gardener, who will let you in.'”


“‘Come to breakfast with me tomorrow. We’ll talk the matter over.'”

“I promised to render him that slight service. It would mean a pleasant excursion for me, as his home was not more than twenty-five miles from Rouen. I could go there in an hour on horseback.”

“At ten o’clock the next day I was with him. We breakfasted alone together, yet he did not utter more than twenty words. He asked me to excuse him. The thought that I was going to visit the room where his happiness lay shattered, upset him, he said. Indeed, he seemed perturbed and worried. It was as if some mysterious struggle were taking place in his soul.”

“At last, he explained exactly what I was to do. It was very simple. I was to take two packages of letters and some papers, locked in the first drawer at the right of the desk for which I had the key. He added this.”

“‘I need not ask you not to glance at them.'”

“I was almost hurt by his words, and told him so, rather sharply. He stammered back at me.”

“‘Forgive me. I suffer so much!'”

“And tears came to his eyes. I left about one o’clock to accomplish my errand. The day was radiant, and I rushed through the meadows. I was listening to the song of the larks, and to the rhythmical beat of my sword on my riding-boots.”


“Then I entered the forest, and I set my horse to walking. Branches of the trees softly caressed my face. And, now and then, I would catch a leaf between my teeth and bite it with avidity. I was full of the joy of life, such as fills you without reason. I felt a tumultuous happiness that was almost indefinable, a kind of magical strength.”

“As I neared the house, I took out the letter for the gardener. I noted with surprise that it was sealed. I was so amazed and so annoyed that I almost turned back without fulfilling my mission. Then I thought that I should thus display over-sensitiveness and bad taste. My friend might have sealed it unconsciously, worried as he was.”

“The manor looked as though it had been deserted the last twenty years. The gate was wide-open and rotten. One wondered how it held itself up. Grass filled the paths, and you could not tell the flower-beds from the lawn.”

“At the noise that I made kicking a shutter, an old man came out from a side-door. He was apparently amazed to see me there. I dismounted from my horse and gave him the letter. He read it once or twice, turned it over, looked at me with suspicion, and asked, ‘Well, what do you want?'”

“I answered sharply, ‘You must know it, as you have read your master’s orders. I want to get in the house.'”


“He appeared overwhelmed. He said, ‘So, you are going in, in, in his room?'”

“I was getting impatient. ‘By Jove, man!’ I said. ‘Do you intend to question me, by chance?'”

“He stammered, ‘No, sir, only, it has not been opened since, since the death. If you will wait five minutes, I will go in to see whether.'”

“I interrupted angrily, ‘See here, are you joking? You can’t go in that room, as I have the key!’ He no longer knew what to say.”

“‘Then, sir, I will show you the way.'”

“I responded, ‘Show me the stairs and leave me alone. I can find it without your help.'”

“‘But, still, sir,’ he objected.”

“Then I lost my temper. I yelled, ‘Now be quiet! Else you’ll be sorry!’ I roughly pushed him aside and went into the house. I first went through the kitchen. Then, I crossed two small rooms occupied by the man and his wife. From there I stepped into a large hall. I went up the stairs, and I recognized the door that my friend had described to me. I opened it with ease and went in.”


“The room was so dark that, at first, I could not distinguish anything. I paused, arrested by that moldy and stale odor peculiar to deserted and condemned rooms. That is, of dead rooms. Then gradually my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom. I now saw rather clearly a great room in disorder. There was a bed without sheets, that still had its mattresses and pillows, one of which bore the deep print of an elbow or a head. It was oddly as if someone had just been resting on it.”

“The chairs seemed all in confusion. I noticed that a door, probably that of a closet, had remained ajar. I first went to the window and opened it to get some light. But the hinges of the outside shutters were so rusted that I could not loosen them. I even tried to break them with my sword, but I did not succeed. As those fruitless attempts irritated me, and as my eyes were by now adjusted to the dim light, I gave up hope of getting more light, and I went toward the writing-desk.”

“I sat down in an armchair, folded back the top, and opened the drawer. It was full to the edge. I needed but three packages, which I knew how to distinguish. So, I started looking for them. I was straining my eyes to decipher the inscriptions, when I thought that I heard, or rather felt, a rustle behind me. I took no notice, thinking that a draft had lifted some curtain.”


“But a minute later, another movement, almost indistinct, sent a disagreeable little shiver over my skin. It was so ridiculous to be moved thus even so slightly, that I would not turn around, being ashamed. I had just discovered the second package that I needed, and I was on the point of reaching for the third. But then, I heard a great and sorrowful sigh, close to my shoulder. It made me give a mad leap two yards away! In my jump, I had turned around, and my hand was on the hilt of my sword. Surely had I not felt that, I would have fled like a coward.”

“A tall woman, dressed in white, was facing me. She was standing behind the chair in which I had sat a just second before. Such a shudder ran through me that I almost fell back! Oh, no one who has not felt them can understand those gruesome and ridiculous terrors! The soul melts, your heart seems to stop, and your whole body becomes limp as a sponge. Your innermost parts feel like they are collapsing.”

“I do not believe in ghosts, and yet I broke down before the hideous fear of the dead. And I suffered, oh, I suffered more in a few minutes, in the irresistible anguish of supernatural dread, than I have suffered in all the rest of my life!”


“If she had not spoken, I might have died. But she did speak. She spoke in a soft and plaintive voice which set my nerves vibrating. I could not say that I regained my self-control. No, I was past knowing what I did. But the kind of pride that I have in myself, as well as a military pride, helped me to maintain, almost in spite of myself, an honorable countenance. I was making a pose, a pose for myself, and for her, whatever she was, woman, or phantom. I realized this later, for at the time of the apparition, I could think of nothing. I was deathly afraid.”

“She said, ‘Oh, you can be of great help to me, sir!’ I tried to answer, but I was unable to utter one word. A vague sound came from my throat. She continued, ‘Will you? You can save me, cure me. I suffer terribly. I always suffer. I suffer, oh, I suffer!'”

“And she sat down gently in my chair. She looked at me. ‘Will you?’ she pined. I nodded my head, being still paralyzed. Then she handed me a woman’s comb of tortoise-shell. She murmured, ‘Comb my hair! Oh, comb my hair! That will cure me. Look at my head, how I suffer! And my hair, how it hurts!'”


“Her loose hair, very long, very black, it seemed to me, hung over the back of the chair. It was touching the floor. Why did I do it? Why did I, shivering, accept that comb? And why did I take between my hands her long hair. It left on my skin a ghastly impression of cold, as if I had handled serpents. I do not know why I did it. That feeling still clings about my fingers, and I shiver when I recall it.”

“I combed her. I handled, I know not how, that hair of ice. I bound and unbound it. I plaited it as one plaits a horse’s mane. She sighed, bent her head, seemed happy. Suddenly she said, ‘Thank you!’ And she tore the comb from my hands, and she fled through the door which I had noticed was half-opened.”

“Left alone, I had for a few seconds the hazy feeling that one feels in waking up from a nightmare. Then I recovered myself. I ran to the window and broke the shutters by my furious assault. A stream of light poured in. I rushed to the door through which that spectral being had gone. I found it locked and immovable.”

“Then a fever of flight seized on me, a panic, the true panic of battle. I quickly grasped the three packages of letters from the open desk. I crossed the room running. I took the steps of the stairway four at a time. I found myself outside, I don’t know how. I saw my horse close by, and I mounted the steed in one giant leap and left at a full gallop. I didn’t stop till I reached Rouen and drew up in front of my house. Having thrown the reins to my orderly, I flew to my room and locked myself in to think.”


“Then, for an hour, I asked myself if I had been the victim of a hallucination. Certainly I must have had some kind of nervous shock. Perhaps it was one of those brain disorders that gives rise to miracles, to which the supernatural owes its strength.”

“And I had almost concluded that it was a vision, an illusion of my senses, when I came near to the window. My eyes, by chance, looked down. My tunic was covered with hairs. They were long women’s hairs which had entangled themselves around the buttons! I took them off one-by-one and threw them out of the window with trembling fingers.”

“I then called my orderly. I felt too perturbed, too moved, to go and see my friend on that day. Besides, I needed to think over what I should tell him. I had his letters delivered to him. He gave a receipt to the soldier. He inquired after me and was told that I was not well. I had had a sunstroke, or something. He seemed distressed. I went to see him the next day, early in the morning, bent on telling him the truth. He had gone out the evening before and had not come back.”


“I returned the same day, but he had not been seen. I waited a week. He did not come back. I notified the police. They searched for him everywhere, but no one could find any trace of his passing or of his retreat. A careful search was made in the deserted manor. No suspicious clue was discovered. There was no sign that a woman had been concealed there. The inquest gave no result, and so the search went no further. And in fifty-six years I have learned nothing more. I never found out the truth.”


Lesson 73 – Ghost Stories


NEW WORDS: Elsie, Harris, Hinkle, Jenkins, Lavinia, Lavinia’s, Maisey, Maisey’s, Ouija, Wainright, aboveboard, affliction, afterworld, agility, aimless, angular, appearing, beginner, brassily, brogans, bulliest, carped, chattering, cheating, clerks, cocky, concealing, corrugated, countered, coyly, crisped, darlingest, demobilize, denial, disapprove, discontent, distinctly, dozed, dratted, driveling, duckiest, dunned, elaborately, elapsed, faculties, fads, fanatics, fascination, fervently, filtered, finality, flirt, flirtatious, footstep, forgivingly, frightful, gait, gurgled, harken, haunt, haunting, hoodoos, hopelessly, huffily, humbly, hunt’s, huntress, husbandly, hussy, hysterics, idiotic, illuminated, imbecility, inexorable, invitingly, kindling, kitchenward, leered, lithely, majestically, manipulators, maroon, meself, missus, missus’s, mornin, musty, outta, paradise, patronizingly, permanently, pestering, phoned, pitying, poppycock, premonitory, propositions, protruding, purgatory, queerly, rebuked, receipts, reckons, recollections, reminiscent, rimmed, sarcastically, sensibly, shirtwaist, simpered, skewed, spasm, sprinkle’s, staccatoed, stenographer, stupidly, subjecting, suddenness, swoon, tangle, telescoped, unaccustomed, unghostly, vaguest, waspishly, wife’s, wrest, writer’s, yer

A Shady Plot

By, Elsie Brown

So, I sat down to write a ghost story. Jenkins was responsible. “Harris,” he had said to me, “give us another on the supernatural this time. Something to give them the horrors. That’s what the public wants, and your ghosts are live propositions.”

Well, I was in no position to contradict Jenkins, for, as yet, his magazine had been the only one to print my stuff. So, I had said, “Precisely!” in the deepest voice that I was capable of. Then I went out.

I hadn’t the shade of an idea for a story. But at the time, that didn’t worry me in the least. You see, I had often been like that before. And in the end, things had always come my way. I didn’t in the least know how or why. It had all been rather mysterious. You understand, I didn’t specialize in ghost stories, but more or less they seemed to specialize in me.


A ghost story had been the first fiction that I had written. Curious how that idea for a plot had come to me out of nowhere after I had chased inspiration in vain for months! Even now, whenever Jenkins wanted a ghost, he called on me. And I had never found it healthy to contradict Jenkins. Jenkins always seemed to have an uncanny knowledge as to when the landlord or the grocer were pestering me. And he dunned me for a ghost. And somehow I’d always been able to dig one up for him. So, I’d begun to get a bit cocky as to my ability.

So, I went home and sat down before my desk and sucked at the end of my pencil and waited. But nothing happened. Pretty soon, my mind began to wander off on other things. These were decidedly unghostly and material things, such as my wife’s shopping, and how on Earth I was going to cure her of her alarming tendency to take every new fad that came along and work it to death. But I realized that this would never get me any place, so I went back to staring at the ceiling.


“This writing business is delightful, isn’t it?” I said sarcastically at last, out loud, too. You see, I had reached the stage of imbecility when I was talking to myself.

“Yes,” said a voice at the other end of the room. “I should say it is!”

I admit that I jumped. Then I looked around. It was twilight by this time, and I had forgotten to turn on the lamp. The other end of the room was full of shadows and furniture. I sat staring at it and presently noticed something just taking shape. It was exactly like watching one of these moving picture cartoons being put together. First an arm came out, then a bit of sleeve of a stiff white shirtwaist. Then there was a leg and a plaid skirt, until, at last, there she was “all complete,” whoever she was.

She was long and angular, with enormous fishy eyes behind big bone-rimmed spectacles. And her hair wax in a tight wad at the back of her head. Yes, I seemed to be able to see right through her head! And there was her jaw. Well, it looked so solid that, for the moment, I began to doubt my very own senses and believe that she was real, after all.


She came over and stood in front of me and glared. Yes, she positively glared down at me. But, to my knowledge, I had never laid eyes on this woman before, to say nothing of giving her cause to look at me like that.

I sat still, feeling pretty helpless I can tell you. But at last she barked, “What are you gaping at?”

I swallowed, though I hadn’t been chewing anything. “Nothing,” I said. “Absolutely nothing. My dear lady, I was merely waiting for you to tell me why you had come. And excuse me, but do you always come in sections like this? I should think that your body parts might get mixed up sometimes.”

“Didn’t you send for me?” she crisped.

Imagine how I felt at that! “Why, no. I don’t seem to remember.”

She barked back, “Look here. Haven’t you been calling on heaven and Earth all afternoon to help you write a story?” I nodded, and then a possible explanation occurred to me, and my spine got cold. Suppose this was the ghost of a stenographer applying for a job! I had had an advertisement in the paper recently. I opened my mouth to explain that the position was filled, and permanently so. But she stopped me.


She said, “And think about when I got back to the office from my last case and was ready for you. Didn’t you switch off to something else and sit there driveling so that I couldn’t attract your attention until just now?”

I muttered, “I’m very sorry, really.”

“Well, you needn’t be. That’s because I just came to tell you to stop bothering us for assistance. You ain’t going to get it. We’re going on STRIKE!”

“What!” I cried.

She rebuked me. “You don’t have to yell at me.”

“I didn’t mean to yell,” I said humbly. “But I’m afraid that I didn’t quite understand you. You said you were, what?”

“Going on strike. Don’t you know what a strike is? Not another plot do you get from us!”

I stared at her and wet my lips. “Is that where my ideas have been coming from?”

“Of course. Where else?” she noted.

“But my ghosts aren’t a bit like you,” I told her.

“If they were, people wouldn’t believe in them.” She draped herself on the top of my desk among the pens and ink bottles and leaned towards me. “In the other life, I used to write.”


“You did, eh?”

She nodded. Then she said, “But that has nothing to do with my present form. It might have, but I gave it up at last for that very reason, and went to work as a reader on a magazine.” She sighed, and rubbed the end of her long eagle nose with a reminiscent finger. “Those were terrible days, and the memory of them made me mistake purgatory for paradise. And, at last, when I attained my present state of being, I made up my mind that something should be done. I found others who had suffered similarly, and between us we organized ‘The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau.’ We scout around until we find a writer without ideas, and with a mind soft enough to accept impression. The case is brought to the attention of the main office, and one of us assigned to it. When that case is finished, we bring in a report.”

“But I never saw you before!”

“And you wouldn’t have this time if I hadn’t come to announce the strike. Many a time I’ve leaned on your shoulder when you’ve thought that you were thinking hard.” I groaned and clutched my hair. The very idea of that horrible scarecrow so much as touching me! And wouldn’t my wife be shocked?! I shivered. “But,” she continued, “that’s at an end. We’ve been called out of our beds a little too often in recent years, and now we’re through.”


“But my dear madam, I assure you that I have had nothing to do with that. I hope that I’m properly grateful and all that, you see.”

“Oh, it isn’t you,” she explained patronizingly. “It’s those Ouija board fanatics. There was a time when we had nothing much to occupy us and used to haunt a little on the side, purely for amusement, but not anymore. We’ve had to give up haunting almost entirely. We sit at a desk and answer questions now. And such questions!” She shook her head hopelessly, and taking off her glasses wiped them, and put them back on her nose again.

“But what have I got to do with this?” I chirped.

She gave me a pitying look and rose. “You’re to exert your influence. Get all your friends and acquaintances to stop using the Ouija board, and then we’ll start helping you to write.”


Then, there was a footstep outside my door. “John! Oh, John!” called the voice of my wife.

I waved my arms at the ghost with something of the motion of a beginner when learning to swim. “Madam, I must ask you to leave, and at once. Consider the impression if you were seen here.”


The ghost nodded, and began, very sensibly, I thought, to demobilize and evaporate. First, the brogans on her feet grew misty until I could see the floor through them. Then the affection spread to her knees and gradually extended upward. By this time, my wife was opening the door. “Don’t forget the strike,” she repeated, while her lower jaw began to disintegrate. And as my Lavinia crossed the room to me, the last vestige of her ear faded into space.

“John, why in the world are you sitting in the dark?”

“Just thinking, my dear.”

“Thinking, rubbish! You were talking out loud,” she carped.

I remained silent while she lit the lamps, thankful that her back was turned to me. When I am nervous or excited, there’s a muscle in my face that starts to twitch. And this pulls up one corner of my mouth and gives the appearance of an idiotic grin. So far, I had managed to conceal this affliction from Lavinia.

Then she piped up, “You know, I bought the loveliest thing this afternoon. Everybody’s wild over them!”

I remembered her craze for taking up new fads and a premonitory chill crept up the back of my neck. “It, it isn’t!” I began and stopped. I simply couldn’t ask. The possibility was too horrible.


She confirmed my fear. “You’d never guess in the world. It’s the duckiest, darlingest Ouija board, and so cheap! I got it at a bargain sale. Why, what’s the matter, John?”

I felt things slipping. “Nothing,” I said, and looked around for the ghost. Suppose that she had lingered, and upon hearing what my wife had said should suddenly appear. Like all sensitive women, Lavinia was subject to hysterics.

“But you looked so funny, John.”

“I always do when I’m interested,” I gulped. “But don’t you think that was a foolish thing to buy?”

“Foolish! Oh, John! Foolish! And after me getting it for you!”

“For me! What do you mean?”

“To help you write your stories. Why, for instance, suppose that you wanted to write a historical novel? You wouldn’t have to wear your eyes out over those musty old books in the public library. All you’d have to do would be to get out your Ouija and talk to Napoleon, or William the Conqueror, or Helen of Troy. Well, maybe not Helen. Anyhow, you’d have all of the local color that you’d need, and without a speck of trouble. And think how easy writing your short stories will be now.”

“But Lavinia, you surely don’t believe in Ouija boards.”


“I don’t know, John. They are awfully thrilling.” She had seated herself on the arm of my chair and was looking dreamily across the room. I started and turned around. There was nothing there, and I sank back with relief. So far, so good.

“Oh, certainly, they’re thrilling all right. That’s just it. They’re a darn sight too thrilling. They’re positively devilish. Now, Lavinia, you have plenty of sense, and I want you to get rid of that thing just as soon as you can. Take it back and get something else.”

My wife crossed her knees and stared at me through narrowed lids. “John Harris,” she said distinctly. “I don’t propose to do anything of the kind. In the first place, they won’t exchange things bought at a bargain sale. And in the second, if you aren’t interested in the afterworld, I am. So there!” And she slid down and walked from the room before I could think of a single thing to say. She walked very huffily.

Well, it was like that all the rest of the evening. Just as soon as I mentioned Ouija boards, I felt things begin to cloud up. So, I decided to let it go for the present, in the hope that she might be more reasonable later.

After supper, I had another try at the writing. But as my mind continued a perfect blank, I gave it up and went off to bed.


The next day was Saturday, and it being near the end of the month and a particularly busy day, I left home early without seeing Lavinia. Understand, I haven’t quite reached the point where I can give my whole time to writing. And being bookkeeper for a lumber company does help with the grocery bills and pay for Lavinia’s fancy shopping. Friday had been a half holiday, and, of course, when I got back the work was piled up pretty high. It was so high, in fact, that ghosts and stories, and everything else, vanished in a perfect tangle of figures.

When I got off of the street car that evening, my mind was still churning. I remember now that I noticed, even from the corner, how brightly the house was illuminated. But at the time, that didn’t mean anything to me. I recall, as I went up the steps and opened the door, I murmured, “Nine-times-nine is eighty-one!”

And then Maisey met me in the hall. She belted out, with her distinctive Scottish brogue, “Master Harris! The Missus reckons that yer‘ lost! She said that she’d phoned ye this mornin‘ to be home early, but for the lord’s sake for ye to not stop to arg-ya’ now, but to harken to get ready for the company, an’ to come on down.”

Some memory of a message given me by one of the clerks filtered back through my brain. But I had been hunting three lost receipts at the time, and had completely forgotten it.

“Company?” I said stupidly. “What company?”


“The Missus’s Ouija board party,” said Maisey. Then rolling her eyes, she disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.

I must have gone upstairs and dressed and come down again. I presently found myself standing in the dimly lighted lower hall wearing my second best suit and a fresh shirt and collar. But I have no recollections of the process. There was a great chattering coming from our little parlor, and I went over to the half-opened door and peered through.

The room was full of women, most of them elderly, whom I recognized as belonging to my wife’s Book Club. They were sitting in couples, and between each couple was a Ouija board! The mournful squeak of the legs of the moving triangular things on which they rested their fingers filled the air and mixed in with the conversation. I looked around for the ghost, with my heart sunk down to zero. What if Lavinia should see her and go mad before my eyes! And then my wife came and tapped me on the shoulder.

“John,” she said in her sweetest voice, and I noticed that her cheeks were very pink and her eyes very bright. My wife is never so pretty as when she’s doing something she knows that I disapprove of. “John, dear, I know that you’ll help us out. Mrs. William Augustus Wainright phoned at the last moment to say that she couldn’t possibly come. So, that leaves poor Laura Hinkle without a partner. Now, John, I know that some people can work a Ouija by themselves. But Laura can’t, and she’ll just have a horrible time unless you partner up with her.”


“Me!?” I gasped. “Me! I won’t!” But even as I spoke, she had taken my arm, and the next thing I knew I was sitting with the thing on my knees and Miss Laura Hinkle sitting opposite of me. She was grinning in my face like a flirtatious crocodile.

“I won’t,” I began.

“Now, Mr. Harris, don’t you be shy.” Miss Laura Hinkle leaned forward and shook a bony finger almost under my chin.

I tried to resist. “I’m not! Only I say I won’t!”

She countered, “No, it’s very easy, really. You just put the tips of your fingers right here beside the tips of my fingers.” And the first thing I knew, she had taken my hands and was coyly holding them in the position desired. She released them presently, and the little board began to slide around in an aimless sort of way. There seemed to be some force tugging it about. I looked at my partner, first with suspicion, and then with a vast relief. If she was doing it, then all that talk about spirits must be poppycock. Oh, I did hope that Miss Laura Hinkle was cheating with that board!

“Ouija, dear, won’t you tell us something?” she cooed. And at that very instant, the thing seemed to take life. It rushed to the upper left hand corner of the board and hovered with its front leg on the word “Yes.” Then it began to fly around so fast that I gave up any attempt to follow it. My companion was bending forward and had started to spell out loud.


“‘T-r-a-i-t-o-r.’ Traitor! Why, what does she mean?”

“I haven’t the vaguest notion,” I said desperately. My collar felt very tight.

“But she must mean something. Ouija, dear, won’t you explain yourself more fully?”

“‘A-s-k h-i-m!’ Ask him. Ask who, Ouija?”

I blurted out, “I’m going.” I choked and tried to get up, but my fingers seemed stuck to that dreadful board, and I dropped back again.

Apparently Miss Hinkle had not heard my protest. The thing was going around faster than ever, and she was reading the message silently. Her brow was corrugated, and the light of the huntress shone intensely in her pale blue eyes.

“Why, she says it’s YOU, Mr. Harris. What in heaven does she mean? Ouija, won’t you tell us who is talking?”

I groaned, but that inexorable board continued to spell. I always did hate a spelling match! Miss Hinkle was again following it aloud.

“‘H-e-l-e-n.’ Helen!” She raised her voice until it could be heard at the other end of the room. “Lavinia, dear, do you know anyone by the name of Helen?”

“By the name of, sorry, I can’t hear you.” And my wife made her way over to us between the Book Club’s chairs.


“You know the funniest thing has happened,” she whispered excitedly. “Someone had been trying to communicate with John through Mrs. Hunt’s and Mrs. Sprinkle’s Ouija! Someone by the name of Helen.”

“Why, isn’t that curious!” said Lavinia.

Miss Hinkle simpered. “Someone giving the name of Helen has just been calling for your husband here.”

“But we don’t know anyone by the name of Helen.” Lavinia stopped and began to look at me through narrowed lids, much as she had done in the library the evening before. And then from different parts of the room other manipulators began to report. Every plagued one of those five Ouija boards was calling me by name! I felt my ears grow crimson, purple, maroon. My wife was looking at me as though I were some peculiar insect. The squeak of Ouija boards and the murmur of conversation rose louder and louder. And then I felt my face twitch in the spasm of that idiotic grin. I tried to straighten my wretched features into their usual semblance of humanity. I really tried, but, alas, I failed.


“Doesn’t he look sly!” said Miss Hinkle. And then I got up and fled from the room. I do not know how that party ended. I do not want to know. I went straight upstairs, then undressed and crawled into bed. I lay there in the burning dark while the last guest gurgled in the hall below about the wonderful evening she had spent. I lay there while the front door shut after her. I heard Lavinia’s steps came up the stairs, and they passed the door to the guest room beyond. And then after a couple of centuries elapsed, the clock struck three, and I dozed off to sleep.

At the breakfast table the next morning, there was no sign of my wife. I concluded that she was sleeping late. But Maisey, upon being questioned, only shook her head. Then, she muttered something, and she turned the whites of her eyes up to the ceiling. I was glad when the meal was over. Then I hurried to the library for another try at that story.

I had hardly seated myself at the desk when there came a tap at the door. Then, a white slip of paper slid under it. I unfolded it and read this, much to my discontent.

“DEAR JOHN, I am going back to my grandmother. My lawyer will communicate with you later.”

“Oh,” I cried. “Oh, I wish I was dead!”

“And that’s exactly what you ought to be!” said that horrible voice from the other end of the room.


I sat up abruptly. I had sunk into a chair under the blow of the letter. Then I dropped back again and my hair rose in a thick prickle on the top of my head. Coming majestically across the floor towards me was a highly polished pair of thick-laced shoes. I stared at them in a sort of dreadful fascination. And then something about their gait attracted my attention, and I recognized them. “See here,” I said sternly. “What do you mean by appearing here like this?”

“I can’t help it,” said the voice, which seemed to come from a point about five and a half feet above the shoes. I raised my eyes and presently distinguished her round protruding mouth.

“Why can’t you just show up all at once? It’s disturbing to me that you walk in sections.”

“Just give me time,” said the mouth in an exasperated voice. “I assure you that the rest of me will presently arrive.”

“But what’s the matter with you? You never acted this way before.”

She seemed primed to make a violent effort, for a portion of a fishy eye and the end of her nose popped into view with a suddenness that made me jump.

“It’s all your fault.” She glared at me, while part of her hair and her plaid skirt began slowly to take form.

“My fault!?” I protested.


“Of course. How can you keep a lady up working all night and then expect her to retain all of her faculties the next day? I’m just too tired to materialize.”

“Then why did you bother?”

“Because I was sent to ask when your wife is going to get rid of that confounded Ouija board.”

“How should I know! I wish to heaven I’d never seen you!” I cried. “Look what you’ve done! You’ve lost me my wife. You’ve lost me my home. And you’ve shattered my happiness!”

And then things got even worse! “Master Harris!” came a call from the hall outside. “Master Harris! I hereby give ye my immediate notice. I quit! I’m not subjecting meself to be inside a house with creepy hoodoos.” And the steps retreated.

I moaned, “Oh, great! And now you’ve lost me my housekeeper.”

“I didn’t come here to be abused,” said the ghost coldly.

And then the door opened, and Lavinia entered. She wore the brown hat and coat that she usually travels in, and she carried a suitcase which she set down on the floor. That suitcase had an air of solid finality about it, and its lock leered at me brassily.


I leapt from my chair with unaccustomed agility and sprang in front of my wife. I had to conceal that awful phantom from her, at any risk! She did not look at me or, thank heavens, behind me. Instead, she fixed her injured gaze upon the wastebasket, as if to wrest dark secrets from it.

“I have come to tell you that I am leaving,” she staccatoed.

“Oh, yes, yes!” I agreed, flapping my arms about to attract attention from the corner. “That’s just fine. That’s just great!”

“So, you want me to go, do you?” she demanded.

“Sure, yes. Right away! A change of air will do you good. I’ll join you presently!” If only she would go till Helen could depart! I’d have the devil of a time explaining afterward, of course. But anything would be better than to have Lavinia see a ghost. Why, that sensitive little woman couldn’t bear to have a mouse say “boo” at her. And what would she say to a ghost in her own living room?

Lavinia cast a cold eye upon me. “You are acting very queerly,” she sniffed. “You are concealing something from me.”

Just then, the door opened, and Maisey called, “Miz Harris! Miz Harris! I’ve come to tell you that I’m taking my leave of this spooky place.”

My wife turned her head a moment. “But why, Maisey?”


“I ain’t staying around no place long with them supernatural Ouija board contraptions. I’m scared of those frightful hoodoos. I’m outta‘ here!”

“Is that all you’ve got to complain about?” Lavinia inquired.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“All right, then. Go back to the kitchen. You can use the board for kindling wood.”

“Who? Me touch that thing? No, ma’am, not me!”

“I’ll be the party to burn it,” I shouted. “I’ll be glad to burn it.”

Maisey’s heavy steps moved, off kitchenward.

Then my Lavinia turned waspishly to me again. “John, there’s not a bit of use trying to deceive me. What is it you are trying to conceal from me?”

“Who? Me? Oh, no,” I lied elaborately, looking around to see if that dratted ghost was concealed enough. She was so big, and I’m rather a smallish man. But that was a bad move on my part.

“John,” Lavinia demanded like a ward boss, “you are hiding somebody in here! Who is it?”

I only waved denial and gurgled in my throat. She went on, “It’s bad enough to have you flirt over the Ouija board with that hussy.”


“Oh, the affair was quite aboveboard, I assure you, my love!” I cried, leaping lithely about to keep her from focusing her gaze behind me.

She thrust me back with sudden muscle. “I will see who’s behind you! Where is that Helen?”

“Me? I’m Helen,” came from the ghost. Lavinia looked at that apparition. She peered at that owl-eyed phantom, in plaid skirt and stiff shirtwaist, with hair skewed back and no powder on her nose. I threw a protecting husbandly arm about her to catch her when she should faint. But she didn’t swoon. A broad, satisfied smile spread over her face.

“I thought that you were Helen of Troy,” she murmured.

“I used to be Helen of Troy, New York,” said the ghost. “And now I’ll be moving along, if you’ll excuse me. See you later.”

With that, she telescoped briskly, till we saw only a hand waving farewell.

My Lavinia fell forgivingly into my arms. I kissed her once or twice fervently, and then I shoved her aside, for I felt a sudden strong desire to write. The sheets of paper on my desk were spread invitingly before me.

“I’ve got the bulliest plot for a ghost story!” I cried.


Lesson 74 – Misc Iconic Word List “Filling Final Gaps” Vocab-Builder

NEW WORDS: CNN, Dijon, Impressionist, Palestinian, UFO, acronym, adversity, affluence, aide, ailment, airfields, alienated, allocation, amassing, analogous, anomaly, arcane, bettered, buffing, caption, casserole, cholesterol, clandestine, cognitive, concise, cowardice, crass, cripple, crosswalk, crutch, custody, denounce, diapers, digit, digits, distortion, doldrums, dour, educator, enjoys, excerpt, flaunted, forbade, formative, fortresses, gridlock, header, hibiscus, hijack, hymnal, implications, inclination, jaywalker, jockeyed, jovial, leviathan, lifestyle, linoleum, literal, litterbug, logjam, loiter, lurid, macaroni, malcontent, mallet, megalodon, metaphor, midsummer, midwinter, mismatch, neighborly, nutcase, occupational, oppress, overload, pacifier, pampered, peeve, persimmon, practitioners, quotation, racist, recluse, remedial, retained, rift, scholarship, schooled, shindigs, skinks, spatial, sprain, stardust, staunch, stiffen, strategies, strove, submitted, subterfuge, symphony, synonym, tamales, tattle, taxpayer, testimony, trawler, trespass, trustful, tunneled, undertaken, unified, vault, vibrance, viewer


Will the Israeli-Palestinian rift ever be resolved?

“CIA” is the acronym for “Central Intelligence Agency.”

My mom is a teacher’s aide.

Our state got its allocation of the vaccine.

His crass jokes alienated me.

If I sprain my ankle, I must walk with a crutch.

My aunt leads a modest lifestyle.

The team is unified in its support for the coach.

The spy was sent on a clandestine mission.

My sister is my most trustful friend.

I submitted my report to the boss.

The folks at that table are medical practitioners.

Can’t we report that litterbug to the police?

Gramps was a high school math educator.

Let’s learn how to multiply one digit by three digits.

No one went near that dour malcontent.

That jaywalker almost got run over!

Their new leader will no longer oppress the people.

My weird aunt’s a nutcase.

I saw him stiffen up as the bully went toward him.

The baby wants to chew on his pacifier.

He’s amassing a fortune with his product.

We’ve undertaken many strategies, but none have worked.


Have you tried hibiscus tea?

He flaunted his new sports car.

She grew up in a home of affluence.

I want Dijon mustard on my sandwich.

Your speech should be more concise.

They know who tried to hijack the plane.

Gran has a lung ailment.

My friends had a midsummer pool party.

There are lots of occupational hazards in that lab.

Congress is in gridlock over this bill.

I HATE changing diapers!

She strove to be the best in her field.

Dad’s a loyal viewer of CNN News.

That horror movie was lurid!

Our defense will cripple their team’s passes!

They tunneled into the bank vault.

Overload the speaker by turning it too loud, and you’ll get distortion.

Don’t loiter at the mall.

Their chain of fortresses kept the enemy at bay.

Relax, I don’t mean that I’ll jump off a building in the literal sense.

“Rad” is a synonym for “cool.”

Sis, don’t tattle on me!

Should we put this phrase in as a caption or a header?


She was pampered as a child.

High cholesterol is bad for your heart.

She jockeyed for position among the runners.

Let’s sing song number 787 in the church hymnal.

The linoleum floor needs buffing.

I’ll now read an excerpt from her third book.

Their marriage is a mismatch.

We must denounce their country’s actions.

Mom’s making lobster macaroni and cheese!

My brother will peeve me at least ten times each day.

We bombed the enemy’s airfields.

It’s safer to cross the street via a crosswalk.

The implications of her statement suggest that he’s guilty.

The croquet mallet cracked in half.

It would be neighborly to have that new couple to dinner.

Their shindigs are always fun.

Was that a spatial anomaly or a UFO?

No one had better trespass on my land!

His actions reek of cowardice.

To hit a home run is analogous to getting a touchdown.

Traffic’s in a logjam.

My inclination is go forward with the plan.

Her cognitive skills suggest that she’s a genius.

When he retired, he became a rarely-seen recluse.


She bettered me in our chess match.

I’m having midwinter doldrums with all this bleak weather.

Yum, tamales for lunch!

Our son got a full scholarship to college.

I doubt that any taxpayerenjoys” paying their taxes.

Skinks move like lightning.

I love the colors in Impressionist art.

The quotation from that house painter is too expensive.

These arcane writings could get him in trouble.

I forbade her to date him.

A persimmon is a tart fruit.

I love the vibrance in your photo.

His testimony locked up the case for the prosecution.

Mom fixed us a yummy casserole.

They were home-schooled in their formative years.

That awful man is a staunch racist.

They retained the prisoner in custody.

The trawler brought in lots of fish today.

He grew up poor and was no stranger to adversity.

Her symphony was a metaphor for the horrors of war.

The spy lived a life of subterfuge.

Santa Claus is a jovial old fellow.

He needs remedial help with math.

There was stardust in her eyes.

A megalodon was a true leviathan.


Lesson 75 – Stories Misc

The Peculiar Tale Of Finding Funny

NEW WORDS: Anubin, Anubins, Buren, Carlos’s, Draco, Fillmore, Friskie, Funny’s, Georgian, Hendrix, Jayla, Jayla’s, Manchester, Volkswagen, acrobatic, airborne, applaud, assertively, athleticism, augury, behaves, butted, callous, chaotic, cloistered, commercials, coon, craziest, demented, elaborated, elucidated, embarrasses, endearing, engineered, eyewitness, ferociously, foolhardy, fretful, furor, genuinely, guffawing, guts, harbinger, hexes, hyena, impalpable, impenitent, incidents, incorrigible, indolence, jittery, lovable, lovers, maniacal, mesmerizing, mitigated, mockery, momma, mugger, paces, phenomenal, pitifully, psychiatrist, rodeo, sandbox, slimebag, spirited, stationing, sweetie, tautly, theatrical, transparently, travertine, trenchant, vigilantly, vociferously, wheeled, worthless


Chapter One: Funny’s Disappeared
Jayla lives on Manchester Avenue. Carlos resides in the house next door to her. They’ve been great friends for a number of years. And they also happen to be in the same sixth-grade class. 

Jayla’s dog, strangely named “Funny,” is lost. He hasn’t been seen for a number of days. Poor Jayla has become quite fretful. So, we turn to a warm Saturday morning. Jayla thought that it was time to go look for Funny. First, she ate a healthy breakfast. Then she called Carlos and requested his help. “Carlos, can you go with me? We need to search the neighborhood. We’ve got to try to find our family’s lovable Funny.” 

Carlos said, “Of course! I’ll accompany you immediately. I know just what it’s like to miss your pet. We lost our white Persian cat Whiskers once. That was a few years back. But we got lucky. We soon found her. Where do you think we should start to look for Funny?” 

Jayla thought for a minute. Then, she answered, “Let’s see if he’s on the next street over. He likes three of the dogs who live there. They play with each other all the time.”


After Carlos came over, the two of them scurried over to Buren Street. They walked up and down the sidewalk. They passed by every single house. They looked with care for any augury of Funny’s presence. But they were out of luck. There was no harbinger that Funny was anywhere near there. So, they stopped to think about what to do next. They were in front of an attractive Georgian brick house.

All of a sudden, they heard loud barking. In a few seconds, it quickly turned to growling! A gigantic black dog ran towards them! Jayla was tangibly jittery. Carlos bravely moved in front of Jayla to protect her. He sighted a large stick. He picked it up and held it firmly in his right hand. The dog stopped for a little bit. But he kept barking at them. The kids were frozen solid, like travertine marble statues. Then the dog went forward a few more paces. So, now, he was even closer to them. He was stationing himself right under a small, bushy tree. Jayla said, “We’ve got to get out of here, pronto.”    

Carlos cried out, “No! Don’t you dare run, Jayla. If you do, you’ll make him even more upset. Then he might run after you. If he gets any closer to us, I will use the stick to keep him away. I don’t want to hurt him, of course. So, I’ll just use the stick to keep us separated.”


Then came a total surprise. The tree branches, right above the dog, shook wildly. All of a sudden, a furry orange cat leapt out of the tree! It was almost as big as a Maine coon! It had been surreptitiously perching on a low branch. And they could not have possibly seen it. It was hiding way too well, cloistered among the thick green leaves. The airborne cat was about to take a ride, firmly planted on top of the irascible dog!


Chapter Two: That’s Crazy!  
The orange cat had jumped onto the barking canine. It had engineered a perfect landing onto the beast’s neck! Its substantial paws were holding on tautly to the dog’s collar. Carlos exclaimed, “Wow! Did you see that acrobatic leap? What a phenomenal sight! I’ll bet you that we’ll never eyewitness anything quite like this again!”   

Jayla answered, “Yeah, I’m nonplussed! This is totally crazy! Surely, that foolhardy cat isn’t going to get away with this!”

The two friends watched these theatrical proceedings, amazed. Their eyes were getting bigger and bigger, as they were immersed in this impalpable scene. They just couldn’t believe it. Carlos asked, “What other cat, anywhere, would be able to do that?”   

It was a chaotic display of athleticism, as the animals ran around and around the yard in a furor. They sped under trees, through the purple flowers, and into the driveway. It was somewhat like Carlos and Jayla were witnessing an animal tornado! They weren’t exactly sure. But maybe this was, quite strangely, the animals’ way of having their own bizarre kind of fun.


Chapter Three: Rodeo Rider 
The cat meowed vociferously, and the dog was panting hard. The cat was bouncing up and down, but it simply didn’t budge. It held on very tight to the dog’s collar. It looked like it was riding a bull in a rodeo! The dog just seemed to take the cat’s orders. And it kept running around at an aggressive speed! This entertaining adventure went on for a few mesmerizing minutes. Then all of a sudden, the cat jumped off of the dog. It landed firmly on top of the yellow Volkswagen in the driveway.   

The dog ran down the street, looking like he was a little embarrassed. Jayla said, “I can’t believe what we just saw!” But the sensational action wasn’t over, just yet. The cat jumped down from the car. And Jayla and Carlos started to applaud, because they were so impressed with the animals’ performance. Then Jayla called out softly, “Here, kitty-kitty.” And surely enough, the cat confidently walked up to the kids. But then it arched its back and hissed at them ferociously!

Carlos yelled, “For heaven’s sake, you mean-spirited cat! What exactly do you want from us? We’re not your enemy!” Jayla and Carlos took an extended look at the cat, and then at each other. Finally, the cat sauntered off. Then Carlos asked, “Where do you think that demented feline will go next?”

Jayla exclaimed, “Who knows? And who cares?! Let’s just get out of here, before those two maniacal creatures come back!”


Chapter Four: Funny’s Name  
The two best friends started walking. They veered off in a different direction than the pitifully embarrassed dog had ventured. Carlos questioned, “How about we go to the city park, next?”   

Jayla responded back to him, “Excellent idea. We’ll turn right at Fillmore Street, because that’s the fastest way to Orange County Park. We’ll be there soon.”   

As they walked, Carlos offered up a delicate question. “Jayla, who in the world would name their dog ‘Funny’? Why did you do that?”   

Jayla said, “Good grief, Carlos! Haven’t you looked closely into the poor thing’s eyes? The left eye points directly to the left, and the right eye points directly to the right.”   

Carlos laughed, and he said, “I haven’t paid too much attention to that, I guess. But now that you mention it, it makes total sense. He’s really just the opposite of being cross-eyed, isn’t he?”    
Jayla continued, “His two eyes are just a small part of it. He doesn’t have any hair on his tummy, and he limps really badly. And the next time he’s panting, take a sharp look at his tongue. It flops around, and he drools like an out-of-control water fountain.”


Carlos queried, “So you named him ‘Funny’ because he has all of these health problems?”

Jayla replied, “Well, it’s really more that he simply LOOKS funny. You know, it is what it is!”

Carlos responded, “That seems kind of callous, to me.”

Jayla vigilantly defended her choice for her dog’s name. “Carlos, he just showed up in our backyard one day, and he was not in very good shape. We didn’t know why he was so compromised. It was probably an unfriendly encounter with a wild animal in the woods, so we obviously had to help him, and we did just that.

Carlos replied, “I’m so sorry, because I had no knowledge about that. But I have one more important question. If something like that happened again, would you do the identical thing?”   

Jayla said, “Of course we would! Funny is the most loving dog that anyone could have, and he is such a very important part of our family!” By now, they had reached the park, and they were about to experience one of the craziest incidents of their young lives!


Chapter Five: The Voice
Jayla and Carlos went all around the park. They checked the jungle gym, the sandbox, the duck pond, the baseball field, and the volleyball area. They were now more than a little bit tired. So, they sat down in the picnic area. Their world was about to very significantly change, as they heard a voice call out.   

“Hey, Jayla! Hey, Carlos! You’re my very best friends!” Both kids looked around and around.

Jayla said, “I don’t see one single person near us. But it sounds like that voice is right here.”   

Carlos replied, “This is weird, all right. And there isn’t anything near here that someone could hide behind.” He laughed nervously. Then he suggested, “Maybe we’re going out of our minds! Should we go see a psychiatrist?” Jayla giggled.


But then, three seconds later, they heard, “Guys, it’s me, Funny.” This scared them both to death. This was way too spooky. They both instantaneously jumped to their feet. They wheeled round and round, but no one was there! Then, they heard, “Don’t you guys see me? I’m here, right by the yellow trash can. I’m next to the water fountain.”   

The kids’ heads slowly turned. And they looked down, just a little bit. And right there, in front of them, was a brown dog. He was the very same size as Funny. But he looked a little bit different. He got up and walked towards them. There was no limp. He had a chest full of hair. His tongue wasn’t floppy. He wasn’t drooling. And his eyes were looking straight ahead. Then, the voice said, “Good, now you see me. Now I don’t look so funny anymore, do I?” This was just too much for poor Jayla. She fainted on the spot!


Chapter Six: Spaceship 
Jayla had fainted. But who wouldn’t, if you’d just discovered that your dog could talk to you?! She woke up, about a minute later. She looked straight into her dog’s eyes. She asked, “Funny, I’ve got to ask you this. Please tell the truth! Are you really talking to me?”   

Funny said, “Yes! I really am, sweetie.”

Jayla asked, “How can that be? Your little pink mouth isn’t even moving.”   

Funny elaborated, “Jayla, you have seen too many animal movies and pet commercials. The computer makes it look like the animals are talking. But my mouth isn’t developed like yours. I just don’t have any ‘mouth muscles’ that can let me talk, like you do.”

Carlos asked, “But how in the world can we hear you, then?”   

“Carlos, it’s my brain talking to your brains. No one else but you can hear me. That’s unless I want them to. You see, I have fantastic new powers. I’ve learned SO much in the last four or five days!”   

Carlos shouted, “Come on then, Funny. You must tell us about all of this! What’s going on? And where have you been?”


Funny answered, “I’ve spent my last few days on a spaceship. I found out that I am not really a dog. I’m really an Anubin.”

“Say WHAT?!” Carlos yelled.

Funny replied, “You’ve seen pictures of Anubis. He was an Egyptian god. Remember the bad guy in the last Scooby-Doo that we all watched? He was dressed up like Anubis. He has a human body, with the head of a dog. And Anubis has big ears that stick straight up.”   

Jayla chimed in, “Yeah. Yeah, we’ve studied that in school. Carlos, do you remember that cool project that we did on Egypt?”   

Carlos elucidated, “Yes, indeed! Scary and mysterious stuff. Mummies, pyramids, tombs, spirits, and hexes. Everything that we studied regarding the Egyptians was great for Scooby stories, wasn’t it? After I read spooky stuff like that, the tiniest noise could make me jump through the roof.”   

Funny then abruptly interrupted Carlos. “Guys, I’ve got a whole lot more to tell you. But I’m starving. Could we please go back to the house so that I can eat something nourishing? I’ll fill you in more while we walk back there.” So, they all left the park. And Jayla and Carlos were all ears. They were mesmerized, lapping up Funny’s fantastical account of his Anubin experiences!


Chapter Seven: About Cats
Jayla, Carlos, and Funny were walking back to Jayla’s house. Funny was telling them all about his fascinating time on the Anubin spaceship. Carlos asked him a question. “Funny, why did the Anubins come to Earth in the first place?”

Funny laughed. He said, “It’s all about the beastly cats. On lots of worlds, nature gives those planets only cats. What a horrible shame that there aren’t any dogs on those worlds. It’s just not right. And it’s just not fair!”   

Jayla asked him, “What do you mean, ‘it’s not right’?”

Funny responded assertively, “Well, the fact is that most cats are just awful beings. And can you believe that the Egyptians even worshipped those beasts? We Anubins simply had to put a stop to that. So, we brought dogs to Earth. That way people could choose to bring dogs into their homes, instead of cats. That’s because dogs make infinitely better pets. Let me explain more. I’ll start off with a question for you. Carlos, which of your two cats do you like better? Friskie, your striped cat? Or Whiskers, your white cat?”   

Carlos quickly said, “That’s easy. Friskie is a much better pet. It’s because he comes when I call. He plays with me. And he doesn’t ever claw me. He’s an unconditionally loyal feline.”


Funny instantly butted in, “What you really mean is that Friskie behaves kind of like a dog. Right?”

Carlos replied, “I never thought about it. But you’re totally right. He DOES act way more like a dog!” 

Funny continued, genuinely, “Friskie is a very fine animal. He’s that rare kind of cat that a dog can actually get along with. And he’s a good friend of mine. But I can’t stand your abominable pet, Whiskers. By the way, do you guys know the worst cat around? There’s a big orange cat, on Buren Street. He’s named Hendrix, and his family should have named him, ‘Monster.’ ”    

Jayla and Carlos exchanged looks. Then they started guffawing, somewhat out of control. Jayla said, “I think we met Hendrix this morning. And yes, he was definitely, undeniably crazy.”    

Funny inquired, “Was he riding on top of a dog?”

Carlos snapped back, “Yeah! Like a cowboy on a bronco.”   

Funny looked down at the ground. Then he shook his head, saying, “That poor dog, Draco. He just doesn’t have any guts. None of the other dogs will put up with Hendrix. But Draco is always getting taken advantage of. Frankly, the way Hendrix treats old Draco embarrasses all of the dogs in the neighborhood.”


“Look, let’s be transparently trenchant about this. Here’s what your average cat is like. They scratch your furniture. They hide when you call them. And they jump up on your clean counter and table, with filthy cat litter on their paws. They shed. They get hair on everything. And then they puke up disgusting hairballs. By the way, did you know that they do that on purpose, when they are mad at you? They bite and scratch. And they hiss at your neighbor’s baby. They sneak into your closet and knock everything over. And they shred up toilet paper, all over your bathroom floor. But worst of all, they are just plain lazy. They are the poster children for indolence! Did you know that some cats sleep as many as twenty hours, every single day? Worthless critters, most of them!”   

Jayla and Carlos were in tears, they were laughing so hard. Funny had nailed it. He had just perfectly described the average cat, even though they still loved their cats, regardless of their pets’ flaws.    

Funny finished his spaceship story. “So, the Anubins help many worlds to have a better balance of pet choices. Most cat lovers just get fooled. Those sneaky cats purr, they act all sweet, and they seem so soft and fuzzy and endearing. Then behind your back, they are destroying your house and making a mockery of you among their friends.”   

Carlos added, “So the reasons that cats and dogs don’t get along very well is really an ‘outer space thing’? The Anubins brought the dogs in. That was in order to balance out the cats?”


Funny replied, “Exactly. But please be extremely clear about this. Dogs NEVER start an argument with a cat. It’s ALWAYS the cat. They insult you, over and over again. And you just can’t take it anymore. You blow your lid! They say things like this. ‘Your momma looks like a rotten banana. Your puppies look like wet prunes. Your papa looks like a beat-up, old hyena. And you look like you came out from under a slimy rock.’ ” 

Jayla said, “Wow, that’s pretty impenitent, all right. Now I see why you don’t get along with most cats!”    

They walked for a minute, without saying anything. Then, Carlos asked another question. “By the way, Funny, how were all of your health problems mitigated? You look fantastic!”   

Funny answered, “Oh, those Anubins have really advanced doctors. They knew how to fix me up. You know what else they did for me?” 

Jayla said, “No.”


Funny continued, “They provided for me a tool for lifelong learning. Do you see the little scar in my neck? They put a powerful computer chip in there. It’s hooked up to my brain. It’s way better than the computer chips on Earth. It will let me learn all kinds of amazing things, throughout my whole life. And I LOVE to LEARN! I have no idea how many new powers I can acquire, by learning from the Anubin chip! Now, I’m not supposed to tell humans about any of these powers. But you guys are my best friends. I might sneak a secret to you, every once in a while.”    

Just then, their talk was stopped by a loud cry. About a hundred feet away, they saw something awful. An elderly lady yelled out, “Please! Help! Help! That thief is running away with my purse!” There was a man running down the street, very fast.

Funny yelped, “Jayla, call 9-1-1, on your cell phone. FAST! Then watch and learn. Right now, Super-Funny gets to try out a couple of his new powers!” Then Funny called out to Jayla’s and Carlos’s brains. And he also included ‘talking to’ the crook’s brain. “You’re about to meet an Anubin! That means you’ve had it, you rotten mugger! Your destiny is a prison sentence, you incorrigible slimebag!!”


Lesson 76 – Suffixes 02: “-LY” 

The suffix “-LY” means “characteristic of” or “in a such and such way.” Examples: “quickly” means “being quick,” “with quickness,” “in a quick way”; “sullenly” means “being sullen,” “with sullenness,” “in a sullen way”; “recklessly” means “being reckless,” “with recklessness,” “in a reckless way.” Etc …   

NEW WORDS: Bailey, Bette, Betts, Britt, Bryan, Brynn, Douglas, Fleur, Frannie, Frazier, Heath’s, Howie, Jace, Kaye, Kitt’s, Layla, Leigh, Mamaw, Maude, Nelson, Ogden, Paige, Prue, Reeve’s, Rey, Ricky, Ruthie, Seahawks, Selena, Shane, Shay, Simone, Sloane, Starr, Stoddard, Tripp, Trish, Vaughan, Vince, Vincent, Wayne, Wynn, Xena, Zak, Zeke, abnormally, abundantly, actively, allegedly, alternate, annually, arguably, bewitchingly, bitingly, blatantly, bloodily, boorishly, boyfriend’s, brazenly, capably, caringly, caroused, centrally, childishly, chillingly, cobalt, conservatives, creed, cuddly, deceitfully, detention, devilishly, discernibly, disturbingly, drizzly, emotionally, equitably, exquisitely, extravagantly, fittingly, foolishly, frantically, friskily, gentlemanly, glowingly, grumpily, guiltily, heartlessly, historically, houseguests, illegally, inappropriately, invasively, ironically, jestingly, jointly, jubilantly, judiciously, kayak, keenly, kiddingly, knowingly, laughingly, liberals, liturgy, logically, longingly, lovingly, mildly, miserably, monstrously, murderer, musically, narrowly, neutrally, noticeably, ominously, ornately, outlandishly, outwardly, persuasively, ponderously, powerfully, prayerfully, prudently, pushily, quarterly, raspingly, ravenously, recklessly, ripply, shyly, sleekly, slunk, structurally, suspiciously, tattled, threateningly, timely, twinkly, unashamedly, undesirably, uselessly, vengefully, vividly, voraciously, vulnerably, wittily, wondrously, wriggly, wrongfully, zanily


Trish is devilishly funny.

We cheered jubilantly when our team won.

Frazier was a powerfully built boxer.

Ogden was brazenly rude to his teacher.

Nelson tied the rope tautly around himself.

The Christmas tree was wondrously decorated.

Mamaw divided the sweets equitably among the kids.

The clown was zanily funny.

Frannie begged uselessly for mercy.

Mrs. Stoddard has an ornately furnished home.

It’s miserably cold outside!

Vengefully, Layla tattled on Ruthie.

The great white had monstrously sharp teeth.

Foolishly, Douglas lied to his mom.

The dogs caroused friskily in the back yard.

Our office is centrally located downtown.

Ricky guiltily slunk away from the cookie jar.

Selena was being suspiciously quiet.

Mr. Spock was emotionally compromised.

Howie was noticeably shaken after the car crash.

Maude caringly petted her cat.

Simone loved her boyfriend’s gentlemanly manners.

The battle was bloodily fought.


The houseguests were abundantly fed.

Allegedly, Vincent is guilty of the crime.

Bette finished her work in a timely fashion.

Zeke explained the answer quite logically.

Brynn was exquisitely dressed for the prom.

Inappropriately, Wayne burped loudly.

Vince was wrongfully accused of pulling her hair.

Fleur won the tennis match handily.

Jointly, the twins said the Pledge of Allegiance.

The baby was wriggly in Kitt’s lap.

Prue wittily turned Heath’s insult back at him.

The strong winds made the water ripply.

Young Leigh shyly looked down at the floor.

Bryan prudently stopped arguing with the teacher.

Shay ravenously scarfed down his burger.

Dad, I think that you’re illegally parked!

Fittingly, Zak was sent to detention.

Mom grumpily got up from her nap on the couch.

Sloane was unconsciously biting her nails.

Kaye is musically gifted.

Paige read the church liturgy prayerfully.

Wynn got a ticket for driving recklessly.

Britt was discernibly nervous about taking the test.


The kayak was sleekly designed.

Creed was acting outlandishly goofy.

We pay this bill annually.

Starr beamed glowingly at the TV camera.

It was deathly cold in the attic.

Outwardly, Tal appeared calm while being questioned.

The troops were vulnerably situated in case of an enemy attack.

Shane got boorishly drunk at the party.

Jace hugged his spouse lovingly.

The bridge was structurally damaged.

The old house seemed chillingly haunted.

It’s cold and drizzly outside.

Have you read their quarterly report yet?

Reeve’s apology was laughingly insincere.

Black clouds were perched ominously over the horizon.

He heartlessly rebuked her in front of the whole team.

Betts judiciously reads the instructions before taking a test.

Tripp jestingly dared them to jump into the ice-cold lake.

Xena was all cuddly in bed with her new kitten.

Vaughan, did you knowingly lie about this?

Their argument occurred, undesirably, during dinner.

You made your case persuasively!

The murderer, unashamedly, showed no remorse.


Ironically, the liberals and conservatives both agree on this point.

She huffily stormed out of the room.

His gaze was disturbingly menacing.

Bailey is bewitchingly pretty.

That is not a historically accurate fact.

Mom is actively looking for a new job.

Stop that, you’re being blatantly rude!

Threateningly, the mama bear marched towards us.

Deceitfully, he contrived an alternate account of what really happened.

That’s arguably the best meal that I’ve ever had!

The stars are extra twinkly on this clear night.

My extroverted friend was abnormally quiet today.

He pushily worked his way to the front of the crowd.

She frantically called 9-1-1.

He gazed longingly into her striking cobalt eyes.


My little sister can be mildly annoying.

Our country is positioned neutrally regarding those two nations’ dispute.

He barked, raspingly, “Get out of here!”

You handled yourself capably in the game today.

The fat troll ponderously worked his way up the steep hill.

My class behaved childishly all afternoon.

I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday.

Their family is extravagantly wealthy.

Invasively, kudzu has taken over these woods.

My opponent looked keenly at the chess board.

Kiddingly, I suggested that she try the dog food.

Let’s be neighborly and invite the new folks to dinner.

Rey eyed the huge buffet voraciously.

It was bitingly cold in the blizzard.

The Seahawks were narrowly beaten in the game.

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.)
Colonial America – Deeper Dive

Lesson 77 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Burras, Cro, Croatan, Croatoan, Eleanor, Englishmen, Forrest, Matoaka, Newport, Newport’s, Percy, Pocahontas’s, Warr, appealing, bickered, brackish, burgesses, deliverance, devastating, devoured, disliked, disputes, encompassed, encountering, energies, enforced, execution, familiarity, figuratively, firearms, gathereth, glassmaking, hardships, intruders, lawmaking, lax, maladies, marshy, needless, oft, perilously, pomp, reborn, relying, reprieve, romanticized, seasickness, seasoned, seemingly, shipbuilding, shipload, sparingly, sprawling, supervised, truer, undrinkable, wasting, wisely


Chapter One: The English Colonies
By 1542, Spain had claimed much of the New World. This encompassed much of South America, all of Central America, and parts of North America. This did not go unnoticed by the kings and queens of Europe. England, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands all wanted to be in the same game. They, too, sent their ships off to the New World. They ordered the crews to claim land and riches for their own homelands.

Spain had conquered much of Central and South America by this time. So, other European nations focused on North America. Before long, there was a race to claim land for these European kings and queens. The settlement and later colonization of these lands had begun. Soon, European countries saw that there were other benefits to their plans. Of course, they could explore the land for new riches. But they found that they could trade with the people who were living there, as well. Traders went there to trade goods with Native Americans. As a result, some Native Americans learned to speak a bit of French or English. In turn, lots of Europeans learned to speak native languages. One good example is Algonquian.

In the late 1500s, England had become more alarmed. They saw how much land Spain had claimed in what’s now Central and South America. Spain had not only gained land. They were getting richer, too. It was time for the English to take action. In the 1580s, an Englishman named Sir Walter Raleigh set off. He would go to parts of North America. During this trip, he landed at a place called Roanoke Island. It was off the coast of what’s now the state of North Carolina. Raleigh came back home. He wished to claim this land for England. In 1585, he asked Queen Elizabeth I to let him send some settlers to Roanoke Island.


Queen Elizabeth said “yes.” But when the settlers got there, they found it hard to survive in this new land. This was truer in the winter. That’s because they weren’t able to plant crops. When they ran out of food, lots of people starved to death. As soon as they could, the demoralized settlers came back to England.

In April 1587, the English tried a second time to settle on Roanoke Island. This time, a man named John White led the trip. More than 100 men, women, and children were on board. This included his own daughter, Eleanor Dare, and her husband. They would try again to build a colony in the New World.

Once again, this group faced the same hardships. Their supplies ran low, too. But this time, only John White and a small crew sailed back to England for supplies. The rest stayed on the island. Just nine days before he left for England, his daughter had a baby. She was named Virginia Dare. White’s granddaughter was the first English baby born in the New World.

White and his crew arrived back in England. He learned that the country was at war with Spain. He was told that he could not head back to Roanoke. He had to wait until 1590. Then he could take a ship and return to the colony. White arrived back on Roanoke. What do you think he found? Sadly, he found nothing. Well, the island was still there. And there were some empty homes. But the settlers were nowhere to be found. White had just one clue to where they might have gone. It was the word “CROATAN.” It had been carved into one tree trunk. And the letters “CRO” were carved into another. Croatoan was thought to be the name of an island about fifty miles south of Roanoke. White thought the carving may have been a message. He thought that the settlers had relocated to that island.


White tried to go to Croatoan Island to find the settlers. But a huge storm damaged his ship. It forced the crew to head back to England. White was not able to head back to the New World again. The mystery of what happened to these English settlers remains unsolved today. Roanoke Island has become known as the “Lost Colony.”

There was a big reason that lots of early English settlers struggled to survive. It was because they weren’t prepared for how different their lives would be in this new land. It took a number of tries before they figured out how to survive. They had to learn new ways. The climate, soil, landscape, plants, animals, and people were different from what they had known before. After a time, they learned how to use the natural resources that were there for them. Then, they became less reliant on supplies from England.

And so, there were a number of tough years and false starts. But England soon built a number of small settlements. They were dotted up and down the east coast of North America. At first, they were nothing more than small villages. Over time, the villages became towns. By the 1700s, lots of the towns had grown into cities. They were now centers of trade and industry. In the end, thirteen thriving English colonies were in place in North America.


The thirteen colonies began to take shape. They were divided into three distinct regions. These were the New England, Middle Atlantic, and Southern regions. These regions were different from each other in lots of ways.

Let’s look at New England. They had a colder climate, rocky terrain, and poor soil. It was harder for them to farm many crops. So, New England was known as a center for fishing, furs, timber, and shipbuilding. Let’s look at the Middle Atlantic region. There, a wide variety of crops could be grown. That was due to the milder climate and rich soil. As a result, agriculture was a successful way of life for many. That included raising cattle and wheat farming. Let’s go to the warm, sprawling, Southern region. They built large farms called plantations. There, they could grow large amounts of varied crops. Some of these were rice and tobacco.

People came to North America at varied times and for lots of reasons. Some came to get rich. Some came for religious reasons. Some hoped to escape poverty. And some were just curious or adventurous.

English monarchs played a key role in the growth of the colonies. Here are the ones with the most impact. They were Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I, Charles II, and George II. We’ll head on a journey. We’ll refer to the Regional Map of Colonial America and the Royal Portrait Gallery. And we’ll use a timeline that we’ll create together. So, are you prepped to go on a long trip? Good! We’ll start up next time in Jamestown, Virginia.


Chapter Two: The Founding of Jamestown
You know that word got out about Columbus’s trips. Lots of other folks then sailed off in search of parts of the New World. They all hoped to get rich. Some hoped to find new trade routes to the East. Soon, the explorers were replaced by conquerors. They planned to take charge of this new land. They wanted its wealth. They wished to rule its people.

At first, Spain placed most of its energies on getting gold and silver. They stuck mostly to the Central and South American regions. Some Spanish scouting parties even went into southern parts of North America. This left the seemingly less-appealing North American space wide open for others. These regions were left to the greed of the French, English, Dutch.

There were lots of tales of vast amounts of gold and silver. The Spanish had found them in Central and South America. These new players planned to get rich, too. They did not just hope to claim land. They wished to bring back ships laden with gold and silver. This would put them in the favor of their proud kings and queens.

Let’s turn to the early 1600s. The French explored land in these northern lands. Men such as Samuel de Champlain set up fur-trading stations. Many of them were along the St. Lawrence River. That’s in what is present-day Canada. The Dutch sailed up what’s now known as the Hudson River. That’s in present-day New York state. And the English set sail for Virginia. At that time, new lands and treasures were claimed for the nation that the ship and crew sailed under. So, the lands were claimed for the already-rich kings and queens of Europe.


But these nations found that there was little gold and silver to be mined. This clearly was the case for those who set off to explore and settle in Virginia.

In 1606, there was a cold wintry day in December. Three English ships set sail for Virginia. More than 100 men and a handful of boys were on board. Here were the ships’ names. The Discovery, the Susan Constant, and the Godspeed. They were under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. Some of the men were well-known, daring adventurers. Others were seasoned sailors. There were farmers and skilled craftsmen on the trip, too.

Think of agreeing to set sail across a vast, unknown ocean. And you are going in a small, not-so-sturdy ship. More than likely, you are not a trained sailor. And, like hundreds of others on board, you hope to find a land that few Europeans have been to before. Perhaps, during the trip, you suffer from seasickness. Or you are fearful of encountering sea monsters. Oh, and by the way, just men and boys were on most trips such as this one.

There were investors in a company that paid for the voyage. This was known as “The Virginia Company of London.” The main purpose of this trip was to make money by trading. Each person involved, including the investors, wished to get a generous share of the profits. They hoped to trade with the native people. And they hoped to find, among other things, precious metals.


In addition, King James I of England had given the men a charter. This was an official document. It allowed them to claim a large area of land in the New World. This area of land stretched widely. It was from what is now the state of South Carolina all the way up the east coast to Canada. Clearly, King James had not considered that other people might be living on this land. And this ignored the fact that they might not want him to claim it as his own!

The party of English men and boys had set off in December. Thus, strong winter storms made their journey even more difficult. They also ran perilously low on food and water. But the passengers and crew survived. Five months later, in May 1607, they caught a glimpse of land. They sailed closer to the shoreline. That was into what’s now called the Chesapeake Bay. They decided to sail up a wide river that they had spotted. This way, they’d avoid being seen by the Spanish. You know that some of whom were exploring the present-day areas of Florida and Georgia. King James was eager to claim everything that the English saw. Thus, this river was promptly named the James River. That was in honor of his royal highness.

This would be the last part of their journey. The men sailed up the newly named James River. They were on the lookout for a safe haven. They wished for a protected place. There, they could moor, or dock, their ships. About sixty miles upriver, they found a place with deep water near the shoreline. The land appeared to be unoccupied. It was time to drop anchor.


The next day, the would-be settlers went ashore. With much pomp and circumstance, they stepped onto Virginia soil. Trumpets were sounded. Prayers were said. And it was proclaimed that this new land was now the property of, can you guess? Let me give you a clue. He wore a crown, and his name was James. Yes, that’s right. It was his majesty, King James I. As you can see, there were many advantages to being a king in those days.

The Eastern Woodland Indians had lived in this region for many years. What they thought of the coming of these uninvited visitors is not clear. No doubt they kept a careful eye on these strangers. They viewed them from the safety of the shadowy forests. Some Native Americans had heard about and come in contact with Europeans. But they did not know or trust this new group. One thing was for sure. They were not going to hand over their homeland to King James willingly!

It was late spring, and it was warm. There was now an abundance of plants and wildlife. The settlers cheerfully set to work. They began to construct a small settlement. It contained basic homes, a storehouse, and a chapel. They wished to protect their settlement. So, they built high walls made of logs around it. And they placed a cannon nearby. There was only one possible name for this new settlement. It was, of course, Jamestown. Jamestown was now England’s first permanent settlement in America.


There was a group of Powhatan nearby. They were led by a chief of the same name. They soon came to watch what these intruders were up to. The days went by. The Powhatan became angry at what they were seeing. It appeared to them to be the construction of a permanent settlement. Soon, the Powhatan took action. They attacked the settlers.

The settlers had not chosen the site of their settlement wisely. They were too close to the water. So, the land turned out to be marshy and full of mosquitoes. They dug down into the Earth to find drinking water. But they found that the water was virtually undrinkable. It was brackish, thus too salty. Then they added to their own problems. Some of the settlers wished to focus on searching for gold and silver. Instead, they should have been planting seeds for much-needed crops. They were away from the safety and familiarity of England. And now, the group began to disagree. It was clear that these settlers needed a leader.


We turn now to the summer. It was decided that Captain Newport and a small group of men would take the Godspeed and the Susan Constant back to England. Once there, they would spread the news about this new land that King James and England had acquired. Then, they would load up the ships with much-needed supplies. Then, they’d return to Jamestown.

Now this decision was made. So, someone had to take charge of those who stayed behind. For a while, a number of the men argued. They bickered about who knew best what to do, and how to survive. Then the weather became warmer, much warmer than they were used to in chilly England. Various members of the party became sick with fever and disease. These maladies could not be cured. People began to die.

Sickness, death, and disputes occurred daily. Thus, not enough work was being done to prepare for the cold, winter months. One man saw this as a big problem. In order to survive, he knew that they would have to come up with a plan. This man’s name was Captain John Smith.


Chapter Three: Jamestown and the Powhatan
John Smith was hardworking and organized. Many historians think that without him, Jamestown would not have made it. When Smith took charge, he did not “beat around the bush.” He introduced a very direct rule. Only those who worked would eat.

As you can surmise, Smith was not popular with everyone. The wealthy young adventurers disliked him the most. That’s because they’d never worked a day in their lives. Working was hard for them.

Smith knew it would be a huge challenge to survive the winter months. Smith urged each person to focus on key tasks. They had to construct Jamestown. They needed to gather fruits and berries. They had to fish and hunt. They needed to use sparingly the little food that they had stored.

There are a number of accounts of what happened during this time. Here’s one well-known version of the story. You may have heard it. Some might call it a “legend.” It starts when the cold winter months had come. Many of Smith’s fellow settlers were sick and starving to death. Smith set off to hunt. And he went to persuade the Powhatan to give them food.


Smith was captured by Powhatan warriors. They took him to their chief. They wanted to kill the man who was leading the foreigners. Then, as the story goes, he received a reprieve just moments before his execution. It’s said that he was saved by the chief’s young daughter. She went by the name Pocahontas, or Matoaka. She begged her father to spare Smith. The chief agreed to his daughter’s request. So, Smith was released.

Lots of folks think that this is a romanticized version of what happened. They think that Powhatan did not intend to kill Smith. Instead, he wished to adopt Smith into the Powhatan tribe. This is a common ritual in many Native American cultures. It involves the figurative “killing” of a person’s identity. Then they can be reborn into a new identity. So, some historians think that the Powhatan were going to figuratively “kill” Smith’s English identity. That way, he could become a Powhatan.

Smith came back to Jamestown. Here’s what he found. The colonists had abandoned their work schedule. They were squabbling among themselves again. Snow was on the ground. Their food supply was very low. Some were even spending their time foolishly. A few of them were searching for gold. Smith was not pleased. He quickly set to work hunting and fishing. He wanted to set an example. He wished to persuade his cold, hungry, disheartened companions that all was not lost.


Then, one day, a small band of Powhatan appeared out of the forest. They were led by Pocahontas. They took pity on this bunch of disorganized foreigners. They brought with them much-needed food. Pocahontas and the Powhatan came back many times. They brought food and general aid. They also taught the English new hunting and farming techniques.

The food that the Powhatan brought was enough to keep the English alive. Then, help from their homeland came in January 1608. Captain Newport’s ship, the Susan Constant, arrived. It was laden with food and more than 100 new settlers. Needless to say, the Powhatan were not pleased. Here were even more strangers coming to live on the land that they inhabited. They had helped the English. They had done a “good deed.” But now more English would “compete” with their resources and lifestyle. Have you heard this oft-used phrase? “No good deed goes unpunished.” That’s what happened to the Powhatan.

For a while, things improved for Smith and his men. They had more food to eat. So, they had more energy to work. And they had more hands to help build the much-needed homes. Then, tragedy struck. Somehow, and no one knows how, a fire broke out. The fierce flames quickly devoured many of the buildings. It also burned some of the food supply and clothes. This was devastating for the settlers.


The English had no choice but to start again. Lucky for them, by this time, the weather was getting warmer. The Powhatan had taught them how to grow corn. (They called it “maize.”) So, they started to plant lots of it. And the Native Americans helped them once again. They brought the English more food. Under Smith’s leadership, the men set back to work. They rebuilt their homes, planted corn, and kept learning how to live in this new land.

Spring came. Newport set sail again for England. Some historians have written a laughable story. Remember the colonists who had been wasting their time searching for gold? They persuaded Newport to load his ship with a large amount of red-colored dirt and bring it with him. These gold-hungry men thought that tiny pieces of gold would be found. The dirt would be more properly examined in England. But no gold was ever found. Newport had brought nothing more than a shipload of dirt across the Atlantic!

Newport returned to Jamestown in the fall. The settlers were happy to see him. This time, he brought more supplies, as well as seventy men, and two women. Yes, two women! One woman was Mrs. Thomas Forrest. She was the wife of one of the men on board. The other was her maid. She was named Ann Burras. They were the first two women to live in Jamestown! Some of the other new settlers were from Poland and Germany. Thus, they brought the skill of glassmaking to the colony.


By this time, Smith had been elected president of the colony. He had consistently enforced his rule. All must work if they wished to eat. In fact, these are his exact words. “He that gathereth not every day as much as I do, the next day shall be set beyond the river and be banished from the fort as a drone till he amend his conditions, or starve.” That’s what we might call today “tough love!”

Under Smith’s leadership, the colony began to prosper. He continued to build fairly good relations with the Powhatan. The two communities even began to trade with each other. The settlers traded beads and copper for food.

But there was an accident that changed things. It was two years after Jamestown was started. Smith was injured in a gunpowder explosion. Without medical assistance, his wounds would not heal. Smith was forced to go back to England.

They had to choose someone to lead the colony in Smith’s absence. That was George Percy. Percy was not as good a leader as Smith had been. But we do need to be fair to him. He did, indeed, have a major challenge on his hands. And that was clear from the moment that he arrived. After Smith left, the Powhatan seemed to have a change of heart. They became more wary of their new neighbors.


Smith’s absence was a bad thing. He was not there to actively promote friendship and trade between the two peoples. Thus, relations began to suffer. The Powhatan no longer had someone who they felt that they could trust within the colony. They began to raid Jamestown. They would steal essential supplies, especially food. They fought with the English settlers. They killed some of them. Further, Smith had enforced his rules with an iron hand. Without him, the settlers grew lax. They did not manage their food supplies as well as they should have. Then, again, part of the settlement caught fire.

This time, the Powhatan refused to help them. The settlers waited anxiously for a ship. It was due to arrive with supplies. But no ship appeared. The winter of 1609 to 1610 was known as the “starving time.” The settlers ran out of food. And lots of them died.

Then, one spring day, two ships were spotted. They were the Patience and the Deliverance. Those who had survived ran to the banks of the James River in eager anticipation. But both ships had been badly damaged at sea. They had just barely made it to Jamestown. The ships were low on supplies. The settlers begged to be taken back to England. The two captains agreed.


Now you may not believe what happened next. It was just as the surviving settlers had turned their backs on Jamestown. They had set sail for England. They spotted an advance party of Englishmen sailing toward them. The retreating settlers were informed about this party. Lord De la Warr was close behind. Lord De la Warr was appointed by King James. He was to serve as governor of Jamestown. Lord De la Warr, it seems, would save the day. He saved the entire settlement, in fact. He had led three ships across the Atlantic. They were destined for Jamestown. They were filled to the brim with Englishmen and supplies.

The Powhatan must have been horrified! More settlers?! But this was great news for the settlement. Lord De la Warr turned out to be a good leader. He restored a sense of order in Jamestown. Under his leadership, things improved greatly. The buildings were repaired. The food and supplies were efficiently managed. But Lord De la Warr did not reach out to the Powhatan as John Smith had. Things in England were changing. There were new instructions to Jamestown from the Virginia Company of London. They were told to stop trading with the nearby Native Americans. They were ordered to stop relying on them.

A few years passed. More and more skilled settlers made their way to Jamestown. In 1619, the first shipload of women arrived. The people began to raise families in this English colony.


Gold was never found. But something just as valuable was. A settler named John Rolfe began to renew relations with the Powhatan. The settlers began to grow tobacco. They were guided by the Powhatan. And they were supervised by Rolfe.

There were other key events that took place in 1619. The English government was quite pleased. They saw that things were now going well in the colonies. So, they thought that it was time to let the settlers start to make some rules of their own. Of course, the colonists were expected to remember who was really in charge! On July 30, 1619, their first lawmaking assembly gathered. They called it the “Virginia House of Burgesses.” Members of the House were chosen. They were to represent the varied areas of the colony of Virginia. Of course, just men could be chosen back then. But the House of Burgesses would help to pave the way for self-government. And that would lead to future independence!

Now, back to Jamestown. There was another period of conflict between the Powhatan and the settlers. The Powhatan kidnapped some of the settlers. And they took several firearms. The settlers had a strong response. They kidnapped Pocahontas. Pocahontas’s father was willing to return the kidnapped settlers. He would exchange them for his daughter. But he would not give back the firearms. Well, the settlers refused to let Pocahontas go. So, Pocahontas ended up spending a number of years in the English settlement.


During this time, Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married. They had a son named Thomas. Pocahontas also converted to Christianity. She took the name Rebecca. She and John Rolfe traveled together to England. They were guests at the court of King James. But this ends as a sad story. It was just as Pocahontas and John Rolfe were preparing to return to Virginia. She became very ill. Pocahontas died on March 21, 1617. She was just 22 years old. She was buried in England.

In the last years of his life, John Smith spoke kindly of Pocahontas. He said that without her help and the help of the Powhatan, Jamestown would never have survived. Perhaps this colony was given the wrong name. What do you think?

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.)
Colonial America – Deeper Dive

Lesson 78 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Brewster, Calvert, Calvert’s, Carolinas, Catholics, Cecil, Cecil’s, Charleston, Ferdinando, Hartford, Henrietta, Hooker, Hutchinson, Leonard, Maryland’s, Narragansett, Oglethorpe, Powhatan’s, Protestants, Provincetown, Salem, Savannah, Squanto’s, Tomochichi, Virginia’s, Wethersfield, Windsor, Winthrop, Yamacraw, alliances, artisans, auctions, battered, boulder, buccaneers, buffer, choosers, conducive, debtor’s, debtors, debts, dissent, dissenter, doomed, drafted, drawback, drier, endured, exploratory, exporting, fairness, granite, horrifying, infamous, inhumane, interference, interpreted, jailed, jails, jingling, kidnapping, laborers, meetinghouse, odorous, optimistic, overcrowded, persecution, pilgrim’s, pivotal, prevalent, prospective, purer, purify, raiders, recant, recipient, revelry, seaport, sermons, smokers, stricter, terrorized, thrived, tolerated, toleration, troublemaker, troublemakers, unsanitary
Chapter Four: Cash Crops, the Carolinas, and Slavery
What have we learned? John Rolfe is well-known. First, he married Chief Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas. Then, he helped to make Jamestown a key economic center. That helped all of Virginia, too. He did this by growing and exporting tobacco. They would ship it out of the region. Lots of places wanted to buy it.

You might be thinking, yuck! Tobacco means smoking. And we all know that this is quite an unhealthy habit. Even land-greedy King James thought so. He once said that smoking is, “a custom loathsome to the eye. It’s hateful to the nose. It’s harmful to the brain. It’s dangerous to the lungs.” But lots of folks still wanted tobacco. And they were willing to pay for it. Thus, tobacco was a huge part of the Southern colonies’ economy.

The Spanish were the first to bring it to Europe from the New World. They had found that natives in parts of Central and South America used tobacco in lots of ways. It was chewed. It was smoked. It was used as medicine. And it was a key part of lots of religious rituals. In fact, tobacco was there when Columbus first set foot in the New World. He was greeted by local natives. They carried gifts of fruit and spears. And they offered dried leaves that had a strong fragrance. That was tobacco.


Then the English came to North America. They, too, found that lots of natives grew and used tobacco. The English settlers’ get-rich plan had failed when they could not find gold. Some settlers had also tried growing crops such as rice and grapes. But they, too, had no success. But Rolfe was guided by the Powhatan. Thus, he made a pivotal contribution to the doomed Jamestown economy.

Rich Europeans now had a taste for tobacco. But a lot of it had a bitter taste. Rolfe brought a new tobacco plant to their fields. It was a less bitter-tasting plant. He found it in the West Indies. He brought in the seeds. He just wished to see if they would grow. It was just a trial, at first. But it worked. The new plants flourished in their red soil. So now, Virginia tobacco was milder-tasting. It was much sought after. Its use went up with the growing number of English smokers. That boosted the local economy. Jamestown was now a place of wealth and enterprise. Shiploads of Englishmen and women eagerly set off to make their fortune there.

Tobacco was the “gold” that the first settlers had sought. But the “gold” turned out to be an odorous plant! Lots of folks were now rich by having grown this cash crop. Here’s what you may have heard if you’d been there. You might have heard the sound of gold coins jingling in the colonists’ pockets. Tobacco was wildly popular. By 1619, it was Virginia’s main crop. Within fifty years, the colony sent about 15,000,000 pounds of it to Europe. At one point, it almost became too widespread a cash crop. The governor had to remind the settlers to grow food crops, as well! The success of the tobacco industry thus secured the future of Jamestown.


But there was one big drawback to growing tobacco. It was quite labor intensive. Lots of people were needed to tend the large plantations. And they had to work very hard. People like that weren’t easy to find.

Here’s what it was like at the start. The new tobacco farmers had mostly indentured servants working for them. These were folks who’d agreed to come there with rules in place. They’d work for a period of time for a certain person. The agreed-upon time was often seven years. Lots of the time, these indentured servants were poor people from England. They could be from other parts of Europe, too. Their ship passage was paid for by their employer. Then, as soon as they got to their new homes, they were put to work. They worked long and hard in the farmers’ fields. Time would pass. The agreed-upon time of service would be met. With luck, they had lived through the hardships that lots of them endured. Then, they were free to set out on their own.

In 1619, a Dutch ship came to Jamestown. It is thought to have had onboard the first twenty Africans brought to North America. Some say that these Africans were brought to North America as indentured servants. They may have worked right next to white indentured servants.


But things changed as the colony grew. There was a large shortage of workers. The farmers thought about the use of slavery. They thought that it was the most efficient way to run their plantations. Before long, thousands of Africans were brought there against their will. They were then forced to work. Why did this awful transition take place?

Do you remember this? The English were now laying claim to large parts of North America. After all, Spain had claimed most of Central and South America. They had even claimed parts of southern North America. And the French had claimed much of northern North America. The English thought that they should claim huge chunks of land, too. You’ll recall England’s first attempt to colonize North America. That was on Roanoke Island. It was off of the coast of present-day North Carolina. It failed. It was known as the Lost Colony.

But in 1663, Charles II got further into the game. He was the son of Charles I. He was the grandson of King James I. He wished to try again near the same region. He eagerly gave a charter. That was an official document. He gave it to eight of his friends. It was about the land between Virginia and the Spanish colony of Florida. The charter said that this land now belonged to him. Well, it belonged to England, to be precise. Today, this land is North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. But Georgia was not settled until much later. Charles II also named part of this land for himself.  This charter was renewed in 1665. Then, more land was divided up among his friends to manage.


Charles II was generous to those who had helped his family. You may not know this yet. His father, Charles I, had been killed. Other people had stopped the monarchy from ruling for a number of years. At that time, Charles II had been forced to flee England. He sought asylum in another country. Charles II was later allowed to come back to England. He took the throne back. But he owed lots of money to lots of folks. His way out of debt was to “give” them North America. Well, he’d give them parts of it, anyway.

There was much news about how well Jamestown was doing. So, hundreds, and then thousands, of English flocked to the South. They focused on the Carolinas at first. In 1670, a busy seaport was built. It was called Charles Town. I’m sure that you can guess who it was named for. Today we call it Charleston. It’s in South Carolina.

At the start, lots of settlers in the Carolinas built small farms. But soon, large plantations replaced small farms. This was for the purpose of growing cash crops. There were three top cash crops in this region at that time. They were rice, tobacco, and indigo.

They had a warm climate in the Carolinas. And there were marshy stretches of land with fewer trees. That was perfect for growing rice and indigo. Tobacco thrived in some parts of North Carolina. Virginia had drier land and more trees. Its geography and climate were not conducive to growing rice and indigo. Tobacco was the only cash crop in Jamestown.


Settlers in the Carolinas saw the same things that had been seen in Virginia. This was quickly clear. They found that there was a lot of money to be made by growing crops. But lots more workers were needed. Unfortunately, the solution that the colonists chose was inhumane. They turned to the extensive use of slavery. You can surely imagine this. No one volunteers to be enslaved. The slaves were unlike indentured servants. Enslaved Africans did not come to the New World of their own free will. There was no exchange deal. And they did not have any hope of being set free. In truth, they were taken by force.

The roots of slavery go deep into the past. We see this throughout history. Powerful people have enslaved less-powerful ones. England had begun to trade enslaved Africans later than some other countries in Europe. But it was soon one of the biggest slave-trading nations. This was due to its widespread use in its colonies.

For England, the African slave trade was part of a larger trade network. In this web were Europe, West Africa, and North America. The latter included the colonies and the West Indies. Some of these trade routes were known as “triangular trade routes.” Look at the map. You’ll see why. These routes had certain goods being traded for other much-needed items. Enslaved Africans were part of the network, too.


English ships were often laden with iron products. That included lots of guns. They’d arrive in the West African ports. They’d trade their goods for slaves and gold. Africans who became enslaved had lived freely in Africa. But they were victims of kidnapping by slave raiders. Lots of these raiders were Africans themselves. They were armed with guns. The guns had been supplied by European slave traders. Enslaved Africans were thought to be valuable workers.

Captured Africans were loaded onto ships. Then they were destined for parts of North America. This trade route was from West Africa to North America. It was known as “the Middle Passage.” The West Indies might be their final destination. There, enslaved Africans were exchanged for goods. These might be molasses and sugar. These food products were then sent to the Southern colonies. Many of the Africans had been kept on the ship. They were taken on to the colonies along with the goods.

There were enslaved Africans in all thirteen English colonies. But most of them were sent to the South. This was because most farms in the Middle Atlantic and New England were smaller. So, they were more easily maintained by families. But there were some enslaved Africans in the cities. They worked in houses and shops as servants. Or they might work as skilled artisans, or craftsmen.


Can you imagine this business of enslaving and shipping captured African men, women, and children? This was a gruesome, horrifying chapter in our history. Captured Africans were packed like cargo onto ships. There was hardly enough room for them to move. Lots of them were chained together. Some were chained to parts of the ship. Very little food and water was provided. And the conditions were extremely unsanitary. There was usually no medical assistance for those who got sick. The trip itself could take six to ten weeks to complete. The Africans had no idea where they were going. And no one could know if they would survive the journey.

As we’ve said, enslaved Africans were valued for their labor. And the traders thought that there was an endless supply of these workers. Here’s how callous they were. They thought that if some died along the way, no problem. They thought that they could easily be replaced. A frightful number of Africans died before they even reached the Americas. When those who did survive reached shore, they were marched off of the ship in chains. There, they were examined by prospective buyers. And then they were sold at auctions. There was virtually no regard for the humanity of these African men, women, and children. The main objective was to put them to work on plantations. This would help the plantation owners make a lot of money.


Chapter Five: The Founding of Maryland and Georgia
There was now much trade in the New World. There were lots of ships laden with rich cargo. So, this next topic was inevitable. Pirates were bound to show up at some point! And they found good places to hide in the English colonies. There, they could run from the law. Most of them hid in the Southern regions, and in the West Indies. These pirates were known as “buccaneers.”

They were a group of men from England, France, and Holland. They terrorized sailors. And they robbed lots of trade ships in this region. These infamous pirates had lots of success. So, some countries were forced to send naval ships to the New World. These ships would go along with their trade ships. Then they’d bring them safely back to port. This New World was making lots of people rich. That was true for honest, hard-working folks. But it was true for criminals like the pirates, too.

Back on land, the colonies were expanding. Today you’ll learn of two more of them. These were Maryland and Georgia. Both of them have an interesting background. But the building of Maryland and Georgia was not the same as that of Virginia. Let’s start with Maryland.


You’ve learned of large plantations that were prevalent in the South. Maryland was tagged as a Southern colony. That was even though it was really in the Mid-Atlantic. There were lots of small farms there. But there were a fair number of large plantations in the southern portion. Like Virginia, Maryland’s economy was based on tobacco. That was their cash crop.

Before he was killed, Charles I gave a large chunk of land to a friend. It was north of Virginia. This time, the lucky recipient of land was Sir George Calvert.

Calvert was also known as Lord Baltimore. He received this generous gift in 1632. Calvert was a Roman Catholic. In England at that time, Catholics were not much-liked. That’s because they weren’t part of the Church of England. It was called the “Anglican Church.” It had split from the Roman Catholic Church. Lots of people there thought that Catholics would be more loyal to the Catholic Pope than to the king. They did not like that. We’ll now meet Queen Henrietta Maria. She was, of course, Charles’s wife. And it so happened that she was Catholic. The king tried to be respectful of Catholics. That was for her sake. Calvert was pleased with Charles’s gift. Thus, he named his colony “Maryland.” That was in honor of Queen Maria.

Here’s a big way that Maryland was not like Virginia. It was run by Sir Calvert’s family. Calvert had a son named Cecil. He determined that Maryland would be a safe haven for Catholics. So, right from the start, it was. In fact, in 1634, we turn to Cecil’s brother. That was Leonard Calvert. He led the first group of Catholics there. Leonard later became the first governor of Maryland.


The colonists in Maryland focused on a big priority from the start. They wished to make peace with the local Native Americans right away. They did not waste time searching for gold. Instead, they quickly built farms and trading posts. They soon settled into organized communities. And they drafted laws that were clearly defined.

It wasn’t long before word got out. Folks heard that Maryland was a nice place to live. Lots of Europeans were searching for a better life. They wished to be free of poverty. And they tired of religious persecution aimed at them. So, lots of folks came to this colony. And it was not just Catholics who came. Other Christians from different churches came there, too. Soon it was known as a place that practiced religious freedom. In fact, in 1649, Lord Baltimore went to the Maryland General Assembly. He had them pass the Act of Toleration. This law said that all Christians in Maryland would be tolerated. That meant that they could worship freely. This law said that all Christians were welcome. They could be from different churches. They could be Protestants or Catholics. They could all practice their religion without interference.

The last Southern colony to be founded was Georgia. We turn to a member of Parliament in London. His name was James Oglethorpe. He had quite a brainstorm. He saw that English jails were overflowing with debtors. At that time, one could be put in a jail called a debtor’s prison. That would happen if you were not able to pay your debts. Sometimes these jailed debtors owed a little money. But sometimes they owed a lot. Oglethorpe saw that these debtors were often left to die in jail. They had no way to pay back the money that they owed.


Oglethorpe had a unique thought. Why not set up a new colony in North America? There, these debtors would have a second chance. They would be given land. That way, they could start a new life. They could work to pay back the money that they owed. Then their debt would be forgiven.

In 1732, the then-king, George II, liked this thought. He gave Oglethorpe a charter. It said that he could take a band of debtors from England to the New World. They’d go to the land between South Carolina and Spanish Florida. Parliament was bought into this venture, too. They gave Oglethorpe money and ships to make the trip. When he reached this new land, Oglethorpe named it Georgia. Of course, that was named after his royal majesty. (Kings just assumed that new lands would be named after them.) Georgia was larger back then than the state of Georgia is today. It included much of present-day Alabama and Mississippi. So, that was quite a nice piece of land that George gave to Oglethorpe!

But this offer was hard to sell to lots of debtors. They did not want to leave their families and homeland. It was a daunting thought to sail 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. They’d be going to a place where they might not be welcomed with open arms.


And how about once they got there? They’d have to build their own homes. And they’d have to gather, hunt, and grow their own food. Many debtors wished to serve their time in jail in England. It was too much for them to face the unknown in the New World. Some might say “beggars can’t be choosers.” In all, only about 100 debtors went on the trip. Once there, they’d start the laborious task of turning Georgia into a colony.

Oglethorpe moved quickly when he got to Georgia. He met with the leader of the Yamacraw. This was a group of Native Americans in the region. Chief Tomochichi and the Yamacraw were willing to trade with the English. They would also let them settle there. Oglethorpe worked hard to build alliances with the Yamacraw. He even invited some of them to visit England. Oglethorpe and his band of debtors developed the first settlement in Georgia. That was Savannah.

Of course, King George had a second motive for sending settlers to Georgia. You’ll see on the map that Georgia is between the Carolinas and what was then Spanish Florida. At this point, the British had not built any colonies to the south of South Carolina. So, this was the best way to protect the colonies from the Spanish. Georgia served as a buffer zone. It would separate English colonies from the Spanish ones. This would also allow colonists to keep an eye on the Spanish. They knew of Spain’s ambitions for growth in North America.


But King George did not know that the Spanish had already claimed the region that he had in mind. It was not long before there was armed confrontation. The Spanish and the British started to fight each other. As time went by, more folks came to Georgia. But things were far from perfect. First, some of them did not get along with the natives as well as Oglethorpe had. Second, the Spanish continued to stake their claim to the land. And third, buccaneers often attacked vital trade ships. So, Georgia had its fair share of problems in its early days.

Of course, a few debtors came and settled in Georgia. But lots of poor Europeans from other countries also started to come. They came mostly from Ireland and Germany. Lots of farms were built in this colony. Georgian farmers liked the idea of plantation farming. That’s because it had been a success in other Southern colonies. But they soon found it to be a backbreaking job. They argued that they needed help. It had first been decided that Georgia would be a slave-free colony. But that did not last. Soon, slavery slowly began.

Before long, Georgia was a colony identified with plantation life. And they were known for the heavy use of enslaved laborers. Within 100 years of its birth, Georgia had more plantations than any other state in the South. And it had the second largest number of enslaved Africans, second only to Virginia.


Chapter Six: Religious Freedom and the First Thanksgiving
It was a September day in 1620. There were 100 or so men, women, and children. They were now on a small wooden ship. It was nestled in the English harbor called Plymouth. This ship was called the Mayflower. It was bound for the New World. You have to ask why folks would put their lives at risk like they were about to do. They would soon sail across a vast ocean in an overcrowded ship. They must have had good reasons.

I’m sure that you remember King James. Jamestown was named for him. Well, King James was not just the head of England at this time. He was the head of the Church of England, too. And James took his job as head of the church very seriously. He felt that the Church of England was the only true church in the land. And each person should be a part of it. The king, too, thought this about not supporting the Church of England. Maybe you might not support the king, either! So, James did not let people follow any other religion. Someone who broke this law could be severely punished. In fact, lots of people were put in prison or killed. Or they might have been forced to leave the country.


As you can guess, this law made a lot of folks mad. And there were lots of people who wished to be free to worship as they pleased. Two specific groups were angry with the king. They were known as the Puritans and the Separatists. The Puritans even belonged to the Church of England. But they believed that the Church of England (the Anglican Church) was not strict enough! They wanted a stricter way of life. That was based on how they interpreted the Bible. The Puritans wished to stay in the church. But they said that it should be purer. They wished it to be free of beliefs that they did not agree with. The Separatists, on the other hand, wished for people to have the freedom to worship as they pleased. And that was even if it meant leaving the Church of England. James would not hear either group out. He viewed them both as troublemakers.

One group of Separatists left England in 1608. They were bound for the Netherlands. They were frustrated and unhappy with the king. Away from England, they could practice their religion with no fear. But some ten years later, a group of them came back to England. They just missed their homeland and culture too much. They had a plan, though. They would not live in England for long. In fact, they planned to board a ship and move to a new land. It would be a land that would be their own. They would go to Virginia. And to be frank, James was quite pleased!


William Bradford was the leader of these Separatists. He had gotten the Virginia Company to let them make the trip. He had also gotten them to give them a small piece of land. They could settle there once they got there. You’ll recall this. It was the Virginia Company that had paid for the English settlers to head to Virginia in 1606.

Before they set off, these Separatists became known as “Pilgrims.” This is a word used to describe a person who goes on a pilgrimage. That’s a kind of journey that one goes on for religious reasons. It was thought that this word best described what these folks were doing.

And so, this is where we start out. It’s September 1620. The Pilgrims are on board the Mayflower. It’s important to note that not each person on board was a Pilgrim. There were military officers and adventurers. There were merchants and craftsmen. There were indentured servants and would-be farmers, too. They were not part of the Pilgrims’ church. So, the Pilgrims did not know much about them. Thus, the Pilgrims called the other travelers on board the ship “Strangers.” It does not matter what they were called. All of these folks hoped for a better life. And they were willing to put their lives at risk to get it.

The trip did not start out well. Strong winds made the voyage a hard one. The winds were so strong that they battered the ship and blew it off course. It took more than two months to complete the trip. And when they set foot on dry land, they were not even in Virginia.


At the first sight of land, the captain had them drop anchor. Those on board were glad to see land after two months on board a ship. But it was soon clear that they were not where they should have been. For one thing, the weather was much colder than they were prepared for.

So, here they were. They were far north of the land granted to them by the Virginia Company. So, the Pilgrim leaders on board drew up a plan. They outlined how their colony should be governed. And this was even before landing their ship. That’s right. Right there on the ship, they decided what the rules should be and who would make them. There was one main objective. And this included both Pilgrims and the so-called Strangers. They were all to work with each other in peace and fairness. They’d have to do that to make their colony a success.

There was a key document. It was written by William Bradford and the Pilgrim’s religious leader, William Brewster. It became known as the Mayflower Compact. Most of the men on board the ship signed the agreement. (There were 41 men, to be exact). Once again, women and, of course, children were not included. Today, the Mayflower Compact is a key document. That’s because it was the first document in the English colonies to guarantee self-government.


The group sent an exploratory party out in a rowboat. They were to check out the coastline. Everyone else was to stay on board the ship. The men in this party encountered Wampanoag Native Americans. The two groups shot at each other with muskets and bows and arrows. The English party advanced. They explored an area that became known as Provincetown. It was on the northern tip of Cape Cod. That’s in what’s now the state of Massachusetts.

The scouting party was not pleased with what they saw. Thus, the Pilgrims and others did not settle the place that later became known as Provincetown. Instead, they sailed farther. They went to a rocky harbor that they named Plymouth. And that was fitting. That’s because the group had first left England from the port of Plymouth.

Some historians have told the story this way. It’s said that the passengers took their first steps in North America when they alighted onto a large, granite boulder on the shoreline. This boulder is now known as Plymouth Rock. Some still believe the tale of the Pilgrims landing on this big rock. But it may be no more than a legend. What we do know is this. The date was December 21, 1620. And the Pilgrims had gotten to North America.

Sadly, they were not prepared for how bitterly cold the winters could be there. Further, the trip had been so rough that lots of the settlers were sick. They had little warm clothing and shelter. And they had barely any food. One-by-one, the settlers began to die. Almost half of them died in that first winter.


Spring could not come soon enough. When it did arrive, the settlers got to work. They began experimenting with planting seeds for crops. And they got to work building homes.

One day, a Native American named Samoset showed up there. Surprisingly, he spoke some English! He told the settlers about a Native American named Tisquantum. His nickname was Squanto. He did not just speak English. He had even been to England and Spain!

It was clear to Samoset that the settlers were in need of help. So, he went to get it. Soon, Squanto came back with the Wampanoag chief. His name was Massasoit. It seems that the settlers had come to a region inhabited by the Wampanoag. Squanto was not really a Wampanoag. But he had joined the tribe. That was when the people of his own tribe had died from diseases brought to North America by explorers and traders.


Squanto thought that the Wampanoag could trade with the settlers. He asked Chief Massasoit to make peace with them. It is thought that Squanto showed the settlers how to grow crops. He would have shown them how to grow corn, squash, and beans in the New England soil. He also showed the settlers where to hunt and fish. And he taught them which local plants were good to eat.

Soon, their crops grew in the warm New England sunshine. And the men hunted and fished in the woods and rivers. At this point, the settlers were more optimistic. Spring and summer passed. And then the first fall came. The settlers had built a large stockpile of food. It was enough to see them safely through the next winter. They were grateful. They were grateful to God. And they were grateful to the Wampanoag. It was time to hold a celebration of thanksgiving.

One of the settlers wrote this. It’s said that Chief Massasoit came to the feast with 90 Wampanoag men. The revelry lasted for a number of days. The settlers and their guests feasted on deer, duck, lobster, fish, cornbread, pumpkin, squash, and berries. They hunted. They played games. And they ran races. This celebration of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag is often called “the first Thanksgiving.”

The friendship and relative peace between the Wampanoag and the settlers would last for a long time. Things were calm even decades after Squanto’s death. But more new settlers poured into this region. These “pressures” caused the friendly relations to break down. But for now, this new land and new life with religious freedom were very much what the Pilgrims had hoped for.


Chapter Seven: Religious Dissent and the New England Colonies
The Pilgrims had solved some of their problems. But the Puritans had not. In England, the Puritans could still not worship the way that they wanted to. They wished to change and purify the Church of England. They had heard of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. They thought that they should try to do the same thing. They came up with a plan to do just that.

In 1628, some of the Puritans were led by a man named John Winthrop. They planned to settle in New England. It would be to the north of Plymouth. They knew that they’d have to plan things with great care. They had heard about the hardships faced by those who had gone to this New World before them. They knew that lots of folks had died. They knew that it was due to a lack of food and shelter. So, they did not want to make these same mistakes.

A small group of Puritans would go before the rest. They would start to build the colony. Then, in 1629, a group of Puritans and merchants formed the Massachusetts Bay Company. Their goal was to make money for the Puritan colony. They would trade furs, fish, and build ships. There would be some farming, too. But they knew that the rocky New England soil would not support a large farming economy.


The company would be run using Puritan principles. And the colony would not be like other English colonies. To be part of it, people would have to live according to the Bible. And they’d have to follow strict Christian beliefs. Winthrop thought that they could be a shining example to others. They would exhibit how people SHOULD live. He once said, “For we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are on us.”

In 1630, Winthrop set sail for New England. There were three ships and some 700 settlers. They brought a good store of food with them. And they had cows, horses, and tools. They were more prepared than prior settlers. When they got there, there were already some small buildings in place. They’d been built by the first group that they’d sent. This town was called Salem. Other groups were started in Charlestown, Cambridge, and Boston. This Puritan colony was named the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop would be its governor.

As planned, this was not like colonies that were growing in the South. Strict laws had been drawn up in England. They were put in place in the colony. People had to follow them. For example, each person had to go to church. Those in the government of the colony were senior church members. And only male church members could elect their leaders. As you have heard, the Pilgrims were glad to split from the Church of England. But the Puritans wished to stay a part of it. They wished to change it, too. They hoped to show a strict example of “pure living.” Then maybe the Church of England would be stricter, too. Perhaps they would do away with lots of rules that were still carried over from their prior Catholic influence.


The Colony was quite a success. And it grew fast. Each Puritan town was planned with care. Each family had been given a plot of land. Each plot was big enough to build a home and a farm. The key building in the town was the meetinghouse. This was where religious services and town meetings were held. The Puritans also believed in the power of education. They wished for their children to be able to read. That way, they could read the Bible.

In 1631, a man came to Boston. His name was Roger Williams. He was a pastor from London. From the start, he did not agree with some of the leaders. He thought that the leaders had too much “sway” over people’s lives. And he much disliked the close ties between the church and the government. He felt that this was too much like the English system that they had tried to escape! The leaders of the Colony felt threatened by his views.

Williams saw something else that he did not like. More people were coming to the colony. And he saw more and more land being taken from the Native Americans. He thought strongly that the Native Americans should be paid for this land. Before long, he was seen as a troublemaker. He was labeled as a “religious dissenter.” He was forced to leave the colony! There were some who even wished to send him back to England!


But he kept them from sending him back. In 1636, Williams left the colony in the middle of the night. A few of his friends left with him. It was in the dead of winter. It was bitterly cold. And he and his followers had nowhere to go. Lucky for them, they received help from some Native Americans. They survived in the woods for three months. At some point, Williams made his way south. They went to what would become Providence, Rhode Island. There, he bought land from the Narragansett. That was a local native tribe. This land became the colony of Rhode Island.

Over time, others also found it hard to follow the strict Puritan way of life. They ended up following Williams. Rhode Island became a haven for certain people. They wished to be free to practice their faith, or religious beliefs, in their own way. It became the first English colony to give people complete religious freedom. They did not just welcome Puritans. They helped Quakers, Catholics, Jewish people, and others, too.

There was another Puritan who followed Williams. She was a woman named Anne Hutchinson. She and her husband and children had arrived in the Colony in 1634. As you’ve heard, women were not part of the decision-making in the church. And they had little “power” in society, in general. Women surely weren’t allowed to preach. They could not give a religious speech in church. Anne did not like these rules. So, she had meetings each week in her home. These were for women who wished to discuss these sermons, or religious speeches. In these meetings, women also were free to talk of their religious views. These meetings became quite popular. Soon, some men, and even some of the church leaders, began to attend!


Hutchinson openly expressed her views. She felt that a person’s individual faith was more important than being a member of an organized church. She also said that a person’s personal relationship with God was what really mattered. This was thought by many to be a dangerous view. That’s because the Puritan church had strict rules that had to be followed. On top of this, Hutchinson was a woman. So, just like Roger Williams, she was put on trial. They viewed her as a dissenter. During the trial, she was told to recant. They wanted her to take back her beliefs and say that she had changed her mind. But she refused. Like Roger Williams, she, too, was banished.

In 1638, Hutchinson joined Williams in Rhode Island. Sometime later, her husband died. She moved to New York with her younger children. She planned to start a new life. At the time, New York was called New Netherlands. It was a Dutch colony. The governor there did not have a good reputation with the Native Americans. There had been lots of disputes between the natives and the settlers. He had also caused tension among some groups of Native Americans.

In 1636, we turn to a Puritan minister named Thomas Hooker. He also had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony. And a group of supporters went with him. They made their way to an area that’s now Connecticut. They founded the town of Hartford. It was near a wide river now known as the Connecticut River. Soon, two more towns were started in the colony of Connecticut. They were Windsor and Wethersfield.


Hooker thought that all men should be allowed to vote. Back then, you had to be a member of a church, or wealthy, to be a voter. In 1639, Hooker started a system of government. It was called the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. It was a form of democracy. It later helped to inspire the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

We’ve just talked about the creation of three of the four New England colonies. The last New England colony is New Hampshire. King James I helped to establish New Hampshire, too. Remember how he had given a region of land to his friends? Well, he had given land in this part of North America to two more friends. Their names were John Mason and Ferdinando Gorges. Later, the two men divided the land in half. Mason got the southern part. That became the New Hampshire colony in 1679. Lots of unhappy Puritan settlers also found their way to this colony. Gorges received the northern half. That would later become the state of Maine.

As you can see, back in the 17th century life was pretty complex. Lots of English people were willing to risk their lives to sail to a faraway land in the hope of a better life. Do you think that you would have been willing to do the same?

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.)
Colonial America – Deeper Dive

Lesson 79 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: Appalachians, Attucks, Barbados, Britain’s, Crispus, Grenville, Hancock, Jordans, Lenni, Longfellow, Markham, Metacom, Penn’s, Philadelphia’s, Pontiac, Pontiac’s, Protestant, Schuylkill, Townshend, Wadsworth, Williamsburg, apprentices, apprenticeship, apprenticeships, architectural, artisan, assaults, bluff, brewing, carding, challenged, childbirth, clashes, colonizing, curable, disloyal, exported, forbidding, glassmakers, heaping, ignoring, imitated, influx, intolerable, intolerance, luxuries, massacre, midwives, nationalities, oaths, occupations, outrageous, outspoken, overdue, pastors, persecuted, petitions, printers, privileges, quartering, repeal, repealed, ruffles, seasoning, shipbuilders, steeled, surveyors, taxation, tolerance, workday, workhouses

Chapter Eight: The Middle Colonies
The English had now started a number of colonies in North America. They were determined to claim more land. That is why in 1664 a fleet of English warships sailed into New Amsterdam Harbor. That’s now the New York Harbor in New York City. England claimed the harbor as its own. While they were at it, the English claimed the city and all the land around it, too. This was quite bold. Not only were these areas already Dutch colonies, but Native Americans were living there, as well. How and why did this happen? Let’s go back in time to find out.

In 1609, Henry Hudson was an Englishman exploring for the Netherlands. He set sail across the Atlantic Ocean on behalf of of the Dutch East India Company. His destination was North America. Hudson, like other explorers of the time, was searching for a northwestern water route to Asia. They called what they were looking for a “Northwest Passage.”

Hudson never did find that route. But he did find a place that’s now part of the New York City area. When he arrived in this harbor, Hudson claimed it for the Netherlands. The harbor area was named New Amsterdam. And the colony was named New Netherlands. Hudson did, though, name the Hudson River after himself. And so, a Dutch colony in North America was begun.


It is believed by many historians that in 1624, Peter Minuit, the governor of this Dutch colony, bought the island of Manhattan from a group of local Native Americans. They were known as the Munsee. This was in exchange for trade goods worth sixty guilders at the time. A guilder was a unit of Dutch money. Sixty guilders was quite little compared to the value of the land in Manhattan today.

Now, the Native Americans did not share the Europeans’ concept of private land ownership. Historians are not sure whether the Native Americans understood what the Dutch thought they were buying. Nor are they sure that the Dutch realized that it was the custom of some Native Americans to negotiate for trade goods in return for allowing others to pass through or temporarily inhabit the land upon which the natives were settled. So, this did not really create boundaries between the Native Americans and the colonists. These exchanges were meant to be the basis for continuing social connections between the groups.


It thus seems likely that both parties misunderstood the nature of the exchange. As a result, conflicts arose and continued between the colonists and Native Americans in this region. This is just like what was going on in other regions.

The Dutch colony kept expanding. It began to attract more Europeans. The colony allowed for certain religious freedom. Thus, people who were not happy with the leaders of their churches began to leave their homes and come to the New World. This colony had superb land for farming. And it had a growing fur trade. The English had set their sights on this region, too. For quite some time, they had focused on starting colonies to the north and south of what’s now New York. But in 1664 they turned their attention to this region.

At this time in England, Charles II was king. His father, Charles I, had been killed, because he was not well liked by the people. And Charles II had been forced to leave England. Later, in 1660, Charles II was asked to return and become king. If you recall, King Charles II had built up a great deal of debt. This happened during the ten years that he had been living in exile. During this time, Charles II had borrowed a huge amount of money from friends. It’s not easy to live like a king when you are not actually seen as one.


Charles II reclaimed his throne. He then looked to North America to solve his debt problems. As you know, he had already given land that did not belong to him in the South to some of his loyal friends. You might ask, “Why didn’t he give away parts of England?” Well, because that was against English law. There was no such law in place to protect the land in North America. Thus, Charles felt that he was entitled to claim this land. He based this belief on the fact that John Cabot had explored North America for England back in the late 1400s. That was well before Henry Hudson had done so for the Dutch in the early 1600s.

King Charles II put his brother James in charge of coming up with a plan to take New Netherlands from the Dutch. James was also known as the Duke of York. In 1664, he sent a number of warships to New Amsterdam Harbor. The Dutch were taken by surprise. Not only was New Amsterdam poorly defended, but the townspeople did not like their overbearing governor at the time. His name was Peter Stuyvesant. They were not willing to risk their lives for him against the English. Thus, Stuyvesant had no choice but to surrender.

And so, the Duke of York had carried out his mission without firing a single shot. King Charles II was very pleased, indeed. The Dutch did try to take their colony back many times. But they were not successful. By 1669, the area was now deemed an English colony. In honor of the Duke of York, New Amsterdam became known as New York City. And New Netherlands was now the colony of New York.


The Duke of York did not want to be too greedy. And he was ever grateful to loyal supporters of the monarchy. So, he gave the southern part of the colony of New York to two of his good friends. These friends were George Carteret and John Berkeley. This area later became known as New Jersey. It was named after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.

Soon after, the English took an area known as Delaware away from the Dutch, too. So, the English had now begun colonies in three distinct regions. These included the Southern colonies. These were made up of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Then there were the New England colonies. They were made up of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Finally, there were the Middle colonies. These were made up of New York, New Jersey, and the soon-to-be Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

The population in the Middle colonies grew fast. These colonies attracted not only English people, but people from many other European countries, too. In fact, the population in all of the English colonies grew. Within 100 years after King Charles II reclaimed his throne, the population would grow to be 2,000,000! Two of the most populous cities in North America at this time were in the Middle Atlantic region. They were New York City and Philadelphia. These cities grew into bustling commercial centers with large populations.


People who moved to the Middle colonies from other countries brought with them their own languages, culture, and range of skills. Those who settled in the Middle colonies were quite diverse. You can imagine hundreds of new arrivals from different places. They’d speak different languages. They’d wear different kinds of clothes. They’d build different types of homes. They’d eat many different kinds of foods. But despite their differences, the people who moved to North America all had one thing in common. They wished for a better life.

There were also many reasons that people chose to come to the Middle colonies. One was that this region had good harbor areas and long, wide rivers. The English knew that this region would be good for trade. Another reason was that the people in charge of governing those colonies were generally tolerant of people’s religions. For the most part, the day-to-day decisions were made by elected officials in town and county assemblies in the Middle colonies. But the Duke of York, George Carteret, and John Berkeley were ultimately in charge.

Another reason that people moved there was because it was a good farming region. The climate and soil in the Middle colonies, compared to the North and South, were perfect for farming. In terms of climate, it was neither too hot nor too cold.


Wheat grew well in these conditions. As a result, these Middle colonies earned the name “the breadbasket.” That’s because they could grow a lot of wheat. They could supply large amounts of flour to England and other English colonies. The West Indies ended up being a strong trade partner. Many mills were built in this region to grind the wheat into flour.

The flour was packaged and exported. Other crops, such as rye, potatoes, peas, and flax, also thrived. Farming became the main occupation, or job. There were other jobs, too. There was also a need for sailors, trappers, lumbermen, merchants, and craftsmen. Shipbuilding became an important industry, too.

There were some enslaved Africans in the Middle colonies. That’s just like it was in the Southern colonies. Unlike the Southern colonies, people in the Middle colonies used the rapidly growing population as their main source of workers. And they paid them wages. As a result, there was less dependence on slavery than in the South.

Builders were needed in the Middle colonies, too. People built houses of different styles. These homes often reflected the culture of their homeland. Networks of roads, though very basic, were slowly developing. The Great Wagon Road became an important “highway.” It stretched from Pennsylvania, south through Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Workshops, stores, and coffee shops were opening. Thanks to an English king who needed money, a vibrant new culture was emerging 3,000 miles away.


Chapter Nine: Pennsylvania and the Quakers
In 1681, King Charles II paid back another overdue debt. The man he owed money to this time was Admiral Sir William Penn. Admiral Penn had given Charles II a great deal of money during the time that Charles was banished from England. However, Admiral Penn died before Charles had the chance to pay him back the money that he owed him. Feeling guilty about this, Charles decided to repay Admiral Penn’s son instead. And so, the younger William Penn woke up one day to discover that he had received the gift of an area of land that today is known as the state of Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t an unexpected gift. Penn had actually asked for this particular area of land. He had a plan for it. And fortunately for him, the king had agreed. The king even named this gifted land Pennsylvania. That means “Penn’s Woods,” in honor of William Penn’s father. The young Penn was very happy indeed. Why did he want this land? Well, he wanted this land for religious reasons.

Admiral Sir William Penn had been a Puritan. But his son was a member of a Protestant group known as the Society of Friends. They were more commonly known as Quakers. Quakers believe that all people of every race, religion, and gender are equal. They do not believe in war. Quakers do not think that it is necessary to go to church to worship God. They believe that people can pray to God directly. Therefore, they do not need priests or pastors to help them do this. And perhaps what was considered the most outrageous thing by many people back then was that Quakers encouraged women to speak up.


Because of their religious views, Quakers refused to support the Church of England. Nor would they swear oaths in court or fight in wars. These beliefs not only challenged the Church of England, but some of the laws of the land, too. As a result, the Quakers were seen as disloyal and troublesome. And they were persecuted in England. Many English people, including the king, thought it would be better if Quakers would simply leave England. But even some of the first English colonies in North America did not welcome Quakers.

Over the years, Penn was arrested and placed in jail many times for his religious views, as were other Quakers. When he received the gift of land from the king, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it. He planned to create a colony that would be a “holy experiment.” As the sole owner of this land, like Roger Williams of Rhode Island, Penn planned to welcome people of all faiths and those from different countries. Prior to this, a small group of Quakers had already settled in what is now New Jersey. However, unlike some other colonists, Penn intended to pay for the land that he had been given. He wrote to the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans of Pennsylvania. He told them that he would do so. He also told them that he hoped they could be good neighbors to each other.

Penn had a clear idea of how he wanted his colony to be governed. He also had a clear idea of what the main settlement in his colony should look like. A plan for this future city was drawn up before it was built. The main settlement would be on a piece of land between two rivers. These were the Schuylkill and the Delaware. The city would be near one of the largest freshwater harbors in the world.


The settlement would be called Philadelphia. That meant “the City of Brotherly Love.” Penn wanted Philadelphia to have a grid pattern of wide, tree-lined streets. He wanted there to be open areas where people could walk. Philadelphia was the first English settlement to be planned before it was built.

In April 1681, Penn asked his cousin William Markham to be the deputy governor of Pennsylvania. His cousin accepted the position and set off right away. Penn stayed behind in England. He aimed to create a document that would outline the laws of this new colony. This document was called the First Frame of Government.

Penn had decided that his colony would be governed by elected leaders, not purely by the rich and powerful, as was the case in England. However, these elected leaders did have to be Protestants. People of other religions could settle in this colony and practice their faith. But they could not vote or hold office. Public education would be available to all children. There would be the right to trial by jury.

In addition, Penn believed that the purpose of jail was to reform prisoners rather than punish them. And so, in Penn’s jails, no one was locked inside tiny cells. Many prisoners were held in large workhouses where they could spend their time doing something useful.


In October 1682, Penn sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to his new home on a ship called the Welcome. As soon as he arrived, he met with the native people, the Lenni-Lenape. They are known today as the Delaware Native Americans. Together, they drew up a treaty. Penn also arranged to buy the land that he had been given by King Charles II, rather than just take it.

Before long, Philadelphia became an important center of commerce. Many people of different religions and nationalities made their homes there. In the early days, people came to this colony from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Later they came from other parts of Europe. That included Germany, France, Poland, and the Netherlands.

People even moved to Philadelphia from other English colonies for lots of reasons. This included the many employment opportunities, the spirit of religious tolerance, and the available farmland and accessible harbor. As a matter of fact, a few years after Philadelphia’s founding, the young Benjamin Franklin moved to the city. He planned to become an apprentice printer. Like New York, Philadelphia grew into a key city and center of commerce.

Quakers were strongly opposed to slavery. Thus, they established small farms that could be more easily managed, or controlled, by fewer people. This is not to say that there weren’t any enslaved Africans in Pennsylvania. There were. In fact, by 1730, there were 4,000 enslaved Africans in this colony. But that was much fewer than in the Southern colonies. Ultimately, because Quakers felt that slavery was wrong, they actively fought to abolish, or end, slavery.


Penn worked hard in the first two years to establish this Middle colony. Then, in 1684, for a number of reasons, including a land dispute with the powerful Lord Baltimore, he decided to return to England. William left his cousin and another man in charge. Incredibly, when Penn returned to England, he was arrested for treason. His rights and access to the colony were taken away from him.

In the end, Penn was found to be innocent of the treason charges against him. But he did not return to Pennsylvania until fifteen years later. When he did return in 1699, he found that many things had changed. During that time, thousands of people had moved to Pennsylvania. With more people came more problems. Being a reasonable man, Penn listened carefully to the concerns of the people who he had left in charge. He also listened to those people who he had never met before. He recognized the need for an even more open form of government. In 1701, Penn signed the Charter of Privileges. This document allowed elected members of the government to not only vote on laws, but to create new laws, as well.


A few years later, in 1704, an area in the southern part of Pennsylvania, known as the Lower Counties, was allowed to establish its own government. This area would later become the colony of Delaware.

Soon after, Penn set sail for England again. He never returned to Pennsylvania. In 1708, he was once again arrested. This time he was accused of not paying his debts. He was released within a year when his debts were cleared. But Penn’s health had started to decline.

Penn continued to fight for the things that he believed in. Throughout his life, he found himself on the opposing side of popular opinion. He died in England in 1718. He was buried next to his wife in a tiny village called Jordans. He is remembered as the man who founded the great City of Brotherly Love.


Chapter Ten: Colonial Life
You have learned about the many reasons that people from all over Europe traveled thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to establish and live in the thirteen colonies. Kings, trading companies, and influential Englishmen all realized that North America had enormous potential. In other words, they all thought that they could get rich there. Others wanted to start a new life, free of religious intolerance and persecution.

People from England and other parts of Europe traveled to different regions for different reasons. Slowly, these regions, and the colonies within them, began to take shape. The Southern colonies had warm weather and adequate rainfall. Small farms and large plantations began to dot the landscape. The large plantations had many enslaved Africans working on them. The economy in the South was based on farming cash crops such as tobacco, rice, and indigo. These crops were exported to England and the West Indies and sold by merchants there. Trade among the thirteen colonies also began to grow.

The soil in the New England colonies was not as suitable for farming. There were some small farms. But due to the abundance of forests, timber became an important trade good. Over in England, many of the forests had been cut down by the time the colonies were established. So, timber to make ships and homes was exported to England. Other colonies also needed timber to build fishing and trading ships, homes, and barrels.


Farming was a main source of income in the Middle colonies. Wheat was grown so abundantly that this region had a special name. Mills were built, and the wheat produced was ground into flour and sold to other colonies. Large amounts of flour were also sold to England and its colonies in the West Indies. Settlers from around the world came to this region. This resulted in a wide variety of cultures within the Middle colonies.

Can you imagine what it was like to grow up back then? Let’s find out what life was like in the English colonies. In the early days, only boys who lived in Massachusetts had to go to school. The first schools were one-room schoolhouses. Boys of different ages learned reading, writing, and math. Sometimes the older boys helped to teach the younger ones. In 1647, a law was passed in Massachusetts that required every town with fifty or more families to support an elementary school. Towns with more than one hundred families had to support a grammar school. There, boys would learn Latin to prepare for college. This was the beginning of public education in America. Over time, every colony began to provide a basic public education. The very first college, Harvard, was founded in New England in 1636. In 1693, the College of William and Mary was founded in Virginia. The second college created, William and Mary, was named after King William III and Queen Mary II of England.


Some boys attended private schools. And others were educated at home. Puritan girls were taught to read so that they could read the Bible. For many children, the main part of their education was learning a skill. That way, they could grow up and support a family. For girls, that meant learning household skills such as cooking, keeping a vegetable garden, sewing, making candles, and raising children. Some girls might learn to become dressmakers.

For boys, farming was one of the main occupations. There were many different kinds of apprenticeships, too. Boys as young as eleven years old would serve as apprentices. They would learn a skill from an experienced artisan. They could learn to be shoemakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, shipbuilders, printers, surveyors, millers, merchants, and glassmakers, among other things. Boys could also train to become lawyers, doctors, or teachers.

Boys would often leave home at the age of eleven. They’d go to live as apprentices with the skilled artisans who were training them. Their workday was about twelve hours long. Apprentices were provided with food and a place to live. But they were not paid. Apprenticeships usually lasted for a number of years. At the end of their apprenticeship, they would join an existing business or start their own.


Even young children had lots of chores to do. If you lived on a farm, and many people did, you would gather firewood, tend to the farm animals, milk the cows, collect eggs from the chickens, make candles, plant and harvest vegetables, and carry water from the well. Almost all of your food came from your farm. All of this had to be accomplished without today’s luxuries. There was no electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heating or air conditioning.

Life in the colonies was not all work and no play. Because children spent a large part of their day doing chores, they often found ways to make a game out of their work. For instance, if they were gardening, they might have a game of hide-and-seek after they had finished weeding the garden or picking the vegetables. If they were carding wool, carrying firewood, or churning butter, siblings might race one another to see who would finish first. Children might also sing songs, or exchange stories and riddles as they worked. When their chores were finished, they played games like blind man’s bluff, hopscotch, tag, and a form of jacks using rocks.

There were no toy stores. So, colonists made toys from things that they had in their homes or farms. For instance, dolls might be made from corn husks or rags. If they had some wood, leather, or string left over, they might make a toy out of it. This might be a top or spinner, or a game like the familiar cup-and-ball game. Colonists made board games that they could play, too. One favorite toy might be a hoop left over from barrel making. Children would turn the hoops on their sides and roll them with a stick through the streets.


Religion played a key role in the development of many of the colonies. Christians often read the Bible to their children. And children were required to memorize Bible passages. For Christians in New England, attending church was the most important thing that they did. In fact, if you were a Puritan, it was compulsory. Puritans worshiped in a meetinghouse. Sermons could last for several hours. If you fell asleep during the service, there was sometimes someone assigned to wake you up. That person had a long pole with feathers on one end. If someone fell asleep, he tickled their chin with the feathers.

As you learned, in the early days of the colonies, most people produced the food that they ate. Corn was a very important crop to the colonists, as it was with many Native Americans. Colonists used corn in a variety of ways. There was corn bread, corn cake, boiled and fried corn, corn soup, and corn on the cob. Besides farming, some colonists also hunted and fished. The colonists learned to harvest regional fruits and berries. They used them in their cooking for seasoning and pies. Apparently, colonists had a very sweet tooth! Historians have recorded stories about how colonists loved hard candies, pies, and puddings.


As the colonies grew in size, towns became large cities. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston became the largest. The architectural style of each region often imitated, or copied, the European countries from where many of the colonists had originated. There were many red brick, English-style homes in New England. There were Dutch-style wooden houses with sloping roofs in the Middle Atlantic. And there were French-style farmhouses with wide porches and French doors in the Southern region. In addition, Charleston architecture has a Caribbean influence. That’s because lots of settlers arrived there from the English island of Barbados in the Caribbean Sea.

The streets of these towns and cities became busy with horses, wagons, and people. Not everyone worked as a farmer, artisan, or apprentice. There were many wealthy people who lived in very fine houses in these large cities. Their homes contained only the best furniture, silver, china, and fabrics shipped from England. In the early days of the colonies, people relied heavily on imported goods from England. As the years went by, the colonists began to manufacture some of these things themselves. But the English Parliament still controlled how much manufacturing the colonists were allowed to do. The English did not want to lose the money that they made by selling their goods to the colonists.


The wealthy colonists paid attention to English fashions. And, even on the hottest days, they could be seen wearing the most elaborate clothing made of the finest materials. Men wore lace stockings and ruffles. They carried swords and powdered their hair. Women wore big, puffy, many-layered dresses, and they boasted towering hair designs when they were in fashion.

Those less affluent colonists who did physical work wore clothes that were made from simpler materials. They often made their own clothes. Or they wore clothes given to them by others.

Communication between the colonies was difficult. Most roads were nothing more than wagon trails. But in the larger cities, there were a few established “highways.” Ships traveled up and down rivers and along the coast to bring goods and news from far away. Written communication was one of the only ways of sending and receiving messages. But letters could take weeks, if not months, to arrive. Frequently, letters would go missing.

Medicine then was basic, and people died of diseases that are quite curable today. Women gave birth at home with the help of midwives. Because they did not have the medical care that we do today, sometimes women died in childbirth. And many babies died before reaching their first birthday. But life away from the crowded European towns and cities was somewhat healthier.


Chapter Eleven: The Road to Revolution, Part One
You have learned about how the English colonies were started. And you’ve gotten a flavor for how the colonists lived their lives. Throughout this time, the English, Spanish, and French fought each other over land in North America. They were all land hungry. They clashed over the areas of North America that they wanted for themselves. The Spanish had forced the French out of what’s present-day Florida and gained control of it. The Spanish also moved into the regions now known as New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas. The French were colonizing parts of present-day Canada. And they had also claimed the Mississippi River valley for France. Some of these land claims resulted in wars on European soil. But other clashes were starting to take place in North America.

At the same time, more Europeans were coming to the English colonies. They would expand the search for new land to settle. They began to move further west. They were headed inland, away from the coastal areas where people had first settled. Over time, the Native Americans began to see that there would be no end to the influx of people.

In 1675, war broke out in New England. It was time for the Wampanoag to take a stand. Chief Metacom was the son of Chief Massasoit. He led a war party against some English settlers. This attack turned into an all-out conflict. The English settlers won. And they essentially destroyed the Wampanoag tribe, taking even more of their land.


As the colonies grew, English explorers continued west across the Appalachian Mountains. They headed into what’s now the Ohio River Valley. But this land was not uninhabited, either. Native Americans had been living in this region for a long time. Some of them had even been forced to move west away from the eastern regions to escape the influx of settlers. The French had also claimed a few areas of the Ohio Valley. The French had set up a good trading partnership with native tribes in the area. They did not want the English to interfere with this business relationship.

Neither the Native Americans nor the French wanted English settlers to build homes on this land. But members of the British Parliament wrote to the French. They told them that it was a well-known fact that the land belonged to Great Britain and that they should go away.

The French considered this request and then replied, “NO!” Hmm. This was a bad sign! Conflict was brewing. The Native Americans were distressed by how much land they had already lost. So, they steeled themselves for a fight. And so did the French.

Yet another war broke out in 1754. This war is known as the French and Indian War. It was fought in the forests of North America. And it went on for a long time, almost nine years, in all. Colonists in North America were asked to fight for this land. Britain also sent thousands of soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean to fight. Many Native Americans in the region, such as the Huron, fought with the French in this war. Others, such as the Iroquois, sided with the British.


Two years later, the war over the colonial territory in North America spread to other parts of the world. In all of these places, France and Great Britain competed for land. They fought in Europe, the West Indies, and India. This phase of the war is known as the Seven Years War in Great Britain. After much conflict, the British captured the French-controlled city of Quebec, Canada. The capture of Quebec in 1759 was a turning point for the British. They eventually won the war. In 1763, the war was over. But this was the beginning of the end for French fortune in North America. Though the French and the British signed a peace treaty, the Native Americans did not.

Organized attacks on British settlers continued under the leadership of Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe. These assaults were commonly known as Pontiac’s Rebellion. They involved a vast network of at least thirteen Native American tribes which united together. The British soon saw that it would be impossible to defend this land, or the settlers on it. Thus, the British Parliament and King George III said that that settlers could not live on land west of the Appalachians. In 1763, King George issued a proclamation forbidding it. Can you imagine? Having just fought a war for ownership of this land, colonists were now told to stay away from it.


Fighting a war for many years is a very expensive thing to do. When it was over, the British Parliament realized that they had spent a great deal of money. Britain was in financial trouble. So, someone had to help get them out of it. That someone was the thirteen colonies.

The prime minister of Great Britain at the end of the French and Indian War was a man named George Grenville. Grenville was asked to come up with a plan to pay off Britain’s debt. He thought long and hard about this. And he did, indeed, come up with a plan. “How about taxing the colonists?” he thought to himself. “After all, Great Britain fought the war to defend the colonists against the French and the Native Americans!” Grenville gave his plan to King George III and Parliament. Everyone in Britain agreed. It was a great plan.

In 1764, the British Parliament passed the Sugar Act. This law placed a tax on foreign sugar and molasses. By making foreign sugar and molasses more expensive, the colonists were being forced to buy these goods from the British producers in the West Indies. But this act did not just include sugar. It also included wine, cloth, coffee, and silk. The colonists were now taxed if they chose to buy less expensive products from other nations.

Then in 1765, England passed the Stamp Act. It stated that all printed materials produced in the colonies would be taxed. Newspapers, magazines, legal documents, and, believe it or not, even playing cards, would cost more. People had to buy a stamp and place it on the paper item that they had bought.


In the same year, the Quartering Act was passed by the British. This meant that colonists had to help provide quarters, or temporary places to live, for the British soldiers stationed in the colonies. The colonists also had to provide supplies. This included food, bedding, candles, and firewood.

For many years, the colonists had handled their own affairs. Now, members of a government 3,000 miles away had voted to tax them. And they were not allowed to vote for these British leaders. So, they felt that their views and thoughts were not represented in the British government. Many colonists believed that it was unfair that they had to pay taxes, while they did not have representation in the British Parliament. The British responded that members of Parliament considered the interests of the entire empire. They did not simply cover just the local areas that they represented.

Now, most people had accepted the Sugar Act and the Quartering Act. But they were not prepared to accept the Stamp Act without a fight. Some outspoken colonists began to suggest that they should not pay it. They cried, “No taxation without representation!”


Chapter Twelve: The Road to Revolution, Part Two
As you have heard, the colonists were in strong opposition to the taxes that England kept heaping on them. Their famous words were, “No taxation without representation!”

One man in particular, Patrick Henry, began to speak up. Patrick Henry was a Virginia lawyer. In Williamsburg, Virginia, he stood before the House of Burgesses. He spoke out against the king and the new tax. Patrick Henry stated that only colonial governments should have the power to introduce new taxes in the colonies.

In 1765, the twenty-seven elected leaders of nine colonies made their way to New York. They met to discuss what could be done about the Stamp Act. This meeting became known as the Stamp Act Congress. Members of the Congress informed the British Parliament that this tax was unjust.

Another outspoken leader at this time was a man named Samuel Adams, from Massachusetts. He organized a group of people who became known as the Sons of Liberty. These men protested in the streets, burned the stamps, and threatened the agents whose job it was to collect the taxes. It soon became impossible to impose the Stamp Act. And, so in 1766, the British Parliament was forced to repeal it. When the colonists heard this news, they celebrated their victory.


Members of Parliament were not happy. King George insisted that it was Britain’s right to tax the colonies. A new plan was needed. This time a man named Charles Townshend had another idea. They would put a tax on items that they knew the colonists really needed. These items were used daily in colonial times to make many things. These included paint, paper, glass, lead, tea, wool, and silk.

In response, the colonists started to boycott these items from Britain. They began to make their own products. Colonists purchased tea from other sources. Or they drank “liberty tea” made from herbs and berries. Many women even began making their own cloth. This hurt British manufacturers. So, before long, this tax was also removed, that is, all except for the tax on tea. So, the colonists’ boycott of British tea continued.

England was alarmed by the high level of protests. So, they sent troops to the colonies. They arrived in Boston Harbor in 1768. The colonists did not like the presence of British soldiers. That was especially because the soldiers had been sent to control them. Tension between the colonists and Britain continued to grow.


In 1770, a scuffle broke out in Boston. It was between British soldiers and a group of colonists. In the confusion, British soldiers fired their guns into the crowd. They killed five colonists, and they injured six others. The first to die was a man named Crispus Attucks. People were horrified. The soldiers were immediately arrested. This terrible event became known as the Boston Massacre. The relationship between the colonists and Britain was becoming much worse.

It would not be fair to say that tea caused the American Revolution. But it played a part. The colonists were still refusing to buy tea from Britain. And King George and his government were refusing to listen to the colonists. In 1773, the British Parliament introduced a new law called the Tea Act. This time they said that only the British East India Company could sell tea to the colonies. And the tea would still be taxed. The colonists responded that, not only did they not want this tea, they didn’t want trade ships bringing it into the colonies, either. In other words, they would give up drinking British tea altogether. In 1773, three British trade ships loaded with tea appeared in the Boston Harbor. The Sons of Liberty took action. They wore elements of Native American war clothing. Then they threw all of the tea into the water! This event became known as The Boston Tea Party.


Now the king was really mad. You could say the colonists’ “actions spoke louder than their words.” The British government decided to punish this colony. A British general was placed in control of Massachusetts. Boston Harbor was closed. And more British soldiers were sent to Boston. With the port closed, many colonial businesses began to suffer. The colonists called these recent British decisions the “Intolerable Acts.” That’s because they were not willing to put up with them.

Rather than back down, the colonists began to join together. Many colonists were even more convinced now that the British did not understand them or care about them. Colonists were now daring to think about, and talk about, establishing their independence from England. They talked about becoming their own nation. Those who wanted to become independent, or free, of England were called Patriots. People still loyal to England and the king were known as Loyalists.

It was clear that the colonists’ relationship with Britain was changing. Now, elected leaders of the colonies had to decide what to do. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and other leaders came together. They had a gathering in Philadelphia known as the First Continental Congress.


In this meeting, the leaders voted to end all trade with Britain. That would stay in force until Britain repealed the Intolerable Acts. Most people still hoped that these issues could be resolved peacefully. But it was decided that each colony should begin to store weapons and train men for war.

On April 18, 1775, British soldiers were given information about colonial weapons that had been secretly stored in a town called Concord. It was about twenty miles from Boston. The soldiers were ordered to seize the weapons and destroy them. The British soldiers began to march towards Concord. A colonist named Paul Revere rode through the night to inform his fellow Patriots that the British were coming. Perhaps you are familiar with this first part of a famous poem called “Paul Revere’s Ride.” It was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, based on this historic event.

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 to-night,
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.”


Paul Revere saw the signal of two lanterns lit by his friend in the church tower. That meant that the British were coming by sea. So, he rode all night to Concord to warn the colonists. Paul Revere was captured. But the colonial soldiers, called Minutemen, were warned and prepared for the arrival of the British.

The very first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Lexington on April 19, 1775. That was as the British soldiers were on their way to Concord. Historians are not certain who fired the first shot. Several Minutemen died in this exchange of fire. The British soldiers continued their march toward Concord. But when they got there, the weapons were nowhere to be found.


Paul Revere’s heroic ride had warned the colonists in time for them to move their weapons. The British began to retreat. As they did, they were fired upon by Minutemen. Many British soldiers were killed.

A second gathering of leaders from each colony was called in the city of Philadelphia, which would later become the first capital of the U.S. Shortly before this meeting, Patrick Henry had uttered these famous words. “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” At this Second Continental Congress, George Washington was chosen to be the Commander-in-Chief in charge of an army that did not yet fully exist. But the leaders anticipated that they would soon need such an army.

During this time, many letters and petitions were sent to King George. Among them was the Declaration of Independence. It was primarily penned by Thomas Jefferson. It was approved by the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776. King George responded by ignoring the colonists’ requests. In fact, he sent more British soldiers to the colonies. The long and difficult battle for American independence had begun.


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

Lesson 80 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Ricardo, adjoin, ambit, anatomy, ankles, appendage, appendages, appendicular, armored, arrayed, axial, circumscribes, clavicles, cleave, collarbones, collars, combating, communicator, conjointly, consciously, cranial, crumpling, cushioning, deleterious, diaphragm, dislocate, distending, enabled, encumber, excrete, excretes, extensions, femur, footwear, gotcha, gristly, groundwork, hanger, hangers, hinged, hipbones, interconnected, interlocked, jawbone, jellylike, jointed, knobby, lineation, manufactory, midpoint, morph, multiplying, musculous, networks, niches, nonstop, obscured, optimally, pelvic, perpetually, pertains, photographic, pliability, pores, porous, rationale, receptive, regenerate, rhythmically, ricked, rubbery, sacrum, scalp, segregate, shielding, similarity, stretchy, subsumed, surfeit, system’s, tailbone, taxonomists, thicken, thighbone, toppling, tricep, trillions


Chapter One: Building Blocks and Systems
Hello everybody. I’m Ricardo. I’m in the fourth grade. And I am fascinated by the human body and its complex, interconnected systems. I hope to continue to learn about the human body in great detail and become a doctor someday.

Dr. Welbody is a friend of mine. Who remembers Dr. Welbody? She’s the rhyming pediatrician. Some of you may have met her when you were in first grade. Dr. Welbody taught you about your body, using several rhymes like this one.

Everybody has a body, And I have one, too.
It is grand to understand, The things our bodies do.

Dr. Welbody just happens to be my very own pediatrician. She’s also one of my teachers. She’s not the kind of teacher you find in a school. But she’s still taught me so much about my body. She has asked me to come share a little of what I’ve learned with you. Thanks for being receptive to hearing my lessons. I can’t wait! Our bodies are often compared with machines. That similarity may seem strange to you at first. That’s because machines are nonliving objects, and our bodies are very much alive. But, think about it. Machines are made up of networks. Human body systems include lots of different parts working together to perform very special jobs. Dr. Welbody says that our bodies are the most marvelous machines on Earth. And I think that you will agree with her once we review how our bodies work.


Just as Dr. Welbody loves rhymes, I love riddles! So, expect to hear a lot of riddles from me. Let’s begin our lesson with one now.

I am as strong as a tree trunk. But, with a little help from other human body systems, I can bend in many directions. I give your body its shape. What am I?

It is your skeleton. Does anyone know which system of the body includes your skeleton? It’s your “skeletal system,” that bony system that supports you and protects important organs inside your body. The skeletal anatomy is only one of many systems that are working together in your body.

Now, I’m going to ask you some more riddles. See if you can match the riddle to the right body system. Ready? Let’s go.

I’m the system that makes your bones move. I also help you blink and swallow. What system am I?

The “muscular system” is made up of muscles. Muscles are the motors of the human machine. They keep your body moving in lots of different ways. Some are attached to your bones to help you run and throw a ball. Others line the walls of the stomach. They squeeze in, and then relax, to help digest your food. Small muscles in your face help you smile. Your strongest and most important muscle is your heart. It works nonstop, distending blood throughout your body, day and night.


Here’s the next riddle.

Without me, you would not be able to feel, or see, or hear. I control your senses by sending messages to my command center, the brain. What system am I?

The “nervous system” is your body’s communicator. It tells your body what to do. Nerves run throughout your body, from head to toe, like a giant road system. Nerves send messages up and down your spine to your brain. The nervous system controls your muscles. It tells them how to move. It also helps all of your other systems to do their jobs.

Here’s your next riddle.

I work like a food-processing machine. You put food in your mouth. Then, I churn it up for the rest of your body to use as fuel. What system am I?

The “digestive system” helps you to digest, or break down, your food. It splits your food into nutrients. That gives your body energy to live and grow. Food enters your mouth and travels down a long tube called the “esophagus.” The food goes all the way to the stomach and the intestines. It takes food nearly two days to pass all the way through your body.

Ready for another riddle?

I work like a water filter. I get rid of harmful substances in the liquid that passes through your body. I “excrete” them, or push them out of the body. What system am I?


The “excretory system” excretes, or gets rid of, liquids. These may be things such as sweat and urine that may be deleterious to the body. Your skin, the largest organ of the body, excretes sweat through its many pores. A pair of organs called the “kidneys” filter harmful substances and extra water from the blood. They send them on to your “bladder.” Your bladder looks like a bag, holding a surfeit of fluid, or urine, until it is ready to pass out of your body.

Here’s another riddle.

I am your body’s delivery system. I deliver nutrients and oxygen to all parts of your body. Nutrients and oxygen circulate, or are carried throughout the body by blood vessels. The heart acts as my pump. What system am I?

The “circulatory system” is made up of your heart, blood vessels, and blood. Blood enters your heart and is pumped into a large blood vessel. Blood “vessels” carry blood to every part of your body and loop back again. This circulation of the blood carries nutrients and oxygen. And it happens all day and all night.

Here’s the last riddle for now.

I carry oxygen to your blood. Without oxygen, you cannot live. I also get rid of the carbon dioxide gas that the body does not need. I help you breathe. What system am l?


The “respiratory system” brings air, filled with oxygen, into your body. You can live without food for days. But you cannot live for more than a few minutes without oxygen. You breathe in air through your mouth and nose. Then you exhale a gas called carbon dioxide. Air travels through a tube into your lungs. Those are the organs that take up most of your chest. Your lungs take in the oxygen that keeps you alive.

Wow, everybody! You’ve identified seven of the body’s systems! Let’s see if you can name all seven with me. They are the skeletal, muscular, nervous, digestive, excretory, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Now, it’s time to find out what all of these systems have in common.

The systems of the human body are “organ systems.” Each system is made up of “organs.” These are parts of the body with clearly defined functions. For example, your stomach is an organ. Your stomach works closely with other organs. Those are your mouth, your esophagus, your liver, and your intestines. These organs are all parts of your digestive system. Each one of these organs has a specific function to perform as part of your digestive system’s overall job. That job is to break down your body’s food.


Organs are made up of “tissues.” Tissues are masses of cells that have a specific structure and come together to form organs. There are many different types of tissues. These include muscle, bone, skin, blood, and nerve tissue. Each different type of tissue is made up of different groups of similar “cells” that do the same jobs. All body tissues are made up of cells. What exactly are cells? Cells are tiny building blocks. They’re so tiny, in fact, that nobody even knew what they were or that they existed until microscopes were invented about 400 years ago. Microscopes magnify cells. They make them big enough to see and study. Your body contains trillions of cells.

Cells come in all shapes and sizes. That depends upon the jobs that they must perform. For example, red blood cells look like bagels with dents instead of holes. They travel through your blood, carrying important nutrients all over your body. Skin cells are grouped together in skin tissue. They are packed tightly together to form a protective ambit between you and your environment. Your skin is your largest organ. Nerve cells are grouped together in nerve tissue. And they often have long extensions that send and receive messages quickly. Muscle cells, grouped together in muscle tissue, look very different, too. They are long and lean. They help the body move as they stretch and shorten.


Each body system is made up of different types of cells. There are over 200 different types of cells in your body. Everything you do, from breathing to eating to running to sleeping, requires lots of working cells. They are truly the building blocks of your body. Without cells, there would be no body tissues, no body organs, and no body systems. In fact, all living things have cells. There would be no living things on Earth if it weren’t for cells!

Cells are alive, and living things do not last forever. Some cells live for only a few days. Others live for years. Some cells become damaged when you get hurt. Others wear out over time. But inside your body’s tissues, cells are perpetually dividing and multiplying. One cell becomes two cells, two cells become four, four become eight, and so forth. As cells die, the dead cells are replaced with new cells on a daily basis. Isn’t the life cycle of cells amazing?

Well, everybody, we’re out of time. Today you heard a little about a lot of body systems. Next time, I’ll be back to give you a peek inside your body. I’m looking forward to discussing the human body systems with you. See you next time!


Chapter Two: The Skeletal System, Axial Bones
Hi, everybody. Ricardo here. I’ve got a new riddle for you. We are a column of bones, ricked on top of one another. Conjointly, we make up your backbone. We begin with the letter “V.” What are we?

Today we’re going to talk about the system that gives your body its structure, allowing it to stand on its own. If you’ve ever seen a building being built, you know that it has a groundwork that gives the building its shape. It also keeps it from toppling over. Your body has a similar structure. Who knows what keeps your body from crumpling? That’s right. It’s your skeleton!

Your skeleton is made of bones. Bones can support a lot of weight. But they did not start out that way. Before you were born, your skeleton began as “cartilage.” That’s a firm rubbery tissue like the tough gristle on a piece of meat. Touch the top of your ear. What you feel is cartilage. The top of your ear will always be cartilage. But much of the cartilage in your original skeleton hardened and turned to bone.

By the time you were born, you had about 300 bones in your body. An adult has about 206 bones. So, where did all the extra bones go? Do bones just disappear? No, they grow and morph over time. Many of them adjoin, like those at the end of your spine called the tailbone, or the bones in your skull.


Have you ever heard the saying “hard as rock?” Rocks are hard due to the minerals that are stored inside of them. The outside part of your bones becomes hard by storing minerals, too. Minerals enter your body in the food that you eat and the vitamins that you may take. “Calcium” is subsumed in dark, leafy greens, broccoli, and dairy products, such as milk. It’s one of the important minerals that makes your bones as hard and strong as rock on the outside. Calcium is also needed to help blood clot, or thicken, when you accidentally cut yourself. Without it, your blood would be too thin for you to maintain good health.

At least until you reach your full height, your bones will continue to grow with you. It’s hard to imagine rock hard bones growing, isn’t it? They cannot stretch or bend. So, how do bones grow? Well, bones are made up of living tissue. New bone tissue is being made all the time. This tissue is working to replace worn-out cells and making it possible to regenerate broken bones.

Before you were born, your bones were solid. But many of them have become hollow over time, making them very light, yet still very strong. This is how bones differ from rocks. Rocks are solid all the way through. But bones are “porous.” That means that they have many tiny holes through which liquids pass. “Marrow,” a jellylike tissue, fills these cavities of your porous bones. Bone marrow is your body’s blood cell manufactory. It produces blood cells that help in combating infection and in carrying oxygen throughout your body.


Bones come in many shapes and sizes. Some are long and rod-like with knobby ends. Some are short and look like cubes, whereas others are flat. And some have their own unique shapes. Even though there are many different kinds and sizes of bones, all human skeletons look pretty much the same. Your skeletal bones are designed in specific ways to support and protect every part of your body.

There are three groups of bones that form your axial skeleton. They are the “spine,” the “skull,” and the “ribs.” The bones that support the center of your body are called “axial” bones. It is also the job of the axial bones to protect the most important organs in your body. You may have learned that taxonomists segregate animals into two groups. These are called “vertebrates” and “invertebrates.” Does anyone know the group in which humans are classified? Right! We’re vertebrates! Vertebrates are animals with backbones. Your backbone, or spine, is actually more than one bone. It is a column of many bones stacked on top of one another.

Bend forward and feel along the middle of your back. Do you remember those little bumps running down your back? As you may have learned, these are your vertebrae. This is a series of bones that’s arrayed to fit one on top of another to form the “spinal column,” or “backbone.” Cartilage separates each vertebra, filling in the spaces and cushioning them from one another. Each vertebra has a hole in it. This allows the “spinal cord,” an important pathway for nerves, to pass through it. Your “spinal column” protects your spinal cord, in addition to providing the main support for your skeleton. Your spine is only one part of your axial skeleton.


Sit up as straight and tall as you can. Now, look at your neighbor. Does the side lineation of your neighbor’s spine look straight? Probably not. Your spine is curved, looking more like the letter “S” than the letter “I.” Can you think of any rationale why it might be better to have a slight curve in your back, rather than a completely straight back? If your back were as straight as a board, you wouldn’t be able to bend. The shape of your spine allows you much greater pliability.

You’ve already heard about that fabulous tailbone at the lower end of your spine. So, what’s at the other end? Use your hand to follow your vertebrae up your back and along your neck to your head. Feel how hard your head is. Who knows the name for the shielding group of bones obscured inside your head? Right! It’s your skull! Skull bones sit on top of your backbone. These become the second part of your axial skeleton. These are the group of bones that supports the midpoint of your body.

Your skull is comprised of a group of bones. There are 29 in all! Interlocked together, they protect your brain and some of your body’s sensory organs. The top part of your skull is shaped like a bowl, and it circumscribes the brain. It’s called the “cranium.” Eight thin, curved bones are tightly interlocked to form this smooth cranial helmet beneath your forehead and scalp. When you were born, these eight bones still had gaps between them. That enabled your brain to grow. Because these gaps don’t close completely for about two years, babies have a “soft spot” on their heads. Thus, they need very careful handling.


The rest of your skull bones are facial bones, or bones in your face. Put your hands over your eyes and touch your closed lids very gently. Then push up slightly toward your eyebrows. The round openings in your skull are called eye sockets. These niches are deep enough to protect your delicate eyes. Another hole in your skull is just the right size for your nose. Though it is sometimes closed or covered up with teeth, what is the biggest opening in your face? Right! It’s your mouth. Cover your face with your hands and open your mouth wide. Which bone moved? Your jawbone! Your upper jaw is attached to the rest of your skull. But your lower jaw is hinged so that it can move up and down, and side-to-side. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Does anyone remember the three groups of bones that form the axial skeleton down the center of your body? The spine is one. The skull is another. The third group of axial bones is also connected to your spine. Reach behind you again and feel the bones that stretch across your back. You’ll see that they wrap around to the front of your body. What are these bones called? Right again! It’s your ribs!

Ribs are curved bones that form a protective cage, called the “rib cage,” around your heart and lungs. Ribs come in pairs. Each rib is attached to a vertebra in the middle of your back, and to the “sternum,” or breastbone, in the middle of your chest. Feel your chest. Can you count the number of ribs in your rib cage? How many did you count? You have 24 ribs, or 12 pairs, in all.


I just can’t resist sharing a joke with you right now. That’s because it fits in optimally with what you’re learning.

What did the rib cage say to the heart? Give up? “Gotcha covered!”

Your skull and ribs both protect “vital organs,” organs that you cannot live without. But your ribs are designed very differently from your skull. Your skull is made of solid, interconnected bones without spaces between them. But there ARE spaces between each of your ribs. Can anyone guess why it wouldn’t work for the rib cage to be one big solid bone? Take a deep breath, as deep as you can. Now, let the air out. What happens to your chest? Do it again and notice how your chest goes in and out with each breath that you take. Solid bone around your chest would encumber the diaphragm and lungs from distending properly with the air that you breathe. The shape of the spine, combined with the spaces in between each pair of ribs, helps the human body structure to be flexible.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk more about the skeleton. Today you learned about axial bones. And tomorrow you’ll hear a term that pertains to another part of your skeletal system and to your arms and legs. I’m looking forward to the next time we meet! I’ll be sure to have new riddles!


Chapter Three: The Skeletal System, Appendicular Bones
Hello again. Before we begin, I want to know who is able to correctly spell the big “V” word that we talked about the last time that we met. Who would like to try to spell “vertebrae?” Wow! I’m impressed.

Today, we’re going to talk about another big word, “appendages.” I was quite small the first time that I ever heard that word. I used to cleave to my mother’s leg all the time. I would often hear her say, “Ricardo is my little appendage.” I never knew what it meant. Do you? Now, years later, it makes perfect sense to me. An appendage is something that is attached to, or that hangs from, something larger. Today, you are going to learn about the other bones in your skeletal system. These are the bones in the legs and arms that hang from your axial skeleton. These bones in your appendages are called “appendicular” bones. That’s because they “hang on” to the larger bones of the body. Let’s try saying those words together. “Appendicular bones.”


Let’s begin near the top of your skeleton with your arm bones. What are your arms attached to? What do they hang down from? If you answered, your shoulders, you are right. Your shoulders are made up of several different bones. Look at this picture to see how arm bones are connected to the axial skeleton. The large, flat, triangular bones that you see in the picture are called “scapulae,” or shoulder blades. They are sometimes referred to as “wings.” That’s because they stick out a little from your back. Now, look at this picture. The long bones that connect your scapulae to the top of your rib cage are called “clavicles,” or collarbones. Shirt collars cover your collarbones.

Let’s move down your body to the base of your axial skeleton. How are your legs attached to your spine? Legs need a hanger, too. Their hanger is called the “pelvis.” That’s a group of strong bones illustrated in this picture. Put your hands on your hips and see if you can feel the bones that stick out at your sides. These are your hip bones, or pelvic bones. Your pelvic bones are large bowl-shaped bones. They protect your bladder and intestines. Those are very important organs to help your body function properly. Your pelvis is connected to your spine by the “sacrum.” That’s a triangular bone that sits between the two hipbones of your pelvis.


Leg bones and arm bones are a lot alike. But leg bones are thicker and longer than arm bones. In fact, the longest, heaviest, and strongest bone in your entire body is in your leg. Does anyone know the name of this bone? It’s your thighbone, or “femur.” Your femur is connected to your pelvis. It extends all the way down to your knee. If you look at the picture, you will see two bones in the lower part of the leg. The larger of the two, the one in the front of the leg is called the “tibia,” or shinbone. The thinner bone behind it is called the fibula. Both the tibia and the fibula connect the knee to the ankle.

That’s a lot of information. I suspect that some of you are wondering how all of these different bones are connected. Sure, they’re attached to “hangers,” the scapulae and the pelvis, but how? Are they glued in place?

The point where two bones meet is called a “joint.” Without joints, your body would not be able to move. There are three main types of joints in your body. They are movable, immovable, and partially movable. In other words, some joints can move, some can’t, and some move a little bit. Let’s take a closer look at all three.


The most movable joints in your body are “ball-and-socket” joints. Make a fist with one hand. Then, wrap the fingers of your other hand around it. Your fist is like the ball in the socket of your other hand. You can move the fist around easily inside the other hand, can’t you? This type of joint is found in both your hips and your shoulders. Ball-and-socket joints allow you to swing your arms and legs in a full circle.

Other movable joints, called hinge joints, work like the hinges of a door. Your jawbone has hinges. Can you think of any other hinge joints in your body, joints that move only back and forth instead of turning in a full circle? Your knees, elbows, ankles, wrists, and knuckles all have hinge joints. In fact, your knee joint, connecting your femur to your tibia and fibula, is the biggest and strongest joint in your whole body. It lets your body bend at the knees. Stand up and bend at the knees. Imagine trying to walk without those hinge joints!

Some joints permit no movement at all. These are called immovable joints. That’s because they lock bones together, forming solid bone as hard as a turtle shell. Can you think of any axial bones that fit that description? Yes, your skull is made up of bones that are locked firmly in place. They don’t allow any movement where the bones come together.


The third type of joint in your body is the partially movable kind. These joints move a little bit, but not nearly as much as ball-and-socket or hinge joints. Can anyone think of an example of a partially movable joint in your body? Remember when you took deep breaths and watched your chest move in and out? The joints where your ribs are joined to your breastbone are a good example of partially movable joints.

Remember cartilage, the soft, gristly tissue found in your nose and backbone and between your vertebrae? Cartilage is found at the ends of bones where they connect with joints, as well. This smooth, elastic tissue serves an important purpose. Try rubbing your palms together. Do you feel the heat? What would happen if bones and joints rubbed back and forth together like this with nothing in between? Your bones would soon wear out. Instead, a smooth, slippery coating of cartilage covers bones where they meet joints. That protects them and helps them to last longer.

That makes me think of a riddle to ask you.

We are tough straps of strong, elastic tissue that bind bones together. Our name has three syllables. And our name comes from a word meaning “to tie.” What are we?


Cartilage protects your bones from rubbing together. But another connective tissue acts like straps, wrapping around your joints to actually hold your bones together. These thick cords are called “ligaments.” Some are round like ropes. Others are flat like ribbons. But they are all extremely stretchy. Has anyone ever told you that he or she is “double-jointed?” Double-jointed people can bend their fingers farther back than other people. But they don’t really have extra joints. The ligaments holding their joints together just stretch farther than normal. Is anyone here double-jointed?

Ligaments and other protective tissues help prevent injuries to your bones. Nevertheless, bones still get injured and wear out. Humans are very active. Walking, running, jumping, and playing put stress on your bones. So, what happens if you break a leg, sprain an ankle, or dislocate a joint? Often, you must see a doctor. And sometimes, your doctor will recommend an x-ray. Now that you have lots of information about the skeletal system, both the axial bones and the appendicular bones, let’s take a look at this thing that we call an x-ray.


These x-rays are of various parts of a human skeleton. An x-ray is an invisible light that can travel through the soft tissues of your body, but not through hard bone. After an x-ray passes through you, a picture is recorded on photographic film. Soft tissues appear black on the film because the x-ray passes right through them. But, wherever the x-ray is blocked by bone, white areas appear on the picture. This allows doctors to find breaks more easily. X-rays were invented as a medical tool just over 100 years ago.

The next time that we meet, we’ll discuss another important body system. This is one that works closely with your skeletal system to move your bones. Turn now and talk to your neighbor. See if you agree on the name of the system that I’m talking about. We’ll find out next time if you’re right!


Chapter Four: The Muscular System
Hi, guys. It’s me, Ricardo. Last time we were together, I told you that our next lesson would be about a system that works extremely well with your skeletal system. Did any of you guess the name of the system that we’re going to talk about today? If you said the “muscular system,” you’re right! You’ve learned how the bones in your skeletal system are connected from head to toe. Bones form the important framework of your body. But they could not move without the help of your muscles.

What are muscles? The word muscle comes from the Latin word “musculous.” Muscles are made up of bundles of long, thin cells. They are controlled by signals that come from your brain and spinal cord. These signals carry messages through nerves to each part of your body. Muscles receive these messages. They tell the muscles when to “contract,” or tighten. And they tell them how to contract, and for how long. When muscles contract, they squeeze together. Thus, they shorten and cause movement. Muscles are at work in your body all the time. They’re at work even while you are sleeping. You have more than 650 muscles in your body. And they make up between 1/3 and 1/2 of your body weight.


There are three types of muscles in your body. But most of them are skeletal muscles. Your skeletal muscles work closely with your bones to give them mobility, or motion. Just as there are axial bones and appendicular bones, there are axial muscles and appendicular muscles. Which muscles do you think are axial? Right, the ones in your head, neck, and torso. And where are the appendicular muscles? Yes! In your arms and legs.

Most muscles work in pairs. Muscles only pull on bone. They can’t push. As your muscles pull on bone, they contract, or get shorter. In order to relax, or lengthen, muscles need a partner to pull the bone in the opposite direction. Paired muscles never pull at the same time. One pulls, while the other relaxes. One relaxes, while the other pulls.

Look at this picture of the muscles in your upper arm. It shows what happens when you make a fist and bend your arm. The “bicep” muscle contracts and bends your elbow. At the same time, your “tricep” muscle relaxes. When you straighten your arm out again, your tricep muscle contracts. So, your bicep muscle relaxes. So, muscles work in pairs, taking turns pulling on your bones. Thus, skeletal muscles allow you to ride a bike, play the guitar, or climb a mountain.


Skeletal muscles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be fat and skinny. They can be long and circular. You control your skeletal muscles. You decide when and how you want to move your bones. Thus, they are called “voluntary” muscles. The movement does not happen automatically. You make a conscious decision to move the muscles that are attached to your bones.

Narrow, rope-like tissues, called “tendons,” attach bones to muscles. You can see the tendons under your skin if you flex your arm back and forth. Try it. Bend your elbow as if you wanted to show off your muscles. Then feel the tendon just under the skin on the inside of your elbow. What are other good places to view your tendons in action? Try looking at your neighbor’s neck. Can you find the tendons as he turns his head? Can you find tendons in your arms or legs?

The muscles in your legs are the largest and strongest skeletal muscles in your body. One of these muscles is your calf muscle. See if you can feel your calf muscle at the back of your lower leg. Your calf muscle is responsible for much of your movement. It helps to bend your knee when you walk or run. It’s attached to your heel bone by the longest and most powerful tendon in your body. That’s the “Achilles tendon.”


If your Achilles tendon is cut or torn, the use of the leg for jumping and running is lost right away, until it heals. An ancient Greek legend has long been told about the Achilles tendon. It’s a figurative phrase to indicate our weak spots. These are places where we feel most likely to be hurt, either physically or emotionally.

The myth goes something like this. Long ago, in ancient Greece, a baby was born. According to custom, his mother held him by the heel and dipped his body into the River Styx. It was thought that the waters of this powerful river could make a person invincible. They would not be able to be defeated in battle. Achilles grew up to be a warrior. And indeed, the river’s power seemed to protect him from injury in lots of battles. But there was one spot on his body that the waters had not touched. That was the spot where his mother had held him. That was, of course, Achilles’ heel. He was finally killed when an arrow pierced his heel. That was his one vulnerable spot. From then on, people have referred to their own area of weaknesses as their “Achilles’ heel.”

Poor Achilles. It’s a shame that he wasn’t wearing some armored footwear. Oh, well. It’s only a myth. Let’s move on and learn about the other types of muscles in your body.

In addition to skeletal muscle, there is smooth muscle and “cardiac muscle.”

Are you ready for a new riddle?

I am a muscle. Like music, I have a rhythm and a beat. I am protected by the rib cage. What am I?


Do you know what type of muscle is in your heart. Is it smooth or cardiac? Your thick, powerful heart is made of cardiac muscle. That’s the strongest muscle in your body. It’s found just in your heart. Unlike skeletal muscle, healthy cardiac muscle never tires. It is always contracting and relaxing, rhythmically pumping blood around your body all day and all night. Cardiac muscle is an “involuntary muscle.” That means that you do NOT control its movement. Your brain controls how fast your heart beats without you even thinking about it. Why do you think that is important?

Smooth muscle is the third type of muscle in your body. It is also involuntary muscle. That’s because you can’t consciously move smooth muscle. It contracts exactly like skeletal muscles do. But it does so much more slowly. Lining the walls of internal organs and blood vessels, smooth muscle uses less energy than skeletal muscles. It squeezes and tightens, mixing and churning food in the stomach. It lines your lungs and blood vessels, too.

The next time that we meet, we’ll talk about the system that controls all of your other body systems. This system controls both the voluntary and involuntary muscles in your body, and much more. Can you guess what system you’ll learn about next time? I’ll see you soon. We’ll see if you’ve guessed it right!

Click on this link to move forward to Module E, Lessons 81 – 90


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