Beatrix Potter 0004 (re-written to lower the complexity level)
GRADE-ISH: 1.7 (later 1st grade)  


Two Bad Mice



PART ONE:   (318 words)


It was once upon a time. There was a huge doll’s house. It was red brick. It had a white door. There were thick drapes. And a tile roof.


Two dolls lived there. Liz and Jane. Liz owned it. Kind of. Their food was free. Liz did not ask for her meals. And Jane was the cook. But she did not cook! The food was part of the doll’s house.


There were two red crabs. A ham. A fish. Lots of sweets. Pears. Plums. These were all on plates. They were glued to the plates. They could not come off.


One day, Liz and Jane were out on a drive. They were not in the doll’s house room. It was still. There was not a sound. Well, a small sound. Near the fire-place. It was in a hole. A mouse-hole in the wall.


Tom Thumb stuck his head out. Not Tom Thumb from the well-known tale. This was Tom Thumb, a mouse! Same name. But not a boy. He was a small mouse!


He popped his head back in. Then back out. And in a bit, his wife stuck her head out. She was named Pam. They stopped. They looked. This way. That way. To the left. To the right. They saw no one. “Let’s go!” said Pam.


She left their mouse-hole. She got on the rug. It was next to the coal box. Tom came out, too. They walked on the rug. They went to the doll’s house.


Tom pushed the front door. It was not locked. In they went! They went up the stairs. They came to a big room. That’s where the food was. They saw it all. They squeaked with joy! “Squeak! Squeak!” That’s how a mouse talks.


So much food! YUM! There were tin spoons. And steel knives and forks. And two doll’s chairs. Quite nice!



PART TWO:   (321 words)



Tom saw the ham first. It was bright pink. “Let’s start with that!” He got a knife. He tried to carve it. No luck! The knife broke! It hurt him. He licked his paw. “The ham’s not boiled. It’s too tough. Pam! You try it.”


Pam stood in a chair. She grabbed a knife. She tried. “Hard as a rock!” But then, BANG! There was a jerk. The ham broke off the plate! It fell to the floor. It rolled ’round and ’round.


“So much for ham,” whined Tom. “Let’s try the fish.” Pam tried each tin spoon. But no luck. The fish was glued to the plate.


The poor mice. They thought the food was real. But it was fake. Part of the doll’s house. It looked real. But it was not. Just good paint jobs!


Tom got mad, now. He grabbed the ham. He found a big spoon. He hit the ham! BANG! BAM! SMISH! SMASH! BOOM!


The ham broke in to lots of small chunks. It was made of chalk. It made a big mess.


Both mice went nuts! There was no end to their rage. They broke up the sweets. The crabs. The pear. The plum.


They were still fooled. They still thought the fish was real food. But it would not come off of the plate. There was a fire. But it was not real. Just like the food. It was a good paint job.


They tried to burn the fish off of the plate. But it would not burn, of course. Tom looked for soot. But there was no soot. There was no real fire there.


Then Pam found some cans. There were words on them. Rice. Flour. Salt. Herbs. Bay leaves. Chives. Sage. Oats. Cloves. Dill weed. Corn starch. Tea. Dried beans. Soup mix.


She took the tops off. There was not a thing in each can! She yelled! “Blast it! Where’s the food?”



PART THREE:   (431 words)



Now the mice were out of their minds. Each one’s face was red. Sweat came down their heads. Their eyes popped out. Their paws were bunched like fists. They screamed. They yelled. They cursed. It was not a nice scene!


They said, “Let’s mess this place up!” They tried to break each thing that they could! Like Jane’s clothes. They threw them on the floor. They ripped them. They tore them.


Then they stole things. Things they could use in their mouse-hole. Forks. Spoons. Knives. Some of the clothes. They took a chair. A small bed. Some small odds and ends.


They tried to take a book case. Too big. It would not fit. They tried a bird cage. Same thing. Too big. It would not fit. They left those two things on the rug, by the coal box.


Then they heard a noise. It was Liz and Jane. They were back. Tom and Pam rushed to their mouse-hole.


Liz talked to Jane. Jane talked to Liz. They came to their doll’s house. They went in the front door. Then up the stairs. And, oh my! What a mess they saw. A HUGE mess. They stopped and stared. They did not make a sound. Jane leaned on the wall. Liz sat down.


They found the bird cage. They brought it back in. Then they got the book case. That was brought in, too. There were still some pots and pans.


Now, a REAL girl owned the doll’s house. She saw the mess, too. She cried and cried. “Mom, I need a new doll, dressed like a cop!”


Mom said to her, “I don’t think so. That won’t scare them off. It was mice who did this. I’ll set a mouse trap!”


So, that ends our tale of the two bad mice.


Well, not quite. There’s a wee bit more. You’ll like this!


The mice were not as bad as you think. Tom paid for each thing they broke! You see, he found coins. They were in the wall. They were worth a lot. He gave them to Liz and Jane. He brought them to the doll’s house on New Year’s Eve! That was nice of him!


And guess what? Pam helps them, too. Each day, she sneaks in. She has a broom. She sweeps the floors. She puts the dust in a dust pan. She dumps it in the fire-place.


There is not a doll’s house in the world that is as clean as this one! It’s nice to know these mice have some good in their hearts!

SKIPPING TO — mid 2nd grade

GRADE-ISH: 2.4 (middle 2nd grade)

“FAST BREAK”   Fry-Builder 0002

GRADE-ISH: 2.4 (middle 2nd grade)

Did you determine who did it?


Have you had an electric shock?


Our experiment did not work.


It was an exciting show.


She took a trip to France.


His father was a French General.


Wash that glass.


God is good.


Will you work for the government?


I love Greek food.


Go to that group.


What happened?!


I’m happy!


Ug, this is heavy!


He said so, himself!


Let’s learn about history.


Hoe the garden for me.


It took two hours.


I love eggs, however you cook them.


Aliens aren’t human.


It’s important you do this!


My feet are ten inches long.


Does that include a drink?


That’s not enough information.


Insects bug me!


Go inside!


Instead, I’ll take that one.


There are lots of instruments in a band.


Does this interest you?


That was interesting!


Iron my dress.


He lives on an island.


Isn’t she nice?


It turned on by itself!


We joined a swim club.


We kept quiet.


I killed a bug.


Who’s that lady?


Always follow the law!


I’m not the least bit good at that.


That length is too short.


I eat less, now.


Dad lifted me up.


Listen up!


We located the gold!


I’m at Main Street.


March fast!


Don’t light that match.


I don’t know what that means.


She’s an Army Major.


What’s that language?


What’s the matter?


Measure how long the baby is.


They’re club members.


It’s a metal chair.


I’m a middle child.


Pull up that root.


Climb that rope.


Smell this rose.


Run a mile.


Cross the road.


Never mind.


It took two minutes.


We live in a modern time.

Just a moment.


He’s three months old.


Snow is on the mountains.


Don’t make a movement.


I like rock music.


Our nation is the U.S.


This food is all-natural.


Santa lives up North.


See the Northern Lights?


Write her a note.


Nothing makes her mad.


Did you notice that?


What’s that object in the sky?


Observe his golf swing.


Sail to the ocean.


Dad’s at his office.


Don’t do that often.


Bring the oil can.


No problem!


That’s an order!


We breathe oxygen.


See page twenty.


I’m particular about what I eat.


Tom passed the ball well.


I don’t see a pattern.


Will you pay me?


Eighty people came.


Pass out two per child.


Put a period at the end.


Who’s that person?


Here’s a piece of cake.


The Great Plains are flat.


The plane landed.


I can name eight planets.


Zack wrote this poem.


Point to her.


Get in position, then run!


That’s not possible!


Beatrix Potter’s Favorite Poems 0002

GRADE-ISH: 2.6 (middle 2nd grade)  

(Many are ones she wrote herself!)





Knitting, knitting, eight, nine, ten.


I knit socks for gentlemen.


I love muffins, and I love tea,


Knitting, knitting, one, two, three.

The Mouse’s Find


I found a pair of tiny gloves,


When Lucie’d been to tea.


They were the dearest little loves,


I thought they’d do for me.


I tried them, quite inside them!


They were MUCH too big for me!


I wear gloves with ONE button-hole,


When I go out to tea.


I’ll put them in an envelope,


With sealing wax above.


I’ll send them back to Lucie,


I’ll send them with my love.

Goosey Goosey Gander


Goosey, goosey, gander,


Whither will you wander?


Upstairs and downstairs,


And in my lady’s chamber!


There I met an old man,


Who would not say his prayers.


So, I took him by the left leg,


And threw him down the stairs!

If Acorn-Cups Were Tea-Cups


If acorn-cups were tea-cups,


What should we have to drink?


Why! Honey-dew for sugar,


In a tiny pint of milk.


With pats of sweetened butter,


And a coffee cake, I think,


Laid out upon a toad-stool,


On a cloth of cob-web silk!

The Seesaw


Two little mice were playing a game,


Thing-a-ma-jig and What’s-his-name.


“You’re too little, and I’m too big,”


Said What’s-his-name to Thing-a-ma-jig.


“You’re too tiny, but I’m too tall!”


“I’m enormous, but you’re too small!”


Up and down, “Why, we’re just the same!”


Said Thing-a-ma-jig to What’s-his-name.

Four-And-Twenty Tailors


Four-and-twenty tailors,


Went to catch a snail,


The best man amongst them,


Dare not touch her tail.


She put out her horns,


Like a little highland cow.


Run, tailors, run! Or she’ll


Have you all eaten now!

Pretty Lambkin


Pretty Lambkin went to play,


Through the fern and lost her way.


Climbed on a rock and called her mom.


Cried and shouted, pretty Lamb!

Billy Brown Shrew


Billy Brown Shrew,


With the velvet clothes,


No eyes whatever,


And a very long nose,


Call up your children,


As fast as you can!


He bristled and whistled, 


That little brown man!

The Great Heavy Gate


Oh, who will come open,


This great heavy gate?


The hill fox yaps loud,


And the moon rises late.


There’s snow on the hill,


And the flock’s at the farm!


Little black Hoggie,


We’ll keep thee from harm!

I Had A Little Nut-Tree


I had a little nut-tree,


Nothing would it bear,


But a golden nutmeg,


And a silver pear.


The King of Spain’s daughter,


Came to visit me,


And all for the sake of


My little nut-tree!


I skipped over water,


I danced over sea,


And all the birds in the air,


Couldn’t catch me.

Little Paul Parrot


Little Paul Parrot,


Held on to a carrot,


Eating toast and tea.


A little brown hare,


Jumped into his lair,


And stole it all from he!

We Have A Little Garden


We have a little garden,


A garden of our own,


And every day we water there,


The seeds that we have sown.


We love our little garden,


And tend it with such care,


You will not find a faded leaf,


Or blighted blossom there.

Old Mr. Pricklepin


Old Mr. Pricklepin,


Never has a cushion,


To stick his pins in.


His nose is black,


And his beard is gray,


And he lives in a tree stump,


Over the way.
Beatrix Potter 0008

GRADE-ISH:  3.7 (later 3rd grade)  



The Tale Of Jemima Puddle-Duck


What a funny sight this is. A brood of ducklings with a hen! Listen to the story of Jemima Puddle-duck. She was quite annoyed. That’s because of the farmer’s wife. She wouldn’t let her hatch her own eggs.


Her sister-in-law is Mrs. Rebecca Puddle-duck. She was perfectly willing to leave the hatching to someone else. “I don’t have the patience to sit on a nest for twenty-eight days. And you don’t, either, Jemima. You would let them go cold. You know you would!”


Jemima Puddle-duck quacked at her. “I wish to hatch my own eggs. I’ll hatch them myself.” She tried to hide her eggs. But they were always found. Then they were carried off. She was desperate. She decided to make her nest away from the farm.


She set off on a fine spring day. She waddled along the cart road that leads over the hill. She was wearing a shawl and a blue bonnet. She reached the top of the hill. There, she saw some woods in the distance. She thought that it looked like a safe, quiet spot.


Now, she was not much in the habit of flying. She ran downhill a few yards. She was flapping her shawl. And then she jumped into the air. She flew beautifully when she got a good start.


She skimmed along over the treetops. Soon, she saw an open place in the middle of the woods. The trees and brushwood had been cleared there. Jemima landed rather clumsily. Then she began to waddle about. She went in search of a convenient, dry nesting place. She rather fancied a tree stump that she spied. It was amongst some tall foxglove flowers.


But, someone was seated upon the stump! She was quite startled to see this. It was an elegantly dressed gentleman. He was reading a newspaper. He had black pointy ears. His snout showed off sandy-colored whiskers.


“Quack?” said Jemima Puddle-duck. Her head and her bonnet were tilted to one side. “Quack?”


The gentleman raised his eyes above his newspaper. He looked curiously at Jemima. “Madam? Have you lost your way?” said he. He had a long bushy tail. He was sitting on it, as the stump was somewhat damp.


Jemima thought him mighty civil. Handsome, too. She explained that she had not lost her way. She said that she was trying to find a convenient, dry nesting place.


“Ah! Is that so? Indeed!” said the gentleman. He still looked curiously at her. He folded up the newspaper. He put it in his coattail pocket.


Jemima complained of the annoying hen we talked about earlier. He said, “Indeed! How interesting! I wish I could meet with that fowl. I would teach her to mind her own business! But as to a nest? There is no problem. I have a sackful of feathers in my woodshed. No, my dear madam. You’ll be in no one’s way. You may sit there as long as you like.”


He led the way. They walked to a very old, dismal-looking house. It rested among the foxgloves. It was built of branches and grass. There were two broken pails. One was on top of another. They acted like a chimney.


“This is my summer residence. You would not find my winter house so convenient,” said the hospitable gentleman. There was a tumbledown shed. It was at the back of the house. It was made of old soap boxes. The gentleman opened the shed door. He showed Jemima in.


The shed was almost full of feathers. It was almost suffocating! But it was comfortable and very soft. Jemima Puddle-duck was rather surprised at what she saw. She wondered how he had found such a vast quantity of feathers. But it was very comfortable. So, she made a nest. It was no trouble at all for her.


She finally came out. The sandy-whiskered gentleman sat on a log. He was reading the newspaper. At least he had it spread out. But he was looking over the top of it. He was so polite. He seemed almost sorry to let Jemima go home for the night. He promised to take great care of her nest. She told him she would come back again the next day.


He said that he loved eggs and ducklings. He should be proud to see a fine nestful in his woodshed. Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon. She laid nine eggs in the nest. They were greeny-white. They were all very large. The foxy gentleman admired them immensely. He used to turn them over and count them. That’s when Jemima was not there.


At last, Jemima told him her plans. She intended to begin to sit the next day. “I will bring a bag of corn with me. That way, I’ll never need to leave my nest until the eggs are hatched. They might catch cold,” said the conscientious Jemima.


“Madam, I beg you not to trouble yourself with a bag. I will provide oats to you. But let’s do one thing before you commence your tedious sitting. I intend to give you a treat. Let’s have a dinner party, all to ourselves! May I ask you to bring up some herbs from the farm garden? They will help to make a savory omelet. Sage and thyme. Mint and two onions. And some parsley. I’ll provide lard for the omelet,” said the hospitable gentleman with sandy whiskers.


Alas, Jemima Puddle-duck was a simpleton. Not too bright! Not even the mention of sage and onions made her suspicious. She went around the garden. She nibbled off snippets of the many different sorts of herbs that he had asked for. She didn’t know it. But these types of herbs are used for stuffing a roast duck! Poor Jemima Puddle-duck!


So, she waddled into the kitchen. She got two onions out of a basket. The collie dog Kep met her coming out. He asked some questions. “What are you doing with those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself, Jemima Puddle-duck?”


Jemima was rather in awe of the collie. She told him the whole story. The collie listened intently. He kept his wise head turned to one side. Then, he grinned when she described the polite gentleman with sandy whiskers. Kep smelled a rat!!!


He asked many things about the woods where she was nesting. He asked about the exact position of the house and shed. Then he went out. He trotted down to the village. He went to look for two foxhound puppies. He was going to ask for their help. There they were. They were out on a walk with the butcher.


Jemima Puddle-duck went up the cart road for the last time. It was on a sunny afternoon. She was rather burdened with bunches of herbs. And the two onions in a bag were heavy. She flew over the woods. She alighted opposite the house of the bushy, long-tailed gentleman.


He was sitting on a log. He sniffed the air. He kept glancing uneasily around the woods. Jemima landed. He quite jumped. “Come into the house as soon as you’ve looked at your eggs. Give me the herbs for the omelet. Come quickly!”


He was rather abrupt. Jemima Puddle-duck had never heard him speak like that! He had been so polite all the time. She felt surprised and uncomfortable. She was inside the shed. Then, she heard pattering feet round the back of it. Someone with a black nose sniffed at the bottom of the door. And then he locked it! She couldn’t get out!


Jemima became much alarmed. A moment afterward there were the most awful noises. She heard barking, baying, growls and howls, squealing and groans. Then the noise stopped. Oddly, nothing more was ever seen of that foxy-whiskered gentleman!


Presently, Kep opened the door of the shed. He let out Jemima Puddle-duck. Unfortunately, the two puppies rushed right in. They gobbled up all the eggs before he could stop them. The dogs looked a bit hurt. Kep had a bite on his ear. And both the puppies were limping. Jemima just didn’t get it. They had saved her life! Why was the shed full of feathers? Because that fox had roasted many an unwary duck!


Jemima Puddle-duck was escorted home in tears. She was so sad to have lost those eggs. But, she laid some more in June. She was permitted to keep them herself, this time. But only four of them hatched. Jemima Puddle-duck said that it was because of her nerves. But she had always been a bad sitter!

Poems And Rhymes OBM 0015

GRADE-ISH:  3.8 (very late 3rd grade)  




Handy-spandy, Jack-a-dandy,


Loves plum cake and sugar candy.


He bought some at a baker’s shop,


Pleased he was, and ran, HOP! HOP! HOP!

The Crooked Sixpence


There was a crooked man, he went on a crooked walk,


He found a crooked sixpence, by a crooked corn stalk.


He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,


And they all lived together, in a little crooked house.



Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,


Please to put a penny, in an old man’s hat.


If you haven’t got a penny, a half-penny will do,


If you haven’t got a half-penny, God bless you.

A Riddle  


There is one that has a head without an eye,


And there’s one that has an eye without a head.


You may find the answer if you try.


And when all is said, half the answer hangs upon a thread.

An Explanation Of The Grasshopper  


The Grasshopper, the Grasshopper, I will explain to you.


He is the Brownies’ racehorse, the Fairies’ Kangaroo.

Flowers Of The Steppes


Little bells, pretty flowers of the steppes, turning your faces my way.


Why do you droop your heads, on such a bright May day?


As you shake your heads in the grasses, what do you whisper and say?



Buttons, a dollar a pair, come, who will buy them from me?


They’re round and sound and pretty, and fit for girls of the city.


Come, who will buy them from me? Buttons, a dollar a pair!

The Clucking Hen 


“Will you take a walk with me, my little wife, today?


There’s barley in the barley field, and hayseed in the hay.”


“Thank you,” said the clucking hen, “I’ve something else to do;


I’m busy sitting on my eggs, I cannot walk with you.”


The clucking hen sat on her nest, she made it on the hay;


And warm and snug beneath her breast, a dozen white eggs lay.


“Crack, crack,” went all the eggs, out dropped the chickens small; 


“Cluck,” said the clucking hen, “Now I have you all.”


“Come along, my little chicks, I’ll take a walk with you.”


“Hello!” said the barn-door cock, “Cock-a-doodle-do!”



Oh, sailor, come ashore, what have you brought for me?


Red coral, white coral, coral from the sea.

See Saw, Margery Daw


See Saw, Margery Daw, Jenny shall have a new master.


She shall have but a penny a day, because she can’t work any fa ster.

The Donkey

Donkey, donkey, old and gray, open your mouth, and gently bray.


Lift your ears, and blow your horn, to wake the world, this sleepy morn.

World Songs          (5)


Of speckled eggs the birdie sings, and nests upon the trees.


The sailor sings of ropes and things, in ships upon the seas.


The children sing in far Japan, the children sing in Spain.


The organ with the organ man, is singing in the rain.

Good Morning          (6)


One day I saw a downy duck, with feathers on his back.


I said, “Good morning, downy duck,” and he said, “Quack, quack, quack.”


One day I saw a timid mouse, he was so shy and meek.


I said, “Good morning, timid mouse,” and he said, “Squeak, squeak, squeak.”


One day I saw a curly dog, I met him with a bow.


I said, “Good morning, curly dog,” and he said, “Bow-wow-wow.”


One day I saw a scarlet bird, he woke me from my sleep.


I said, “Good morning, scarlet bird,” and he said, “Cheep, cheep, cheep.”

Conversation          (7)


“Mousie, mousie, where is your little wee housie?”


“Here is the door, under the floor,” said mousie, mousie.


“Mousie, mousie, may I come into your housie?”


“You can’t come in. You have to be thin,” said mousie, mousie.


“Mousie, mousie, won’t you come out of your housie?”


“I’m sorry to say, I’m busy all day,” said mousie, mousie.

Three Wise Men Of Gotham


Three wise men of Gotham, went to sea in a bowl.


If the bowl had been stronger, my song had been longer.

Little Girl And Queen


“Little girl, little girl, where have you been?”


“Gathering roses, to give to the Queen.”


“Little girl, little girl, what gave she you?”


“She gave me a diamond, as big as my shoe.”

What is Pink?          (8)


What is pink? A rose is pink, by the fountain’s brink.


What is red? A poppy’s red, in its barley bed.


What is blue? The sky is blue, where the clouds float through.


What is white? A swan is white, sailing in the light.


What is yellow? Pears are yellow, rich and ripe and mellow.


What is green? The grass is green, with small flowers between.


What is violet? Clouds are violet, in the summer twilight.


What is orange? Why, an orange, just an orange!




Blocks          (9)


What are you able to build with your blocks? Castles and palaces, temples and docks.


Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, but I can be happy and building at home.


Little Sally Walker


Little Sally Walker, sitting in the saucer,


Rise, Sally, rise, wipe your weepy eyes.


Put your hand on your hips, and make your backbone slip.


Oh, shake it to the east, oh, shake it to the west.


Oh, shake it to the one, that you love best.

Crunch And Luck          (10)


Popcorn crunches, peanuts do,


The cone part of an ice cream cone, is wonderful for crunching, too.


Things to lick are candy sticks, rainbow-colored popsicles.


Chocolate sauce when it begins, to leak and trickle, down our chins.



Would you like to see goats dance on stilts? Then to Crazy-Town you must go.


The cow wears slippers on her feet, and everyone laughs, Ho-ho!


The ducks laugh, quack, quack, quack; the farm-boy laughs till he cries,


And over there, the dog, the dog; the dog makes Big Round Eyes!

King Boggin


Little King Boggin, built a fine hall, pie crust and pastry crust, that was the wall.


The windows were made of black puddings and white, and covered with pancakes, you never saw the like!

The Canary          (11)


Mary had a little bird, with feathers bright and yellow.


Slender legs, upon my word, he was a pretty fellow!


Sweetest notes he always sung, which much delighted Mary.


Often where his cage was hung, she sat to hear Canary.


Crumbs of bread and dainty seeds, she carried to him daily.


Seeking for the early weeds, she decked his palace gaily.


This, my little readers, learn, and ever practice duly.


Songs and smiles of love return, to friends who love you truly.



Engine Number Nine


Engine, engine, number nine, running along the Chicago Line,


Engine, engine, number nine, when she’s polished, she will shine.

The King Of France


The King of France went up the hill, with twenty-thousand men.


The King of France came down the hill, and never went up again.

Icy          (12)


I slip and I slide, on the slippery ice.


I skid and I glide, oh, isn’t it nice,


To lie on your tummy, and slither and skim,


On the slick crust of snow, where you skid as you swim?

Willy Boy


“Willy Boy, Willy Boy, where are you going?


I will go with you, if that I may.”


“I’m going to the meadow, to see them a-mowing,


I’m going to help them, to rake the hay.”

City Gate


Everyone’s glad in our city today.


There’s no one who’s not happy and gay.


When grandpa and grandma and grandchildren eight,


Come riding along through the wide city gate.

The First Tooth          (13)


Through the house what busy joy, just because the infant boy,


Has a tiny tooth to show! I have got a double row,


All as white, and all as small, yet no one cares for mine, at all.


He can say but half a word, yet that single sound’s preferred,


To all the words that I can say, in the longest summer day.


He cannot walk, yet if he put, with mimic motion out his foot,


As if he thought he were advancing, it’s prized more than my best dancing.


Inf./Deriv. BUILD 0008

GRADE-ISH:  3.9 (exiting 3rd grade)

Buy this on layaway.


I bet he blackballs us from the club.


The room was grandly decorated.


Sweep the doorsteps.


That snoot has a highhanded manner.


Incomes in our State dropped.


He’s guilty of a coverup.


She’s too hardheaded to listen.


I saw 2 ballgames last week.


Schoolhouses used to be just one room.


I’ll be highlighting Frank’s work today.


These animals live in lowland areas.


Those fillies aren’t a year old.


He’s got the brownest teeth I’ve seen.


The tanker has run aground.


You looked better with browner hair.


That schoolchild is crying.


That tomboy plays on the boys’ team.


Come on homeboys, let’s get going.


Last night I dreamed about fairylands.


Our coaches are tough on us.


Hand me 2 eye droppers.


I’m headed downtown.


She’s my closest friend.


Anywhere’s a good place to sit.


The outfielder caught a tough fly ball.


That blackballer lost most of his friends.


Are you a bringer of good, or bad, news?


Grandma forgets lots of things.


Their farm has two beehives.


The ballpark is crowded.


The golfer is practicing his chipping.


Come over anytime!


The old man has an earthy sense of humor.


Auntie’s coming up the driveway!


Have you read these paperbacks?


That snack curbed my hunger.


6 counties will get Federal aid.


The catcalls made the diva cry.


That’s grounds for getting fired.


The President called in the bank Chairmen.


There’s too much hatred in our country.


Enough’s enough, quiet down!


Granny loves gardening.


The schoolhouse alarm went off.


We’re bracing for a hard winter.


Those 2 teams have this year’s strongest backfields.


The fillers in this food aren’t good for you.


It’s humid in that hothouse.


You’re in dreamland if you think I’m going to buy you that!


I’m more comfy when I use that backrest.


Poodles are yapping little beasties!


Here’s the takeaway: crime doesn’t pay.


Can a lowball bid get it for a bargain?


You don’t see dogcatchers these days.


It’s anybody’s guess!


They’ve got one of those singing doorbells.


He has a cowlike figure.


I love Joan Baez’s folksongs.


Cut the pie into eighths.


That crazy driver keeps running into curbs.


He imitates birdcalls.


Paste this cutout next to your drawing.


That hard worker is a “doer!”


Her comebacks are brutal if you make her mad.


Is there anyplace here that serves BBQ?


The Board has funded an addition to our school.


Grouper is one of my favorite fish entrees.


It’s so hot, I bet we have a brownout.


She’s bowing to the audience.


Your shoes are caked with mud!


Is that a wildcat growling by those trees?


That chicken clucks all day long.


They’ve overhunted deer in this part of the State.


Mom’s hatbox fell off the closet’s top shelf.


This old headboard is an antique.


Those city tomcats make a racket each night.


Benny outjumped Dallas in the track and field meet.


Icepacks are melting in Greenland.


100s of builders went to the Housing Trade Show.


Our outfielders drop too many fly balls.


She’s off in some faraway cloudland.


That actress gave me an autograph!


His groundout lost them the baseball game.


This will be an uphill battle.


Mom’s buying some new bedding for the guest room.


The robber hunkered down in his hideaway.


Those girls are the best hitters on our softball team.


The classrooms emptied fast during the fire drill.


I dated your dad for 9 months before we got married.


Arrange these cutouts at everyone’s dinner place.


Highwaymen used to raid travelers all over Britain.


He called his book of photos “Cloudlands.”


Tiger Woods is at the top of the leaderboard.


That farmworker is learning English.


We sold our lakeside cottage.


The Captain yelled, “All aboard!”


This diet’s downside is that you’re always hungry!


Put these old blue jeans in the giveaway pile.


You have gorgeous handwriting.


Pass the ranch salad dressing.


That highlander has an unusual brogue.


That new dress looks boxy on you.


The housetops were covered with snow.


My favorite boardgame is Monopoly.


He daydreams about being a rock star.


We grouped the kids by their height for the picture.


Her grading system is unfair.


Let’s head inland to avoid the squall’s worst winds.


I can’t believe he friended me on Facebook.


They airdropped the supplies this morning.


A country might call itself “The Fatherland.”


I keep forgetting my password!


Ask for funding to do this research project.


She homeschools her children.


Those inlanders talk with a strange accent.


We have an upstair laundry room.


The fairgrounds were packed!


We have boardgames like checkers and chess.


He fielded the line drive and threw the runner out.


They’ve diverted the airplanes to fly over our house.


The soldiers returned to their homelands after the war.


He hasn’t aged well.


Those guys thought about busting out of jail.


These groundwaters are polluted.


He struck him out with a fastball!


Which downtowns have you visited?


He’s crowing about his victory.


That pilot’s landings are smooth.


I coached the team for 5 years.


He’s reading in the dayroom.


How did bedbugs get in here?


She’s worked for 3 companies.


The schoolchildren seem cheerful!


I hate these wild grasses in my yard.


I’ve never been to a grander party.


That hillbilly has no front teeth.


My new farmhand works hard.


Everyone’s invited!


We housed 2 families during the hurricane.


I’ll fly only these 2 airlines.


Look at his hawklike nose!


We went to Playland on his birthday.


I’ve got a good grounding of the facts.


Is that a non-Earthly being?


It’s mean to catcall a performer.


We have 2 dressings to go with the turkey.


The freeways are bumper to bumper.


I just shot my lowest golf score ever!

We have a cheaper softcover version of that book.


I busted mom’s best vase.


Give me feedback on my speech.


We need some filler to stretch out the program.


She’s nervous about the outlanders.


I need you for an airdrop mission.


She is her mother’s prime caregiver.


I’ve graded the book reports.


Our boarders are very polite.


My wallet is on the dresser.


I got this freebie at the Fair.


Children, what are your ages?


Take me out to the ballgame!


That derned cat left us two hairballs today!


I’ll be framing this photo.


This polish cleans really well.


The ballplayers went on strike.


Work the equation out on the blackboard.


That pilot has flown 10 airdrops.


The ball slammed into the backstop.


They have a powerhouse backfield.


The timekeeper dropped his stopwatch.


Our clothes dryer is on the blink.


You explained that in a roundabout way.


These are this year’s All-State infielders.


Daydreamers can be creative.


There’s something creepy about that new boarder.


Groundhogs are messing up our backyards.


Are any of these dressers antiques?


His coaching job pays well.


They stay in ritzy hotels.


He’s got a kindly, grandfatherly manner.


C’mon, you’re kidding me!


Her hourly rate is 10 bucks per hour.


I’m curbing my appetite by chewing gum.


They’ve farmed that land for 30 years.


There’s a man overboard!


Deals are made in backrooms.


Criminals belong in prison.


The “Bearcats” won the game.


I grew up homeschooled.


Hand me the coloring book.


Why’d you do that, homeboy?


What’s your backup plan?


We creamed the other team.


He’s got a horselike laugh.


Let’s play checkers.


My dad’s a home builder.


He’s become a heavy drinker.


This week’s highs will be in the 80s.


They’re finally boarding the plane.


Turnabout is fair play.  
Core Knowledge K H&G Unit 03


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With the understanding that for reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do that is with a link to this web page:   .



Exploring And Moving To America

GRADE-ISH: 4.0 (entering 4th grade)

PART ONE:   (1,108 words)



CHAPTER ONE: Christopher Columbus: A Young Adventurer


Let’s meet Christopher Columbus when he was a boy. He lived in the city of Genoa. That’s in Italy. He loved the sea. He had a younger brother. They spent lots of time at the dock. They watched ships sail in and out. They watched the sailors hard at work. They would unload huge boxes. They were filled with silk cloth and spices. The brothers dreamed of being sailors, too!


Christopher turned fourteen. He got a job on a ship. He carried messages from the captain to the sailors. One year later, he was hired as a ship’s helper. He soon got a bigger job. He became a sailor! His dream of adventure at sea was coming true. During that time, his brother had learned to make maps. Together, they hoped to sail far away.


Back then, people didn’t know about all the continents and oceans. Some thought that the Earth was flat. They worried about a ship sailing too far across the ocean. They thought the ship would fall off the edge! But others believed that Earth was round. Columbus was one of those people.


Why did people want to go on long voyages then? The main reason was that people wanted to trade. They wanted to buy and sell such things as spices and silk. Those things could not be found in Europe. And trade could also make people rich!



CHAPTER TWO: Christopher Has An Idea


In Columbus’s time, there were no refrigerators. So, it was hard to keep food fresh. Europeans often ate food, especially meat, that was NOT fresh. People used spices to help make that food taste better. Cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg all helped to do this.


Many of these spices could only be found in a faraway part of the world. This region was called “the Indies.” Today, that’s Asia. A voyage to the Indies and back was long and dangerous. You had to sail part of the way across water. Then, some people had to carry goods on camels. This would be across hot deserts. Many times, they were robbed. Or they might get lost. Or they might run out of water.


Christopher had an idea. What if the Earth was round? Maybe he could sail west around the world! Maybe he could reach the Indies that way. It might be a shorter trip than heading east. The whole trip could be made by ship. They’d sail across the Atlantic Ocean. There’d be no need to go across hot, dry deserts. Plus, many more spices and other goods could be carried on ships than on camels.


Today, we know what happens if you sail west across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe. You reach North and South America. But Christopher didn’t know this. Then, many people thought there was nothing but ocean if you sailed west.



CHAPTER THREE: Christopher Sails West


Christopher needed someone to believe he could sail across the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest ocean on Earth. So, for many years, he planned his voyage. He also searched for someone rich. This risky adventure would cost a lot. Finally, he got his chance. He met King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They ruled Spain. He told them his idea. Maybe you could reach the Indies faster. Why not sail west across the Atlantic?


The Spanish monarchs listened with interest. They DID want to find an easier way for ships to get to the Indies. They wanted to trade their cloth, glass, and tools. They wanted spices, silk, jewels, and gold, in return. Spain would be rich if the plan worked.


The King and Queen decided to pay for the trip. Now Christopher could start his great adventure! He was given three ships. They were the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Each ship had a captain. Columbus was the captain of the Santa Maria. The three ships were small. But they were strong enough to sail across the stormy waters of the Atlantic.



CHAPTER FOUR: The Voyage West


Columbus found sailors who wanted to go with him to the Indies. They loaded the ships. There was enough food and water to last a year. And they stocked up on many things they could trade. They also took firewood, cooking pots, medicines, fishing lines, swords, and guns. They were ready! They set sail across the wide, blue ocean. No one was sure of what they might find. There might be pirates. There might be sea monsters. What if things went wrong? No one could help them.


They kept busy. They cleaned the decks. They fished in the sea. Each day, two or three sailors cooked a meal for everyone on their ship. At night, they slept on the deck. There were no beds. Only the three captains had their own small cabins. On stormy nights, the men tied themselves to the ship’s rails. That way, they wouldn’t fall into the sea.


The ships sailed for weeks. But they did not find any land. The men were afraid. What if the Earth really was flat? Would they soon sail right off the edge? What if they ran out of food and water? The crews asked to return home. But Christopher was sure his plan would work.


One day, there was a good sign. Small birds flew by the side of the ship! The sailors knew that small birds often flew near land. Then, a sailor spotted something. “Land! Land!” he shouted. It had been almost two months. The crews were glad to see a sandy beach and beautiful green trees. They had found an island. In his diary, Christopher wrote down the date. It was October 12, 1492.



CHAPTER FIVE: Exploring The Americas


The island they found was home to the Taino. These were a people who lived and farmed on the island. Christopher named it “San Salvador.” He placed a flag in the sand. Christopher met some of the Taino. He called them “Indians,” because he thought he had arrived in the Indies.


The sailors spent a few months exploring other islands. That included Cuba. The Taino lived on these islands, too. These new lands had palm trees and white sand. Christopher and his men collected many things to take back to Spain. This included gold, tobacco plants, pineapples, and wild turkeys.


Christopher arrived back in Spain. He was a hero. The king and queen were pleased with him. They said they’d pay for more ships. That way, he could sail back across the ocean. Christopher led four more voyages. They always looked for gold, spices, and jewels.



PART TWO:   (1,107 words)



CHAPTER SIX: The Pilgrims Search For A New Home


Then a hundred years passed. Now, another group of Europeans set off. They were going to what is today the United States of America. Their story is different from that of Columbus. Let’s meet them. Let’s find out about their adventures.


Elizabeth stood with her parents. They were ready to board a ship. It was named the Mayflower. They were leaving Plymouth, England. They were to sail to America. Elizabeth, her parents, and friends were known as “Pilgrims.” The Pilgrims were making this trip for an important reason. They wanted to live in a place where they could worship God in their own way.


The Mayflower was loaded with necessities. There were things that the Pilgrims would need for the voyage, and for when they arrived. There were axes and saws for building homes. There were hooks and lines for fishing. There were seeds for gardens. There were warm clothes for the winter. There were also barrels of water, dried meat, vegetables, biscuits, and cheese.


The Mayflower set sail. They left England behind. Elizabeth explored the ship. She noticed one thing fast. It was crowded. Below-deck was dark and stuffy. In the darkness, she saw that there were hammocks for people to sleep in. Everyone knew the trip would be long and dangerous. But still, Elizabeth was excited!



CHAPTER SEVEN: On Board The Mayflower


She spent much of her time exploring the ship. She watched as sailors pulled on ropes. They raised large, cloth sails. The sails would puff out in the wind. Then, the ship would move faster over the waves.


Soon, the weather changed. Strong winds blew. Tall waves crashed against the ship. Rain leaked in below-deck. Everyone’s clothes and beds got soaked. The ship tossed from side to side. The Pilgrims were scared that the ship would sink. Elizabeth was no longer excited to be sailing to their new home!


Long weeks went by. They all tired of looking at the sea. They tired of living in such a small space. People were getting sick. Then, early one morning, a sailor up in the crow’s nest cried out. “Land! I see land!” The Pilgrims rushed up on deck to see. Their voyage was almost over!



CHAPTER EIGHT: The Pilgrims Work Hard


After landing, some of the Pilgrims set off first. They were charged with finding a good place to settle. They chose a place they called Plymouth. They named it after the town they had left behind.


Elizabeth couldn’t help but wonder about her new home. Would there be strange creatures in the forests? Would the Wampanoag and other Native Americans welcome them?


The Pilgrims had arrived just as the weather was turning cold. They needed to build homes as quickly as they could. They worked hard cutting down trees. They would use the wood to build their homes. And more than the cold concerned them. They were worried they might run out of food. To stay warm, the women and children stayed on board the ship.


That first winter was rough. Many of the Pilgrims became sick and died. It was a sad time for them. But springtime came. Many of them could move into their new homes. It would soon be time to plant crops. Then they would have more food to eat.


Then one day, a man came to visit the Pilgrims. His name was Squanto. He was a Native American. Squanto could speak English. Even though the Pilgrims had settled on Native American land, Squanto helped them. They planted crops, such as beans, corn, pumpkins, and other vegetables. Thanks to Squanto, the crops grew well. Soon it was time to harvest them. And it was time to celebrate.


The Pilgrims had a feast of Thanksgiving. They invited their Native American friends. It was quite a feast. They ate deer, turkey, corn, and baked bread. They gave thanks for all of this food they had. Then they enjoyed an afternoon of fun and games.



CHAPTER NINE: American Independence


Many years passed. The Pilgrims and other settlers lived happily in their new home. Many of these settlers were from England. So, they were happy to follow some English laws. They also made some of their own rules about how to live in America. But things began to go wrong.


After a time, King George III and his Parliament in England passed new laws. These laws seemed very unfair. The settlers became angry. Some people protested. American leaders decided to hold a meeting. They tried to plan on what to do next.


These leaders wrote a letter to King George III. They explained why they felt that the laws were unfair. The letter was called the “Declaration of Independence.” It explained that the Americans wanted to make many of their own laws. They did not want to follow all of the laws made by the king.


King George III didn’t agree with the Declaration of Independence. So, he sent his army to fight the Americans. The Americans had a great leader named George Washington. He helped America defeat King George’s army. Today, we celebrate America’s birthday on July 4. That’s the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed.



CHAPTER TEN: Taken To America


There is another story about moving to America. This is the story of people from parts of Africa. They were forced onto ships. They were taken to America. There, they became enslaved workers. This is a very sad story. But it is one that we must NEVER forget.


People from Africa were taken to America. They were forced to work on large farms. They were slaves, so they were not free. They did not have rights. Enslaved workers were not even paid for the hard work they did. Americans today are not proud of this awful time of slavery.


Most of the farms where the slaves worked were in the southern part of America. There were no machines to do the hard work. Enslaved workers did it, instead. They worked hard in the fields. They planted and picked crops. They carried water. They fixed fences. They took care of farm animals.


Enslaved children couldn’t go to school. They couldn’t learn how to read and write. Families were often broken up. Farm owners even sold children or parents! Many in America knew that slavery was very wrong. They knew that America could not be truly free until everyone was free. But it took time, and another war, for enslaved workers to win their freedom.


Today it is very important to remember the many African-Americans who never got the chance to be free.


Core Knowledge G2 H&G Unit 02

GRADE-ISH: 6.6 (middle 6th grade) 

Ancient China


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Chapter One: China’s Great Rivers


If you could travel across China, you would see that it is a land of flat plains, rich farmland, high mountains, and hot deserts. Across part of this vast land flows the second longest river in Asia — the mighty Huang He. The Huang He is yellow in color because of the silt the river water carries with it. “Huang He” means “Yellow River.”


The Huang He begins high in the mountains and flows 3,400 miles across the land, until it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Until quite recently, the Huang He often flooded farmland near its banks. The river water covered land that was usually dry, bringing with it silt that helped the crops to grow. Too much floodwater, though, was a bad thing!


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


But what have these rivers got to do with ancient China? Well, like many early civilizations that began near rivers, an ancient Chinese civilization grew first along the banks of the Huang He. The civilization developed because farmers there were able to grow more and more crops on the rich farmland. More crops meant that more people could be fed, and over time, the population increased.


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


Not only were these rivers good for farming, but riverboats carrying important people, as well as food, traveled along the Huang and Yangtze Rivers. Then, about fourteen hundred years ago, people began building a human-made waterway, called a canal, to connect the two rivers, and therefore other parts of China. This oldest, and longest, human-made waterway was used to transport food to the cities of ancient China. It earned the name the Grand Canal.



Chapter Two: Family and Ancestors


In ancient na, every family member had a job to do. But the head of the family had the job of looking after the farm or business and taking care of the entire family. Important decisions, such as whom someone would marry or what job someone would do, were made by the head of the family.


Taking care of the family also included honoring the ancestors — the family members who had died. In ancient China, people honored their ancestors by continuing to treat them like part of the family. They talked to them and told them about important events. They brought them gifts and carved their names on little wooden blocks. Many of these things are still done today!


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


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



Chapter Three: The Teachings of Confucius


Before China was one country, it was made up of different states, or kingdoms — each with a different ruler. The rulers often fought with one another. A man named Confucius spoke out against this fighting. Confucius said that if people were kinder, there would be fewer wars. Confucius said that people could change their ways. He became a teacher and traveled throughout China. Many people listened to his teachings and called him Master.


Confucius taught his followers many things. He said that goodness, or virtue, is shown by how people act. He also said that every person can be a prince by acting like one, even if he is not really the son of a king. And he said a king only deserves his job if he is kind to the people he rules.


Confucius taught that family should be very important in a person’s life. He said that families are special because they last across time — from parents and grandparents, to children and their children. He believed the people of China were one big family. Confucius wanted the rulers to act like thoughtful parents.


Eventually, the rulers of ancient China decided that people who had studied Confucius’s teachings would make the most honest and reliable members of the government. They decided that anyone who wanted to work for the government had to pass a test on the teachings of Confucius.



Chapter Four: The Great Wall of China


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


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


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


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



Chapter Five: Writing the Chinese Language


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


Instead of using letters to spell words, Chinese people have a different picture for each whole word. These pictures are called characters, and they sometimes look like the words they stand for. The Chinese written characters for blossom and plum are shown here.


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


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



Chapter Six: Chinese Inventions


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


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


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


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


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


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



Chapter Seven: Beautiful Silk


An old folktale tells us that thousands of years ago, a queen named Si Ling-chi was sitting in the garden of her royal palace. The queen was drinking tea and watching little caterpillars spin, or make their cocoons, in some mulberry trees. Suddenly one of the cocoons fell into her teacup!


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


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


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


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


Chapter Eight: The Chinese New Year


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


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


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


Important note: since we know that students need to see the same word many times before it becomes an “instant reflex word,” the student will need to go through each module many times. It is impossible to predict ahead of time how many repetitions are needed for each child. The students’ brains vary along a fairly normal curve in terms of how easy or how difficult it is to turn a word into a sight word. Dr. Kilpatrick (noted below) suggests that a “median” child will, in the very early stages of learning to read, need to sound out a single new word ~20 times before it “permanently maps” to the brain. For the students who have developed into master decoders, new unrecognized words need the sound-out process to occur only 1-4 times. For a child with letter-sound brain processing toward the “dyslexic” end of the spectrum, more sound-out repetition will be required. Getting good at reading is like getting good at anything else. Put in your 10,000 hours! In fact, strong vocabulary-building doesn’t occur from teachers’ vocabulary list efforts — it occurs simply in the process of reading A LOT. How do you know how well the learning is progressing? Though imperfect as an “assessment,” do some occasional spot-checking by scrolling down through the sentences and seeing how many red words the student can read to you instantly. Reading science will tell you that if they don’t know 2 out of 100 of those words as reflex words, more work needs to be done on the unrecognized words before moving to future modules. 98%+ instant word recognition in a reading passage is critical for good comprehension to occur, for most students. Further, it significantly reduces / eliminates beginning-reader frustration when they encounter “word stutters” very INfrequently, while simultaneously giving them good reading fluency / speed practice. (By later elementary school or sooner, successful readers will have mastered an OPTIMAL-for-comprehension adult reading speed of 150-180 words per minute). 

{{ For more on this critical decoding process, we refer you to Wiley Publications’ “Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties,” by David A. Kilpatrick. In particular, Chapter Four is a deep dive into orthographic mapping. In addition, Dr. Kilpatrick leads a fascinating webinar on this subject at:  .

For “all things reading,” there is massively powerful information at David Boulton’s @ “Children Of The Code” website: .   ( @ Director of the non-profit Learning Stewards, and the creator of “interactive orthography,” i.e., the PQs process that you will encounter here.) For “all things learning,” turn to David Boulton’s “Learning Stewards” website: . Finally, for a much deeper dive into this innovative new technology and the options that you have with it (like changing the voice of the automatic reader), turn to David Boulton’s “Magic Ladder” demonstration site, at: .

Additionally, an education journalist named Emily Hansford is stirring things up in the country’s “Education Macrocosm.” She is trying to bring to light, to the public, the latest Reading Science. It is appalling to learn that the science doesn’t make it into our classrooms. It is absolutely NOT the teachers’ fault — we’ll lay low on that topic for now, and let you learn about this national disaster from her two articles below, where each one also includes a one-hour podcast.  First:  .   Second:   .     }}
So, just what is the purpose of the red words? By having the student simultaneously HEAR each letter sound and SEE the letter’s PQ appearance, it will help them to build their critical DECODING skills in a very neurologically efficient way. As you can learn elsewhere on our site, this will help the brain “learn-into” the “letter-sound: unglue-then-reglue” process that HAS to occur (multiple times per word) for a word to be successfully “orthographically mapped” to the brain. More simply, this “break-up” and “put-back-together” process for each letter sound in a word is what eventually makes a word PERMANENTLY, instantly recognizable during the process of reading. This repetitive decoding process is necessary to turn most of the words — that we eventually recognize instantly — into “sight” words (we prefer the term “reflex” words). Diane McGuinness (1997, “Why Our Children Can’t Read”) suggests that if we learn words as “wholes / symbols,” most people can learn only ~2,000 words. That doesn’t get you very far if you need ~100,000 reflex vocabulary words to succeed at a respected 4-year university (even more words needed to succeed at an Ivy League university).

What about the words that we have chosen to be “red” in our sentences? We have been very intentional in gently “scaffolding” a letter-sound match “build,” in a highly logical fashion, that is designed to significantly reduce confusion for English reading learners. Per elsewhere discussed on our site, we start ONLY with the COMMON sounds (the most frequent sounds) of the 26 letters. (For those who are phonics-trained, these are the SINGLE-letter consonants and the 5 “short”-vowels. This particular one may surprise you, so heads-up: the letter Y’s most frequent sound is a long-E, like in the words “only, funny, sissy, etc.,” almost always at the END of the word < exceptions, for fun: Yvette, Yvonne, Yves >. When Y makes its “yuh” sound < yard, yawn, yes … >, the PQ to identify that sound is to stretch the Y.) You will note that when these red words are activated in the pop-up box, for the first ~700 different 3-to-6-letter red words that are exposed to the students, their font appearance will NOT change! That is because the COMMON sound letter visuals do NOT change from their normal-font appearance. Once students feel comfortable with these 26 COMMON letter-sound matches, we then later introduce NEW PQ letter-sound matches, “isolated” ONLY ONE AT A TIME, where all of the letters in these new words are still COMMON PQs, other than the ONE new PQ that is being introduced. We start with 3-letter red words, then move to 4 / 5 / 6 letters. The order of red word exposure is designed to center repetitiveness on the short vowels, since vowels in English can offer the most complexity in the learning process.

Now, let’s get to the sentences! (Note in the below that we have acronyms such as CVC, CVCC, CCVC. “C” stands for “consonant.” “V” stands for “vowel.” Also, occasionally you’ll hit a heteronym < same spelling, different meanings, like “read” representing both present and past tense > that the automatic voice chooses the wrong context for … that’s a future fix.) Finally, the red words chosen below have been carefully vetted from a vocabulary perspective. First, we have poured through ALL English words up to six letters long, and we have included many proper nouns (mostly names). Then, we have chosen red words from that comprehensive word inventory, and then included only words that we hypothesize will be known in median Kindergartners’ SPOKEN vocabularies. The goal is for the student to complete a successful sound-out and immediately UNDERSTAND that red word. We look forward to a day when the technology is so powerful that it can literally differentiate for EACH student’s individual known vocabulary.