Homeschool Envirothon team winners

The York Homeschool Association Envirothon Team, winners at the York County Envirothon and the Pennsylvania Envirothon, traveled to Montana to represent Pennsylvania at the North American Envirothon Competition. Out of 57 teams, they placed 9th. Members included Michael Renga, Collin Inners, Morgan Staub, Messica Picone and Mariah Henry. Each member of the team received $1,100 in scholarship money.

 

YHSA Envirothon Team

Read More

Kid Scoop: Oak Tree stories

These stories were submitted to the Junior Dispatch by Kid Scoop, a Newspapers in Education program at the York Newspaper Co.

Topic: The Oak Tree

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and I noticed it looked like rain. I climbed high so I could look really far. Suddenly, below me I saw an eerie white puffy shadow. A real ghost! I started to climb down but the branch broke and I fell right into that ghost. I kept turning over and over inside that spooky, wet, fluffy creature while I waited to crash but instead I landed on the ground without a scratch. That day, I learned why we have clouds. Now when I see them I just smile. — Jonathan Wentz, East York Elementary School

One day I climbed an old oak tree
With leaves both withered and torn.
Its branches hung half dead and dry,
And its trunk was scratched and worn.

Down in between its winding roots,
Grass grew both strong and tall.
It moved in waves by the quiet wind,
And danced to the songbird’s call.

Among the patch of brown dry dirt,
Along a shaded root,
Ants built their mighty fortress high,
And filled it full of loot.

That day I climbed that old oak tree,
With its leaves both withered and torn.
I fell in love with what I saw,
And my heart was there reborn. — Rachel Lawrence, Grade 8, home schooled, Mrs. Jennifer Lawrence

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and I saw a beautiful butterfly. It was pink with purple polka dots. It was so cool. Then, I saw a white and green ladybug. I got to the top and it was a beautiful view. — Faith Malley, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree, and I built a tree house with my friends. When we finished, it was awesome, but then I added a tire swing, and we played until sunset. — KJ Keane, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and a bumblebee visited me and stung me. Then, the bee said to me, “Give me my stinger back, or I will steal your honey.” Next, a bunny gave me some carrots for the ferrets. How crazy is that for a tree? — Patrick McCullough, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and I saw two flying pigs. They said, “Hey, what you doin’?” I said, “I’m dying because of the smell!” — Jaden Henline, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and I saw a ladybug. I followed it. It crawled on the big branches and the small branches. Then, it climbed into a small hole. I peeled the bark and there were 1,000 ladybugs all dark red with little shiny black dots. It was amazing! — Hannah Culp, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree, and I saw two friends fighting. Quickly, I climbed down the tree and ran to see what was wrong. I helped them with their problems. Then, I ran to play the rest of the day. — Mia Christensen, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree, and I found two hawks and some baby’s hatchlings. They were so happy and cute. — Brayden Poff, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree, and I saw a bird’s nest, two baby birds, and a mommy bird. I saw the mom feed them. Then, I saw a Dad and a whole family of birds. What a day I had! I hope I see it again tomorrow. — Trinity Rowles, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree and I passed many branches. First, I saw a picnic. Secondly, I saw a squirrel playing with another squirrel. I finally got to the top and went back home. — Richard Dumas, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

One day, I was climbing the old oak tree when I saw a bees’ nest and the bees gave me a pot of honey. What a weirder day! — Aaliyah Ansari, Grade 4, Fishing Creek Elementary, Mr. Richcrick

Read More

Weather from God

A third-grade homeschool student from York wrote this poem about the weather (Oct. 2, 2009).

By Rachel Toomey

Through the sun the darkness flees,
but through the clouds
the rain we see.

And through the moon light we shall not fright,
although the day light is very bright.

Weather is a thing of day and night.
And in the sky.
the star we see
is from the one Who
made the creation and me.

He made the sun,
He made the sea,
He made everything even me!

His name is Jesus
and He made everything
including me!

Read More

How the platypus came to be

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the platypus came to be
By Phil Rooney, Grade 9

In the days of old, the animals kept to themselves. They were content, and happy to live simply. The duck dabbled, the beaver paddled. They kept to themselves, unaware of man and his weapons.

One day, the duck and the beaver chanced to meet. The duck was dabbling along the pond, and the beaver was paddling along his dam.

They stared at each other and the duck said, “Why, that is some fine paddling. You must teach me how it is done.

And the beaver said, “Why that is some fine dabbling. You must teach me how it is done.”

An agreement was reached between them to teach each other their special skills. Let it be known that at this time, animals were friendly and curious creatures, unafraid of those unlike them in appearance.

So it went on, and the beaver waddled down to the duck. “See, it is all in my tail and stoutness. With my stoutness, I plant myself, and with my tail, I slap, and paddle till the duty is done.”

The duck was intrigued and climbed onto the beaver’s dam and attempted to paddle as the beaver had. “Alas!” the duck exclaimed, “I am not very stout, and my tail will simply not do for paddling.”

“There, there,” the beaver comforted. “If you really wish to paddle as I do, then you must eat the fish and gnaw the wood. The fish will make you stout and the wood will harden your tail.”

“Now it is your turn,” the beaver reminded.

So it went on, and the duck waddled over to the beaver. “See, it is all in my beak and lightness. With my lightness, I balance myself, and with my beak, I dunk, and dabble till the duty is done.”

The beaver, of course, was intrigued and slid into the water and attempted to dabble as the duck had.

“Alas!” the beaver exclaimed, “I am not very light, and my snout will simply not do for dabbling.

“There, there,” the duck comforted. “If you really wish to dabble as I do, then you must eat the grass and stretch your snout. The grass will make you light and the stretching will make the dabbling easier.

The beaver and the duck continued on their ways and took each others’ advice.

The night bore on, and the duck ate the fish, and gnawed the wood.

The night bore on, and the beaver ate the grass, and stretched his snout.

The very next morn, the two met once again, and marveled at each others’ changes.

“Oh, my!” remarked the duck. “Your snout has already become a bill like mine! And you appear much lighter! I fancy you could now dabble as well as I!

“Oh my!” remarked the beaver. “Your tail has already become hard and coarse like mine! And you appear much stouter! I fancy you could now paddle as well as I!”

In their excitement, the beaver and the duck attempted the tasks they so desired to be their own, and were joyful to find that they performed them well.

“Now then,” said the beaver to the duck, “how do you find time to dabble around the pond so often? Do you not have little ducklings to attend to?”

The duck answered, “Of course not! My dear wife lays them in eggs and when they have hatched they go off into the world, leaving me with nothing to do but to dabble.”

“Now then,” said the duck to the beaver, “how do you keep your babies that live so long with you satisfied? Do they not become unhappy and bored?”

The beaver answered, “Of course not! My dear wife gives them her milk, and when they are too old for that, they stay to help with the dam, leaving me with a large and sometimes unruly family.”

“I do wish my babies stayed with me, so we could love each other in the same nest,” the duck remarked.

“I do wish my babies would leave, so we could love each other from afar,” the beaver remarked.

Genius struck the duck and the beaver at the same time.

“I have it figured out! You must tell your dear wife to eat the white flowers so she will lay perfect eggs for her babies to hatch from,” the duck told the beaver.

“I have it figured out! You must tell your dear wife to eat the sweet rushes so she will give perfect milk for her babies to drink,” the beaver told the duck.

They then paddled and dabbled home to tell their dear wives of this wonderful discovery.

After a few weeks the duck and the beaver met with joy on their faces. Their wives had followed the advice given to them, and the results made the beaver and the duck very happy.

“Beaver! My wife laid a clutch of eggs several weeks back, and last night they were hatched. My wife had followed your advice and eaten the sweet rushes and she was waiting with milk for our little babies. They drank it, and maybe they will stay with us!”

“Duck! My wife prepared a bed for our babies several weeks back, and last night they were born. My wife had followed your advice and eaten the white flowers and the babies were born in eggs. They are ready to hatch, and maybe they will strike off on their own!”

Now, dear reader, you must know that both litters were born exactly the same.

Both litters hatched from perfect eggs, and drank perfect milk from their dear mothers.

Both litters were taught to dabble and paddle by their dear fathers.

Both litters looked unlike their parents, but were of their own breed.

These adorable duck-beavers are what you now know as the platypus–a wonderful creature with all the abilities of a duck, and all the skills of a beaver.

Read More

How the Dog got Its Long Tongue

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Dog got Its Long Tongue
By Quinn Evans, Grade 5

A long time ago when all animals were not fully developed, a dog with his friend decided to go on a walk to the edge of the desert. The two of them walked in a straight line. You see, the dog’s friend was a camel and for some reason camels very much so like order. The camel is like the judge of the court room. The dog was first and the camel walked directly behind him as if in a march. On their walk they saw a frantic, fuzzy, fur ball of a prairie dog.

“Oh look!” cried the dog. “One of my own kind!”

Now the prairie dog really has NO relation to the dog, it is just that this particular dog is one with very little brain. When they walked closer to the prairie dog they noticed that it was holding out its thumb. “Oh look,” cried the dog, “that dog needs a ride home!”

The dog rushed up to the prairie dog as a bee to a flower and said, “Where you head’n for old friend?”

Now as you would imagine, the prairie dog was taken by surprised. “Uh…well…um you see I’m lost, I’ve never been in the woods before. You see, I live in the desert and I was visiting m…my cousins. So now I’m lost,” said the poor, petrified prairie dog.

“Well then,” said the dog. “We’re going on a walk to the edge of the desert so we’ll show you the way out!”

The reason why the camel did not say anything is because he was much too busy staring at a colossal sized, delicious piece of green grass. Not long after, they were at the edge of the desert. They looked out onto the orangey brown flat cracking land.

“Well,” said the dog with a whimper, “looks like I won’t see you ever again.”

The dog gave the prairie dog an enormous hug with all his might. “Wait a second, maybe, just maybe, we could come with you!” said the dog with excitement.

“Oh no,” the camel finally said, “we…” the camel stopped because he was afraid he’d hurt the prairie dog’s feelings,. “Fine.” he said plainly.

After about one mile of walking, the camel was quite fine, the prairie dog was as good as could be, but the dog was exceptionally exasperated and exhausted! When they finally reached the home of the prairie dog the dog was a rusted old car in a junk yard. After they rested and the dog drank the amount of water equivalent to the Atlantic Ocean and gave 354,000 good-byes to prairie dog, the dog and camel finally began their journey back home. By the time they were half way through the desert, the dog was so tired that his tongue began hanging out his mouth so far that it almost touched the ground. It was getting longer and longer until it was as long as the San Francisco Bridge!

When they were almost to the woods, the camel still just a little tired, the dog’s tongue got stuck on a most mischievous and calculating cactus. The dog pulled and pulled until his tongue flew back and hit him in the face. After about a half an hour of pulling out little spikes, the dog noticed that his tongue was now about five and half inches long. From this day forward, the dog has always had a very, very, long tongue.

Read More

How the Asian Crocodile Got His Very Long Nose

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Asian Crocodile Got His Very Long Nose
By Anna K. Byrnes, Grade 5

Long, long ago when the earth was already made, Dear Best Beloved, there was a lumpy, bumpy, sneaky, weaky, curious, merious, crocodile, with a muddy, slimy nose that was so short he barely could poke his muddy slimy nose into anything. It was as short as the rabbit’s tail. He lived on a smallish, ballish, Hershey Kiss shaped island named Sir Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

The lumpy, bumpy crocodile stuck his muddy, slimy short nose in every hole on the island until the animals could not stand it any more and they were hopping mad.

It so happened that very serious monkey was collecting bananas and the lumpy bumpy crocodile really wanted to help but instead he squished mished, and putushed and putished the bananas that the monkey had collected. The lumpy, bumpy crocodile was trying to carry them and was trying to be helpful.

“Stop squishing the bananas, these are the last ones of the season and you just squished the last one!” the serious monkey said madly.

The lumpy bumpy crocodile said, “I don’t mean to be squishing the bananas, I just wanted to help.”

The serious monkey said, “I’m the gentlest one around and you with your strong stubby nose squished all the bananas and now I’ll have to settle for bugs, my least favorite food, until the bananas are ripe again.”

The serious monkey got mad and screamed and screeched and screamed and screeched and called all his monkey friends to leave the island and to not come back until the nasty crocodile moved to a different island because he was lonely.

Then the lumpy bumpy crocodile stuck his muddy slimy nose into the antsy aardvark’s business. He tried to collect ants by sticking his muddy, slimy, short nose into the anthills causing the ants to run away and then the antsy aardvark had no food.

“Stop squishing the anthills, they’re my only source of food!” grunted the antsy aardvark.

The lumpy bumpy crocodile said, “I don’t mean to be squishing the anthills, I just wanted to help.”

The antsy aardvark said in a mad and very serious voice, “I’m the only one on the island with a long nose and tongue, with your short and stubby nose and tongue you can’t help me.”

Well, the antsy aardvark got mad and screamed and screeched and screamed and screeched and called all his antsy aardvark friends to leave the island and to not come back until the nasty crocodile moved to a different island because he was lonely.

Then the beautiful swamp bird got mad and screamed and screeched and screamed and screeched and called all his swamp bird friends to leave the island for the lumpy bumpy, crocodile had scared all the skimmery, shimmery, shiny fish away.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, why have you been scaring the skimmery shimmery fish away? They are my favorite food, the skimmery, shimmery, shiny kind.”

The lumpy bumpy crocodile said, “I don’t mean to be scaring your skimmery, shimmery shiny fish away, I just wanted to play.”

“Roooaaaar,” said the spotty dotty leopard. “Why have you been scaring away all my food?”

“ I don’t mean to be scaring away your prey,” said the lumpy bumpy crocodile. “I was just trying to help them.”

“You have scared the serious monkeys and the beautiful swamp birds away leaving me nothing left to eat.” the spotty dotty leopard roared again.

The spotty dotty leopard said, “You’re not helping me catch my prey, for I am the faster one on the island and no one can beat me. Why, if you keep scaring away all the animals I just might eat you!”

The spotty dotty leopard was mad and screamed and screeched and screamed and screeched and called all of his leopard friends to leave the island.

This happened to every animal living on the island. The animals were all gone and the only animal left was a teeny weenie smarty party mouse.

This teeny weenie smarty party mouse knew that all the animals were gone and the crocodile would look for more excitement and try to find him. The smarty party mouse knew he was smarter than the lumpy, bumpy and now nasty crocodile. Smarty party mouse was strong and brave and wasn’t afraid.

The lumpy, bumpy, sneaky, weaky, curious, merious, crocodile was now angry because he could not help and became the lumpy, bumpy, sneaky, weaky, curious, merious, nasty crocodile and was walking along a V- shaped canal when he found the smarty, party mouse’s house.

He poked his nose in once. Nobody was home. So he took his muddy slimy nose out and started walking down the canal.

A day later, he went back to the mouse’s house and someone was home. The teeny weenie smarty party mouse was about 4 inches tall compared to the 336 inches of the lumpy bumpy nasty crocodile. The mouse was about as tall as the crocodile’s muddy slimy nose.

The lumpy bumpy nasty crocodile did not know it yet, he stuck in his muddy slimy nose. This time the mouse knew the muddy slimy nose was coming in.

The lumpy bumpy nasty crocodile stuck his nose inside and heard, “Don’t put your muddy, slimy, stubby, snorty, no good nose in my house again!”

The crocodile felt a little pinprick and his nose swelled up a little because the pinprick was the mouse biting his nose.

“Ouuuch!” said the lumpy, bumpy nasty crocodile, but not too loud, he was now stuck.

The crocodile had a short nose about 6 inches. The teeny weenie mouse bit the muddy slimy nose and it swelled up and got stuck.

The teeny weenie mouse kept biting it and the crocodile pulled and pulled and he pulled hard enough that his nose stretched. He pulled so hard that he slinged backwards and got up. But his muddy, slimy nose was stretched like that forever.

Then all the serious monkeys and antsy aardvarks, beautiful swamp birds and spotty, dotty leopards, and all the other animals heard from the little teeny weenie, smarty, party mouse that he stretched the nasty crocodile’s stubby nose and he would never bother anyone again.

The lumpy, bumpy, sneaky, weaky, curious, merious, crocodile, with the new skinny, Winnie, teethy, weethy, long nose learned his lesson. All the animals came back to smallish, ballish, Hershey Kiss shaped island named Sir Lanka in the Indian Ocean and were never bothered by the crocodile with the long nose again.

From now on, although his nose hurts, he can carry the serious monkey’s bananas and help the antsy aardvark gather ants. He can help the beautiful swamp birds by holding the shimmery fish in the upper, lower and middle part of his mouth so they don’t get chomped. He can’t help the spotty, dotty leopard much but he is now his good friend.

The reason he does not stick his nose into anyone’s business anymore is now he can help and he doesn’t want to get stretched again. The lumpy bumpy, good friend, happy, helpful crocodile will never be lonely on the smallish, ballish, Hershey Kiss shaped island named Sir Lanka in the Indian Ocean again.

Read More

How the Crab got its Claws

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Crab got its Claws
Brandon Good, Grade 8

Now this tale, Best Beloved, tells how the crab got his most sharply claws. In the beginning, when the world was new, four creatures lived together in the sea. The fish, he was the quickest of them all; the turtle, he was the wisest of them all; the dolphin, who was the most mischievous of them all; and the crab, the crabbiest of them all. The crab did not have his claws as he does now; instead, he had hands like you and me. His hands made him the most envied of all the animals.

One day, Fish, Turtle, and Dolphin had a great meeting.

“Why should crab, who, as we all know, is so crabby, have hands and not the rest of us?” Dolphin started the meeting.

“He doesn’t deserve them,” Turtle put in, in his deep, slow drawl.

“I quite agree!” Fish said perkily.

“He doesn’t use them for anything useful!” Dolphin exclaimed.

“If I had hands I would help anyone who asked!” Fish told them.

“If I had hands, I would dig houses for everyone!” Turtle put in.

“I could get my food easier, and have more time to help others!” added Dolphin.

“Crab must not have hands!” Fish decided.

“Then we must do something about it!” Dolphin decided. The other two agreed and they soon had a plan.

Crab lived at the very most bottom part of the sea. He lived cut off from the others and he liked it that way. Crab was sleeping when the other three creatures swam to his home. They knocked on his door, which woke Crab up.

“Who’s there and what do you want?” Crab shouted out.

“Its Dolphin, Fish and Turtle,” Dolphin informed him, “And we want to have a talk with you.”

“Well, I’m busy!” Crab replied.

“Crab, if you don’t come out I’ll break down your door,” Turtle drawled. Crab picked himself up off his bed and hurried to the door. He nudged it open a crack.

“What?!” he demanded.

“Come out here,” Fish said.

“No! I’m staying here!” Crab replied defiantly.

“Very well,” Dolphin said. And he grabbed onto crabs hands with his mouth. Turtle and Fish grabbed onto his legs.

“Ahh! Get off me!” Crab shouted. But they kept on pulling. They pulled and pulled, until Crab’s hands were completely deformed. Instead of five fingers, he had two hard appendages. The edges of the appendages were serrated were Dolphins teeth had sunken in.

Crab looked down at his hands with dismay. His hands were hard and claw-like. And from that day, Crab has always been, well crabbier than ever, and if anyone tries to go near his claws, he pinches them hard.

Read More

Why the Moon is White

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

Why The Moon Is White
By Willow Pinkerton, Grade 6

Way back before the animals lived on Earth they lived up in the sky with the High Priestess, Moon. Back in those days, Best Beloved, she was not a pale periwinkle or a violent violet or a prunish plum, she was THE Deep Royal color of Purple, what with her being a priestess and all. All the animals would go out and gaze at her Highness Moon, every morning before they went off to work and they would bring her moon pies and rock candy.

Then one fine joyfullish morning the Cat noticed that Moon looked a bit pale, so he went over to her and said in his most important voice, “Your Highness, I don’t mean to offend you, but I noticed that you are looking a little lavenderie.”

“Yes,” said the moon, “I am getting rather weak.”

“Oh my, is there any thing I can do for you, your Highness?” asked Cat.

“Yes, actually you can. Go down to Earth and tell Ms. Ma’am that I’m going to take a rest for a while.”

“Right away your Highness,” said the Cat.

Cat took a running jump and started falling down, down, down. “Meowzers!” exclaimed the cat, when he got to the bottom. “I’m lucky I didn’t loose a few whiskers there!”

He looked around. He was in the garden of Ms. Ma’am. There was catnip and lavender and all kinds of sweet smelling delicacies. His stomach started growling like an angry tiger and his mouth started watering a white rapid river. Cat bit off a chew of catnip and began munching. Then he strutted over to Ms. Ma’am’s house and knocked on the door. Ms. Ma’am answered with a puzzled look on her face, as the animals rarely came down from out of the sky. Before she could question the Cat, he began babbling about the Moon and how she needed a rest.

When he was finished, Ms. Ma’am said, “Very well, but tell the Moon that she must buy me some candles before she can rest, because without her I won’t be able to see a thing.”

“I’ll do that,” said the Cat.

Rushing away, Cat grabbed another pawful of catnip and took a long jump back up into the sky.

When he returned, Cat gave Moon the message from Ms. Ma’am AND he told all the other animals about the amazing garden. The animals were eager to see this sight as they only ever ate rock candy up in the sky and they were rather sick of it. Moon sent Cat back down to Ms. Ma’am with a message that she would not get her any candles, but she had a surprise for them when she came back. For Moon knew that her rest would bring her to enlightenment.

Moon rested for 90 long days and 90 even longer nights. The animals were stuck in complete darkness. They sat in Ms. Ma’am’s garden and ate and ate and waited and waited. Ms. Ma’am didn’t even notice because it was so dark. On the 90th night, when all the animals thought they couldn’t wait any longer they began to see a brightness in the sky. As they watched, The Moon rose; giant, pure, white, well rested, and enlightened!

Read More

How the Cow Got Its Moo

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Cow Got Its Moo
By Carson Jenkins, Grade 8

One day, a long time ago, around the time that the man in the moon settled on the moon, a cow was eating the green grass, dancing in the wind, in the giant lake of green that is the pasture. He was a unique cow, being the only cow in the pasture to be both soot black and white as snow. The horses that lived there were always making fun of him, saying he would never amount to anything. The cow tried to ignore them, but he just couldn’t do it. They were getting to him, and he felt he had to do something to prove that he wasn’t a worthless hunk of beef. He planned to jump over the massive moon. So the cow went and told the other cows his plan. The other cows laughed and stated, “You can’t jump over the massive moon. You’re just a normal, like us.”

But the cow responded saying, “How do you know that cows can’t jump over the massive moon? No one has ever tried it before.”

“That’s because it’s too dangerous,” quipped the other cows. “Any cow with a brain knows that.”

They continued to argue through the day until night fell. Suddenly, out of the darkness, came a deep, booming voice, that made them all jump.

“Do jump!” the voice inquired. “Or you and all the other cows will be cursed forever on.”

“Who said that?” questioned the cow.

“It is I, the Man in the Moon,” came the voice. “But you can call me Mr. Moon.”

“Where are you!?” the cow asked, taking a bite of the green grass.

“Up here, cud head,” stated the Mr. Moon. “What part of the man in the moon don’t you get?”

“Oh,” the cow realized, looking up at the moon. “I get it now. So why can’t I jump over you, Mr. Moon?”

“Because I am not meant to be jumped over,” warned Mr. Moon. “It is both disrespectful and annoying.”

“And what are you going to do about it of I do? You’re just a giant rock.”

“A powerful rock,” insisted Mr. Moon. “As I said before, erm, Marcy, would you mind?”

“Of course, sir,” responder Mr. Moon’s secretary. “Mr. Moon quote, ‘Do not jump! Or you and all the other cows will be cursed forever on’, unquote.”

“Thank you, Marcy,” finished Mr. Moon. “Now as for you, do you understand now?”

“I still don’t believe you,” stated the cow, firmly. “You’re only the moon.”

And with that the cow turned around and strutted away, ignoring Mr. Moon’s and the other cows’ warnings.

The next morning, the sun rose brightly, illuminating the sky.

“Psst,” whispered the sun. “Psst, cow, up here.”

“Huh?” mumbled the cow lazily. “Mr. Moon?”

“No,” whispered the sun. “It’s the sun.”

“What do you want?” asked the cow, cautiously.

“I overheard you plan,” quipped the sun. “It sounds great.”

“Seriously?” asked the cow, surprised. “You think so?”

“Yes,” replied the sun. “I despise that man in the moon, he’s so annoying. And sometimes, he even tries to steal my shift by being out during the day. Make sure he gets it.”

“Well, I didn’t intend on hurting him,” answered the cow, shocked, but the sun was finished talking with him. So, the cow started making preparations for his jump in two nights. He pulled out some astronomy charts he happened to have lying around, and spread them out on the green grass, that, in this pasture, was as soft as a sheep’s wool. He studied them for awhile, and then gazed up at the sky, measuring with his hooves the distance between the horizon and where the moon should be in two nights, according to his charts. He continued making measurements and practicing his jumping for the next two days, ignoring the ferocious taunting of the horses.

Finally, the night arrived that would change the world forever. The cow checked over his measurements one last time, and proceeded to fasten a crimson cape around his fat neck. He walked out into the center of the field and waited for the moon to get in the right position. While he waited, the other cows begged him not to jump, the horses laughed hysterically at him, and the moon babbled on about a curse. As the time neared, the cow yelled, “I’m so excited I could jump out of my hooves!” Suddenly, the moon moved into the right place, and the cow leaped as hard as he could. He flew up and up and up into the sky, his crimson cape billowing behind him. He went over the moon, and back down to the ground covered with the green grass.

“That was Moo amazing!” yelled the cow. “Wait! Moo! What Moo is Moo happening?! Moo!”

“I told you so,” sang the moon, as he drifted behind a cloud.

“Moo!” yelled the cow, frustrated, but it was to no avail. The cows could not speak anymore, but could only communicate with moos forevermore. And that is how the cows got their moo.

Read More

Why the Leaves Change Color

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

Why the Leaves Change Color
By Nate Swartz, Grade 5

Once upon a time in an oak forest behind the little village of Almany there lived a ghost who loved to paint. His name was Pale, Pale Pain. He painted skeletons, ghouls, witches, pumpkins, tombstones, and stars: just about everything that reminded him of Halloween, his favorite time of year.

One day Pale thought he should paint something less frightening.

“How about the leaves, they always stay the same color, boring green,” he said to himself.

So Pale collected his paintbrushes and made sure he had the most magnificent colors: Raging Red, Lemon – e Yellow, and Rusty Orange. After examining the colors carefully he strolled out the door not forgetting his scarf. Today the wind was as cold as a freezer. He floated to the first tree on his way to the village, a couple miles from where Pale lived. He squeezed the Raging Red paint on to his palette. He dabbed his paintbrush and started painting the first leaf.

“He, he, he that tickles,” laughed the leaf as Pale’s paintbrush slid down the midrib.

On and on and on he went, tree to tree until finally Pale had painted all the trees within the hamlet.

“I must not stop here, but I’m so cold it feels like my ghost toes are going to fall off! Just look at my exquisite art work!” he said as he marveled at his masterpiece.

So Pale continued to soar to every tree that his ghostly black eyes could see and from that time on Pale Pain the painter painted every tree in sight.

And that is why the leaves change color!

Read More

How the Porcupine got its Quills

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Porcupine got its Quills
By Lucas Evans, Grade 8

The scratchy blanket of leaves crunched underneath Porcupine’s leather-like feet as he ambled along the reddish, brownish, yellowish, colored forest. Autumn had reached its peak and the tall tree’s bare branches barely could bear the cold crispy breeze.

Porcupine was an ordinary porcupine that looked like any other ordinary porcupine. He had a fairly large snout, a short, stubby tail, and ordinary short and soft, brown colored fur. He was not proud for the way he looked. He just thought that he looked like a sleepy, sluggish, slow, sloth.

As Porcupine proceeded through the woods, he heard something above him and looked up. Bolting through the bare branches was a massive Bald Eagle, aiming his sharp talons directly at Porcupine. The bird was a huge jet, traveling very fast, but luckily Porcupine jumped to the side and dodged the enormous bird. The eagle grieved over his failure, then retreated back to his nest. Porcupine got up and, making sure he was gone, picked up a pine cone and hurled it up into the air after the bird. After reaching a height of about four feet from the ground, the pine cone fell back and landed on Porcupine’s head. Despite the stupidity of the throw, Porcupine was proud of his defense against the eagle, and walked cockily away.

After reaching his home, Porcupine gathered a meeting with some of his fellow ground dwelling animals. He wanted to talk about defenses against the birds, therefore he called for Bear, Opossum, Squirrel, Fox, and Rabbit.

“I have gathered you all here today to discuss matters of defense against the predators of the air,” began Porcupine.

“I’m leaving” growled Bear.

“What?” asked Porcupine in disbelief.

“I don’t need any defense. Look at me.” Saying this, Bear turned his big body around and slowly disappeared into the woods.

After stating the same point as Bear, Fox swiftly turned and rushed off the scene.

“Well, at least you guys understand me,” Porcupine said, turning to the smaller animals.

“No,” Opossum quickly stated. “My death strategy never fails-”

“Except when your cousin tried it,” Porcupine reminded, trying to convince Opossum to listen to him, but failed and instead made Opossum burst into tears and run away.

Then Rabbit told Porcupine that he had burrows all around the woods, and Squirrel said the trees are where he hides, and then they both hastened after Opossum to try to cheer him up.

Poor Porcupine felt left out and as vulnerable as a lightning rod is to lightning. He was the only animal that didn’t have any type of defense against the birds. Porcupine sat there for a lonely while then strolled homeward, feeling sorry for himself. On his usual path home, many mournful thoughts still possessed his head, which could have been the reason he did not hear the familiar sound of wings beating behind him. He realized he was certain prey when he saw his feet gradually ascend off the ground. He looked up and saw the brownish, yellowish tinted color of a falcon’s chin feathers, then looked straight ahead, wide-eyed and frantic.

To Porcupine’s and Falcon’s amazement, a bit of luck reached Porcupine. The fur that Falcon clutched was released from Porcupines skin, leaving a chunk of brown fur in Falcon’s talons, and Porcupine free from Falcon but not free from the laws of gravity. Luckily, Porcupine’s fall was softened, but it was unlucky that the cushion was a thorn bush. A few (ordinary six inch long) thorns had pierced Porcupine. He jumped a mile high in pain, but managed to heal himself and remove the brown spikes.

Porcupine sat there, holding his arm where it hurt, when he got an idea. He looked at the long thorns, then to his fur. He jumped over to the bush and snapped off as many spikes as he could find, then stuck them into his fur. When his task was complete, he admired his back and tail. Thorns stuck out off his fur every where. Though they came out a little easily, he had made himself a great defense, and it turned out it worked terrifically, for on the way home, an eagle trying to snatch him from the ground but failed and gained three spikes in his feet.

Porcupine loved his new defense so much that he kept it for the rest of his life, and whenever you see a porcupine, it’ll always have spikes, and henceforward, whenever you see a thorn bush it’ll always have small, stubby, short, thorns.

Read More

How the Hedgehog Got His Quills

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own.

How the Hedgehog Got His Quills
By William Byrnes, Grade 9

In the green and thick woodlands, once upon a time, O Best Beloved, there was a golden coffee colored short-haired rodent called a hedgehog. The hedgehog loved to eat dandelions and fandelions and groundelions and just about every kind of flower he could sink his short little teeth into. But the thing he wanted most of all his eyes had never seen. What he wanted most of all was to taste the bright budding fresh, soft, velvet, pedals of the sweet smelling reddish rose flower. Now, my best beloved, his triangular shaped ears had heard of the bright budding fresh, soft, velvet, pedals of the sweet smelling reddish rose flower from his one friend hundreds of thousands of times.

This friend was a little speedy mouse with a body as brown as dirt and a tail as white as snow that lived on the ground in the woodland.

“Where can I find the sweet smelling reddish rose flower I wish to eat?” begged the golden coffee colored hedgehog to the little speedy mouse one foggy morning.

The little speedy mouse agreed to show him the location where the wonderful flower grew.

He filled his lungs with air and answered, “The only place to find the bright budding fresh, soft, velvet, pedals of the sweet smelling reddish rose flower you wish to eat, is behind you. Follow these instructions, go twenty three steps north, five steps south and three hundred and eighty five steps west from the gigantic brown oak tree over there.

Just after the little speedy mouse finished giving his directions the hedgehog was off and running, counting his steps as he scurried along the woodland floor. The hedgehog followed the directions and then he found himself and at bottom of a rosebush. He stared up at the rosebush astonished.

He thought to himself, “How am I going to get to the small patch of roses on the summit of the rosebush?”

The rosebush was huge like an enormous dark green giant. The little speedy mouse was standing at the bottom of the rosebush too. He got there long before the hedgehog.

The hedgehog began his very treacherous climb up the rosebush. He grabbed with his teeth and struggled with his claws to hold on pulling his body up the green giant. Several times he looked down and the little mouse was just sitting on the ground watching the daring hedgehog make his treacherous climb to the top.

Once the hedgehog made it to the top he smiled because he was finally sitting in a bed of the bright and budding, fresh and soft, velvet pedals that he had heard of. They smelled as sweet as honey.

Reviving himself from his daze of accomplishment, he gathered all the soft velvet pedals he could hold. Slowly he began his decent down the rosebush. Five steps down his small left foot slipped off of the branch. He tried to grab a hold of a lower branch so he wouldn’t fall but he missed that branch and started a more rapid decent down the rosebush. The hedgehog watched all the bright and budding, fresh and soft, velvet pedals float away in the wind as he rolled through the thousands of thorns and branches of the rosebush.

The thorns began accumulating on his back. As he hit the ground the thorns plunged into his golden coffee colored short-hair making the thorn part of the hedgehog.

As he stared deeply into the little speedy mouse’s eyes the hedgehog was full of sorrow but managed to speak, “I never got to taste the bright budding fresh, soft, velvet, pedals of the sweet smelling reddish rose flower. I did get to smell.”

Now, my best beloved, the hedgehog is full of long spines on his back. Now that the hedgehog is a ball of spikes he has learned to use them for protection. He no longer wishes to eat the fresh, soft, velvet pedals of the sweet smelling reddish rose flower he is content to live his life on the ground and has never tried to climb anything ever again.

And that is the end of the tale, my Best Beloved.

Read More

Why the Cricket Jumps

Home School students in Elizabeth Walter’s writing class, Spring Garden Township, were asked to read two Rudyard Kipling stories and then write “Just So” stories of their own. This is one of them.

Why the Cricket Jumps
By Gabe Ryan, Grade 8

Oh, Best Beloved, when the land was new, all the animals were at peace, usually, except for the odd trick here or there. Way back then, all the animals had pretty large heads, and each thought he was the best. But when one of them got out of hand all the other animals would get together and throw him of his high horse. And one time it was Cricket who got out of hand. All the other animals could tolerate him, usually, but they really didn’t like him very much. He would carry on and on about his beautiful wings and how high he could fly.

Now the animals wouldn’t have minded so much if Cricket had been created with his wings but he hadn’t been. He was just a lonely creature who had scampered along on six short legs and had found the wings lying under a bush and one day had claimed them as his own. Most of the other animals said that they must have been fairy wings and Cricket had no right to take them! But this is not the story of how he got those wings. This is a different story.

One day Cricket was walking along the road. He didn’t fly because there was no one around to show off for. He was getting a bit mad at all the other animals because they weren’t coming to see him do flips in the air and fly as high as a bird! Not even Ant seemed to be out on the road. But then he thought, ‘I had better get used to it, because life on top of all the other animals is going to be lonely.’

Now, Best Beloved, I am going to tell you why all the other animals weren’t out on the road, not even Ant. They were all at Elephant’s house having a meeting. Even Cricket’s wife was there! The reason they were having the meeting at Elephant’s house, though the house’s walls were sighing from the pressure of all those animals, Was because they decided that they had had enough of Cricket and all his bragging. Even his wife was tired of his bragging and selfishness. They all agreed that they had to do something about it.

“I say we should go for the fairy wings,” said Elephant in his slow and always calm voice. Everyone agreed, so they devised a plan.

The next morning Cricket had his wife hook his wings on while asking her where everyone was the day before.

“Oh, it’s supposed to be a surprise. But…,” she stopped.

“But… what!” asked Cricket impatiently.

“Oh, well… all right! They were all at Elephant’s house planning a huge party for a newcomer. I think his name is Fox. Right now they are down on the Open Plain. They want you and your glorious wings to show off in front of the newcomer,” she explained innocently.

Without a backwards glance, Cricket was out the door and running as fast as he could to the Open Plain. When he got there a cheer went up from all the animals. With tears in his eyes Cricket met the newcomer and then thanked all of the animals in turn. But while he was doing this the newcomer, who was the sly and sneaky Fox, was creeping up behind him. And as slowly as a Sloth the fiendish Fox unhooked Cricket’s wings. He gave the wings to Gazelle who bounded off and laid them under the same tree that Cricket had found them under.

Back at the Open Plain all the animals were chanting to Cricket “FLY, FLY!” But when Cricket jumped in the air he landed flat on his face. All of the other creatures laughed and laughed and ran away to celebrate. Left behind were three creatures, Gazelle, Gazelle’s wife, and Cricket’s wife. They all felt sorry for Cricket who lay on the ground weeping like a waterfall. In fact they felt so sorry that they ran back to the tree where they had laid the wings, hoping to get them back for Cricket, who they were sure had learned his lesson. They arrived just in time to see the Fairy who owned the wings picking them up happily. They asked for another, smaller, pair of wings for Cricket. The Fairy happily granted their wish because they had brought back her wings.

Gazelle, Gazelle’s wife, and Cricket’s wife sped back to the Open Plain to where Cricket was still bawling. The three were eventually able to console him enough to show him the smaller wings and hook them on. But the Cricket was still very upset about the old wings because he wanted to be able to soar and fly. So Gazelle, Gazelle’s wife, and Cricket’s wife went back to the fairy tree.

When they got there the fairy was trying to hook the wings on her back, without success. Finally Cricket’s wife stepped forward and gently hooked them onto the fairy’s back. In return for the help, the Fairy granted her another wish. Cricket’s wife asked the fairy for a pair of big strong legs for Cricket. Back at the Open Plain, they took of Cricket’s short hind legs and attached the big strong pair.

Cricket bounded into the air and was nearly completely happy.

And so, Best Beloved, when you see a Cricket jump you know he is remembering jumping into the air, spreading his wings and soaring into the open sky.

Read More