Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

a field of green grass and many dandelions

 

Dandelions

Dandelions are one of the first flowers that you see in the spring in Canada. Many people think they are weeds because they grow everywhere. The grow on lawns. They grow in parks. They even grow in the cracks in sidewalks.  In the spring and summer, you can see these yellow flowers all over the place!

Not everyone thinks this plant is a weed. The leaves of the dandelion plant can be eaten.  They can be used in salads or they can be cooked.  The leaves contain lots of vitamins so they are a healthy food.

Parts of the dandelion plant can be used to make wine. The roots of the dandelion can be roasted and used to make dandelion coffee.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Dandelion leaves make good coffee.  Yes or no?

2. Lots of dandelions grow in parks and on lawns. Yes or no?

3. Dandelions have orange flowers. Yes or no?

4. Some people eat dandelion leaves in salads.  Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6.  Many people think that dandelions are ______________ because they grow everywhere.

7.  Parts of the ________________ plant can be used to make wine.

8.  Dandelion coffee can be ______________ with ___________ dandelion roots.

9. Dandelion leaves are can be used in _______________.  They can also be _______________.

10.  These plants grow in lots of places, usually in the spring and the __________________.

11. The green leaves of the dandelion plant have lots of _______________ in them.

>> Answers
two mushrooms growing in the grass

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are part of a special group of organisms called fungi (or funguses). They are not animals and they are not plants! The study of mushrooms and other fungi is called mycology.

Canadian farms produce about 80 million kg of mushrooms each year. White button mushrooms are the most popular but there are lots of other types of mushrooms grown in Canada. Some of these are crimini mushrooms and portabella mushrooms. You can buy them in any grocery store or market.

Mushrooms also grow wild in Canada. They like to grow where there are lots dead and decaying leaves or wood. Decaying plants provide food for the mushrooms. Mushrooms also like to grow in cooler, damper places. In forests they grow on the ground, on trees or on rotting logs. They can also grow on lawns if there has been enough rain.

If you pick your own mushrooms you need to be careful. Sometimes poisonous mushrooms look like edible types of mushrooms. There aren’t too many types of mushrooms that will kill you but many types of mushrooms will make you very sick.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Many types of mushrooms are grown in Canada. Yes or no?

2. Some types of wild mushrooms are poisonous. Yes or no?

3. Mushrooms are a type of fungus. Yes or no?

4. It is very easy to tell which mushrooms are poisonous. Yes or no?

5. Mushrooms are plants. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Some poisonous mushrooms look a lot like __________________ mushrooms.

7. You can buy mushrooms in ____________________________.

8. Wild mushrooms sometimes grow on _________________ logs.

9. If you pick your own mushrooms you need to be _________________________.

>> Answers
polar bear near Churchill Manitoba

Polar bear near Churchill Manitoba.

Photo by Darren Barber.

Polar Bears

Most people have only seen polar bears in a zoo. Polar bears live in the north, around the area of the Arctic Ocean. They live near the shoreline of the Arctic Ocean; polar bears are found in Greenland, Norway, Alaska northern Russia and northern Canada. They live on the sea ice around the edges of the Arctic Ocean where the water is not too deep and where many seals and other marine animals live. Polar bears are very large animals. Adult males can weight up to 700 kg. Polar bears have two layers of fur and a thick layer of fat to help keep their body warm.

Their favorite food is seal but they will sometimes eat beluga whales, narwhals or walruses. They catch seals by standing on the ice and waiting for the seals to come to the surface to breathe. Polar bears have a very good sense of smell so they know where on the ice to stand and wait. Polar bears do not eat fish because most fish in the Arctic Ocean live in deeper water and the polar bears can’t reach them. Polar bears can swim. They can also dive but no one knows how deep they can dive.

In many areas of the Arctic they are able to hunt on the ice year round. In places were the ice melts in the summer, the bears live on land. One of the places where bears come ashore every summer is near the town of Churchill in northern Manitoba. Churchill is on Hudson Bay. The ice on Hudson Bay melts in July or early August and doesn’t refreeze until November. The bears come ashore near Churchill for those summer months. This is one of the best places to visit in Canada if you want to see polar bears that aren’t in a zoo.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Polar bears live near most Canadian cities. Yes or no?

2. Polar bears live where there is very deep water. Yes or no?

3. Polar bears catch fish. Yes or no?

4. In many areas of the Arctic they are able to hunt on the ice year round. Yes or no?

5. The town of Churchill Manitoba is on Hudson Bay. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Polar bears have two ________________ of fur to help them keep warm.

7. Polar bears live on the _________ ice during the cold months of the year.

8. Their _______________ food is seal but they also eat other kinds of animals.

9. The ___________ on Hudsons Bay melts in the summer and doesn't ____________________ until November.

10. Adult male polar bears can weigh as much as __________________.

>> Answers
rainbow in the late afternoon over the highway

Rainbows

Is there a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow? If you believe the old Irish stories about how leprechauns hide their gold at the end of the rainbow, you might be tempted to try to find the end. No one has ever found the end of a rainbow!

The ancient Greeks believed that a rainbow was a path between Heaven and Earth. Rainbows were made by Iris who was a messenger of the gods. In Norse mythology, the rainbow was also a link between the homes of gods and humans.

In myths and stories from many cultures, the rainbow is an actual bow belonging to a god. For example, in Hindu myths the rainbow is Indra’s bow. Indra is the god of thunder, lightning & rain.

In Amazonian cultures of South America, rainbows were made by evil spirits who wanted to harm people. They would try to make people sick. Remember to keep your mouth closed when looking at a rainbow to stop the evil spirits!

Today we know that when rays of light from the sun pass through drops of water rainbows are made. The rays of sunlight are bent in just the right way to produce to different colours. The colours of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet (purple).

Vocabulary help:

Comprehension Check:


Fill in the Blanks:

>> Answers
 

pine trees

spruce trees

 

 Evergreen Trees

There are many evergreen trees that grow in Canada. These trees are called evergreens because they stay green through the cold winter. They have needles instead of leaves. These thin needles stay on the trees all year long. Pine trees also have pine cones. The pine cones hold the seeds that will grow into new pine trees.

In Canada there are many different types of evergreen trees that grow well.  There are pine trees, fir trees and spruce trees. Pine trees usually have long needles. Spruce and fir trees usually have shorter needles.

Pine, fir and spruce trees are all important. Many of these trees are cut down every year. The wood from the tree trunks is used to build many things including furniture such as tables and chairs. Paper can also be made from evergreen trees.  Evergreen trees also make good Christmas trees and many are grown for this purpose.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Pine trees are evergreens. Yes or no?

2. Spruce tress have leaves. Yes or no?

3. Christmas trees are usually pine, spruce or fir trees. Yes or no?

4. Evergreens grow well in Canada. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

5. Pine ____________ grow on evergreen trees. They hold the seeds that will become new trees.

6. Evergreens are cut down so we can use the ____________ from their trunks to make things.

7. Pine trees have _____________ instead of leaves.

8. Evergreens grow _________ in Canada.

9. Spruce trees and fir trees stay green in the ______________.

10. Evergreens include pine trees, _____________ trees and fir trees.

>> Answers
part of a painting by Canadian artist Tom Thomson of an autumn scene

Autumn's Garland, by Tom Thomson

Autumn Colours

After the heat of the summer and before the cold of the winter there are a couple of months of autumn in Canada. One of the features of autumn is that leaves on the trees change colours.  The green leaves turn to yellow, orange, or red. After a short time the leaves then fall off the trees. The branches of the trees are bare during the winter months.

 Leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll a substance that is able to use light and energy from the sun to help make sugars. These sugars are food for the trees. During the summer months leaves have lots of chlorophyll. At the end of the summer the temperatures get cooler and the daylight hours become shorter. When this happens, the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves decreases. They then change colour.

 Many people like to go for walks in the woods, or drives through the country, to enjoy the colourful scenery.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Leaves change colours in the autumn. Yes or no?

2. Chlorophyll is a substance in leaves that makes them look green. Yes or no?

3. Leaves do not have much chlorophyll in the summer. Yes or no?

4. Leaves change colours when the temperatures get warmer. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

5. In the winter the branches of the trees are ___________.

6. The leaves are very ________________ in the autumn.

7. Many people like to ______________ in the woods in the autumn because they like the different colours of the scenery.

8. Chlorophyll helps to make ____________________ that the trees use for food.

9. Chlorophyll uses energy from the _______________.

10. In the autumn, the daylight hours become ___________________.

>> Answers
mosquito

Mosquitoes are insects.

 Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes buzz in your ears. They get in your eyes an in your mouth. They bite. They are a big nuisance in the summer! Sometimes when you wake up in the middle of a summer night you can hear a mosquito buzzing somewhere near you. But you can’t see it! You can’t get back to sleep because you can hear the noise. You worry that the mosquito is going to land on you and bite you! You lie very still in your bed and hope that the mosquito will land on you. When the mosquito lands on you the buzzing noise will stop. If you are quick you can swat the mosquito and kill it. If you are slow the mosquito will escape and start buzzing again!

Mosquitoes feed on nectar from plants. The females mosquitoes need blood to lay their eggs. They bite people or any other animal that is nearby. The female mosquitoes lay their eggs near water. When the eggs hatch, tiny mosquito larvae come out. These larvae live in the water. When they have grown and developed into adult mosquitoes they leave the water. Now there are more mosquitoes to buzz in your ears!

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Male mosquitoes will bite you. Yes or no?

2. Mosquitoes are a nuisance in the summer. Yes or no?

3. Mosquito larvae buzz in your ear. Yes or no?

4. Mosquitoes feed on blood. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

5. When mosquitoes land on you they stop ___________________ .

6. Mosquito larvae live in the __________________.

7. Mosquitoes feed on _________________ that they get from ___________________.

8. The female mosquitoes need _________________ before they can lay their eggs.

9. Mosquitoes bite people or ________________________.

10. If you swat a mosquito you can ______________ it.

>> Answers
 wasp

Wasps are insects.

 Wasps

A wasp looks like a bee but it is not a bee. Bees and wasps are similar. Both bees and wasps are insects. They both make a buzzing sound. They both have wings and they can both fly. When wasps are larvae they are parasites. They feed on dead insects. Adult wasps will eat nectar. Bees only feed on nectar and pollen from plants. Bees are not parasitic. There are over 100,000 different species of wasp in the world. There are wasps on all continents except Antarctica. The most common kind of wasp in Canada is the yellowjacket.

Some species of wasps are social. Social wasps live in colonies. There can be thousands of wasps in a colony. Each colony has a queen wasp and many female workers. In temperate climates the colonies only last about a year. The queen wasp hibernates in cracks or other sheltered areas over the winter but most of the other wasps die. The queen starts a new colony in the spring.

Some species of wasps sting but others do not. It is the female wasp that has a sharp stinger. Be careful because when a wasp stings you, it hurts!

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Male wasps sting people. Yes or no?

2. Social wasps are wasps that live in colonies. Yes or no?

3. There are no wasps on Antarctica. Yes or no?

4. Wasp colonies stay alive in the winter. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

5. Bees are wasps are __________________________.

6. Bees and wasps have ____________________ so they can fly.

7. Yellowjackets are a kind of _________________ that lives in Canada.

8. The queen wasp _______________________ in sheltered places in the winter.

9. Most wasps _______________ in the winter.

10. Wasp larvae are ____________________. They feed on _______________ insects.

>> Answers
 a prickly cactus plant


 

 Cactus, Cacti

Cacti are plants that grow well in hot, dry places. They like lots of sun and they don't need much water. You can find cacti in the southwestern part of the United states, in Mexico, and in parts of Central and South America.

Cacti can store water in their thick stems. Instead of leaves, cacti have spines.  Ouch! These spines have sharp points that hurt you if you touch them. They protect the plant from animals. Some cacti have flowers. Cacti have many shallow roots. These roots are close to the surface so the plant can absorb a lot of water in a short time if there is rain. Cacti can also absorb water through their stems so they can get water from fog in the air. Cacti grow very slowly. They can live for a long time.

Cacti make good house plants. A small cactus is inexpensive and easy to look after.  

NOTE: one cactus, two cacti

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Cacti grow well in hot, dry places. Yes or no?

2. A cactus needs lots of rain. Yes or no?

3. The spines on a cactus stop animals from eating the plant. Yes or no?

4. Cacti don't live for very long. Yes or no?

5. Cacti have thick stems. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

6. Cacti are _________ that grow in hot, dry places like the deserts in the southwestern part of the United States.

7. Cacti have ___________ roots that grow just under the surface of the ground.

8. A small cactus is ______________________ and easy to take care of.

9. All cacti have spines and some cacti have __________________.

10. Cacti grow _____________ but they can live for a ________ time.

11. Cacti can absorb a lot of _____________ in a short time when in rains.

>> Answers
 zebra


 

Zebras

Everyone knows what zebras looks like! Their black and white stripes are very distinctive. This African animal is well-known because of its stripes.  Most people have seen pictures of zebras or they have seen zebras in a zoo.

Zebras have very good eyesight and hearing; they see well and they hear well. Zebras eat grass but sometimes they eat leaves and twigs too. They have large teeth to help them grind and chew grasses.

Zebras are very social animals. They live in herds or sometimes they live in groups called harems. Each harem has one male zebra and five or six female zebras. The young zebras, called foals, live in these harems with their mothers

Zebras and horses are related. Because they are related, zebras and horses look very similar except zebras have stripes and horses do not. Horses are also faster than zebras. Also, horses have been domesticated but zebras are wild animals.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Zebras are faster than horses. Yes or no?

2. Zebras have distinctive black and white stripes. Yes or no?

3. A young zebra is called a foal. Yes or no?

4. Zebras are domesticated. Yes or no?


Fill in the blanks:

5. To see a zebra in Canada, you have to visit a __________.

6. Zebras and horses are very _______________ because they are related.

7. Sometimes zebras eat leaves and twigs but mostly they eat _____________.

8. A harem of zebras has _________ male zebra and 5 or 6 female zebras.

9. Zebras can see well. They have __________ eyesight.

10. Their large ___________ help them grind their food.

11. Zebras have black and white _______________.

>> Answers

Answers:



Dandelions

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes

6. weeds, 7. Dandelion, 8. made/roasted,  9. salads/cooked, 10. summer, 11. vitamins

Back ^


Mushrooms

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. no

6. edible, 7. grocery stores/markets, 8. rotting, 9. careful

Back ^


Polar Bears

1. no, 2. no, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. yes

6. layers, 7. sea, 8. favorite, 9. ice/refreeze, 10. 700 kg.

Back ^


Rainbows

Back ^


Evergreen Trees

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. yes,

5. cones, 6. wood 7. needles 8. well, 9. winter, 10. spruce

Back ^


Autumn Colours

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. no

5. bare, 6. colourful, 7. walk, 8. sugars, 9. sun, 10. shorter

Back ^


Mosquitoes

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. no

5. buzzing, 6. water, 7. nectar/plants, 8. blood, 9. animals, 10. kill

Back ^


Wasps

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no,

5. insects, 6. wings, 7. wasp, 8. hibernate, 9. die, 10. parasite/dead

Back ^


Cactus, Cacti

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. yes,

6. plants, 7. shallow, 8. inexpensive, 9. flowers, 10. slowly/long, 11. water

Back ^


Zebras

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no

5. zoo, 6. similar, 7. grass, 8. one, 9. good, 10. teeth, 11. stripes

Back ^