3rd Grade Benchmark 1
by Theresa Bartholomew
| 12 Questions
Note from the author:
Made for 3rd grade benchmark from PA's released items
Directions: Read each of the passages. Then answer the questions that follow based on the information from the passage.
Words Free As Confetti
                  by Pat Mora
Come, words, come in your every color. I’ll toss you in storm or breeze. I’ll say, say, say you, taste you sweet as plump plums, bitter as old lemons. I’ll sniff you, words, warm as almonds or tart as apple-red, feel you green and soft as new grass, lightwhite as dandelion plumes, or thorngray as cactus, heavy as black cement, cold as blue icicles, warm as abuelita’s1 yellowlap. I’ll hear you, words, loud as searoar’s purple crash, hushed as gatitos2 curled in sleep, as the last goldlullaby. I’ll see you long and dark as tunnels, bright as rainbows, playful as chestnutwind. I’ll watch you, words, rise and dance and spin.
I’ll say, say, say you in English, in Spanish, I’ll find you.
Hold you. Toss you. I’m free too. I say yo soy libre3, I am free free, free, free as confetti4.
______________________________________ 1 abuelita (ah-bweh-LEE-tah)—grandmother 2 gatitos (ga-TEE-toce)—kittens 3 yo soy libre (YO SOY LEE-breh)—I am free 4 confetti—small bits of colored paper thrown during a parade
Read the line from the poem.

I’ll watch you, words, rise and dance and spin.

What is the speaker doing?
The words “I,” “I’ll,” and “I’m” reveal that the poem is told by
a grandmother explaining her own opinions.
a speaker revealing the thoughts of other characters.
a grandmother telling about her experiences.
a speaker sharing personal feelings.
Part One
What would be another good title for this poem?
Having a Celebration
Making Up New Words
Words Floating on a Breeze
My Life Through Words
Part Two
What two lines from the poem support the answer in Part One? Choose two answers.
“I’ll say, say, say you,”
“playful as chestnutwind.”
“I’m free too.”
“or thorngray as cactus,”
Animals at Play

by Aline Alexander Newman
     Splash! Limbs flailing, a rhesus monkey takes a flying leap from a mangrove tree into a tropical pond. Then gurgle, glub—under it goes, as another monkey dive-bombs onto his head. Like human kids fooling around in a backyard pool, monkeys play for hours. So do bears, dolphins, tigers, and foxes!
     These animals aren’t feeding, hunting, defending their territory, or traveling. They’re playing—meaning they’re doing something simply for fun. But animal play is not a waste of time or energy. Scientists think play may be as important as food and sleep. Why? It promotes brain development and health. It lets animals (and kids) explore their surroundings and invent new behaviors. And it helps them adapt to a changing world.
Clueless Bear
     Bear cubs born to more playful mothers stand the best chance of survival. This discovery was made by research biologist Robert Fagen, of Fairbanks, Alaska, who spent ten summers studying brown bears on Alaska’s Admiralty Island. “We know that’s true,” says Fagen. “But we don’t yet know why.” Cowboy, one of Fagen’s study bears, grew up as an only cub. His mom liked to wrestle and play, which provided enough playtime for a while. But when Cowboy turned three, he began searching for younger playmates.
     The trouble was that Cowboy was clueless about how to make friends. Whenever he encountered another cub in the forest, Cowboy would roar and act as if he were going to attack. “He was just trying to be friendly,” says Fagen. “But he was misunderstood. When his bluff-charge didn’t work, Cowboy would dig a hole in the ground to curl up in. He’d look totally miserable.”
     One day Cowboy tried a new approach. He began following another bear. The stranger zigged and zagged trying to lose him. But Cowboy stayed on his tail. For two days the bears paced like boxers in a ring. Then they staged a pretend fight. After that the playful Cowboy wasn’t lonely anymore. By summer’s end, he had rounded up ten bear buddies who hung out together year after year. One of those “buddies,” a honey-colored female, became his mate.
Together Time
     Other animals also play in groups. In Botswana, in Africa, Chris Johns, a National Geographic wildlife photographer, spotted a litter of African wild dogs acting rowdy. The pups played games like tug-of-war for hours.
     In addition to helping an animal find a mate and bond with a group, social play serves as a testing ground. “Already those pups were starting to determine who will be the alpha male and alpha female (the pack leaders),” says Johns. At the same time, they were building muscles and developing the speed and agility necessary to catch impalas and outrun lions.
     Half a world away, writer Gary Paulsen was racing sled dogs in Alaska. One day, while resting his team, he spent almost an hour lying on top of a ridge and peering down at a herd of “ice-skating” bison! One after another, each bison backed partway up the hill, pawed the ground like a charging bull, and galloped toward a frozen lake. When it hit the ice, the bison would lift its tail and lock its knees. Then it would zip across the slippery surface—spinning in circles. After slowing to a stop, the bison bellowed loudly, slid back to shore—and did it all over again.
Surprising Playmates
     Most of the time cheetahs play with cheetahs and monkeys play with monkeys. But not always. Play between species may be rare in the wild, but it happens. Roger Payne, director of the Whale Conservation Institute in Lincoln, Massachusetts, says sea lions often play in the wake left by a passing whale. But once he saw a sea lion pup diving and rolling behind a whale that was lying perfectly still—except for whipping up waves with her tail. “It looked like the whale was creating currents for the benefit of the pup,” says Payne.
Toy Story
     Lots of animals play with toys. Large parrots called keas play catch with sticks, roll snowballs, and swing on swings. Bottlenose dolphins blow underwater bubble rings, and then spin and flip their bubble toys with their fins.
     Do all animals play? Nobody knows for sure, but the evidence that many species do is convincing. While play behavior in insects, most birds, reptiles, and amphibians may be questionable, there is little doubt that chimpanzees, elephants, and other mammals with large, well-developed brains play.
     One thing’s for sure. Whether you wrestle, swim, or figure skate, you’re not alone. Somewhere other animals are doing it, too!

Which sentence from the passage best describes the effect of Cowboy following another bear?
“Cowboy, one of Fagen’s study bears, grew up as an only cub.”
“But when Cowboy turned three, he began searching for younger playmates.”
“After that the playful Cowboy wasn’t lonely anymore.”
“One day Cowboy tried a new approach.”
Which detail from the passage explains why animals play?
“But animal play is not a waste of time or energy.”
“It promotes brain development and health.”
“Play between species may be rare in the wild, but it happens.”
“Whether you wrestle, swim, or figure skate, you’re not alone.”
Which point of view is used in the passage?
first person through writer Gary Paulsen
third person through a scientist who studies only mammals
first person through director Roger Payne
third person through someone interested in animal behavior
It Rained Cement
by Megan Clements
     When I moved to Quito, Ecuador, in the 1990s, the last thing I expected to see was an erupting volcano.
     I had read a lot about Quito. But I hadn’t come across anything about Guagua Pichincha, an active volcano a few miles west of the city. I didn’t even know it existed . . . until 1999, when it was about to erupt.
     Guagua Pichincha had not erupted for a hundred years. But now magma was making its way to the surface, and the pressure was causing earthquakes.
     In the city, we did not feel the earthquakes very often. But scientists were able to detect them. Some of the tremors shook nonstop for six hours. Guagua Pichincha was about to erupt.
     On the morning of September 3, 1999, I saw a huge plume of ash shoot from the volcano. The mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of more than three miles. As the ash settled, it covered the city in a thin layer. Even cities miles away from Quito were blanketed in ash.
     What had set off this eruption?
     The answer was water. As the magma came closer to the surface, it heated rainwater in the ground. The water boiled. As the water turned into steam, the steam caused so much pressure that weak spots in the surface finally gave way and exploded.
     One way to understand this type of eruption is to think of shaking a bottle of soda and then popping off the lid. Expanding gas in the soda creates so much pressure that it explodes out of the bottle, taking the soda with it.
     The ash from Guagua Pichincha shot out with so much force that it traveled for miles before it settled. The finer ash hung in the air.
     Volcanic ash is different from the ash left over from a wood fire. Volcanic ash is made up of tiny bits of lava. The eruption blasts the bits into the air while they are still hot, and they cool as separate particles, forming a fine dust.
     This dust can clog the works of an engine or any other machine that needs air. Cars, buses, and even airplanes could not run in Quito for days.
     Worse, the air could carry ash into a person’s lungs, permanently damaging them. Schools were closed. People who had to leave home wore masks that protected their lungs.
A Cleansing Rain
     One day, dark rain clouds rolled toward Quito. I thought, What a relief to have the air finally clean! I was looking forward to the time when I could walk outside without wearing a bulky mask over my nose and mouth.
     I had an appointment in 10 minutes. I had to walk, of course, since no cars or buses were running. As the clouds neared the city, I strapped on my mask.
     When the rain started to fall, the water looked normal until I looked down. The water wasn’t clear. It was gray. My clothes had little drops of wet ash on them. The rain was cleaning the air as I had hoped. But it was dropping the ash as a watery mess.
     I walked faster. The rain fell harder. Before I knew it, I was wet from head to toe. The surprising part was that when I finally found shelter, the thin, ashy rainwater started to harden. I could move my clothes and my hair into any form and they would stay. It was as if the sky had rained cement!
     Minor eruptions of steam and ash continued for months. I never thought I would get used to the sight of a volcano erupting, but it became commonplace for the people of Quito.
     By the year 2000, Guagua Pichincha finally rested again. I will never forget the huge clouds of ash rising from the mountains behind us. And I will always remember to stay out of the rain after a volcano erupts.
How are the first three paragraphs under the heading “A Cleansing Rain” organized?
order of importance
sequence of events
comparison and contrast
question and answer
How does the author feel when she first sees the rain clouds coming toward Quito?
What does the illustration in the text box help the reader understand?
what causes volcanoes to erupt
what types of volcanoes exist
how tall volcanoes are
how some volcanoes form
Part One
Which information can be found in the text box?
how Guagua Pichincha is like the Empire State Building
what type of volcano Guagua Pichincha is
how often Guagua Pichincha erupts
where Guagua Pichincha is located
Part Two
Which sentences from the passage best support the answer in Part One? Choose two answers.
“Guagua Pichincha had not erupted for a hundred years.”
“In the city, we did not feel the earthquakes very often.”
“Cars, buses, and even airplanes could not run in Quito for days.”
“People who had to leave home wore masks that protected their lungs.”
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