A Visit to the Lighthouse

Mrs. Hernandez's first-grade class was going on a field trip to the lighthouse. The school bus pulled up the long driveway that led to the lighthouse. The students looked out the bus windows. The lighthouse was on a ridge on a peninsula. As far as the students could see, there was ocean. The big, white cumulus clouds that had been in the sky earlier that day had puffed away.

Mr. Thomas, the lighthouse keeper, was waiting for the bus.

“Welcome, welcome!” Mr. Thomas said, and he shook Mrs. Hernandez's hand.

The sun was already starting to move lower in the sky. The afternoon was warm.

Mr. Thomas led them up to the lighthouse. He took them up the winding staircase that led to the top of the lighthouse. At the top of the stairs was a little room. The walls of the room were windows. In the center of the room was a giant lens. Mr. Thomas explained that a light beam was shone through the lens. The lens magnified the light beam so that it could be seen from far away.

“This lighthouse has been guiding boats safely into port for over 200 years,” Mr. Thomas said. “We get a lot of fog here. Sometimes the boats cannot see where the ocean ends and the land begins. That can be dangerous for a boat.”

“Who can tell me what causes fog?” Mr. Thomas asked. He looked around at the students, but no one said anything. “Well, I did not know what causes fog either when I was your age. But I was curious about it. So I came to this very lighthouse and asked the lighthouse keeper. He told me that when warm air blows over a cool surface, it sometimes causes fog. The weather reporters said we might get fog this afternoon.”

The students looked back out over the ocean. The sun looked dimmer. The ocean seemed to disappear. Mr. Thomas looked out at the ocean, too.

“It looks like we're in luck! Fog!” He was very excited. He asked the students to go back down the winding staircase. The students walked out of the lighthouse and stood in a little group. Suddenly a big beam of light broke across the sky. Mr. Thomas had turned on the lens.

The students watched the fog bank roll across the ocean toward the peninsula. Soon the fog hit the land. The railing at the edge of the lighthouse yard disappeared. Mrs. Hernandez told them to stay in a group by the lighthouse. From the top of the lighthouse, a big beam of light swooped into the fog. In the distance, they heard the clanging of the bells on buoys in the ocean. Except for the bells, everything else was quiet. The students could feel little drops of water collecting on their faces, their hair, and their clothing.

After a little while, the railing at the edge of the yard appeared. Soon the students could see where the ocean met the land. Before long, they could see out over the ocean again. Mr. Thomas walked out of the lighthouse.

“Sometimes fog comes in quickly and leaves just as quickly. That is one of the reasons a keeper must always be at the lighthouse.”

The students looked out over the horizon. The sun was setting. Just above the horizon, the clouds were low and dark.

“Well, kids,” Mr. Thomas said while pointing to the clouds, “we might be in for a storm tonight.”

The students thanked Mr. Thomas for showing them the lighthouse. Mrs. Hernandez guided the students back onto the bus. Soon they were driving back down the ridge and watching the sun set over the ocean.


A floating object that is anchored in water to warn of danger or to mark a channel.

A piece of land that sticks out into water from a larger land mass.

The line formed by two sloping surfaces that meet; crest.

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  1. What was the sky like when the students arrived at the lighthouse?
    [anno: The sun was shining. The cumulus clouds had blown away.]
  2. Why did Mr. Thomas say they might be in for a storm that night?
    [anno: Mr. Thomas said they might be in for a storm that night because there were stratus clouds on the horizon.]
  3. What causes fog?
    [anno: Fog is caused when warm air travels over a cooler surface, such as the ocean.]
  4. What is your favorite kind of cloud? Why? Write a sentence or two about your favorite kind of cloud.
    [anno: Answers will vary.]