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6th Grade Assessment – Unit 4 – RI.6.1, RI.6.3, RI.6.4, RI.6.5, RI.6.6

Justice February 4, 2015

Directions: Read this article. Then answer questions 1 through 6.


Ring of Horses

by Cindy Seiffert


You hand the man your ticket. The round platform rocks slightly as you step onto it. Spying

your favorite mighty steed, you rush toward it, weaving your way past the other horses. As you

scramble into the sky-blue saddle, the bouncy cadence of the organ makes you smile. You hold

on tightly to the shiny gold pole in front of you as your horse begins

5      to move up and down, round and round. The world whirls around you, the horse

galloping through it. What a wonderful ride!

You’ve probably ridden a carousel at least once, maybe many times. Did you ever wonder

who decided to make pretend horses spin in a circle with people riding them?

The origins of the carousel can be traced all the way back to games played on

10      horseback by Arabian and Turkish men in the 1100s. In one game riders played catch with clay

balls filled with scented oil or water. In another the men held a lance while riding and tried to

run it through a small ring dangling by ribbons from a tree or pole. If a rider was successful,

the ribbons would pull off the tree and stream behind the ring on his lance like a waving


15             Hundreds of years later, Italian and Spanish travelers observed these games and brought

them to Europe. The contests were called garosello by the Italians and carosella by the

Spanish. Both words mean “little war.” The English word carousel comes from those words.

The first carousel-like contraption was created in France and was designed to help

20      men practice for their “little war” games. It didn’t look as fancy as the carousels you see

today, but the structure was similar. The umbrella-like construction had a wooden pole with

spokes radiating from the top. Chains hanging from the spokes held carved wooden horses.

Men, real horses, or mules turned the center pole while riders practiced putting their lances

through a brass ring hanging to one side.

25             In the late 1700s carousels like the ones we know today began to appear throughout

Europe. Rather than being used for training, these were enjoyed for the sheer thrill of the

ride. In the beginning the carousel was ridden mostly by grownups, not children. Light and

small, these first carousels were designed to be easily spun by man or mule. Gustav Dentzel

began building the first carousels in America in the 1860s. Powered by

30      steam engines, these carousels moved faster and held more weight than the old   model,

allowing for a more lavishly decorated machine. Dentzel’s company is famous for having

carved and painted a variety of animals for his carousels, including cats, lions, ostriches,

pigs, rabbits, and even a kangaroo! For those who could not or did not want to straddle a

horse or other animal, he created handsome chariots.

35             Remember the game of tilting a lance through a brass ring? The early carousel designers

had this game in mind when they hung brass rings on a wooden arm next to many of their

carousels. As the carousel turned, riders would try to grab the ring; if they succeeded, they

won a free ride. Today you’d be lucky to find a carousel with a brass ring arm—only a

handful in the United States still feature them.

40             Carousels were so popular that nearly 4,000 were built from 1860 to 1930. But when hard

times came upon America during the Great Depression in the 1930s, few people had money to

spend on extras. Many carousels stopped being used and fell into disrepair, and no one could

afford to fix them. Some were even taken apart and put into storage.

These beautiful machines had nearly disappeared when, in the 1970s, people began to

45      realize the importance of keeping the magic of the carousel alive for future generations.

Enthusiasts formed the National Carousel Association and the American Carousel Society to

raise money, restore, and preserve wooden carousels. Thanks to their efforts, today about 150

antique carousels are back in service.

7th Grade Math Assessment: 7.G