Yak’s Corner
A print and online children’s news magazine published on 30 Thursdays from September through May for Michigan kids ages 6-13. Each eight-page issue is filled with educational and entertaining stories about places, people and events in Michigan and around the world. The Yak’s Corner online page also includes “Yaktivities” for each issue, a Yak Art Gallery, student writing and more.
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for Grades K-4

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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 23, 2015

1. Moon Souvenirs

More than 40 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, a cloth bag filled with souvenirs brought back by astronaut Neil Armstrong was discovered by his wife while she was cleaning out a closet in their home. The items include a movie camera from the mission’s lunar module, which filmed the module’s descent onto the moon and Armstrong’s first steps on the surface in 1969. Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the moon, died in 2012. The camera is on display in a temporary exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. America’s NASA space agency stopped sending astronauts to the moon in 1972, but NASA still supports manned and unmanned space missions. As a class, find a story about a space mission in the newspaper or online. Closely read it as a class. Then draw a series of comic strips showing key ideas or events from the story.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Dog Visits Owner in Hospital

A dog escaped her home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and walked nearly 20 blocks to the hospital where her owner was recovering from cancer surgery. The miniature schnauzer named Sissy walked through Mercy Medical Center’s doors and into the lobby “on a mission,” her owner said. Hospital officials allowed Sissy up to her owner’s room for a visit. “I knew dogs could find their way home,” said Sissy’s owner, “but this one found the hospital.” When animals do unusual things, it often is in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story or photo involving an animal doing something interesting or unusual. Read the story or study the photo closely. Then write a poem, rap or rhyme titled “That’s Some Animal!” Read poems aloud.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Plastic in the Oceans

Scientists have a new way to measure ocean trash, and things are even worse than they had thought. A study in the journal Science estimates there now are 8 million tons of plastic floating on the surface of the world’s oceans in “garbage patches.” That’s far more than what’s been measured previously. The researchers predict that the amount of plastic trash will increase by 10 times in the next 10 years unless a way is found to improve how trash is collected and managed in coastal countries. The study identifies what countries produce the most ocean plastic. The Asian nation of China was the worst offender, followed by five other Asian countries. The United States was 20th on the list. Recycling plastic, glass and metals can reduce the amount of pollution in oceans, waterways and other natural areas. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a natural area that could be damaged by pollution. Use what you read to design a poster encouraging people to recycle to reduce pollution in the natural area. Write a complete sentence stating why recycling would help.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. A Robot Named Spot

The Google-owned Boston Dynamics company has created a four-legged robot dog that can climb stairs, trot over rough terrain and even recover from a kick in the ribs. Spot — much smaller than some of the company’s other creations — is electrically powered and is able to move due to a system of hydraulic pumps and valves. Its head sensors help the robot steady itself after sustaining a blow, demonstrating Spot’s ability to right itself instead of toppling over. Robots and drones are being used more and more to do things that people or animals used to do. As a class, find and read a story about a robot or drone being used to perform a task. Then think of a task you think a robot or drone could help perform. Write a paragraph describing why a robot would be good for performing this task.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Learn from the Setting

The setting of a story — where it takes place — can often be important to understanding the action that takes place. This is true in real life stories as well as fiction. Scan the newspaper for a news story that interests you and read it closely. On a sheet of paper, write out where the story takes place. Then write three ways the place affects what goes on in the story — or how it could affect future events. Share ideas as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.