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

May 04, 2015
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For Grades K-4 , week of May 04, 2015

1. Elmo Urges Vaccinations

The U.S. Surgeon General has hooked up with Elmo of “Sesame Street” in an effort to make sure that America’s children stay up to date on all their vaccinations. In a video released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Elmo says “Come on, everybody, get vaccinated with Elmo!” Vaccinations prevent many childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps and whooping cough. Some parents feel they can be a health risk, though, and are refusing to have their children vaccinated. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy estimates that during the lifetimes of American children born since 1994, routine vaccinations will prevent about 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths. Vaccinations are one health issue that affects children and families. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read a story about another health issue that affects children and families. Use what you read to design a poster showing important points that kids and families should know about the issue. Give your poster a creative, eye-catching headline. Discuss posters as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Find That Lost Phone

Lost your phone? Google can help track it down. If you’re an Android phone user with the latest version of a special Google app, just log on and type: “Find my phone.” If the phone is nearby, you can have Google ring it, but if it’s been left at a friend’s house, at school or in a car, a map can show its location. Google’s new app works only for Android users, but Apple iPhone’s “Find My Phone” offers similar features. Smart phones help families and kids do many things, and they’re getting smarter and smarter. As a class, discuss ways your family uses smart phones to communicate, listen to music and find things online. Then find an ad for a smart phone in the newspaper or online. Read the ad closely. Then write a paragraph describing the features the phone offers and what they can do for you.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Why We Have Chins

In case you were wondering, scientists have figured out why we have chins. It’s not because they were needed for chewing, researchers say, but the result of human heads getting smaller over time. As heads got smaller compared to those of our ancient ancestors, the chin stuck out more. “Chin prominence is unrelated to function,” a researcher writes in the Journal of Anatomy, “and probably has more to do with [human] development.” Animals and humans have changed over time through a process called evolution. Cities, schools, neighborhoods and even people also change over time. In the newspaper find and read a story about something that has changed over time. Use what you read to write a short poem, rap or rhyme titled “I’ve Changed.” Tell about the changes from the point of view of the person or thing that has changed. Read poems aloud — with emotion and expression.

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

4. Everglades in Danger

Visiting Florida’s Everglades National Park for the first time, President Obama warned that unless steps are taken to deal with climate change, “there may not be an Everglades as we know it” in the future. This “treasure” of swamp and marshland — and the communities that depend on it — are threatened, the President said. “Climate change can no longer be denied,” Obama stressed, “… and action can no longer be delayed. Simply refusing to say the words ‘climate change’ does not mean it isn’t happening.” The Everglades, which cover almost all of South Florida, are endangered by rising sea levels that push more salt water into the fresh water swamp. All over the Earth, climate change and rising temperatures of global warming are affecting natural habitats and wildlife. As a class, closely read a story about an effect of global warming or climate change in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing one or more effects on wildlife or the environment.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. California Drought

The state of California is facing a fourth straight year of dangerously low rainfall and drought. Reservoirs that store water are low, landscapes are parched and dry, and the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains — which provides 30 percent of the state’s water supply when it melts — is at its second lowest level on record. The rainy season showed wet and windy promise in December, but in January temperatures hit a record high and rainfall a record low. State regulators and the governor have imposed new conservation rules, including restrictions on landscape watering and orders to restaurants not to serve water unless asked. With the newspaper or Internet, find and closely read a story about California’s drought. Make a list of things people could do to use less water. Then use your list to write a short editorial for the newspaper outlining ways for California to deal with its drought.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.