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 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 23, 2015

1. Beached Sea Lions

Emaciated and dehydrated sea lion pups are washing ashore in record numbers on California beaches, so SeaWorld San Diego suspended its “Sea Lions LIVE” show to help with rescue efforts. SeaWorld personnel rescued more than 400 of the pups, twice the number it usually rescues in an entire year. By suspending the sea lion show in San Diego, SeaWorld assigned its animal specialists to the rescue program. Scientists say bands of abnormally warm ocean water have swept up the Pacific Coast since the end of 2014, driving fish that the sea lions feed on deeper into the sea. The warmer waters may be connected to larger trends of global warming, according to experts. People often get involved when wildlife face problems or become endangered. In the newspaper or online, find a story about people helping wildlife in some way. Use what you read to write a short editorial thanking the people for their involvement and detailing how it helped.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

2. Dig It

For nearly 150 years, the Suez Canal has been one of the most important waterways in the world. Connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea in the Middle East, the Egyptian canal enables ships to travel from Europe to Asia without going all the way around the continent of Africa. Now Egypt is making major changes to the canal to deepen it and add a 22-mile parallel canal to allow ships to pass each other going in opposite directions. The $4 billion expansion of the canal is one of several projects planned by Egypt’s government to boost its struggling economy. The expanded canal is expected to open in August. The Suez Canal is an important place in the shipment of products and goods around the world. In the newspaper or online, read a story about another place that is important to such shipments and world trade. Do additional research on this place and write a paragraph or short essay detailing why this place is important to shipments and trade, what facilities it offers and how it benefits its city or state by being a shipping hub.

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; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic;

3. Nuts for You

Eating a “modest” portion of nuts in your teens can help promote better health and wellbeing later in life. Eating nuts regularly early in life can reduce the risk of develop a metabolic syndrome that can be a trigger of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life. That’s the conclusion of a new study that found “a correlation” between eating nuts and a lower risk of the metabolic syndrome. At present, few teens get benefits from eating nuts, the researchers reported, because three of every four teenagers eat no nuts at all. Research has found that natural foods like nuts can be healthier for people over the long run than processed or pre-packaged foods. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about natural foods that have positive long-term health effects. Use what you read to design an ad for the newspaper or TV, highlighting the positive effects of the food and encouraging more people to eat it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. Daylight Saving Debate

Our clocks have all been moved an hour forward for Daylight Saving Time, but why? It’s an absurdity, HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” program has declared. It made sense when it began during World War I, but it no longer does, host John Oliver asserted. The Germans introduced it as a fuel-saving measure, and 70 countries now use it, but the HBO narrator contends, “Switching on a lamp an hour later … doesn’t really matter when you’re blasting an air conditioner and staying up all night … scrolling through Instagrams.” Divide the class into teams and use the newspaper and Internet to research the origins of Daylight Saving Time, who supports it and who does not. Then stage a class debate on whether the United State should use Daylight Saving Time. Take a vote at the end and write up the results in the form of a news story for the newspaper.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. China Halts Ivory Imports

China has declared a moratorium on the importing of ivory carvings in the face of international concern that skyrocketing Chinese demand for ivory is fueling the poaching and hunting that is decimating African elephant populations. The temporary ban does not restrict China’s domestic ivory trade, and as a result conservation organizations say the moratorium will do little to slow the surge in poaching. In the last three years, poaching has resulted in the killing of 100,000 elephants, the conservation groups say. Poaching of protected or endangered animals is a problem all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about poaching or illegal hunting of wildlife. Write a letter to the editor describing the results of illegal hunting and suggesting steps that could be taken to stop it.

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.