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

Sep. 29, 2014
Sep. 22, 2014
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 29, 2014

1. Football Brain Damage

After years of denying that its players have a high rate of brain damage, the National Football League has acknowledged the opposite is true. Data prepared by statistics experts hired by the league indicate that nearly a third of retired players will develop cognitive problems, and are likely to develop them at younger ages than the general population. The statistics were provided to U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania, and released as the court considered settlement of a suit by 5,000 former players who allege that the league had hidden the dangers of concussions from them. The data appear to confirm what scientists have said for years: that playing football increases the risk of developing serious neurological disease. Safety in sports is an issue important to all families, especially when athletes are in middle or high school. In the newspaper, find a story about a sport you like. With research and previous knowledge, write a list of tips for young athletes and families that can help students be safe while playing.

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

2. Scientists Analyzing Stardust

When music great Hoagy Carmichael composed the love song “Stardust” in the 1920s, he probably never dreamed that there really was such a thing. But scientists now are able to analyze dust collected in space from exploding stars. Researchers from America’s NASA space agency are analyzing seven specks of dust from stars that exploded. They were collected from a comet by a NASA robotic spacecraft and parachuted back to Earth. The researchers report in the journal Science that they eventually hope to measure the chemicals in the specks, but more sophisticated equipment is necessary before that can happen. On the plus side, they say there may be more stardust samples to study in the samples brought back from the comet. The specks may date back to the beginnings of our solar system. Space discoveries often are in the news. With the newspaper or the website www.nasa.gov, find a story about a space discovery or mission. Read it closely and write a summary of new information scientists have gained, and why that is important to the study of space.

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. Undersea Adhesive

Some sea creatures are good at sticking to things, even under water, so researchers have taken the natural proteins secreted by mussels to create a new adhesive. The new product, it is hoped, will have applications ranging from ship repair to closing surgical wounds. Stronger than natural mussel proteins, the material is the strongest biologically-created adhesive to date. The researchers hope to test other protein varieties to see if they can increase the strength of the adhesive. Oceans are important to people’s lives in many ways. With the newspaper or Internet, compile a list of ways the world’s oceans contribute to the lives of people. Use what you find to design a poster detailing the ways “Amazing Oceans” help people. Share and discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. Wrongly Jailed 30 Years

Two half-brothers have been in prison in the state of North Carolina for 30 years for a crime they didn’t commit. DNA evidence has revealed that someone else was guilty of the 1983 rape-murder — for which they originally had been sentenced to death. As a result, they have been freed. DNA testing, which measures genetic material contained in the cells of people, has become an important tool in law enforcement. With sophisticated technology, scientists can now determine whether a person’s DNA is contained in materials from crime scenes. It is used regularly in new cases, and is also becoming a factor in reopening or solving old cases. In the newspaper or online, find an example of technology being used in new ways to assist people. Write a paragraph describing how the new technology is an improvement over ways that things were done previously.

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

5. Illegal Immigration Slows

Mexico’s largest crackdown in decades on illegal migration has decreased the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States. Significantly, the effort has also cut the influx of unaccompanied child migrants, which President Obama had called an “urgent humanitarian crisis.” Federal police in southern Mexico have been blocking the freight trains that had been carrying crowds of migrants north, and have set up moving roadblocks on highways. The roundups followed U.S. requests for help from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and other nations south of the United States. Debate over illegal immigration remains strong in the United States, as the nation prepares to vote in races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In the newspaper, find a story about what candidates are saying are about immigration issues. Summarize at least two points of view and describe how they are different.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.