1. Animated Oscars
The Oscar awards have been given out for 95 years to honor top achievements in movies. For families and kids, the category that gets the most attention each year is the award for Best Animated Feature Film. This award is given for full-length cartoons and stop-motion movies featuring puppets or other figures. This year the Disney movie “Turning Red,” “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” lead the field, along with the quirky family adventure “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” and the sea monster story “The Sea Beast.” Both “Pinocchio” and “Puss in Boots” are based on classic fairy tales. “Pinocchio” features a wooden puppet that comes to life, and “Puss in Boots” follows the life of a bold and adventurous cat. “Turning Red” is the story of a 13-year-old girl who turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets excited or has to deal with being a teen. Last year, the hit Disney movie “Encanto” won the Best Animated Feature award. Animated films use cartoons and art to tell stories in entertaining ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about animated movies that are popular with families. Pick one you have seen, or would like to see, and write a movie review telling why it’s a good choice for families. Or write a review of another animated movie you have seen and liked.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. Great White
Talk about a road trip to remember! When 12-year-old Campbell Keenan traveled to Florida to watch his sister in a hockey tournament, the Massachusetts sixth grader didn’t think that he’d be the one making headlines. Yet he turned out to be a newsmaker when he took a charter fishing trip with his family. One mile out from the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Campbell caught a great white shark! He knew right from the start that he had caught something big. The heavy-duty line on his fishing rod shot out about 300 yards, and when he tried to reel it in it felt “like a 50-pound weight.” The fish was so strong, Campbell felt it might pull him over the side of the boat, even with others hanging onto him. It took him about 45 minutes to reel in his catch, and he didn’t know until almost the end what he had caught. “When it got to 10 feet of the boat and we saw the belly, the captain was like, ‘that right there is a great white shark!’” Campbell told WBZ-TV in Massachusetts. “I was so happy. We all screamed.” Campbell’s shark was a female about 11 feet long and weighing more than 400 pounds. The crew didn’t bring it on board the boat but tagged it and let it go. The tagging will allow scientists to track where the great white travels in the future. People often have amazing encounters with wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an experience. Write the name of the wildlife species down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter in the name to start a complete sentence stating why the wildlife experience was amazing or memorable.
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.
3. South Pole Meteorite
Meteorites are hunks of space rock that break off from comets or asteroids and crash into the Earth. Scientists study materials from meteorites to learn more about the history of the solar system and are excited when they find a large one. On the continent of Antarctica near the Earth’s South Pole, a new meteorite discovery has scientists buzzing this month. An expedition that ended January 16 came back with the one of the largest meteorites ever found in Antarctica. The rare meteorite is about the size of a cantaloupe but weighs a hefty 17 pounds because it is packed with dense metals like iron and nickel. Because meteorites often melt as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, their surface is usually smooth or glassy. Scientists study materials from meteorites, asteroids and comets to learn more about our solar system, how it was formed and how it has changed over time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a space mission seeking to do this. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper detailing what the mission seeks to achieve, what it has achieved so far and why that is important.
Common Core State Standards: 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.
In comic books and movies, Godzilla is King of the Monsters. In the South Pacific nation of Australia, “Toadzilla” is King of the Toads. “Toadzilla” is a poisonous cane toad, and wildlife officials believe it may be the biggest ever found. It weighed a whopping six pounds and measured nearly 2 feet long when its legs were extended. After the toad was found in a national park, wildlife experts determined it was a female due to its size (female cane toads are larger than males). Cane toads feed mostly on insects, but they will eat just about anything, including reptiles, birds and even small mammals, the Washington Post newspaper reported. They can live up to 15 years in the wild and got their name when they were released in sugarcane fields to control insect pests. When attacked, cane toads secrete a milky poison from glands behind their shoulders that can be fatal to other wildlife. Cane toads are also dangerous to dogs that bite them. Cane toads and other wildlife have developed different ways to protect themselves from attackers or predators. With a partner, use the newspaper and Internet to read stories about ways wildlife protect themselves. Pick two and create a chart comparing the advantages and disadvantages of how the two species protect themselves. Present your chart to the class.
Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. Gardening Is Healthy!
Gardening is a great way to connect with nature, have fun and feed a family. It also is a great way to improve your health. According to a new scientific study, people who garden eat more fruits and vegetables, consume more fiber, get more exercise and feel less stress than those who don’t garden. All those things contribute to healthier lifestyles and overall health. The study in the science journal Lancet Planetary Health focused on people who have participated in community gardens in which neighbors share space for their crops, the Washington Post reported. Participants were all given health surveys that looked at such factors as body weight, waist size, physical activity and diet. “These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic diseases and mental health disorders,” said the senior author for the study. In late winter, people start thinking about things they would like to grow in gardens in the spring. In the newspaper or online, find photos of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs you might like to grow for your family. Clip or print photos and create an art collage called “My Family Garden.” Write a paragraph to go in the middle of your collage (KOLE-ahj) telling why this garden would be special to you and your family.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; 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.