1. Chase’s Chop Shop
Power Wheels are among the most popular toys for boys and girls. And now they have turned into a special business for a Connecticut 4-year-old and his dad. Chase Mason is turning his passion for riding the big-wheeled toys into a growing business by fixing them up and re-selling them. His dad Patrick takes care of the mechanical repairs for the riding toys while Chase handles the creative issues like color design. They started the business, which they call Chase's Chop Shop, during the coronavirus epidemic when Patrick was laid off from his job and Chase's daycare center closed. “Chase and I were getting bored and one thing led to another and we started fiddling around with his Power Wheels in the garage,” Patrick Mason said. As word got out, they started fixing Power Wheels and go-carts for friends. Then they created a website and things really took off. Now, Patrick and Chase even buy and sell Power Wheels, and are making a profit. People often start businesses based on their interests or hobbies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story or ad about a business that got started in this way. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what the biggest challenges were for the business, and what were its biggest “selling points” that would attract customers.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. ‘Gossamer’ Cobwebs
If cobwebs creep you out, you don’t want to visit a rural region of the Southern Pacific nation of Australia this month. Heavy rains and floods have forced spiders to seek higher ground in the region of Victoria, and they are blanketing towns, fields, homes and businesses with silky webs. The spiders are traveling thanks to a skill called “ballooning,” which allows spiders to travel on the wind on strands of silk they create. “Simultaneous ballooning by thousands of spiderlings can result in a remarkable carpet of silk,” the Australian Museum notes on its website. It’s a magical sight, and there’s a magical word to describe it. The silk covering shrubs, buildings and fields is called “gossamer.” Wildlife species sometimes do beautiful, unusual or even “magical” things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species doing something special. Use the newspaper and Internet to find adjectives, nouns, verbs or adverbs that would describe this special activity. Write them on a sheet of paper in a special design. Use three of the words in complete sentences.
Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
3. Blowzee Birthday
When scientists discovered that the coronavirus was spread by airborne droplets from breathing, people were urged to wear masks to protect themselves and others. That caused changes in everyday life, but especially at birthday parties. Gone was the tradition of blowing out the candles on the cake. Now a man in the state of Virginia has come up with an invention to allow people to blow out the candles in a safe and healthy way. Meet the Blowzee, a simple tool for candle- blowing that eliminates droplets that could land on the cake when a person blows out the candles. The Blowzee was invented by Mark Apelt during the coronavirus epidemic after going to a child’s birthday party. It is a hollow plastic tube with a fan at one end that can sense when someone blows through it. The sensor generates a similar burst of clean air for the cake while returning the original air to the blower, keeping the cake safe from germs. “We tried it out on some kids at a party and they loved it,” Apelt told UPI News. "It's more like a toy for them.” People often invent new products to solve a problem or perform tasks in a new way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has created this kind of invention. Then find a problem or task that could benefit from a new invention. Brainstorm what the invention would do and how that would help people. Write out a description of your invention and give it a clever name.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Hello, Ganymede!
The moon Ganymede is the largest of the planet Jupiter’s moons — and the largest in the solar system. It is so large, in fact, that it is bigger than the planet Mercury and is the ninth largest object in the solar system overall. It even has its own magnetic field. Scientists have long been fascinated by Ganymede, and this month they got a close-up look thanks to the Juno spacecraft of America’s NASA space agency. Juno passed within 645 miles of Ganymede, giving scientists their first detailed look at the massive moon since NASA’s Galileo spacecraft came close to it in December 2000. The Juno mission has been probing the deep interior of Jupiter since it arrived five years ago on the Fourth of July. The mission was supposed to end this year, but NASA has extended it through 2025 to further explore Ganymede and the large Jupiter moons Io and Europa. With 79 known moons, Jupiter has more than any other planet. It also is the largest planet in the solar system. NASA spacecraft continue to explore the solar system and beyond. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a NASA mission exploring space. Use what you read to write a two-minute report for TV news telling what the mission has accomplished or seeks to accomplish and why that is important. Read your report aloud and time it to make sure it doesn’t run longer than two minutes.
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.
5. Angels of Assisi
As the patron saint of animals and the environment, Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular religious figures in the Catholic Church. Born in the European nation of Italy around the year 1181, he loved all animals and has inspired animal lovers for more than 800 years. In the U.S. state of Tennessee this month, a group called the Angels of Assisi continued the saint’s good works, traveling from the nearby state of Virginia to rescue more than 50 dogs and cats that had been living in “horrific” conditions. The animals had been living in a “hoarding” situation in which the person holding them could not care for them. Two of the dogs were about to have puppies and were immediately placed in “foster” homes until they could have their babies. Saint Francis of Assisi was kind to animals of all species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone today who is kind to animals. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to this person’s kind acts and thanking him or her for setting an example for how to treat animals.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.