1. A Space Station First
For more than 20 years, the International Space Station has been providing a headquarters for astronauts and scientists in an orbit 250 miles above the Earth. In its history, 249 astronauts have served on the space station, and this spring one will do something none have done before. Jessica Watkins will become the first African American woman to join the crew of the space station for a long-term mission. Watkins, a 33-year-old geologist from Lafayette, Colorado, will serve a six-month mission starting in April, America’s NASA space agency announced last week. Only seven of the 249 astronauts who have previously served on the space station have been Black, and only one — Victor Glover — served for an extended time. Watkins is well aware that she is making history. In an interview, she said she hoped that serving on the space station would set an example for children of color, and “particularly young girls of color, to be able to see an example of ways that they can participate and succeed.” Jessica Watkins wants to be a role model and inspiration for young girls. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who could be a role model for young girls or boys. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling why this person is a good role model and how he/she could help children succeed in the future.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Prizes for Shots
Now that coronavirus vaccines have been approved for children 5 to 11 years old, some states are going all out to get families to sign up for shots. Prizes, money, gift cards and opportunities for college scholarships are just some of the things being offered since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for the youngest children. Ohio is running a program called Vax-2-School in which there will be drawings for 150 scholarships to Ohio colleges worth $10,000 each, as well as five $100,000 scholarships, the New York Times newspaper reported. In New York State, parents can enter children ages 5 to 11 in a series of drawings for full college scholarships to any two- or four-year public college or university in the state. Smaller prizes also are available. New York City is offering free tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Cyclones baseball games, and in San Antonio, Texas parents can get gift card for $100 in groceries from the H-E-B grocery chain. In West Virginia, children can earn a chance to win educational savings funds, a holiday party with the governor or 100 lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. Prizes often are offered to get students or adults to take action or do positive things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a positive action schools or communities might want people to take. Use ads and stories to brainstorm a prize or reward that would encourage people to take this positive action. Write a short news story announcing your reward.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
3. Wrong-Turn Penguin
Adélie penguins live in Antarctica near the Earth’s South Pole. Yet this month one turned up in the Southern Pacific nation of New Zealand nearly 2,000 miles from home. No one knows how the penguin took such an enormous wrong turn and swam all the way to New Zealand. They only know it was exhausted, hungry and dehydrated when was discovered by a man out for a walk on a beach on New Zealand’s east coast. The man called wildlife authorities, because he didn’t “want it to end up in a dog’s or cat’s stomach.” The wildlife experts nursed the Adélie back to health with liquids and “fish smoothies” and released it back into the ocean in hopes it would find its way home. Black-and-white Adélie penguins are mid-sized penguins that can grow 18 to 26 inches tall and weigh 8 to 13 pounds. They live only on the continent of Antarctica, and as far as researchers know, just three have made it all the way to New Zealand. Wild birds and animals often make news by traveling to places they don’t ordinarily live. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a bird or animal doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling how people reacted to this unusual behavior and how that affected the bird or animal.
Common Core State Standards: Citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
4. Hooray for Heroes
With all the serious issues in the world, people often complain that the news is sad or depressing. To counter that, CNN News holds a yearly Heroes of the Year competition in which viewers of the cable TV network pick the Top 10 men and women who are working to make the world a better place. The Top 10 list has just been released and viewers are now voting on who will be Hero of the Year. The Top 10 honorees each receive a $10,000 prize and the Hero of the Year earns an additional $100,000 for their cause or activities. The finalists are an inspiring bunch, ranging from a woman who provides clean power, safe water and sanitation in the South American nation of Colombia, to a man who created a national mentorship program pairing high school and college students who have learning differences with middle schoolers facing similar challenges, to a woman rescuing seals and other marine mammals in the state of Maine. Voting will continue online until December 7 and the Hero of the Year will be announced on a CNN TV special on December 12. Who are people you think are heroes? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person you think is a hero. Or pick someone in your neighborhood, family, school or community you think is a hero for the way they help others. Design an ad for the newspaper or Internet announcing this person as your Hero of the Year. Use bullet points to tell what this person does and how that helps others.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. Teddy Travels Home
Among all toys, stuffed animals have a special spot in kids’ lives. Children can hug them, play with them, tell them secrets and get comfort from them in times of stress and sadness. A girl from the state of Wyoming did all of those things with her Teddy bear, and was heartbroken when she lost him on a trip with her family to Glacier National Park in the state of Montana a year ago. Naomi Pascal, who was adopted from an African orphanage, had had the bear since her parents had first chosen her to join their family. “This wasn’t just any stuffed animal,” Ben Pascal, her father, told the Washington Post newspaper. “This stuffed animal had been with her through so much and was so important.” As it happened, park ranger Tom Mazzarisi found Teddy on a trail at Glacier, and because he was a bear lover he took him home for the winter. This fall a family friend of the Pascals took a trip to Glacier and checked out the lost and found offices near the trail where Teddy was lost. Not far away, the friend was passing a ranger’s truck and saw Teddy on the dashboard! When the park rangers’ office heard Teddy’s story, they quickly turned him over to be returned to Naomi. When the Pascals told Naomi that Teddy was on his way back to Wyoming, the 6-year-old was overjoyed, her father said. “We can’t believe this happened and the way it happened.” Stuffed animals can be special toys for children, especially for kids who do not have a lot of toys. In the newspaper or online, study ads and stories to find a stuffed animal that could be a special holiday or birthday gift for a child your age or younger. Pretend you are the stuffed animal and write a letter to the child telling why you think it could be a special toy and what qualities it has that make it special.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.