1. Mother’s Day
On Sunday, the United States and other nations celebrated Mother’s Day to recognize all the things that moms do to help their children, their families, and their communities. Mother’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1907 when a woman named Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day worship service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. To honor her own mother, she campaigned to have the day declared a national holiday, and by 1911 all U.S. states were observing it. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day a national observance to be held each year on the second Sunday in May. Today Mother’s Day celebrates all that mothers do while juggling jobs, careers and family responsibilities. As a class, discuss some of the things that mothers do. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a mother who is doing one or more of these things. Use what you read to design a Thank You card for this mother. Fold a piece of paper in half and use images from the newspaper or Internet for the cover. Write a personal Thank You message inside.
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.
2. Watching Penguins
In the famous “Star Wars” movies, the robot R2D2 is a life-saving companion for Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and Princess Leia. On the continent of Antarctica today, a real-life robot is trying to save the lives of emperor penguins. At three feet tall, the Antarctica robot is about the same size as the more famous R2D2 — and a little shorter than the emperor penguins it is trying to help. Emperors are the largest penguins in the world, standing up to 4 feet tall and weighing as much as 50 pounds. The Antarctica robot has been placed in a colony of emperors on the ice of Atka Bay in the eastern part of the continent, CNN News reports. There, as part of an ongoing study, it is monitoring the effects of global warming on the emperor population, the environment and the sea ice that supports the penguins. “Emperor penguins live in a delicate balance with their environment,” one researcher said. Monitoring the populations of wild animal species is an important step in determining whether they need help, and how to help them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to monitor a wild animal species. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or family member detailing what the monitoring effort has found, why that is important, whether the species needs help and what kind of help would be effective.
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.
3. Digging Up Cannons
America’s War for Independence ended nearly 240 years ago, but scientists and historians are still making new discoveries about it. In the city of Savannah, Georgia, work crews deepening the Savannah River have recently dug up 19 cannons that experts believe came from warships that fought in that war. The cannons were found deep in the mud at the bottom of the river, covered in rust, sediment and mussel shells, the New York Times newspaper reported. They are believed to have come from a British ship that was deliberately sunk before a battle at a time when British forces occupied and controlled Savannah. Archaeologists said the cannons were most likely from the HMS Savannah, a British vessel sunk by the British to block the advance of French troops, who were assisting the American fighters for independence. The discovery of items and artifacts from long ago helps scientists and historians better understand how people lived and worked in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what was discovered, how it was discovered and why it is important.
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.
4. Ultra Hopscotch
The game of hopscotch goes back thousands of years, and millions of students have played it on playgrounds around the world. It’s safe to say few have played on a course like the one created at Georgia Tech University in the state of Georgia, however. Members of a student organization there created a hopscotch course that was 4.2 miles long! The course was designed to engage all students at the university and wound its way through all areas of the campus, UPI News reported. Not surprisingly, distance runners and elite athletes were among the first to hop the entire course. It was designed by the SEEK service group that seeks to get students to overcome perceived limitations through unique experiences. The hopscotch course was certainly unique — so much so that the SEEK group has asked the Guinness World Records organization to recognize it as a new world record for length. Service groups and other organizations often do unusual things to involve people and call attention to the good things the group does. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one group doing something unusual in this way. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper telling how this unusual activity got people’s attention and made them more aware of what the group does to help others.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. That’s a Lot of Steak
Steakhouses are among the most popular restaurants in America, serving up beef steaks ranging from tenderloins and rib-eyes to sirloins and filets. In the state of Georgia, a woman who has worked at a steakhouse for more than 20 years has just earned a record that simply sizzles. Gayle Dudley has been honored by the LongHorn Steakhouse company for grilling 1-million steaks in her career at a restaurant in the city of Columbus. That’s a lot of steak. If each one that Dudley grilled weighed the nationwide average of 14 ounces, that would total 875,000 pounds — or 437.5 tons! Dudley was surprised when national LongHorn leaders turned up in Columbus to honor her as a “Grill Master Legend” for passing the million-steak milestone, UPI News reported. She was given a $5,000 check and a gold chef’s coat to go with her newly earned title. LongHorn, which operates more than 540 restaurants nationally, said Dudley is one of just a few employees who have earned “Grill Master” status. People who work in careers for a long time often are honored for special achievements. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has achieved something special over a long career. Use what you read to brainstorm a way to honor this person for his/her special achievement. Write an open letter to the community announcing your honor and how it connects with the person’s achievements.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.