1. The Real Snow White?
“Snow White” is one of the most famous children’s stories, but was Snow White a real person? A museum in the European nation of Germany thinks so, or at least thinks a real person inspired the story made famous by the Brothers Grimm and the classic Walt Disney movie. The Diocesan Museum in the town of Bamberg says it has acquired the gravestone of a woman named Maria Sophia von Erthal, who is believed to be the inspiration of the “Snow White” story written by the Grimm brothers in 1812. Von Erthal’s life story sounds very much like the “Snow White” tale familiar to families around the world. Her mother died when she was young, and her father re-married another woman. The stepmother favored her own children over her stepdaughter and like the “evil stepmother” treated von Erthal badly. In another connection to the famous story, von Erthal’s father owned a mirror factory, which could have inspired the “magic mirror on the wall” of the story and movie. Von Erthal’s gravestone vanished after the church where she was buried was demolished in 1804. It resurfaced recently in a house in Bamberg, and the owners donated it to the museum. It is now on display for visitors to see. Writers often use real people as models for characters in their stories. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read an article about a person who could inspire a creative story. Write a paragraph telling why this person would be a good story subject. Write a second paragraph explaining the plot of your story.
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.
2. Big Act of Kindness
Sometimes an act of kindness can affect more people than those directly involved. A lot more. In Wichita, Kansas, the kindness of a second grader to a classmate who was upset has touched thousands of people through the Internet. And it has made the two boys celebrities. Christian Moore and Conner Crites were waiting for the school doors to open on the first day of school, when Christian noticed Conner was crying. Conner has the condition known as autism and often gets overwhelmed with situations. Instead of looking away, or walking on, Christian walked over to Conner and reached out to hold his hand. He walked Conner into the school, calming him down and offering support. Christian’s mother took a photo of the moment and posted it on Facebook. It went viral and was seen or shared by more than 40,000 viewers in a matter of days. “Instead of overlooking him like most kids would have, he (Christian) just reached over, grabbed his hand and made my son’s day better,” Conner’s mom told the Washington Post newspaper. “It is an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child!” Christian’s mother said. “He’s a kid with a big heart.” There are many ways to be kind. In the newspaper or online, search for different examples of people being kind to others. Pick one act of kindness and write a letter to the editor telling how it could inspire others to be kind.
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.
3. Floating Rocks
It may come as a surprise, but not all rocks sink when you put them in water. In fact, a giant “raft” of rock is floating in the southern Pacific Ocean right now. The rock is a kind called “pumice,” which is created when volcanoes erupt under the sea. Pumice is very porous, which means it has lots of holes that can trap air. The air causes the pumice to float to the surface. The raft in the Pacific is believed to have come from a volcano that erupted underwater near an island that is part of the kingdom of Tonga. The raft covers an area of about 58 square miles and is floating west toward the nation of Australia. Scientists hope that the raft can help restore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which has been heavily damaged by global warming. The scientists say that the pumice raft could attract sea life and corals that could restore parts of the Great Barrier Reef that have died out. The eruptions of volcanoes are a natural event that can have great impact on the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another natural event having a big effect on the environment. Use what you read to prepare a short report for the TV news on the natural event. Write out what has happened, how it has affected the environment and how long the effects will be felt. List images you would use in your newscast to let people see the effects.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Paddle-Board Record
Paddle-boarding is increasing in popularity around the world, but few who take it up would do it the way Antonio de la Rosa does. He treats it as an adventure sport and just completed a history-making journey in the Pacific Ocean. The 50-year-old de la Rosa paddled 2,951 miles from San Francisco, California to Oahu, Hawaii in 76 days. He didn’t have a support boat traveling with him, so he had to pack everything he would need on his 24-foot paddle-board. His equipment included solar panels to power GPS equipment tracking his course and a system to take the salt out of sea water for drinking. Still, he had to paddle the 1,500-pound boat alone, standing up, to move it along. “My arms and my legs are my motor,” he told CNN News. “ … I love this kind of life.” Achievements in sports often inspire writers to use colorful adjectives to describe the athletes and action. With a partner, scan sports stories in the newspaper or online to find colorful adjectives used to describe sports or athletes. Make a master list to share with the class. Then use three of these adjectives in complete sentences. For added fun, turn your adjective list into a poster by finding photos or drawings to go with different adjectives.
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.
It’s hard to imagine how you would feel if you were separated from someone you love for 11 years. Or how you would feel when you were reunited and back together. A New York State woman had that experience this summer when she was reunited with her pet cat who had gone missing 11 years ago. The cat named Tiger had run away from the home of Maggie Welz in Duchess County when someone left a door open. Her family later moved to another house on the street, but Tiger never returned to either home. Years later, he did show up at the home of a woman who worked for a local animal shelter. Carol O’Connell said Tiger started coming around her house three years ago, but wouldn’t let her get near him. This summer she earned the trust of the brown tabby cat and was able to scan him looking for a microchip ID tag. She found one, and it identified Welz as the owner. Welz was thrilled to get Tiger back. “I can’t tell them how grateful I am,” she told UPI News. “I have no idea where he was for the years in between [and] I’m sure he could tell us many tales. The thing is that he is now home with us and he will be with us for the remainder of his life.” Situations that have happy endings often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read one story about a happy ending. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing the emotions the people involved felt when the ending turned out to be happy.
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.