1. ‘Heavenly Pit’
Sinkholes occur in nature when water dissolves rocks underground and causes the surface to collapse. Sinkholes can be small, or they can be really, really big. In the Asian nation of China this month, cave explorers stumbled into a sinkhole that is one for the record books. The hole not only is huge — 630 feet deep — but it has a prehistoric forest growing at the bottom. The forest covers an area longer than three football fields and has trees 130 feet tall, Chinese authorities said. On top of that, it may not be the only exotic sinkhole in the area in South China. Officials said there may be as many as 30 enormous sinkholes in the region, NPR Radio reported. In the Chinese language, sinkholes such as these are known as “tiankeng” or “heavenly pits.” Scientists and adventurers continue to explore the natural world to discover new things about the Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph or letter to a friend telling what was discovered, why it surprised scientists and why it was 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.
2. Surfing Record
Surfing is a sport that requires skill, strength and a great sense of balance. It also requires courage, especially when tackling the world’s largest waves. A surfer from the European nation of Germany demonstrated tremendous courage and skill when he set a new world record for riding a monster wave. Sebastian Steudtner was recognized by the Guinness World Record organization after he successfully rode a massive 86-foot-tall wave off the European nation of Portugal. Steudtner, who is 36, actually rode the wave in October 2020, but the Guinness people only recently finished verifying the wave’s height. That was a difficult process, because it required experts to study video of the wave frame by frame and compare its size to measurable things shown in the images, including the surfer himself, according to UPI News. It was worth the wait for Steudtner. “It feels amazing,” he said at the ceremony announcing his record. “I have achieved everything there is in my sport.” In all sports, people set new records from time to time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete who set a new record in a sport. Use what you read to write out a list of skills and attitudes the athlete needed to set the new record. Rank the skills and attitudes in order of importance for setting the record, with Number 1 being most important, Number 2 being second most important and so on. Finish by underlining which of these skills and attitudes you have.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.
3. Burgers to Go!
Smart phones and online apps make life easy for millions of people across the United States and around the world. Apparently a little too easy for a 2-year-old playing with his mother’s phone in the state of Texas this month. Toddler Barrett Golden punched in the correct combination of characters to order 31 McDonald’s cheeseburgers for home delivery through the DoorDash delivery service! Barrett’s mom Kelsey was stunned when the burgers showed up, but quickly figured out what had happened when she saw her name and address on the delivery slip. She had let Barrett play with her phone an hour earlier while she was working but instead of taking pictures of himself as he usually does Barrett placed the order by accident. The order cost a total of $91.58 plus a $16 tip “and he doesn’t even like cheeseburgers!” Kelsey Golden told the Washington Post newspaper. “Barrett prefers Chicken McNuggets.” Still, she tried to make the best of it. She went online and offered the free cheeseburgers to anyone who wanted or could use them. A woman with a large family took 18 of them and another mom took 6 off her hands. The rest she gave away to neighbors. Unusual, odd or funny events often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an unusual event in the news. Use what you read to write a humorous, rhyming poem about the event and read it aloud to the class.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
4. ‘Smurf House’
In the town of West Bloomfield, Michigan, a lakeside house is getting national attention because it looks like something someone might have drawn for a cartoon. With a bright blue roof, uneven surfaces, wide porches and white walls, it reminds people of a place the Smurfs might have lived in on their TV show — so they started calling it the “Smurf House.” It’s actually a fancy mansion inside, and it got a fancy price tag when its owners put it up for sale this year. The asking price is a whopping $4.2-million, Fox News reports. A buyer will get a lot more for the money than a Smurf-blue roof. The house has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, nine fireplaces, a seven-car garage, a boat dock, three acres of land and access to both Pine Lake and the Pine Lake Golf Course. Fancy or unusual homes often are put up for sale. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read an ad for an unusual home you might like to live in. Use what you read to write a letter to the owner of the house telling why you would like to live there.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Fact & Opinion
In today’s world, major news events seem to happen almost every day. From the war in Ukraine to school shootings to efforts to control the coronavirus, news events are drawing attention in every corner of the nation. And people have strong opinions about them. When reading about the news, it is important to learn how to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. As a class, review how facts are true things, and opinions are how a writer feels about something, or a judgment about whether something is good or bad. Then go to the editorial page of a newspaper and read an editorial. Editorials contain both facts and opinions. Print or clip out your editorial. Go through the editorial with a red pen or marker and circle every fact word. Then go through with another color marker and underline opinion words. Compare words as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.