1. Very Special Barbies
For the last 60 years, Barbie dolls have brought smiles and joy to children of all ages. Now they are bringing strength and courage to children facing physical challenges in the hospital. A teenager who has overcome challenges of her own is the reason. Eighteen-year-old Chloe Newman was born without a right leg, and now she has donated more than 400 Barbies that have an artificial leg to children at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her goal is to inspire and encourage children who have lost a leg or another limb due to accident or disease. Her drive to donate the dolls started when she discovered that the Mattel company now makes Barbies with artificial limbs. She asked her Facebook friends to buy the dolls if they saw them in stores so she could donate them to the Shriners Hospital, where she has been a patient. No one asked to be paid back, and when Mattel heard of the effort, it donated 200 of the special dolls. Like Chloe Newman, many people overcome physical challenges to achieve success or help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a personal letter to the person, telling him or her what you admire most about their success and how their success could inspire others.
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.
2. A Huge Catch
An 8-year-old who weighs just 88 pounds may have set a new world fishing record when he reeled in a 692-pound tiger shark off the coast of the south Pacific nation of Australia. Jason Millauro hooked the shark on a fishing trip with his father and had to struggle to keep from being pulled into the water as he reeled it in. A man on the boat helped by holding onto his safety harness during the process, and Jason told the Nine News TV station “I was trying to hold myself by pushing off the wall in the boat.” If the catch is verified by world fishing officials, Jason’s shark would be a new record in the junior/small fry category for young fishermen. The previous record was for a tiger shark that weighed 687 pounds. Tiger sharks are one of the largest sharks in the world and can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. Math can often help people better understand the news. For example, if you divide the weight of Jason Millauro’s tiger shark by his weight, you learn that it weighed nearly eight times what he weighs. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read other stories in which math plays an important role. Use what you read to create three math word problems to exchange with friends. Be sure to do your problems before exchanging so you know the correct answers.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
3. ‘Ghost Fleet’
With a long and active coastline, the state of Virginia has a great history involving ships and seafaring. There are dozens of maritime museums and historic sites, and this fall a new one is attracting attention. A chance discovery has led archaeologists to a “ghost fleet” of more than a dozen ships from the past in the mud of the Nansemond River in the city of Suffolk. The boats date back to the Civil War and include working boats, transportation boats, lumber boats, fishing boats and more. They range in size from 50 to 80 feet. The first signs of the fleet were discovered two years ago when a local history fan stumbled across a series of posts sticking out the river mud. He sent a drone into the air to take a look and was astounded at what he saw. Clearly visible in the mud and water were the outline of boats of different sizes. “It was … like we dug up a treasure,” Kermit Hobbs told a local TV station. “We believe this is one of the greatest [collections] of historic wrecks in Virginia,” said a state archaeologist. Archaeologists study places and items from the past to learn more about how people lived and worked in earlier times. What could a future archaeologist learn about your community by studying a photo or scene from today? In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an indoor or outdoor scene from your community. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what future archaeologists could learn about how we live by studying the items in the photo. Share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
4. Disappearing Act
If you’re studying ninja history, it sometimes pays off to act like a ninja. Ninjas were ancient fighters and spies in the Asian nation of Japan, but a modern student recently used their skills to earn an A on a homework assignment. Eimi Haga, a 19-year-old student at Mie University, wrote a homework paper in invisible ink using a ninja practice called “aburidashi,” CNN News reported. She made the ink from a mixture of soybeans and water and it disappeared when it dried. It only could be read by holding the paper over a heat source, and fortunately for Haga, her professor knew how to do that. ‘When I … heated the paper over the gas stove in my house, the words appeared very clearly and I thought 'Well done!’” the professor said. Eimi Haga’s use of invisible ink on her paper was a creative approach to an assignment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else taking a creative approach an assignment, task or challenge. Share what you read with the class and discuss how it sometimes pays off to take a creative approach. Talk about times you have taken a creative approach and what were the results.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
5. Sky-High Biking
Senior adults are more active today than ever before. But few are as active a 70-year-old bicyclist from the South American country of Bolivia. Mirtha Munoz just became the oldest person ever to complete Bolivia’s 37-mile Skyrace over a mountain course known as “Death Road.” The road climbs nearly 11,000 feet to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains, and riders have to deal with fog, rain, rockslides and areas where the road runs along steep cliffs. “It’s a vertical climb, you go up and up and there’s no rest,” Munoz told Reuters News after finishing the race. When she’s not competing, Munoz enjoys easier biking with her six grandchildren. Older adults are staying active longer and longer in their lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and listings about activities that could keep seniors active. Pick one and brainstorm an idea for a TV ad to encourage senior adults to try this activity. Write an outline for your ad, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene. Share with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.