1. Rice for Plastic
Plastic pollution is a growing problem all over the world. In the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia, a new and creative program is getting people to pick up plastic that is littering beaches, streets and neighborhoods — and get food in return. The program, called the Plastic Exchange, was founded last year at a time Indonesia and other nations were battling the coronavirus epidemic. People who had lost jobs when businesses shut down were struggling to put food on the table. That’s when restaurant owner Made Janur Yasa got the idea for the Plastic Exchange. “I got to thinking, inside the challenge there is an opportunity," he told CNN News. So he started a program in which people could exchange plastic waste for rice. It quickly caught on, with people in 200 other communities now taking part. Money for the non-profit program comes from selling the plastic for recycling — which makes it possible to buy more rice from local farmers. The Plastic Exchange program is taking a new approach to solving a community problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another program taking a new approach to solving a problem. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving reasons this program could be a success. Also list any challenges it needs to overcome to be successful.
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.
2. Record Ice Cream Sandwich
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” For close to 100 years kids have been singing and shouting that familiar food chant for America’s favorite dessert. They certainly could have been singing it earlier this fall when a grocery store in the city of Plattsmouth, Nebraska created the world’s biggest ice cream sandwich. The Hy-Vee grocery created a monster sandwich that weighed in at 2,900 pounds to set a new Guinness World Record. A team of 30 employees worked for five hours to create the gigantic treat, UPI News reported, and they topped the old world record by some 500 pounds. The sandwich was made of giant chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream and measured 35 feet long, 4 feet wide and 11 inches high. Creation of the giant ice cream sandwich kicked off Hy-Vee’s mission to donate 5-million meals to families in need during the holiday season. The record setting sandwich was divided into portions and donated to two food banks serving Nebraska. When people want to help others, they often look for fun ways to do it. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about fun runs, races or events that raise money or provide help in other ways. Then find a story about an organization or group that could use some help. Brainstorm a way to help that would be fun for volunteers or helpers. Write a paragraph describing your idea that would make people want to join your effort
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. Women Helping Women
Across the United States and around the world, Habitat for Humanity builds affordable homes for people in need. In the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, Habitat has a tradition that is empowering in another way as well. For 29 consecutive years the organization has embraced the idea of women building for women. This year, a volunteer team of all women is building a home for Deborah Adams, who has never owned a home before and will live in the structure when it is complete. “It’s like a dream come true,” Adams told local TV station WSOC. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity operates in all 50 U.S. states and in 70 countries around the world. Many organizations provide services to help women. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of them. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper, explaining what the organization does, how that helps women and why people should support it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. An Icky Rescue
When people fly on airplanes, they often worry that their suitcases will be overweight and they will be charged an extra fee when they check them. In the state of Texas, a couple flying off for a weekend getaway were given the bad news that one of their bags was overweight — and boy were they glad. When Kristi and Jared Owens opened the bag to see if they could avoid a fee by shifting something to their carry-on bags, up popped their pet chihuahua Icky. Icky, a five-pound rescue dog, had burrowed into one of Jared’s cowboy boots while they were packing and never let them know she was there. Icky, who got her name when the Owens’ children thought she looked “icky” when they found her by the side of the road, was taken home after Jared reached an uncle and got him to make an emergency run to the airport. “We’re super grateful,” Kristi told the Washington Post newspaper. “She’s super spoiled now — not that she wasn’t before.” People often do special things for their pets. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing this. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing what the person did and how the pet reacted. Your pet can talk in the comic if you like.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
5. Maya Discovery
Artifacts from the past give archaeologists and other scientists information about how people lived in earlier times. In the nation of Mexico, a construction project for a new railway in the Yucatan Peninsula has shed new light on how the Maya people lived hundreds and thousands of years ago. The Maya were a sophisticated people known for their writing system, astronomy, calendar, art, architecture and achievements in mathematics as far back as 4,000 years ago. Excavation for the rail line has revealed nearly 2,500 Mayan structures, 80 burial sites and thousands of vessels and fragments of dishes, statues and other objects, CNN News reported. “Both the immovable archaeological artifacts and the movable ones expand the knowledge about daily life, trade and cultural exchange relations that existed centuries ago in the Mayan area,” an archaeologist working for Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said. The railway, known as the “Maya Train,” will connect beach areas in the Yucatan to inland cities in Mexico. Archaeologists often use artifacts from the past to fill in their knowledge of how people lived in earlier times. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery like this that archaeologists have made. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, telling what has been discovered, what that reveals about how people lived in the past and why that is important.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.