1. College Teammate
Most 10-year-olds can only dream of becoming a member of a college sports team. But this spring, fifth grader Keira McGrenehan has turned the dream into reality. She has become a member of the women’s rowing team at the University of Pennsylvania. She practices with the team, joins them for meals, hangs out and learns the finer points of rowing and competition from athletes twice her age. Best of all, she gets encouragement and support as she fights to overcome a painful medical condition that has disrupted her life. Keira and Penn came together through a program called Team IMPACT, which pairs children with serious medical issues with college sports teams. The goal is to have the kids and athletes “motivate and inspire one another, changing the game for everyone involved.” It certainly has worked for Keira, whose condition causes pain and disruption in her stomach and digestive tract. “I love hanging out with the girls!” she says. “Maybe one day, I’ll go to Penn — and I’ll get to row.” Team IMPACT is a program that supports and encourages kids. As a class, discuss other programs that provide support and encouragement for children and teens. Use the newspaper and Internet to read about one program. Then write a letter to the editor, telling how this program provides important support.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. ‘Dr. Seuss’ Coral
Corals that grow on reefs in the world’s oceans come in all shapes and sizes. Scientists are always excited when they find new species of coral, especially if the species are colorful. In the waters off the state of Massachusetts recently, scientists were excited to discover what they believe are two new species of “bubblegum” coral. And they are so unusual to look at, the researchers nicknamed the area where they were found “Dr. Seuss’s Garden.” Bubblegum corals have a shape that looks like wads of bubblegum stuck together. They can be pink, red or white. The discovery of the new species surprised scientists because they had not observed any other bubblegum corals in the deep-sea Lydonia Canyon area located 100 miles off the Massachusetts coast. The corals were collected at depths ranging from 1,200 to 2,900 feet below the surface. Discoveries in the natural world help scientists better understand habitats and the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery in the natural world. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing how scientists made the discovery and why it is important.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Crooked Street Fee
There are many different kinds of tourist attractions in the world. In the city of San Francisco, California, one of the most famous is a 600-foot-long street that twists and turns down a very steep hill. In summer months, more than 6,000 cars a day line up to drive down Lombard Street, causing traffic jams and backups throughout the neighborhood. To ease the problem, city officials have come up with a plan to make tourists pay a fee and make reservations to drive the “Crookedest Street in the World.” The officials have proposed legislation that would allow them to charge fees of up to $10 to people who want a ride down Lombard. The measure, which must be approved by the state legislature, is due to come up for a vote in the State Assembly next week. All communities and states have special places that attract tourists. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of a place that tourists would want to visit. Use what you read or see to design an ad for the newspaper to get people to visit this place. Give your ad an eye-catching headline. Share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. A Name to Remember
Just half the states in the United States have an official “state amphibian.” This month Pennsylvania joined the list by picking a giant salamander with a disgusting nickname. For the state’s first official amphibian, Pennsylvania lawmakers picked the Eastern Hellbender, a species more commonly called the “snot otter.” It got that name because it’s long and slimy and likes to hide under rocks in cool streams. It’s the largest salamander in America and can grow to be more than two feet long. “The Eastern Hellbender exemplifies what is good about Pennsylvania’s waterways,” said State Senator Gene Yaw, who sponsored the legislation to honor the amphibian. And if you don’t like the name “snot otter,” the hellbender has other nicknames, including “devil dog,” “mud-devil” and “lasagna lizard.” Every state honors animals, birds, plants and other things by giving them “official” status and recognition. As a class, use the newspaper and Internet to look up things your state has honored in this way. Then pick something that has not been honored that you think deserves recognition. Write a letter to the governor or another leader telling why your selection deserves to be honored by the state.
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.
5. Lucky Clovers
Finding a four-leaf clover is supposed to bring good luck, so how lucky would you be if you found 228 of them? Pretty lucky, as a man from the state of North Carolina found out this month. Fred Reissman of the town of Mooresville set a new Guinness World Record after finding that number of lucky clovers on an Earth Day walk. Reissman’s record is for the most four-leaf clovers found in an eight-hour period, even though he found them in just under two hours. Guinness had said he had to find at least 200 to qualify for the record. A 10-year-old girl from the state of Virginia holds the Guinness record for four-leaf clovers found in one hour. Katie Borca found 166 clovers in an hour last year. Four-leaf clovers are supposed to bring good luck. As a class, discuss other things that you or other people feel are a sign of good luck. Use the newspaper or Internet to find other examples. Then write a poem telling about things that make you feel lucky. Title your poem “I Feel Lucky When … ” Your poems don’t need to rhyme, but should contain strong and colorful verbs and adjectives. Share poems as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.