1. Flying Adventure
Many people dream of flying an airplane, but few actually get to fly one. In an emergency. With no experience. And your life on the line. Yet that is exactly what a passenger flying from a fishing trip in the Bahamas to the state of Florida had to do last week. With the help of coaching from a part-time flight instructor, Darren Harrison brought the plane safely down after the pilot slumped over while at the controls and was unable to fly. When the pilot’s medical emergency sent the plane into a dive, Harrison jumped into action. Rushing from his seat three rows back from the cockpit, he removed the pilot from his seat and contacted ground control. “I have no idea how to fly the airplane,” he said. “I don’t know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.” Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, who is also a certified flight instructor, was called in to assist and coached Harrison on how to keep the plane level. Then Morgan told him to head for the Florida coast, which Harrison could see in the distance. Morgan told him to follow the coast and pointed him to the Palm Beach Airport north of the city of Miami. Morgan lined him up with a runway at Palm Beach and coached him how to slowly bring the plane down. “My best student ever,” Morgan said. People often have to respond quickly when an emergency occurs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing this. Write a letter to the editor telling what personal qualities the person needed to respond effectively. Discuss which of these qualities you and your classmates have.
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. A Book of His Own
Teachers often tell students not to take writing assignments lightly. They could turn into something big. In the city of San Diego, California, an 8-year-old boy wrote a creative story for a school assignment, and now he has published it as a book. Ethan Wang wrote and illustrated a children’s story about “How the Turtle Got Its Shell.” It is a fantasy set in the world of a kind-hearted Sea Dragon whose kingdom is invaded by the army of an evil Sky Dragon, WABC-TV reported. A courageous turtle of the water kingdom has an armor fashioned that hides arrows and disguises him, helping him rescue a princess and save the kingdom. The armor becomes stuck to the turtle and turns into his shell. “My message is that bravery and kindness can help everyone,” Ethan told the TV station. With the help of his mom, Ethan published his story as a 30-page book that became available May 1 on the Amazon online shopping network. He doesn’t know how much money he will make, but he already knows what he will do with it. He says he will donate it to his school, Park Village Elementary, to buy art, music and writing supplies. Creative stories can sometimes be inspired by unusual real-life events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an event. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a story that would take place just before or just after the event you read about. Write the opening scene of your story and give it a title that would make kids your age want to read it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Tallest Dog
In the world of ancient gods, Zeus was the greatest god worshiped by people in the empire of Greece. In the modern world, a dog named Zeus is the greatest of all dogs. Or at least the tallest. The dog Zeus is a Great Dane that has been crowned as the tallest living dog by the Guinness World Records organization. The brown-and-gray Zeus, who lives in the city of Bedford, Texas, is 2 ½ years old and stands more than 3 feet, 5 inches tall. He weighs about 200 pounds and is more than 7 feet tall when he stands on his hind legs. He eats a whopping 12 cups of dog food a day, CNN News reports, along with fried eggs, bully stick treats and ice cubes — lots of ice cubes. “He’s been a big dog since we got him, even for a puppy,” says his owner, Brittany Davis. “He had huge paws.” Great Danes were originally bred as hunting dogs, and were also used to protect women riding in carriages by running alongside them, according to the Guinness organization. The tallest dog ever recorded was also a Great Dane named Zeus. He lived in Michigan and stood 3 feet, 10 inches tall. Unusual animals often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal that is unusual in some way. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling whether the animal’s unusual qualities help or challenge the animal.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. What a Find!
People who shop at thrift stores always are looking to find unusual or valuable things. A woman shopping at a Goodwill thrift store in Austin, Texas came across something that is both. For just $35, Laura Young bought a head-and-shoulders “bust” statue of a man that she later discovered was carved 2,000 years ago during the time of the ancient Roman Empire! But that was just the beginning of its unusual and exciting history, the Washington Post newspaper reported. More than 100 years ago, the 52-pound bust was bought by a European king for a museum he was starting in what is now the nation of Germany. It was bombed during World War II. It was stolen from the ruins and sold or given to someone who took it out of the country. And it mysteriously wound up in a thrift shop in America more than 5,000 miles from where it was both made and displayed. When Young learned the bust had been stolen, she hired a lawyer to negotiate with officials from the German state of Bavaria over how and when to return the statue to Germany. Under an agreement they worked out, she will be paid a finder’s fee, and the bust will be displayed at a museum in San Antonio, Texas, until 2023. Then it will be returned to Germany. People often find unusual or valuable things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to the person, suggesting what you think should be done with the found item.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Wheelchair Hot Wheels
For more than 50 years the Mattel toy company has been producing Hot Wheels miniature cars for people who like hot rods and fantasy vehicles. Now the Hot Wheels brand is doing something it has never done before. It is producing its first-ever, remote-controlled wheelchair toy for kids who use wheelchairs. The toy is a miniature of a custom-built wheelchair used by wheelchair athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham in Paralympic and Motocross competitions, CNN News reports. Fotheringham has been a full-time wheelchair user since the age of eight and is known for performing elaborate stunts, tricks and back flips in his wheelchair. The Hot Wheels toy comes with a built-in action figure made to look like Fotheringham, a remote control and a ramp so users can perform tricks as he does. He says he hopes the new toy will change people’s attitudes about people who use wheelchairs and show that they can be fun and adventurous. The new Hot Wheels wheelchair toy is designed to appeal to kids and adults who use wheelchairs themselves. With a partner, use the newspaper and Internet to find examples of other toys designed to appeal to kids with special needs, qualities or backgrounds. Then brainstorm an idea of a toy that could appeal to a special kind of kid. Draw a picture of your toy and write a paragraph telling how it would work. Share with the class and discuss.
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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.