1. Holiday Season
It’s almost December, so that means it’s time to get the holiday spirit. Three major holidays are celebrated in December — Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. And for many people, that means giving and receiving gifts. As a class, talk about favorite gifts you have given or received in the past. Then use ads in the newspaper or online to find gifts you would like to give family and friends — and gifts you would like to receive. Don’t worry about prices when doing your “shopping,” but think carefully about the reasons you would like to give or receive the gifts you choose. Make a list of gifts you would choose for family or friends and write a reason for choosing each one. Then make a list of gifts you would like to receive and write a reason for each. Share lists with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. School Bus Hero
There have been many heroes involved in the California wildfires, but for the families of 22 elementary students one stands out. In the middle of the fire, school bus driver Kevin McKay drove the kids through streets surrounded with flames — and got them out unharmed. McKay, who is 41, had only been working a few months as a bus driver for Ponderosa Elementary School in the hard-hit California town of Paradise, CNN news reported. But when the students’ parents couldn’t get to the school to pick them up, he knew what he had to do. With two teachers on board, he drove five hours in terrifying conditions to get the students to safety. He even tore up one of his shirts to soak in water to help students breathe in the smoke. “We had the bus driver from heaven,” said teacher Mary Ludwig, who was on the bus. Police, firefighters and other public workers often do heroic things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a hero of this kind. Design a certificate or award to honor this person and write a paragraph explaining why.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Antarctic Crossing
The continent of Antarctica is one of the most challenging places on Earth to visit or travel. No one has ever crossed it on foot or on skis without the support of others. Now two adventure athletes are racing each other to be the first to cross the continent near the Earth’s South Pole alone. Colin O’Brady, a 33-year-old American, and British Army Captain Louis Rudd, 49, started their 921-mile journey on November 3 and hope to finish in about two months. Traveling on skis, they cannot accept support of any kind from other people and are dragging the supplies they need over the snow on sleds. All over the world, people challenge themselves to achieve difficult goals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing this. Use what you read to write a personal letter of support to the person, telling why you admire him or her for taking on the challenge.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Recycling is a great way to give materials new life. So what could you do with old leather train seats? A non-profit organization in the state of Indiana has found a way to turn them into fancy leather items like backpacks, purses and carrying bags. The organization called People for Urban Progress (PUP) came up with the unusual recycling idea, and it is now selling the leather goods all over the country. They are made from leather once used to cover seats on Amtrak Acela Express trains. When PUP learned Amtrak was replacing the seats, it made a deal with the rail service to recycle the leather. Previously PUP had recycled the fiberglass roof of the Indianapolis Colts stadium into purses, bags and other items. Recycling helps communities reduce the amount of trash they have and re-uses old materials. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about recycling by communities, families or individual people. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper giving your opinion on how recycling benefits people. Finish by discussing ways your family or community recycles, or could recycle in the future.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
5. Rock, Paper, Scissors
Kids all over the world play Rock, Paper, Scissors in school or on the playground. But when a soccer referee did it in the European nation of England, it cost him his job. Referee David McNamara was suspended for three weeks after he asked captains in a Women’s Super League match to play the game to decide which team would kick off. McNamara was supposed to have flipped a coin for the decision, but he had left it in the locker room. The soccer league said McNamara was suspended for “not acting in the best interests of the game.” Referee David McNamara tried to use a children’s game to solve a problem. As a class, discuss what other games or sports activities could be used to solve problems or resolve situations. Pick one and draw a comic strip for the newspaper showing how it could resolve a situation.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.