After a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, 11-year-old Ruben Martinez wanted to find a way to help his hometown heal. So, he came up with the #ElPasoChallenge, which challenges people to do good deeds for others. In his effort, Martinez is challenging each person to do 22 good deeds for others — one for each of the people killed in the attack. Good deeds, he said, could be such things as mowing a lawn, donating to a needy family, simply holding the door for someone or leaving a dollar on a vending machine to pay for the next person’s selection. His goal is to get people to “be kind to each other all day, every day,” his mother said in an interview with CNN News. When people do good deeds for others, it benefits the whole community. With family or friends find and closely read stories about people doing good deeds. Discuss how different good deeds have benefited the whole community. Then brainstorm a list of good deeds you could do for people in your neighborhood. Think especially of elderly people or people in need. Make plans to do your good deeds!
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
2. Kids’ Meal Toys
At fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King, kids’ meals — and the toys they contain — have long been an attraction for young visitors. But the kind of toys in the meals could change if two girls from the European nation of England are successful. Sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan, who are 9 and 7, have launched an online effort to get McDonald’s and Burger King to stop including plastic toys in the meals. More than 343,000 people have signed their online petition seeking the change, and the fast food companies are listening. In England the companies will consider “alternative” toys such as board games and soft toys for kids’ meals. Ella and Caitlin launched their effort after learning how big a problem plastic pollution is for people and wildlife on land and in the world’s oceans. “We like to go to eat at Burger King and McDonald’s, but children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea,” the two stated in their petition. Ella and Caitlin McEwan saw something they thought should be changed and took action to make it happen. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about kids or young people taking action to change something. Write a letter to the editor telling what you think of their effort, and how they could convince the community to support them.
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. Fast Track to Majors
When people go to pro baseball games, they often like to take the speed-pitch challenge to see how fast they can throw a baseball. A 23-year-old did it at a Colorado Rockies game recently, and he did so well he got signed by a Major League team! Nathan Patterson got the attention of Major Leaguers by throwing the ball 96 miles per hour — as fast as many top pitchers. After his brother shared a video of the achievement on the Internet, Nathan was signed to a contract with the Oakland Athletics. Patterson’s feat at the Rockies ballpark was the second time he had lit up the radar gun that times pitches. He also hit 96 miles per hour at a minor league Nashville Sounds game last summer. He has not played baseball since he was in high school. With a new Major League contract, Nathan Patterson is getting his big chance to be a success at baseball. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another young person getting a chance to be a success. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing what the person needs to do next to be successful.
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.
4. What’s Your Sandwich?
For lunch and other meals, sandwiches are a popular food choice across the United States. But what sandwich do Americans like best? According to a nationwide survey by Food and Wine Magazine, the warm and gooey grilled cheese sandwich is at the top of the list. Among people questioned, 79 percent gave grilled cheese top honors for “likeability.” In second place were turkey and chicken sandwiches, which tied for likeability with a 75 percent rating. Next in line were ham sandwiches and bacon/lettuce/tomato sandwiches, which each had a likeability rating of 69 percent. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches rated eighth for popularity in the survey. There are many different kinds of sandwiches. And people are always inventing new ones. Search the food ads in the newspaper or online to create a new sandwich you would like. Write a letter to a friend telling why you think this would be a good sandwich. Give your sandwich a fun name that would make people want to try it.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
5. Picture Mystery
The drawings in picture books can be magical, exciting or mysterious. In the Southern Pacific nation of Australia, a series of picture book drawings discovered in a school presented a mystery that had school leaders scratching their heads. The pictures were discovered during renovations to the Northcote Primary School on hall blackboards that had been hidden for years behind newer materials. The drawings were done in colored chalk and showed familiar figures like Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep and Alice in Wonderland. They also included more unusual story creatures like goblins with pointy ears and rabbits with red eyes. And who created the drawings on the six blackboards discovered in the hallway? It turns out they were the work of a teacher in the late 1950s, and she is still alive. Retired Northcote teacher Elaine Hobbs came forward as the artist when images of the blackboards were published locally. “This is like being reborn,” she said. “To think they're still around. It’s incredible.” Picture books often can be inspired by real events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that you find unusual or interesting. Use what you read to create a picture book retelling the story in a way that children would enjoy. Share with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.