1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
For people who want to help the Earth, three of the most familiar words are “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” By doing that, less trash will end up in landfills and people will use fewer of the Earth’s resources. To reduce waste and promote recycling, a school in the southern Pacific nation of Australia has taken a bold step this school year. It has done away with trash cans, and students are now required to take their trash home with them. The principal of the Melbourne Girls’ College says the goal of the plan is to raise awareness about the “3 R’s” among the school’s 1,400 students. By requiring students to carry home their trash, the school hopes to encourage use of recyclable containers for lunches and reduce the amount of disposable plastics and packaging. “If we can get that message through to our students and to their wider family … then it’s going to have a ripple effect," Principal Karen Money told CNN News. Communities around the world are encouraging recycling to reduce the amount of trash in landfills. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about something one community is doing to encourage people to recycle. Use what you read to design a poster to encourage people to recycle in your community. Give your poster an eye-catching headline calling attention to a top benefit of recycling. Use other headlines and images to list other recycling benefits.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
2. Army Women
Little green Army men have been popular toys for years and years. Soon, little green Army women will be joining the troops. All because a 6-year-old girl from Arkansas asked her mom “why are there no girls?” Playing with an Army set she had won at an arcade, Vivian Lord wanted her mom to find out where she could buy Army women to add to her collection. When they found out none existed, they wrote letters to toy companies asking if they could “Please … make Army girls that look like women.” BMC Toys owner Jeff Imel said he had been thinking about Army women for a while, but hadn’t done it because there were no Army combat women in the past. His mind was changed by Vivian’s letter, which pointed out “my friend’s mom is in the army!!” Now BMC is developing four poses for women soldiers to include in its sets: A captain who’s carrying a handgun and binoculars, a woman standing firing a rifle, a woman lying down firing a rifle, and a woman kneeling with a bazooka. “Certain kids will connect with this,” Imel said, “and it will help them be the hero of their story.” Women are getting more and more attention for their contributions to business, the military and other careers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman making an important contribution in her field. Write a letter to the editor telling how this woman’s achievement could inspire other women.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Help for Butterflies
Fall is the season of wildlife migration, and one of the most demanding is that of monarch butterflies. The orange-and-black insects take flight from places in the northern United States and begin a 3,000-mile journey that will take their descendants to a winter in Mexico or Central America. The monarchs have been making this journey for centuries, but they face greater and greater challenges along the way. There are fewer and fewer wildflowers to feed on — particularly milkweed — and many monarchs don’t make it. To help them on their journey, the state of Tennessee has undertaken a mission to replace the wildflowers that monarchs and other pollinators need to survive. Along more than 13,000 miles of state highways, the Tennessee highway department has planted wildflowers in median strips and the side of the road to feed and support butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators. “We knew there was a problem with pollinators, and we saw an opportunity to help,” highway spokesman Shawn Bible told the New York Times. “So we jumped in to do it.” People often do unusual things to help wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing something unusual to help a wildlife species. Then brainstorm things you or your class could do to help wildlife. Discuss ideas as a class and choose one to try. Write a paragraph explaining why you like this approach.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
Police officers help people in many ways. In the state of South Carolina this summer an officer helped save the life of a baby by stopping a car for speeding. When Deputy Will Kimbro stopped the speeding car, he found the parents inside in a panic because their baby girl had stopped breathing while drinking from a bottle. Her body was bluish and limp from lack of oxygen. Fortunately, Kimbro knew just what to do. According to newly released video from the deputy’s body camera, he took the 12-day-old baby in his lap and gently performed life-saving CPR to get her to breathe. “Come on baby, cry for me,” he said. And when she started to cry, he assured the mother “As long as she's crying like that she’s breathing.” Kimbro continued to tend to the baby girl until an emergency crew arrived. The baby was treated and released at a local hospital. Kimbro was awarded a medal for saving the baby’s life. In addition to fighting crime, police officers help people in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a police officer providing help in this way. Pretend you are the person who was helped and write a letter to the officer, thanking him or her. Tell the officer how it made you feel to be helped this way.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Running for Trees
In marathon races, runners have to have great strength and endurance to cover the 26.2 miles of the competition. In the nation of South Africa this fall, they needed even more strength and endurance than usual. To promote planting trees in the nation at the tip of Africa, a group of runners ran a marathon with tree saplings strapped to their backs. Their goal was to raise money to plant native trees that would need less water to grow than invasive species that have moved into the area. For several years South Africa has experienced severe droughts and dry weather, prompting businesses to contribute $3.7-million to a program to remove water-guzzling trees and replace them with species that need less water. Runners in the Cape Town marathon hoped to raise enough money to plant more than 2,000 native trees in the area. Last year, the city of Cape Town suffered its worst drought in a century, nearly running out of water and forcing authorities to enforce severe water rationing. In many areas of the world, natural areas face problems caused by people or natural events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a natural area facing such a challenge. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short report explaining the challenge the area faces, the source of the challenge, and what is being done to deal with it.
Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.