1. Hello, Spring
Spring officially has arrived in the United States. The first day of spring, or the Vernal Equinox, occurred on Saturday, March 20. On this day there are equal amounts of daylight and darkness (in the Latin language, the word “vernal” means “spring” and “equinox” means “equal night”). Although it still feels wintry in many parts of the country, there are many signs that spring is arriving. Some can be seen in nature and some can be seen in the activities of people and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, photos, ads and other materials that include different signs of spring. Print or clip images and stories and create an artwork titled “Spring Is Here.” Write a paragraph explaining why you chose the images in your artwork and share with family, friends or classmates. For added fun, write a short poem, rap, or rhyme to go with your artwork.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; demonstrating understanding of figurative language.
2. Kids Help a Star — Their Dad
For 20 years New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees has been one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League. This month he announced he is retiring as a player — and he got his four children to help him break the news. His kids Baylen, 12, Bowen, 10, Callen, 8, and Rylen, 6, appeared on an Internet message Brees posted to Instagram. “After 15 years with the Saints and 20 years in the NFL, our dad is finally gonna retire,” his children took turns saying — before jumping up and shouting “So he can spend more time with us! Yay!” Brees, who is 42, leaves the NFL as the career leader in passing yards and completions and ranks second in career touchdown passes to Tom Brady. With Brees as quarterback, the Saints made nine playoff appearances, captured seven division titles and won the Super Bowl in 2010. Kids often make news by helping their parents. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about kids doing this. Pretend you are one of the parents and write a thank you note to your children, telling them how much you appreciated their help and what you hope they learned from the experience.
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.
3. Oldest Bird Mama
At the age of 70, Wisdom the albatross is believed to be the oldest bird in the world. And she is still going strong living in the wild. Scientists report she hatched a chick from an egg she laid and is now raising it on an island on the Midway Atoll in the northern Pacific Ocean. Wisdom is believed to have hatched up to 36 chicks in her lifetime, scientists say. She has done that with several mates, including her current mate Akeakami, with whom she has been hatching chicks since 2012. Albatrosses are large seabirds that can fly great distances and for great lengths of time. Wisdom is a Laysan albatross, which can grow up to 32 inches long with a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet. The largest albatrosses have a wingspan of up to 11 feet. Birds and other wildlife often make news for amazing feats or experiences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one species doing this. Use what you read to prepare a short oral report on why the actions of the bird or wildlife species are unusual, interesting or newsworthy. Pick a photo of the species from the newspaper or Internet to go with your report.
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.
4. Monster Sandstorm
Sand can be fun when families go to a beach or kids play in a sandbox. It’s no fun when it swirls in huge, blinding clouds that make it hard to breathe or see. In the Asian nation of China, high winds and dry conditions have led to the worst sandstorm China has seen in the last 10 years. It was so bad the nation had to close roads and schools, shut down airports and suspend outdoor activities. Residents were urged to stay indoors, seal windows and doors, and wear masks and goggles to protect themselves from the thick orange dust blowing in from the Gobi Desert. The storm affected an area about the size of the U.S. state of California, as well as the Chinese capital of Beijing and 23 other cities. In events like the sandstorm in China, photographs play an important role in telling the story, because they show what conditions are actually like. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photograph that plays an important role in telling the story of a news event. Use what you find to write a paragraph detailing what information the photo provides that words alone could not.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. (Bow) Ties That Bind
Animal shelters are always looking for new ways to find homes for the animals they take in. A teen from the state of New Jersey has come up with something that not only calls attention to animals seeking homes, but gives people a smile as well. Darius Brown sews colorful and imaginative bow ties for dogs and cats that make them more appealing in person or in photos. Darius, who taught himself to use a sewing machine when he was 8, has been helping “dress” shelter animals for success since 2017, when Hurricane Irma left thousands of animals homeless in Florida and Puerto Rico. When he donated 25 bow ties for a shelter in New York City, the idea took off. Now 14, Darius estimates he has made and donated more than 600 bow ties for dogs and cats in shelters, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The shelters love them, especially for older animals that may be slow to find homes. “Even something small like a tie can help get an animal adopted,” Darius says. “… A well-dressed dog will make people smile.” Animal shelters try many approaches to find homes for animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one approach. Use what you read to write a short editorial or letter to the editor offering other ideas that would make people want to adopt pets from shelters. Draw a picture to go with your letter, if you like.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.