Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Dec. 04, 2017
1. ‘Coco’ a Holiday Hit
The holiday season is the most exciting time of the year for movies — and the most important time for the companies that make them. This year, the Disney/Pixar movie “Coco” got off to a great start on the long Thanksgiving weekend, leading all movies in ticket sales. “Coco,” which tells the story of a boy who magically travels to the Land of the Dead to find his musical roots, sold $71.2 million in tickets over the five days of the long weekend in the United States. That easily topped the DC Comics action film “Justice League,” which sold $59.6 million in tickets to earn second place for the weekend. The story of “Coco” is based on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”). It opened in Mexico just before this year’s Dia de los Muertos celebration at the end of October and set a record for ticket sales in that country. Many movies in the holiday season are designed to appeal to kids and families. As a class, talk about movies that have come out or are coming out that would appeal to families. Use the newspaper or Internet to read a story about one of them. Then write a short “review” of the movie telling why you think it would appeal to kids and families.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Volcano Erupts
Indonesia is a nation made up of thousands of islands formed by volcanoes in Southeast Asia. In the last few weeks, the volcano known as Mount Agung has been putting on a show. Located on the island of Bali, Mount Agung erupted twice in four days, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and tourists and closing Bali’s airport. Officials put the island on high alert for more eruptions and warned everyone within six miles of Mount Agung to leave the area. The eruption of Mount Agung this year is its first since 1963, when a huge eruption killed more than 1,700 people and destroyed dozens of villages. The eruption of a volcano is a natural event that can affect thousands of people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another natural event that has affected people. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper, offering tips on the best ways to stay safe in such an event.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Protecting Pets
In every state in the United States, it is against the law to be cruel to animals. But nine states have taken efforts to protect animals even more. In those states laws have been passed that make it a crime to leave a pet out in the cold. Pennsylvania is the latest state to pass such a measure, joining Nevada, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. When Pennsylvania’s governor signed the law, a dog rescued from a cruel situation got to “sign” a copy by dipping his paw in paint. Laws are often passed to protect people, animals or the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone or something that you think needs protection. Write a paragraph outlining a law you would like to see passed to offer this protection. Discuss ideas a class.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
4. Big Strong Santa
Have you ever wondered how Santa Claus could carry a giant bag of toys for all the world’s children? If he’s like a self-styled Santa in Salem, Oregon, he can do it because he’s also a weightlifter. Albie Mushaney, who calls himself “Big Bad Santa,” is competing this month for the title of the “World’s Strongest Man” at a competition in the state of North Carolina. He already may be the World’s Strongest Santa. He has a long white beard and dresses in red, he has a training partner who dresses like an elf and his support crew is called the Polar Xpress Strongman Team. He even has launched a charity called Operation Big Bad Santa, which raises money to buy Christmas presents for the children of wounded military veterans. Nicknames like “Big Bad Santa” are a fun way to remember people, or say something about their personality or skills. As a class, discuss famous people who have nicknames and what the nicknames say about them. Then find and closely read a story about someone in the news who has a nickname. Write a paragraph explaining how this nickname fits the person. Write a second paragraph suggesting a nickname that would fit you.
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.
5. Dolphin Romance
For a long time, scientists have known that dolphins are among the world’s smartest mammals. Now a new study suggests they may be romantic as well. The study of dolphins off the coast of Australia found that male humpback dolphins presented marine sponges to females as gifts in the hope of impressing them. In a 10-year study, scientists from three universities repeatedly observed male dolphins presenting sponges to females, and sometimes even tossing sponges to them. This is the first time this kind of mating activity has been observed in dolphins. “[It] is incredibly rare in mammals, except of course, in our own species,” said one of the scientists. Scientists study wild animals to learn more about their habits and skills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wild animal. Write the name of the animal down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the animal’s name to start a phrase or sentence describing an interesting skill or habit the animal has. Share with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.