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For Grades K-4 , week of May 22, 2017

1. The Beach Is Back!

Nature sometimes does some weird things. Consider the beach on Achill Island in the European nation of Ireland. In the winter of 1984, brutal storms completely washed away the sands at Dooagh Beach, leaving nothing but bare rock and rock pools. But in just a few days this April, a special combination of tides and winds returned all the sand that had been lost 33 years earlier! As a result, Dooagh is once again a golden, 300-meter beach on the Atlantic Ocean — and thousands of people are coming to see it. Severe weather or natural forces can change outdoor areas of the Earth in big ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a natural area being changed by weather or forces of nature. Use what you read to draw an art mural timeline showing the different stages of the change that took place. Explain your timeline to the class.

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.

2. ‘Doggy Days’

In government, “pet projects” are things that leaders want to do most, but none are quite like the new one launched by the head of the U.S. Interior Department. The project just begun by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke actually involves pets! Zinke has started a “Doggy Days” program that allows employees to bring their dogs to work. It’s the first time a federal department has welcomed pets at the office, and it’s been set up to boost the spirits of people who work at the agency that’s in charge of the nation’s public lands. Zinke led the way on the first “Doggy Day” with his Havanese dog named Ragnar, while other employees brought in dachshunds, Labradors, spaniels, Yorkies, border collies, beagles and other breeds. Zinke is a known animal lover: On his first day as Interior Secretary he rode a horse to work. Dogs and other pets can improve people’s moods and make them more relaxed. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a pet improving a person’s life. Write the words “PET POWER” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the words to start a sentence or phrase describing ways pets help people. Read your sentences aloud, as if they were a poem.

Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. A Vacation Hero

When you are a firefighter, you are never really off from work. Just ask J.J. Duffy, a firefighter and paramedic from Livermore-Pleasanton in the San Francisco Bay area in the state of California. Duffy was on vacation with his family in Arizona when he saw a terrible car crash that left several cars on fire. One man was badly burned and Duffy jumped into action. He ran from his car and with just a basic first aid kit stabilized the man until rescue crews arrived. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m., noon during lunch or when you’re on vacation with family, you just want to help people,” Duffy explained later. Firefighters, police and other rescue workers often do heroic or remarkable things to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one example. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor to publicly thank the rescue worker for his/her actions.

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.

4. Doing Good with Soap

A bar of soap may not seem like much, but it’s hugely important for the health of children in some poor countries. And college student Samir Lakhani has come up with a way to get more soap into the hands of kids that need it in the Asian nation of Cambodia. While attending the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Lakhani started the Eco-Soap Bank, a nonprofit group that recycles discarded bars of soap from hotels in Cambodia and distributes them to people in need. He got the idea on a visit to a Cambodian village when he realized that children were at risk to disease because they and their families were unable to wash their hands effectively. When he got back to his hotel, he saw that the soaps provided by hotels are hardly used. His program collects and sanitizes hotel soaps and redistributes them in new forms. More than 650,000 people have benefited from his program, which fights intestinal diseases and others. Samir Lakhani’s Soap Bank is an example of a program started up to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another program that helps people. Design a public service ad for the newspaper, showing what the program does, how it helps people and how people could support it. Give your ad an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. Bad Air Day

Because of intense air pollution, the Chinese city of Beijing has terrible air quality, even on good days. This month, it got even worse when a large sandstorm swept through China’s capital city on May 4. The sand turned the sky a cloudy yellow and forced many residents to keep indoors. The storm raised the city’s air quality pollution index to dangerous levels in just hours. The air quality index jumped from under 100 to over 600 and went from a rating of “moderate” risk to a danger “beyond index.” Nearly 22 million people live in Beijing, contributing to pollution problems far worse than anything in the United States. Pollution is a problem that can affect the air, water, natural areas, rivers, lakes and oceans. In the newspaper or online, find and study a picture of an outdoor area. Use what you see and prior knowledge to write a paragraph describing what kinds of pollution could have a negative effect on the pictured area. Remember that trash and litter are forms of pollution.

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.