Category Archives: Reading Enrichment

Reading Enrichment #42: Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

Based on this information, you can see that traditions cover centuries and adapt to the changing times.

What Halloween or Fall traditions does your family practice?
Share in the comments below!

Source: https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

Reading Enrichment #41: Who Was Johnny Appleseed?

With apple-picking adventures happening this month in orchards around and in Omaha, you might hear about the legend of Johnny Appleseed.

Who was this man? And, did he really exist? Read below to find out!

Johnny Appleseed was a folk hero and pioneer apple farmer in the 1800’s. There really was a Johnny Appleseed and his real name was John Chapman. He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. His dream was to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Although legend paints a picture of Johnny as a dreamy wanderer, planting apple seeds throughout the countryside, research reveal him to be a careful, organized businessman, who over a period of nearly fifty years, bought and sold tracts of land and developed thousands of productive apple trees.

His adventures began in 1792, when John was eighteen years old. He and his eleven-year-old half brother, Nathaniel, headed west, following the steady stream of immigrants. In his early twenties, John began traveling alone, which is how he spent the rest of his life. Nathaniel stayed behind to farm with their father, who had also immigrated west.

John continued moving west to Pennsylvania. From there he traveled into the Ohio Valley country and later, Indiana. He kept ahead of the settlements and each year planted apple seeds farther west. He always carried a leather bag filled with apple seeds he collected for free from cider mills. Legend says he was constantly planting them in open places in the forests, along the roadways and by the streams. However, research suggests he created numerous nurseries by carefully selecting the perfect planting spot, fencing it in with fallen trees and logs, bushes and vines, sowing the seeds and returning at regular intervals to repair the fence, tend the ground and sell the trees. He soon was known as the “apple seed man” and later he became known only as “Johnny Appleseed”.

Over the years, his frequent visits to the settlements were looked forward to and no cabin door was ever closed to him. To the men and women he was a news carrier; to the children he was a friend. He was also very religious and preached to people along the way. His favorite book was his Bible. He made friends with many Indian tribes and was known to have learned many Indian languages well enough to converse. He lived on food provided by nature and he never killed animals.

Though appearing poor, he was not a poor man. He accumulated more cash than he needed by selling his apple trees and tracts of land. He never used banks and relied instead on an elaborate system of burying his money. He preferred to barter and trade food or clothing rather than collect money for his trees. It was more important a settler plant a tree than pay him for it.

Johnny Appleseed is described as a man of medium height, blue eyes, light-brown hair, slender, wiry and alert. Folklore has also described him as “funny looking” because of the way he dressed. It is said he traded apple trees for settler’s cast-off clothing. He was known to give the better clothing to people he felt needed it more than he. This could be why legend says he wore only coffee sacks with holes cut out for his arms as clothing. He rarely wore shoes, even during the cold of winter. It is said he could walk over the ice and snow barefooted and that the skin was so thick on his feet that even a rattlesnake couldn’t bite through it. Another legend says he wore a mush pot on his head as a hat. This is unlikely since pots of the time were made of heavy copper or iron, but it is more likely he wore someone else’s castoff hat or made his own out of cardboard. He rarely sought shelter in a house, since he preferred to sleep on bare ground in the open forest with his feet to a small fire.

In 1842, Johnny made his last trip back to Ohio after spending 50 years walking throughout the countryside. While there, he moved into the home of Nathaniel, the half brother with whom he began his remarkable journey. On March 18, 1845, he died of pneumonia at the age of seventy-one. He was visiting his friend, William Worth, in Indiana. Legend says it was the only time he was sick in his whole life. He is buried in an unmarked grave near Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Click the link below to print out a crossword puzzle with words from this story. Turn it into your school’s EY teacher when you are finished!

johnnyappleseed_printout

Reading Enrichment #40: Female Cyclist Wins The Grueling Transcontinental Race For The First Time!

Enjoy riding your bike? Fiona Kolbinger from Germany sure does! She just won the ultra-endurance Transcontinental Race on August 6, 2019! The cancer researcher from Germany outrode 225 men and 39 women to complete the approximately 2,485 mile-race from Bulgaria to France in 10 days, two hours, and 48 minutes. Even more impressive, Kolbinger crossed the finish line almost 11 hours ahead of the second-place winner, Ben Davies of the United Kingdom.

Watch the video below to find out more about the Transcontinental Race, then click on the link below the video to read the entire article about Fiona’s amazing win!

https://www.dogonews.com/2019/8/12/fiona-kolbinger-is-the-first-female-cyclist-to-win-the-grueling-transcontinental-race

Finally, play the game at the bottom of the article!

In the comments below, write a note to Fiona, including what you found most impressive about her win!

Reading Enrichment #39: It’s All About the Heart

 

For many years, the heart was a mystery.  What did it do?  What was it there for?  Let’s learn all about this muscle.

Video

This TEDed lesson will help you investigate how the heart keeps you alive.

Reading

 Years ago, people thought emotions came from the heart!  Read this article to find out more about how the heart works.

Show What You Learned

 Choose one of these prompts and respond with 3-5 sentences.

What are some ways to keep your heart healthy?

What are the four chambers of the heart called, and what does each chamber do?

Why was it so difficult for scientists and doctors to figure out what the heart was for?

Take It a Step Further

Create a visual explaining how the heart works.  Include as many details as possible.  Please share this project with your teacher.

Reading Enrichment # 38: The Mystery of the Upside-Down Catfish

Learn about the interesting Upside-Down Catfish by completing the following…

Start by watching a video about them:

https://www.kqed.org/science/1922038/the-mystery-of-the-upside-down-catfish

Show what you learned by choosing three of the prompts to complete.  Post your response as a comment or email your response to the EY coordinator at your building.

  • Using many details, explain why an Upside-Down Catfish swims upside-down.
  • How is this fish camoflaged?
  • What part of the video was most interesting to you and why?
  • What other questions do you have about Upside-Down Catfish?

Take it a step further by conducting research to find another animal that has camoflage.  What part of the animal is camoflaged? How does this help the animal?

# 37 Reading Enrichment: Create your own National Day

Did you know that November 3rd

is national sandwich day?

December 7th is national letter writing day,  and January  7th is national bobblehead day.

Click on the red link for each these days and write a few sentence telling us about each

one.

What day do feel deserves to add to the list of national celebrations?

Pickle day? Nope, that won’t work. It’s already observed on November 15.

How about National fuzzy sock day?

 Wear your cozy socks and keep your feet toasty warm all day long!

That won’t work. It’s already a day people celebrate it on December 21st!

What would be a day that you would LOVE to celebrate? Start brainstorming to think of a special day. When you have a list of several choices, do research to find one  that is not already observed.

When you find one that can be your very own, create your own informational apple clip project about your day.

Include this information:

The name of your day and 5-10 facts about your topic.

Why it is important enough to be a national day?

How people can celebrate this day?

Add color and illustrations to your clips.

Share your project with your teacher or the EY coordinator in your building.

 

#36 Reading Enrichment: Homographs

Why do homophones seem to get all the attention?  A homophone, as you probably know, is a word that sounds the same as another word, but with a different meaning or spelling.  For example, their, they’re and there.  Or no and know.

But do you know what a homograph is?  A homograph is a word that looks the same, but has different meaning and perhaps different pronunciation.  Here is a sentence that uses the homograph “dove.”

The dove looked elegant as it dove underneath the tree branch to catch the bug.

Here is a sentence that uses the homograph “bank.”

After swimming at the river bank, we went to the bank to get some money to buy ice cream.

Some more examples of homographs are bow, book, subject, duck, wound, tear, contract, and model.  There are many more!!!

In the comment section below, write a sentence using a homograph with both of its meanings like I did in the examples above.  For an EXTRA challenge, write a sentence that uses two homographs with both of their meanings.

If you enjoyed this reading enrichment, take a look at Reading Enrichment #10 which is also about homographs.

#35 Reading Enrichment: Living Poetically

Many years ago, it was common for students to regularly be assigned the memorization of a poem or part of a historical document.  Today, that does not happen in schools as regularly.  But, did you know that memorization is good for you???

Here are three big ways that memorization will improve your reading and speaking skills.  First, reciting a piece that is memorized will help you learn to articulate your words (speak clearly).  Second, memorization has been shown to increase your vocabulary because you familiarize yourself with words that you may have not otherwise come across.  Lastly, increasing your vocabulary has been shown to increase your reading comprehension.  Wow!

What should you memorize?  Anything that interests you!  Go to your school’s library and check out some poetry books.  There are funny poems, serious poems, silly poems, informational poems—I’m sure you can find one to interest you.  The following link has some more suggestions of what to memorize AND gives some pointers on how to memorize.

https://www.mensaforkids.org/read/a-year-of-living-poetically/

The EY Coordinator at your school would love to get a recording of you reciting a poem or part of a historical document.  Are you up for the challenge?

#34 Reading Enrichment: Are Dragons Real?

 

Dragons have been an important character in fairy tales and fantasy stories for ages.  Fire breathing dragons may not exist, but if you consider a dragon to be a supersize reptile with a wicked bite…then have I got a challenge for you!  The Komodo dragon is the real deal!  How can a Komodo dragon, that weighs about 300 pounds, kill a water buffalo that is over twice its size?  Read this article to find out:

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/komodo-dragon/#komodo-dragon-head-on.jpg

The San Diego zoo has a Komodo dragon named Ken.  Watch this video to meet him:

http://kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos/komodo-dragons

Take it a step further: Komodo dragons only live in one country in the world, Indonesia.  Indonesia is made up of several islands.  Komodo dragons reside on some of the islands, but not all of them.  This website will show you some other interesting facts about Indonesia—home of the Komodo dragon:

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/countries/indonesia.html

What are three facts you learned about Indonesia?  What else would you like to know about Indonesia or Komodo dragons?

 

A site to use for further research

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/komodo-dragon

#33 Reading Enrichment: Word Squares

Word squares are grids of letters that cross horizontally and vertically. In the puzzle below, the word TRAP is located in the top row and left-most column; ROME can be seen in the second row from the top and the second column from the left; AMEN is found in the third row from the top and the third column from the left; and PENT occurs in the bottom row and in the right-most column. All the words cross each other in a perfect square arrangement. (taken from Psychology Today)

Take a look at this one.  DEN is spelled vertically and horizontally in the first column and row respectively.  EYE is spelled vertically and horizontally in the 2nd column/row, and NET is spelled vertically and horizontally in the 3rd column/row

Try These 3 Word Squares

If you’re really up for a challenge, try creating the Word Squares from these given clues!  Use this sheet to record your answers.  When finished, show your teacher or EY Coordinator.

1. 3 X 3 Square

  • young male
  • a natural mineral
  • an affirmative answer

 

2. 3 X 3 Square

  • to allow
  • a time period
  • a key on a computer
  • a cereal grass
  • unit of currency
  • what everything comes to

4. 4 X 4 Square

  • place to sit
  • repetition of sound
  • greeting used by sailors
  • playthings

5. 4 X 4 Square

  • something that we want to achieve
  • an evil giant
  • region
  • to show the way

6. 4 X 4 Square

  • story
  • to assert something as a fact
  • intense feeling of affection
  • large jug with a wide spout

7. 5 X 5 Square

  • competitive pastime
  • material on which we write
  • the art of Giuseppe Verdi
  • repeat of a TV show or series
  • prefix meaning across or beyond