Teddy bears got their name from President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. While attending a bear hunt in Mississippi, Roosevelt came upon a young, wounded bear. He ordered the bear killed so that it would not feel any more pain. When a newspaper published a cartoon of the president with a cuddly bear by his side, the story became famous. Shops began to call their toy bears "Teddy's bears." Now everyone calls them teddy bears!
Have you ever had a teddy bear? Write a few sentences about why you think most children like teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Do you like them? Why or why not?
Confucianism is the philosophical system founded on the teaching of the Chinese sage Confucius (551–479 B.C.).
• an herb with grayish-green leaves used in cooking
• a very wise person
• having or showing good judgment
Select one of these quotes from Confucius. Explain its meaning.
“I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."
Some of the first scarecrows were made more than 3,000 years ago. Farmers in Greece and ancient Egypt used scarecrows to protect their crops. They carved ugly wooden statues or dressed poles in rags and bells to scare away animals.
Write a short poem about autumn or the harvest season.
The White House vegetable garden is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity.
- a first step or beginning action
- the ability to begin and follow through with a task; determination
Describe an initiative you would begin at your school. Use the word initiative in your answer.
When Walt Disney first created his most famous character, he originally called the mouse Mortimer. Disney’s wife, Lillian, convinced him to change the name to Mickey. In 1928, Mickey Mouse made his debut in the animated film Steamboat Willie.
Are you a Mickey Mouse fan? Have you ever seen any of his movies? If you have, describe one of them. If not, write about somewhere else you've seen or heard about him.
The Orient Express was a famous transcontinental train that ran from 1883 to 2009. It traveled from Paris, France to Vienna, Austria. Only some people could afford the luxury of one of its sleeping cars.
- something considered an indulgence rather than a necessity
- something expensive or hard to obtain
- a pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself
Describe three things you consider a luxury. What makes them luxuries?
The game of Frisbee first started more than 60 years ago in Bridgeport, Conn. Students from nearby colleges bought pies from the Frisbie Pie Company and, when they finished eating, began tossing and catching the empty tins. They shouted "Frisbie!" as they played. Today's plastic version is called a "Frisbee."
Think of an everyday item that could be used for a game. Name the item and explain your new game and its rules.
There and their are homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced but have different meanings and spellings.
In 1990, the countries of West Germany and East Germany reunited to form one nation. The people there celebrated; their country was whole again.
Write sentences using these homophones:
- would, wood
- red, read
- blue, blew
- their, there, they're
In most places around the world, if you talk about "football," people will think you are referring to soccer because "football" is the original name of soccer. American football wasn't invented until the late 1800s, when universities in the United States began playing different versions of soccer and rugby. The games became popular, and American football was born.
Do you like to watch or play football? If yes, explain why. If no, write about another sport you like to watch or play.
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Though they may resemble rocks, corals are actually animals. The reef structures they build support even more marine life, including sharks, turtles, and more than 4,000 different species of fish. Some scientists believe that coral reefs around the world may harbor from one to nine million undiscovered species of organisms.
- varied or assorted
Why do you think diverse plants and animals live together in the same place? Write a few sentences about how varied species exist together, in homes, on farms, or in the wild. Use the word diverse in your answer.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of our country, had a wide variety of talents. He was an excellent writer and a successful inventor. He even taught himself how to swim when he was eight years old. There was one thing, however, that Ben Franklin was not very good at: math!
Imagine you could interview Ben Franklin. Write a list of questions you would ask him.
Every October, the Nobel committees announce the winners of the Nobel prizes. The awards celebrate remarkable achievements in literature, several sciences, and efforts for peace around the world. Some winners, such as President Barack Obama, are already world famous when they receive the prize. For many other winners, the announcement raises their profile around the globe.
- a side view or drawing of someone’s head
- a short article that describes a person or organization
- the extent to which a person or organization attracts public notice
- describe (a person or organization, esp. a public figure) in a short article
What part of speech and definition of profile is used in the sentence above? Write sentences using the word profile as a noun and a verb.
In the sentence above, profile is used as a noun meaning the extent to which a person or organization attracts public notice.
Fresh cranberries bounce! A New Jersey farmer discovered this in the 1880s when he poured his cranberries down the barn stairs instead of carrying them. The freshest ones bounced to the bottom while the rotten ones remained on the steps. Today, a machine separates cranberries that bounce from the ones that don't.
Have you ever had fresh cranberries? Explain how they taste.
R.L. Stine is the author of the Goosebumps series and has written more than 300 books total. Do you know an avid reader of his Goosebumps books?
• very eager or committed
Synonyms: devoted, dedicated
Describe a favorite book, series, or author that made you an avid reader.
Some explorers go on expeditions to explore new lands, but others prefer to travel beneath the seas. Robert Ballard is one such undersea explorer and marine scientist. In 1985, Ballard helped find the wreck of one of the most famous ships in history, the R.M.S. Titanic.
If you discovered a shipwreck, what kinds of treasure would you hope to find? Describe these treasures.
The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848. The obelisk would eventually rise to 555 feet and 5 1/8 inches. This tribute to the nation’s first president, George Washington, was completed in 1884.
- a tall, four-sided pillar that gradually tapers and has a pyramid-shaped top
If your school were to build a monument such as an obelisk, whom should the school honor? Why? Use the word obelisk in your answer.
Why are Dalmatians associated with firefighting? Before motorized trucks, fire vehicles were pulled by horses. Dalmatians protected the horses while in the firehouse and kept them company. They also ran ahead of the horses on the way to a fire, clearing a path through the street as they went.
Imagine yourself as a fire dog. Describe a day on the job!
What is your favorite kind of cake? Are you an aficionado of chocolate, red velvet, or angel food cake?
• a knowledgeable fan or enthusiast
Are you an aficionado of a sport, another food, a type of music, or something else? Explain why. Use the word aficionado in your sentence.
In 1884, France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States as a gift to commemorate the friendship between the two countries. The statue was so large, it had to be shipped over from France in pieces. Once it arrived, workers assembled the statue on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The sculptor modeled the statue's face after his own mother.
Have you ever visited the Statue of Liberty? If so, describe your trip. If not, describe what you think it would be like.
Think about this quote from American poet e. e. cummings, who often used only lowercase letters in his poems:
“To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
What does the idiom night and day mean? Describe a “battle” you have fought to be “nobody but yourself.” Or describe such a battle fought by a favorite character from literature.
The idiom night and day means all the time.
Babe Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players of all time and had one of the most memorable nicknames. Babe’s real name was George Herman Ruth Jr. Ruth signed his first baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles at only 19 years old; he was supposed to stay in school until 21. To complete the contract, the Orioles' owner, Jack Dunn, adopted Ruth. The players on the team began calling Ruth "Dunn's newest babe," and it eventually became his famous nickname.
Do you have a nickname? Explain what it is and how you got it. If not, what nickname would you like to have and why?
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne, was published in 1926. The book became a classic of children’s literature, but Milne’s work resonates with readers of all ages.
- produce or be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound
- evoke or suggest images, memories and emotions
Read these quotes from Winnie-the-Pooh. Select one that resonates with you and explain why. Use the word resonate in your answer.
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet. “Even longer,” Pooh answered.
“Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”