How does a show end up on television? Companies or individuals pitch, or sell, ideas for shows to the television networks, such as NBC, CBS, and ABC. An interested network will order a pilot, or first episode, of the show. Even if a network orders a pilot, however, it can still take anywhere from a few months to years before the episode airs. In some cases, a pilot might never appear on TV at all.
What kind of television show would you pitch to a network? Describe the plot and the main characters.
The world’s first parking meter stood in the business district of downtown Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1935. The increasing number of cars crowding cities at the time resulted in scarce parking space. The “Park-O-Meter” helped keep cars moving in and out of urban areas. The meter charged one nickel for one hour of parking.
What part of speech is scarce? Use context clues to write a definition.
Use scarce in a sentence of your own.
adjective; not enough to meet the demand, insufficient
Before subways and buses, horse-drawn streetcars were one of the first forms of mass transportation in the United States. The first streetcars appeared in New York City in 1832. The steel wheels developed for the cars ran along a rail, allowing a single horse to pull the weight. The rails made the ride much smoother than a regular horse-drawn carriage.
How do you get to school each day? Do you walk, bike, take the bus, or ride in a car? What is your favorite mode of transportation? Explain why.
Many doctors recommend daily vitamins for a healthy lifestyle. Most vitamins come from the foods we eat. People can also take them in a pill or a gummy form. Some people don’t have enough vitamin D, which is in some dairy products and fish. Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D on its own, so some doctors suggest that people with low vitamin D augment the time they spend outdoors.
• increase; make greater
Write a sentence using the word augment. Give a synonym. Give an antonym.
Possible synonyms: enlarge, extend
Possible antonyms: decrease, lessen
If you were a Pilgrim child, how would your life be different? Children of all ages woke up early every day to cook, harvest corn, or tend animals. As a result, Pilgrim children had very little time to play. Pilgrim children didn’t attend school. Their parents taught them reading and writing at home in the evenings, after they completed their farm work. Parents preferred that their children play games that would exercise their minds or their bodies, such as checkers or running races. Some Pilgrim children also played with dolls or played house to practice skills they would need later in their lives.
Does a Pilgrim child’s lifestyle sound good or bad to you? Why? Would you be a good Pilgrim?
Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States (1861-1865), led the country through the Civil War, which was a devastating experience for the nation. The Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865. More than 750,000 Americans died in the war, including 50,000 civilians.
• effective in destruction
What current events would you describe as devastating? Explain. Use the word devastating in your answer.
Examples: the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan, etc.
Ocean travel was very dangerous in the 1600s. Pirate captured many ships, while other ships were wrecked by storms. When the Pilgrims traveled from England to the New World in 1620, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a ship called the Mayflower. The Mayflower did not sink or encounter pirates, but it did sustain serious damage along the way. A storm cracked one of the wooden beams supporting the ship's frame. The crew managed to raise the beam back into place with a giant iron screw. The ship was able to continue its journey, and the Pilgrims reached the New World.
Have you ever spent the night on board a ship? If so, write about your experience. If not, describe what you think it would be like.
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address after the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. His words became one of the most famous speeches in American history. Lincoln gave the speech at the site of the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The address ended with the assertion that “the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
• the act of asserting; a declaration
• state something with confidence; affirm
• demonstrate the existence of something
Make an assertion. Write another sentence using the verb assert.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear,
With twenty-nine in each leap year.
Many people use this rhyme, or a variation of it, to remember the number of days in each month. The rhyme dates back at least 450 years. A version is recorded in Richard Grafton’s 16th-century publication called Abridgement of the Chronicles of England.
What is your favorite month of the year and why? Write about the weather and what happens during this month.
“I suppose you mean we ought to spend all our time sucking up to Them, and currying favor, and dancing attendance on Them like you do.”
–Jill Pole in The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis
curry favor verb
- gain favor or get someone to like you by using flattery
Synonyms: butter up or kiss up to
Use the phrase curry favor in a sentence of your own.
In 1870 Congress passed legislation making Thanksgiving a national holiday. They allowed the president to set the date each year. U.S. presidents generally declared the last Thursday of November to be a national day of Thanksgiving. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving earlier. He hoped to boost business and the U.S. economy by extending the Christmas shopping season. In 1941 Congress passed legislation mandating that Thanksgiving would occur on the fourth Thursday of November.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Write about some of your traditions or ones you would like to start.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens used the name Mark Twain when he published his writing. He is best known for his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain is lauded as “the greatest American humorist of his age.” Some call him the “father of American literature.”
• praise highly
Synonyms: extol, praise, hail, applaud
Use laud in a sentence of your own.
Pilgrim children played games that we still play today, such as naughts and crosses. We usually call this game tic-tac-toe, but the rules are the same. Pilgrim children played hide-and-seek, but they called it all hid. They also played lummelen, which today we call keep away. The Pilgrims brought these games with them from their native countries of England and Holland.
What kind of games did your parents and grandparents play when they were younger? Do any of them sound fun to you? Why or why not?
Marc Brown, author and illustrator of the Arthur books, was asked to which of his characters he best relates. He replied: “When I write my stories, I try to take the perspective of each character and how they feel and think. But I guess I'm an awful lot like Arthur because I make a lot of mistakes and get picked on by other people a lot.”
- a particular way of looking at a situation; a point of view
- the ability to keep things in order of their relative importance
- a vista
Which definition is used in the sentence above? Write your own sentence using the word perspective.
A point of view.
In 2007 NASA launched the Phoenix Mars Lander, a robotic spacecraft. In 2008, it discovered water-ice crystals falling over the north pole of the planet. The snow fell only at night during the winter on Mars. The snow did not land on the surface of Mars because it vaporized while in the atmosphere. Phoenix also found water-ice under the surface at a northern site of the planet. This is an important finding because if water can exist as a liquid on Mars, life could be possible there.
If you could visit any planet in our solar system, which would you choose? Explain why you chose that planet.
Both the Islamic and Hebrew calendars are lunar calendars based on the phases of the moon.
• a stage in a process; a distinct part of a course or development
• a particular appearance in a cycle of changes
What meaning of phase appears in the sentence above? Write a sentence of your own using another meaning of phase.
A particular appearance in a cycle of changes
In the beginning of the 17th century, many Native Americans living in southeastern Massachusetts belonged to the Wampanoag tribe. The word “Wampanoag” means People of the First Light. Wampanoag children developed important skills by watching adults. Boys learned to use bows and arrows for hunting, while girls learned how to sew and make clay pots. All children learned how to swim. Wampanoag children played a variety of games, especially toss-and-catch games. These games helped children develop good hand-eye coordination, which was useful in hunting, weaving, and other work. Children learned about the culture and traditions of their tribe by listening to stories, singing, and dancing.
Imagine you belonged to the Wampanoag tribe in the 17th century. Write a diary entry describing a typical day.
Why is an abacus so dependable? Because you can always count on it.
A play on words is a pun in which a phrase or a word is used humorously or with a double meaning.
Do you know a play on words? If not, try to come up with one.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a now-famous African American woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama. At that time, an unfair law forced African Americans to sit at the back of the bus. The bus driver told Parks to move, but she stayed in her seat. She knew she should have the same rights as white passengers. The bus driver had Rosa Parks arrested, but her actions helped end the law. We celebrate Rosa Parks Day on her birthday, February 4, to remember her bravery.
Do you think you could have been as brave as Rosa Parks? Pretend you are her and write what you felt that day on the bus.
Many sociologists consider the family unit a microcosm of a nation. The roles, structure, and problems found in a family may be similar to those found in a nation.
• a community, place, or group that is a typical example of a much larger entity; a little world that has all the features of a larger world.
The prefix micro- means small.
List and define two other words with the prefix micro-. Use the meaning of micro- in your definitions.
Possible words with prefix micro-: microscope, microwave, microbe, microfiber, microbiologist.
Speed skating has been an Olympic sport since 1924. It is considered the fastest human-powered sport in the world. Speed skaters wear special skates that are longer and sharper than ice skates for figure skating or ice hockey. They also wear suits that are designed to reduce wind resistance and allow the skaters to move faster. Some Olympic speed skaters can reach 40 miles per hour when racing.
What is your favorite Olympic sport? Would you want to be in the Olympics? Explain why or why not.
Hyperbole is a literary device many writers use in their work. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, for example, a man murders the king to take the crown for himself. In Act II, Scene 2 of the play, Shakespeare writes, “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / clean from my hand? No.”
• a dramatic exaggeration not meant to be taken literally.
Why is this line from Macbeth an example of hyperbole? What does Shakespeare really mean?
Write your own sentence using a hyperbole.
The line is an example of hyperbole because the character will not actually need an ocean to clean his hand. He can wash off the blood easily. Shakespeare means that nothing could wash away the crime Macbeth has committed. Macbeth feels so guilty that he will never be free from the crime, even if he washes away the blood.