Super Bowl math for kids from TNS

This Sunday, Feb. 1, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will kick off in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl  XLIX  (the 49th, for those unfamiliar with Roman numerals). 

To get into the spirit of the game try these football math problems from Paul Epner, the author of the Herbert Hilligan books, a series that mixes math with stories. Not only will these problems help you brush up on your addition, fractions and multiplication — you’ll soon know just what those touchdowns and field goals are worth. There are questions for every math level, starting with addition and multiplication and on through geometry. And you may find the Super Bowl more exciting while calculating the many-numbered possibilities on the way to victory!

To download and print, click on the following link: 


What’s in a Word?

From KRP’s What’s in a Word NIE supplement from the NIE Institute. 

What’s in a Word?  Probably more than you think. Take the word word, for instance. Word is more than 10 centuries old. It’s related to the Germanic word wort. It’s also related to verbum (Latin for “word”) and eirein (Greek for “to say or to speak”). Who would think there could be so much history in four little letters?

Every word has a story, and some words have more than one. All of them together make up our language. Put them together, and you can say just about anything you want. Words are symbols that stand for things and ideas. Each word means something in particular; we combine them to express concepts ranging from simple to complex. Each word has a spoken and a written form, so that we can communicate either by talking or writing.

But everything about language isn’t simple and straightforward. A word often has several meanings. Sometimes several words mean the same thing. A single word can sometimes have different layers of meaning – it can express one idea openly and merely hint at another. Words can also be used to disguise a meaning when we don’t want to come right out and say it.

Every word has a root. A root is a base word, which may be changed by adding prefixes, suffixes, or other root words to it. Some roots, such as bio, geo, and ped, must be combined with other parts to form complete words. Others are complete words in themselves.

The word know, for example, can be modified or combined with other word parts to create many new words: knew, knows, knowing, knowingly, known, knowable, knower, unknown, knowability, knowingness, unknowingly, unknowingness, knowledge, know-how, know-it-all, know-nothing, knowledgeable, knowledgeably, knowledgeability, knowledgeableness


1. Find a root word in a newspaper headline. Using this word as a base, see how many other words you can form.

2. Pick a comic strip from today’s newspaper and rewrite it using only the root words (no prefixes or suffixes allowed!). Read the new version out loud.

3. Pick one section of the newspaper and see how many words you can find that are based on the following root words*:
auto (self)
chron (time)
feder, fid, fide (faith, trust)
form (form, shape)
gram, graph (write, written)
log, logo, ology (word, study, speech)
mem (remember)
mori, mors, mort (mortal, death)
port (carry)
psych (mind, soul)
sens, sent (feel)
techni (skill)
tele (far)
uni (one)
*(From Basic English Revisited by Sebranek and Meyer)

Newspaper activities for February 2015

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of February. This calendar provides a subject specific focus for each day of the week with activities for every school day of the month: Monday – Language Arts, Tuesday – Social Studies, Wednesday – Math, Thursday – Science, Friday – Newspaper Information.

To download the calendar, click here

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Information and activities are from KRP’s The Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide from the NIE Institute.

Since 1986, the United States has observed the birth of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as a legal public holiday. It is always celebrated on the third Monday in January. This day is set aside each year to honor King, the powerful black minister from Atlanta who was the main force behind the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1964) for leading non-violent civil rights demonstrations.

Despite his belief in peaceful demonstrations, King himself was often the target of violence. It ended King’s life at the age of 39, when an assassin shot and killed him while he supported a strike by black garbage workers in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

1. Even though slavery was officially abolished in 1865, Martin Luther King Jr. talked often about his desire for freedom for African-Americans. Ask students to discuss what they think King meant by freedom. Then have them cut out words and pictures from the newspaper that illustrate freedom to use on a poster.

2. Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero to many people both when he was alive and after his death. Have students look through the newspaper for a present-day hero. Then have them make a list of the character traits that make that person a positive influence. Conclude by having them find a person featured in the newspaper who would not be a good role model. Allow them to discuss their thoughts.

3. Civil rights, such as the right to free speech, are the freedoms a person has because he or she is a member of a civilized society. Ask students to imagine what it would be like to lose their civil rights. What freedoms would they have to give up? Now, ask students to look through the newspaper for a story about someone who is denied his or her civil rights. Have them discuss their thoughts in small groups.

4. Provide students copies of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” along with examples of news stories and editorials from the newspaper (see the link below for the speech.) Ask each to assume the role of reporter and pretend they were present when King gave the speech. Conclude the activity by having them write either a newspaper story about the speech or an editorial expressing opinions about what was said.

Click here to read or download Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “I Have a Dream Speech.” 

One more resource:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. FREE NIE tab

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Celebrate Black History provides a biography, an overview of his upbringing and the history of his most important achievements. This Newspapers in Education supplement is from the NIE Institute. 

Click on the following link to download:

Note:  if you are going to print this pdf, make sure to adjust your print setting to “fit on page”.  The pdf is bigger than 8.5 x 11 (normal print size.)

Newspaper Activities for January 2015

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of January. This calendar provides a subject specific focus for each day of the week with activities for every school day of the month: Monday – Language Arts, Tuesday – Social Studies, Wednesday – Math, Thursday – Science, Friday – Newspaper Information.

To download the January calendar click here



Happy New Year!

Information and activities are from KRP’s Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide from the NIE Institute.

New Years Day (federal) 

In Ancient Rome, for example, people gave each other gifts of branches from sacred trees or coins with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings and after whom the month of January was named.

In early America, colonists in New England celebrated New Year’s Day by firing guns into the air and shouting, perhaps a precursor to the modern-day custom of making noise to ring in the new year.

Today, we celebrate with such rituals as New Year’s Eve parties, visiting friends and relatives, attending religious services, watching football games, and making resolutions.

1. Talk to kids about calendars. Tell them that Jan. 1 is the first day of the year on the Gregorian calendar, a calendar that was adopted by most Western nations in the 16th century. Then divide the class into 12 groups and assign each group a month of the calendar to learn about. Ask the groups to create a pictorial calendar page representing their months. Have them use pictures and other graphics cut out of the newspaper to illustrate activities, events, and special days during the month. Bind the pages into a calendar to display throughout the school year.

2. One ritual many Americans observe on New Year’s Day is the making of resolutions. Talk about resolutions people might make and whether it’s easy to stick to them. Then ask students to turn to the newspaper’s comics and pick a character that needs help making a resolution. Have each student write down the resolution and create a “plan of action” for carrying it out.

3. People in different countries celebrate New Year’s Day in different ways. In Belgium, for example, children write their parents New Year’s messages on decorated paper. In China, where the new year doesn’t begin until sometime between Jan. 21 and Feb. 19, adults dress up as dragons. And in Japan, people decorate their front doors and visit shrines. Ask students to find a story in the main news section of the newspaper that originates in a country other than the United States. Then ask them to research that country’s New Year’s customs and share their findings with the class. Plan a class New Year’s festival that incorporates some of those customs.

4. Using words cut out of newspaper ads, have students write a cinquain to describe New Year’s Day. A cinquain is a five-line poem: Line 1 has one word; Line 2 has two words; Line 3 has three words; Line 4 has four words; and Line 5 has one word.

What is Boxing Day?

Here’s some information from

What does Boxing Day celebrate?   Boxing Day has nothing to do with the fighting sport of boxing, but rather is a day when gifts are given to people in the service industry like mail carriers, doormen, porters, and tradesmen.

When is Boxing Day celebrated?  The day after Christmas, December 26th

Who celebrates this day?   This day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and most other areas that were settled by the English except the United States. Other countries that celebrate the holiday include New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

What do people do to celebrate?   The main thing people do to celebrate is to tip any service workers who have worked for them throughout the year such as postal workers, the paper boy, the milkman, and doormen.

The holiday is also a day to give to the poor. Some people gather gifts in Christmas boxes to give to poor children throughout the world.

In many countries Boxing Day has become a large shopping day. Just like Black Friday after Thanksgiving, Boxing Day is a day of big markdowns on products that stores were not able to sell for Christmas.

Other ways people celebrate include traditional hunts, family reunions, and sporting events such as football.

History of Boxing Day  No one is quite sure where Boxing Day got its start. Here are a few of the possible origins of the day:

One possible origin is from metal boxes that were placed outside of churches during the Middle Ages. These boxes were for offerings to give to the poor on the Feast of St. Stephen, which is also celebrated on the 26th.

Another possible origin is from when wealthy English Lords would give their servants the day after Christmas off as a holiday. They would also give them a box with leftover food or even a present on this day.

The day is likely a combination of these traditions and others. Either way, Boxing Day has been around for hundreds of years and is a national holiday in England and other countries.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

I’m sure you have heard the line from the famous editorial, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but what is the story behind it?  Here’s some information, including the letter, I found at

Virginia O’Hanlon

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun newspaper, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’  Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?   VIRGINIA O’HANLON, 115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET


Response printed in the New York Sun newspaper 

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Light on a Snowy Day Story

Here is a short story I’d like to share with you called “Light On A Snowy Day – A Story for Children” By Artie Knappclose.  Thank you Artie for making it available. I would also like to take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year.  Thank you for reading my blog!

To download and print the story click here


It was two days before Christmas and young Maggie Dotson was already being told that her Christmas wish would not be coming true. Paxton she was told, would not be coming back.

A year before that December day an injured baby deer had been abandoned in the woods behind the Dotson’s home. So weak was the little deer, that he hadn’t the strength to run from Maggie’s father when he approached him.

As he carried the little deer towards their home, Maggie rushed outside and greeted her father with great excitement.

“Wow, a deer! What happened to him, Daddy?” asked Maggie.

“Well, I’m not sure how he managed to do it, but he mangled one of his hoofs pretty severely,” Mr. Dotson said.

Maggie leaned in to take a better look. “Poor little reindeer. Can we keep him, Daddy?”

“First of all, he’s a white­-tailed deer,” laughed Mr. Dotson. “And no, we can’t keep him. He’s a wild animal, Maggie. I’ll do everything I can and then he’ll have to be set free.”

While gently rubbing the little deer’s nose it licked Maggie’s hand, which made her laugh. Mr. Dotson smiled and just shook his head. He proceeded to carry the little deer to the garage.

After Mr. Dotson carefully placed the little deer on the floor, he asked Maggie to go to the house and get his medical bag. The little deer was in luck. He was being attended to by James Dotson, local Veterinarian.

In what seemed like two seconds to Mr. Dotson, Maggie rushed inside the garage carrying his medical bag, and a handful of lettuce she had grabbed from the refrigerator. Maggie handed her father the bag, and then placed the lettuce by the little deer’s mouth – but he wasn’t interested.

“Why isn’t he hungry, Daddy?”

“Maybe he’s just too scared to eat right now.”

“I know what he needs,” Maggie said. “He needs carrots, because that’s what Santa’s reindeer like to eat.”

“He’ll get plenty of food, alright. Right now he just needs to have his hoof cleaned and bandaged.”

As Mr. Dotson placed a bandage around the little deer’s injured hoof, Maggie became excited as the little deer began to nibble on the lettuce. And then, she pointed out to her father that the little deer had markings above its eyes that looked like the sun. After a quick observation, Mr. Dotson was struck by how much the little deer’s markings did in fact resemble the sun with protruding rays of light.

It was dark outside and the temperature was quite cold. Despite her reluctance to leave the little deer, Maggie’s father convinced her that he would be safe in the garage. Maggie insisted that her father return with carrots and warm blankets for him. He promised he would.

After he turned off the light in the garage, Maggie turned to her father and said, “I’m going to name him Paxton, Daddy.”

“That’s a fine name for a deer, Maggie.”

“You really think so, Daddy?”

“Sure do.”



“Are you sure Paxton is going to be alright?”

“He’s going to be fine, Maggie. Now let’s get inside where it’s warm.”

Later that night Maggie could barely sleep. She kept getting up to view the garage from the window in her room. Even though she couldn’t see Paxton, looking out at the garage comforted her.

After she awoke the next morning, Maggie rushed down the stairs and was heading for the front door, when her mother asked her where she thought she was going.

“I’m going to go see Paxton, Mommy.”

“Not before you eat your breakfast, young lady.”

To the dissatisfaction of her mother, Maggie wolfed down her breakfast. She had two eggs, scrambled, and a piece of toast. Her glass of orange juice never left the table.

“Where’s Daddy? Is he in the garage with Paxton?”

“Yes, he’s in the garage tending to your little….” Before Mrs. Dotson had finished her sentence, Maggie was out the door.

As Maggie darted into the garage she nearly knocked her father over.

“How’s Paxton, Daddy?”

“He’s doing fine, Maggie.”

“Is his hoof all better now?”

“Well, it’s going to take time to heal. Right now he just needs to work on getting his strength back.”

Paxton was very timid as Maggie approached him.

“Why is he afraid of me, Daddy?”

“He’s still not used to us. This is a strange place to him.”

But with time and persistence, Maggie finally gained the little deer’s trust. In fact, he was soon eating carrots right out of her hand. And when the holidays were over and Maggie was back in school, she never left without feeding Paxton first thing every morning.

Mr. Dotson could see the bond that his daughter felt for the little deer. That scared him, though, because he knew Maggie would never be able to say goodbye. So when his hoof had finally healed, Mr. Dotson came home early one afternoon to set Paxton free.

When Maggie learned that her father had released Paxton, she was devastated. Mr. Dotson had believed it would be easier on Maggie that way, but he was wrong. His daughter never forgot the little deer and she called out to him every day, hoping he would hear her.

In time, though, Maggie did come to understand that deer are not like puppies, or kittens. She understood that wild animals, even little deer, need to be in their natural habitat. But that didn’t change how much Maggie cared for and missed Paxton.

Between the Dotson’s home and acres of woods lay a pond that always froze-solid in the winter months. It was a large pond, and many children would come over to ice-skate on it. But the pond hadn’t frozen over that winter yet, because the weather had been warmer than usual.

As Maggie stood by the pond one afternoon, it started to snow. Mr. Dotson saw Maggie through the kitchen window and could tell she looked upset. Without having to ask what was wrong, he knew.

Mr. Dotson felt guilty about having not been more supportive of his daughter’s belief that she would see Paxton again. And even though he didn’t want to give her false hope, he realized that no longer mattered. Maggie was hurting and he wanted to help.

As Mr. Dotson walked outside to greet his daughter, he carried a pair of binoculars with him. He and Maggie would spend the next couple of hours in the woods, where they searched for deer tracks in the newly fallen snow. But as Mr. Dotson had expected, their search came up empty.

“I’m sorry we didn’t have better luck, Maggie.”

Maggie sadly nodded at her father, who was now carrying her because her toes felt like popsicles. But then something happened! As they were exiting the woods, two deer were standing next to the pond. One of the deer was female, and the other was a buck with antlers. Based on the size of the deer, Maggie never considered that either could be Paxton. But her father quickly reminded her of how much Paxton would have grown over the past year.

As Maggie and her father edged closer to the pond, the doe quickly abandoned her attempt at a drink of water. The buck turned and saw them staring in his direction. But the buck stood still, barely flinching. Maggie, who was no longer being held by her father, watched as he peered through his binoculars. As Mr. Dotson got a closer view of the buck, something stood out through the falling snow; it was the markings above the buck’s eyes. He handed the binoculars to his daughter, and whispered if she recognized anything special about the deer with antlers. Maggie immediately recognized the markings on the buck as Paxton’s. With great excitement, Maggie called out to him, and then the two deer darted away. She continued to call out to Paxton, who briefly stopped in his tracks and looked back at her. After a few moments, he darted off again to catch up with the doe and then disappeared into the woods.

At first, Maggie felt happy, but her happiness soon turned to sadness. She felt as if she had lost Paxton all over again. But her father explained to her the gift she had received in getting to see him once more.

As Maggie stood next to her father, with the snow still falling, a carp jumped making a large splash in the pond. It had been a long day. They went inside to unthaw from the cold.

Many years later when Maggie told this story to her grandchildren, she reminded them that the best Christmas presents often aren’t found under a tree, but in your heart.

About the author: Artie Knapp is the author of many published works for young readers. His children’s book Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand was endorsed by The National Stuttering Association and the American Institute for Stuttering. Artie’s children’s literature has been featured in such publications as The Detroit Free Press, Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, Lincoln Kids, The Modesto Bee, Kids Turn Central, California Kids, Ft. Wayne Family Magazine and the Cincinnati Enquirer to name a few. He is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and graduated from Ohio University. Artie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife Priya.