In the schoolyard of Snow Island Elementary, vendors at the annual Christmas market were getting ready to welcome their first visitors. Lively music filled the air and, as soon as the gates opened, a crowd of citizens wandered in looking for unique trinkets and gifts.
The twins, Orion and Capella, had looked forward to the event for weeks and arrived on time with their parents. They were eager to see what kinds of toys and decorations the local artisans had made, especially since they’d been given some spending money for the occasion.
“Look, Orion! There are Christmas ornaments over here,” Capella said. “They’re so beautiful, I want to buy them all!”
“Don’t you think we should look around before deciding what to buy?” her brother suggested. “If we spend all our money right away, we won’t be able to enjoy the rest of the market as much.”
“You’re right,” Capella admitted. “Let’s check out everything first.”
After examining the items at each of the stalls, the twins sat down on a bench to discuss.
“You know what, I think I’d rather get a wooden top instead of an ornament,” Capella admitted.
“My heart is set on that mobile solar system we saw,” Orion said.
Happy with their choices, the children headed back toward the vendors. Just then, they heard a loud sigh. Looking around, the twins were surprised to spot a lonely stall tucked away in the corner of the schoolyard. Behind the counter was Daisy Wilson, a woman in her 80s. Because she’d registered for the market at the last minute, the dismal spot was the only one available for her stall.
“Oh, we didn’t see you there,” Orion exclaimed.
“You’re the only two visitors I’ve had since the market opened,” the craftswoman said, sounding discouraged.
“Your slippers are gorgeous,” Capella said, admiring the wares on display. “Orion, let’s go tell others about Mrs. Wilson’s stall so they don’t miss out.”
Excited to share their discovery, the twins told several people about the “hidden stall” and it wasn’t long before word spread. Over the next few hours, the elderly woman sold many of her creations. She beamed with delight.
As the Christmas market drew to a close, Orion and Capella headed back to join their parents. Mrs. Wilson, however, walked as quickly as she could with her cane to catch up to them.
“To thank you for your help today, I would like to offer you a small gift,” she said.
“That’s not necessary,” the children replied, but they were curious to know what it was.
The craftswoman carefully removed two pairs of handmade slippers from her bag, which Orion and Capella were happy to accept.
“Thank you, Mrs. Wilson! And merry Christmas!”
Satisfied with their day, the twins and their parents returned home with happy hearts and their hands full of treasures.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
Fascinating facts about snowy owls
Have you ever seen a snowy owl? It’s one of the largest members of the owl family. Here are some interesting facts about this majestic bird:
• It’s sometimes called a polar owl or Arctic owl
• It mainly eats lemmings, hares, and ducks
• It’s about 1.5 feet tall and has a wingspan of nearly five feet
• Unlike most owls, it hunts during the day and night
• It has thickly feathered legs that keep it warm in temperatures as low as -58 F
• It has rigid feather disks around its eyes that reflect sound waves to its ears to help it find prey in the dark
• It likes to survey its territory and spends a lot of time perched in high places
• Adult male snowy owls are almost entirely white, while females have brown spots
Snowy owls prefer to live in open areas with few trees. Consequently, they’re typically spotted in marshes, grasslands, and fields.
The exact number of snowy owls in the wild is unknown. However, it’s estimated that fewer than 30,000 adults remain in North America and fewer than 200,000 globally.
The mysterious disappearance in Stonehill
Wanda the witch and Greg the ghost are two friends who live hidden in a clearing near Stonehill. Every year on Halloween night, they disguise themselves as humans to collect delicious sweets.
As Wanda waits for her partner in crime at their usual meeting place, she hears a commotion:
“My candy for the trick-or-treaters was stolen!” exclaims a man dressed as a pirate.
“Mine too!” an elderly woman shouts from her balcony.
“Same here!” yells a young couple in unison.
The neighbors soon gather in the street and begin exchanging theories on how their candy was stolen. Suddenly, Greg shows up, looking mischievous and wearing a sheet, so no one suspects he’s a real ghost.
“It was you!” Wanda accuses him immediately.
“What!? I’m not a trickster,” he answers with a wink.
“We’re just about to go trick or treating,” Wanda replies. “We must give them back their candy!”
“That’s right, so you’d better find my great hiding place right away!” laughs Greg. “I figured it all out when I ‘borrowed’ the candy last night. If you solve my riddle, they’ll get their candy back.
“Here are my three clues:
1. I’m full of colorful treasures of all shapes and sizes.
2. You must wear good shoes when you visit me to stock up.
3. I provide you with the vitamins you need to stay healthy.”
“That’s tough,” says Wanda. “Treasures that keep you healthy? A good pair of shoes? Is the candy at the toy store? They sell colorful things, but not vitamins. It can’t be the grocery store either since you can go there in sandals.”
Wanda glances at the worried crowd. She must guess the answer quickly! She paces back and forth, thinking about it. Then, suddenly:
“I know!” she exclaims triumphantly.
She bolts down the street as Greg chases after her with a sneer.
When she makes it to the U-pick farm up the road, the young witch looks everywhere for a potential hiding place. Wanda sees a row of pumpkin boxes and rushes over to discover one filled with treats.
“I did it!” she exclaims. “But we’ll never be able to return all the candy in time.”
“I told you I had everything planned,” replies Greg. “Lend me your broom.”
Wanda cautiously hands over her broom. Greg removes the sheet he’s wearing and transforms it into a massive sack of candy, which he ties to the broom handle.
“It’s time to save Halloween,” he says, smiling.
“Well done,” she replies while mounting her broom.
On this memorable Halloween night, the town of Stonehill is showered with candy. The costumed children look up in awe and open their bags to collect the falling treats. Afterwards, some say they saw a strange shooting star, while others swear they heard joyful laughter echoing through the sky. Of course, no one will ever suspect that the candy showers are the work of a kind-hearted witch and a prankster ghost.
By Sarah Beauregard and Johannie Dufour
Translated by Jasmine Heesaker
30 board games to celebrate Halloween
Are you looking for something fun to do with family and friends this Halloween? Here are 30 themed board games to discover — or rediscover.
Treat your kids (and yourself!) to one of these cooperative or competitive games suitable for young and old.
1. Ghost Blitz
2. Monster Chase
3. Zombie Kidz Evolution
4. Similo: Spookies
5. The Mysterious Forest
6. The Legend of the Wendigo
Dim the lights and get ready for fun or frightening experience. Which will you choose?
1. Betrayal at House on the Hill
2. Black Stories
3. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
4. One Night Ultimate Vampire
6. Mystery House
7. Greenville 1989
10. Exit: The Game
11. The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow
For casual gamers
Get your teens or friends together and have fun playing one of these accessible and captivating games.
1. Sub Terra
2. The Little Death
3. Ghost Stories
4. Zombie Dice
6. Mr. Jack
For experienced gamers
Roll up your sleeves and prepare to challenge yourself with one of these games for seasoned players who aren’t afraid of rulebooks.
1. Mansions of Madness
2. Eldritch Horror
5. Dead of Winter
6. Tiny Epic Zombies
If you feel like going out, visit a board game café near you to try out some fun, spooky-themed games.
Experiment: how does taste work?
Are you curious about how your sense of taste works? If so, here’s a fun experiment to try with your friends or family.
Get a scarf, nose clip, and a few dark-colored glasses or bottles. You’ll also need to buy drinks with different tastes, like bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. Ask another person to prepare the drinks secretly to keep it a surprise.
Secure the nose clip and place the scarf over your eyes. Then, ask the person who made the drinks to give them to you one at a time. Take a sip and try to identify what each drink tastes like. Concentrate on the sensations on your tongue. Is it difficult to name what you’re drinking without seeing or smelling it?
Continue the experiment to see which areas of your tongue react more intensely to specific flavors. Take off the scarf and nose clip and get some toothpicks. Dip the toothpick in one of the drinks and place it on different parts of your tongue. Are some flavors more pronounced on certain parts of your tongue?
Your tongue has thousands of taste buds that detect flavors and send your brain messages about what it tastes. Your nose also picks up smells and sends signals to your brain. Your eyes can also impact how you perceive taste.
4 wildly interesting plants
Nature is full of surprises. Like animals and weather phenomena, plants can be awe-inspiring. Here are four unique and unusual plants.
1. Arum titan
Amorphophallus titanum is the largest flower on the planet. It’s native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra and can grow up to 10 feet tall. It blooms for only three days and gives off a strong scent of rotting meat to attract pollinating insects.
2. Nepenthes lowii
Nepenthes lowii is a carnivorous plant from Borneo that has developed an ingenious way to feed. Rather than capturing insects and digesting them, the plant’s pitcher-shaped leaves secrete a sweet substance that attracts small rodents. This substance has laxative properties and allows the plant to feed on animal droppings.
3. Hydnora Africana
Hydnora africana, also known as jakkalskos, is a brownish-beige, mushroom-like African plant with a large mouth that opens at the top. It grows underground and dissolves other plants’ roots to extract nutrients from the soil. It also secretes an unpleasant smell to attract pollinators. It traps these insects inside its mouth until they release their pollen before letting them go.
4. Rainbow eucalyptus
The rainbow eucalyptus, or eucalyptus deglupta, is a tree native to the Philippines with a distinct multi-colored trunk. It can reach a height of 230 feet and regularly sheds its bark to reveal stunning colors, like pale green, blue, purple, orange and brown.
Do you know of any other surprising plants and trees?
Quiz: test your knowledge of the aquatic world
Are you interested in marine plants and animals? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.
1. Which male animal gives birth to its babies?
c. Sea cucumber
2. What do bioluminescent marine creatures do?
a. Store light and release it in the dark
b. Reflect light
c. Emit or produce light
3. What’s the largest marine animal?
a. Blue whale
b. Killer whale
4. In which ocean is the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the ocean, located?
a. Atlantic Ocean
b. Pacific Ocean
c. Indian Ocean
How many correct answers did you get?
1. a. The gestation period of the seahorse is two to three weeks.
2. c. Bioluminescence serves several functions, including camouflage, communication, and attracting prey or sexual partners. For instance, some jellyfish are bioluminescent.
3. a. Blue whales can be 65 to 98 feet long.
4. b. Explorers estimate that it’s over 36,000 feet deep.