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For Grades K-4 , week of July 27, 2015

1. A Woman on $10 Bill

America’s $10 bill is going to be redesigned soon, and the face of a woman is going to be featured. The U.S. Treasury Department is launching a public campaign for suggestions on whose face should be chosen, as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote. The only requirements are that the woman chosen may not be living and she should be “a champion for our inclusive democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew. The $10 bill currently features Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. With the new design, Hamilton will either be replaced by a woman, or share the bill with a woman. Women suggested for the honor include Underground Railroad pioneer Harriet Tubman, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks. Putting a woman’s face on the nation’s paper money is one way to honor women who have made great contributions. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a woman who is achieving great things today. Pretend you have been chosen to honor this woman on paper money. Draw a design of a paper bill honoring the woman you read about. Use the back of your bill to list why the woman you chose deserves to be honored.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Weird Creature Studied

Scientists have finally solved a mystery surrounding a deep-sea creature so strange that for a long time they could not make heads or tails of it. The creature, called a Hallucigenia (hal-OO-si-JEE-nee-ah), lived about 508 million years ago and belonged to a primitive group of velvet worms that still exist today. Reporting in the journal Nature, fossil experts say the creature had seven nail-like spines sticking from its back, and pairs of long, flimsy legs tipped with claws underneath. For the longest time, fossils of the creature appeared to have no heads, but new fossils unearthed in the Canadian Rocky Mountains show what the heads looked like. They featured three pairs of skinny tentacles believed to have been used to process food. The study of fossils helps scientists learn about wildlife that lived millions of years ago. In the newspaper or online, find a photo of a wildlife species. Imagine what it would look like as a fossil, just showing its shape, bones and key features. Write a paragraph describing what this fossil would tell future scientists about how the species lived.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text (or image) says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. McDonald’s to Shut Restaurants

For the first time since at least 1970, McDonald’s will close more restaurants in the United States this year than it opens. The reduction is small, a spokesperson says, considering the chain has about 14,300 locations. But it symbolizes troubles the company is having with sales and customers. The closings are part of a review intended to set the stage for future growth, the chain says. McDonald’s still has more than twice the number of restaurants as the No. 2 chain, Burger King. Sometimes businesses like McDonald’s have to make changes when they lose sales or customers. With family or friends, talk about things you like about McDonald’s and things that could be changed to attract more customers. Make a list based on your discussion. Then design an ad for the newspaper, introducing a “new” McDonald’s that would make some of the changes discussed. Give your ad a headline that would make people want to try the “new” McDonald’s.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Explorer’s Boat Rotting

Explorer Jacques Cousteau sailed his ship The Calypso all over the world on his deep-sea adventures. But now the famous ship is rotting in a warehouse to which it was brought in 2007 for repairs. Money needed for the repairs has been cut off, and now all that can be seen is the skeleton frame of the ship stored in the port of Concarneau in the European country of France. It has been designated part of France’s maritime heritage, but has yet to be declared a national monument, which would enable it to compete for repair and preservation funding. In 2009, the Cousteau Society decided that renovations that had begun were inadequate, and stopped the funding. Work on the boat was soon stopped as well. Jacques Cousteau had adventures all over the world. Where would you like to go for an adventure? In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a place you would like to go for an adventure. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips, showing you having fun on an adventure in the place you picked.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. No Cereal Additives

People who buy breakfast cereals these days are looking for more natural ingredients. So the cereal-making company General Mills is giving them what they want. General Mills says it will remove all artificial flavors and colors from its cereals because consumers want “more recognizable and familiar ingredients.” About 40 percent of General Mills cereals now contain artificial flavors and colors, but the company promises to remove all of them. The cereals Trix and Reese’s Puffs will be among the first of the remaining brands to be changed, effective next winter. Similar actions to remove artificial ingredients have been taken by restaurant chains, including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Panera Bread, McDonald’s and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Fresh and natural foods are gaining in popularity with many families. In the newspaper find and read a story or ad for a fresh or natural food. Write the word “NATURAL” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to begin a sentence explaining why people like this fresh or natural food.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text (or image) says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.