For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 29, 2016

1. Goodbye, ‘Sesame Street’

When the “Sesame Street” opens its new season on TV this fall, three favorite characters will be gone. One is Bob McGrath, 84, the music teacher Bob who was part of the original cast in 1969 and has sung many of the show’s most popular songs. The others are Emilio Delgado (Luis the Handyman), 74, a cast member since 1971, and Roscoe Orman (science teacher Gordon), 72, who started in 1974. The changes in the cast are part a new approach to the show now that it’s on HBO instead of Public Television. The goal is to focus on fewer faces and reduce the number of story lines young children have to follow. When people are characters on a TV show for a long time, viewers grow to think of them as friends. In the TV listings of the newspaper, find a listing for a show with a character you like. Write a letter to the character, telling him or her why you like the character, and how you would feel if the character left the show. Draw a picture of the character to go with your letter.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Tea with a Tot

A Texas police officer went to a tea party earlier this summer — complete with a tiny table and chairs and snacks of Fruit Loops. What’s more, Officer Patrick Ray was the only guest. He was invited by his “best friend,” a 2-year-old girl whose life he saved last year when she had gone limp after choking on a penny she had swallowed. Officer Ray had been on lunch break in Rowlett, Texas, when he responded to a 9-1-1 call that baby Bexley Norvell was in distress. Quickly determining the cause of her problem, he dislodged the penny with a “finger-sweep” of her throat and esophagus. He’s been a “friend of the family” since then, and he gladly attended the child’s tea party. As the father of two sons, he said, “I don’t get to do the type of stuff you do with a little girl.” Police officers and firefighters often do things to help children and families. As a class, find and closely read a story about this kind of help. Use what you read to write a “Thank You” poem, expressing the thanks of the person who was helped.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Solar Plane Circles the Globe

A solar-powered airplane has completed an around-the-world flight. The Solar Impulse 2 landed in the Middle East city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates after a 16-month, 17-leg journey. The plane was the first solar-powered aircraft to circle the globe without using any fuel other than sunlight. The plane’s wings have more than 17,000 solar cells that power four electric motors. The solar cells recharge lithium batteries so that the plane can fly at night as well as in daylight. The plane was flown by two pilots who took turns on each leg of the journey (because the plane holds only one pilot at a time.) The solar plane that flew around the world is an example of technology being used to do something new. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new use of technology. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining how the technology is being used, and why that makes things better for people. Talk about your findings as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. 200-Year-Old Church

The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded 200 years ago by a freed slave who created a new religion rather than endure racism from white worshippers in another church. This summer it is marking its bicentennial in its birthplace city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. About 30,000 people came to the city to celebrate at the AME Church’s general conference July 6-13. As part of the celebration, a statue of Richard Allen was unveiled at the original AME church (now known as “Mother Bethel”). Allen led the group that formed Bethel AME in 1816 after they had been ousted by white leaders from a Methodist church at which they had been worshiping. AME now has more than 2.5 million members and has long been in the forefront of the struggle for equality and civil rights. The AME Church was founded by people who wanted to correct a wrong done against black worshipers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about other people doing something to correct a wrong or solve a problem. Discuss the story with family, friends or classmates and talk about what qualities it takes for someone to get involved and solve a problem. Discuss challenges that might have to be overcome and what qualities a person would need to overcome them.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. World’s Children at Risk

All around the world, children are becoming more and more at risk, the international United Nations organization has reported. If present trends continue, nearly 70 million children will die from mostly preventable causes, the U.N. Children’s Fund says in its annual report, “The State of the World’s Children.” The Children’s Fund — also known as UNICEF — also projects that 750 million girls will be married while still children and more than 60 million primary-school-aged children will be kept out of school, mostly on the continent of Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. When children in the world face problems like hunger or poor health, people in other countries look for ways to help them. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read a story about children facing problems somewhere in the world. Discuss ways people in your community could help these children. Then write a short letter to the editor, outlining one way your community could help.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

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