For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 02, 2012

1. Aaaahhhhh-chooooo!

Do you find that you are sneezing more, your eyes are itchy and your nose is running more than usual? You may think you have a cold, but it actually may be allergies. Allergies are caused by a number of different things, but pollen from plants and trees is one of the biggest contributors. Pollen is what plants use to grow fruits and vegetables, but too much pollen is bad news for the nearly 40 million Americans who suffer from nasal allergies. This year’s pollen counts are higher than normal and started much earlier than usual. Scientists say this increase in pollen has been caused by unseasonably warm weather in areas like Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan and by drought in states like Texas. Find the weather page in the newspaper and read the item that reports the pollen count. Or find the pollen count for your community online as a class. Track the counts for the month and record them on a bar or line graph.

Core/National Standards: Drawing graphs to represent a data set; understanding that evidence consists of observations and data on which to base scientific explanations.

2. Children's Books

April 2 is International Children's Book Day. As a class, talk about your favorite books or stories. Then talk about how newspapers review books to tell people about them. Finish by writing a short book review of your favorite book or story. In a few sentences, explain why you like that story or book so much.

Core/National Standard: Writing fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as stories, reports, letters, plays and explanations of processes.

3. Going for Gold

Athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to participate in everything from table tennis to track and field in the Summer Olympic Games that take place between July 27 and August 12. But these aren’t the only Olympics happening in the European city of London this summer. Between August 29 and September 9, athletes with disabilities will compete in the same sporting events as the Olympics at the Paralympics, also in London. Eric Bennett, a teacher from Surprise, Arizona, hopes he will be one of those lucky athletes. Bennett lost his right arm in a car accident when he was 15, but that doesn’t stop him from competing in archery events. He pulls the bowstring back with his mouth and his aim has been so true that it landed him in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where he placed ninth. Search the newspaper for a story about someone training for the Olympics or another big sporting event. Think about what it would take to train for a big event. Then draw a comic strip for the newspaper showing your athlete in training.

Core/National Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; knowing the different visual characteristics and purposes of art to convey ideas.

4. Doggy Momma

Crystal Arnold is a foster mom, but not the kind that might come to mind. She isn’t a foster mom for children; she’s a foster mom for dogs. The Mesa, Arizona, woman provides a safe place for dogs that have been homeless or abused until they can be adopted by loving families. So far, she has helped 26 dogs, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. Arnold said it can be hard to let the dogs go once a home is found. “I tell people a little piece of your heart goes with each and every one of them,” she said in the article. Arnold said even if you can’t provide foster homes for animals, you can help a local animal shelter in other ways. As a class, find a newspaper article about a local animal shelter. Or find one online. Read what you find and write a summary of what you learned. Then draw an illustration for your summary.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience; adding drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. Checkmate!

Chess isn’t a game for nerds. Just ask the kids at Washington-Parks Academy in Detroit, Michigan. The school’s chess club started with just 24 students in 2007 and now numbers more than 70. Its coach, Kevin Fite, helped the students take a number of state and national honors, including two National Junior High Champions titles. Recently, the team was recognized by Detroit’s City Council as the students prepared for regionals in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find a newspaper article about students participating in activities other than sports. As a class, discuss the options for fun activities for kids. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper urging support for one activity helping kids.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

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