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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 14, 2022

1. Kindness of Strangers

More than 2.5-million people are fleeing the European nation of Ukraine to escape the invasion of Russian soldiers. Many of them are relying on the kindness of strangers to survive. In the neighboring nation of Poland, hundreds of those strangers are traveling to the border with Ukraine and leaving baby strollers, car seats, toys, diapers, stuffed animals and warm clothing for the thousands of children traveling with their families. In the Polish city of Przemy?l, these gifts are the first things refugees see as they get off the train from Ukraine — and it gives them a feeling of welcome, CNN News reported. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about strangers offering help to people they don’t know. Use what you read to write a thank-you letter from one person who was helped, telling how important the help was and how much it was appreciated.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Pep Talk

When people feel sad, or frustrated, or disappointed, they sometimes need a pep talk to change their mood and feel better. In a small city in the state of California, students at an elementary school have joined forces to provide those much-needed talks. With the help of their teachers, the students in the community of Healdsburg have created the Peptoc hotline, which people can call when they feel down and need a pep talk to cheer them up. The project was the idea of art teacher Jessica Martin and her teaching friend Asherah Weiss, who felt that people could use some positive support with all the bad news in the world. They got students at West Side Elementary School to record upbeat messages and loaded them onto a telephone answering service. Callers can select from a menu of categories if they are “mad, frustrated or nervous … need words of encouragement and life advice … need a pep talk from kindergarteners … need to hear kids laughing with delight” or want “encouragement in Spanish.” Within days the hotline was getting more than 500 calls an hour and more than 5,000 calls a day. When word spread on the Internet, calls came in from places far from Healdsburg. The Peptoc number — 707-998-8410 — will be operating at least through the end of the school year in June. People often need pep talks when facing stressful or challenging situations. With a partner find and read stories about people facing such situations. Pretend you are starting a pep talk hotline and write out positive messages for people facing these challenges.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Lost Ship Found

Lake Superior is the largest of America’s Great Lakes, and in bad weather it is one of the most dangerous. More than 130 years ago a violent storm sank a 172-foot schooner being used as a barge to carry coal, and historians felt it was lost forever. Now the schooner Atlanta has been found, sitting at the bottom of the lake under 650 feet of water. And it is remarkably well preserved, experts say. The Atlanta went down in a northwest gale while being towed by a steamship, according to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. It was being used as a cargo barge when the tow rope snapped and the masts splintered in the wind. It sank in the lake’s frigid waters about 35 miles north of the town of Deer Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It remained undisturbed until discovered late last year by crews using sonar technology that bounces sound waves off the lake bottom. “It is truly ornate, and still beautiful after 130 years on the bottom,” a spokesperson for the historical society told CNN News. The Atlanta’s seven-member crew attempted to make it to shore in a lifeboat but only two survived. Shipwrecks can teach scientists and historians a great deal about the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to explore a shipwreck. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper on what scientists can learn by exploring this shipwreck and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. High Flying Pooch

Dogs are loyal pets known for standing by their owners through thick and thin. In the Alps mountains on the continent of Europe, one fearless adventure dog is sticking by his owner even as they soar hundreds of feet above the Earth. The dog, a Samoyed named Ouka, has learned to go paragliding with his owner from cliffs and mountain tops in the French and Italian Alps. Equipped with a special harness, Ouka has taken flights as long as an hour with his owner, an adventurer who calls himself Shams. He even has learned to do running takeoffs, Accuweather News reports. Paragliding is an adventure sport in which people fly lightweight, motorless aircraft powered only by the wind. Paragliders have no enclosed cockpit, and pilots (and their dogs) are supported only by harnesses beneath the wings. Animals can be trained to do amazing, unusual or helpful things for people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal that has been trained to do something like this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, telling what the animal has been trained to do and why its owner chose to train it.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Journey of a Bell

Paul Revere was one of the early heroes of the American Revolution for making a famous “midnight ride” to warn colonists of an advance by British soldiers in what is now the state of Massachusetts. Today, 247 years after that night, Revere is making news again — for a bell manufactured at a metal company he started. The bell has just been returned to the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Massachusetts after a long and winding journey that took it from Massachusetts to Ohio to California and back. The bell was made by Revere’s son Joseph Warren Revere when he took over his father’s foundry company after Revere’s death in in 1818. The bronze bell was cast in 1834 and spent most of its life in churches in the state of Ohio, the Patriot Ledger newspaper reported. When one of the church buildings was sold, an Ohio couple bought the bell and took it with them when they moved to California. It remained there until this year, when the daughter of the couple reached out to the Revere Heritage Site so see if the site would like it. Paul Revere’s ride was made famous by a popular poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860. Long journeys by people or objects often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story of someone or something that has traveled a long way. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a movie telling the story of this journey. Decide what would be the opening scene and write an outline for it. Give your movie an eye-catching title that would interest movie-goers who are your age.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.