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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 21, 2022

1. Cheesecake Support

Cheesecake is a rich and creamy treat loved by people all over the world as a delicious dessert or snack. It also has proved to be an amazing way to raise money for the people of the European nation of Ukraine in their war against the invasion of Russian soldiers. In the city of San Antonio, Texas, a bakery run by a woman who grew up in Ukraine raised more than $100,000 for soldiers in her homeland by making and selling cheesecakes — and she couldn’t keep up with demand. People lined up for blocks outside the Laika Cheesecakes bakery run by Anna Afanasieva after she posted on social media that she was donating the money from all sales over a three-day period, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The effort helped ease her feeling of helplessness for her parents and a sister who were still in Ukraine. “I couldn’t go home to Ukraine to fight,” Afanasieva said. “But I could bake cheesecake.” People all over the world are finding ways to raise money to help the people of Ukraine. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a person or group doing this. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for something your class or school could do to raise money for the people of Ukraine. Stretch your thinking to come up with something unusual or fun that people would pay to watch or buy. Share ideas as a class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Your Name in Space

Students who like adventure have always been excited by the missions of America’s NASA space agency. Now a new mission is generating excitement in a whole new way. NASA is offering fans of space travel an opportunity to send their names into space for a trip around the moon and beyond. The offer is part of planning for the first mission of the Artemis program that aims to land astronauts on the moon again for the first time in 50 years. The first Artemis mission will not carry astronauts but will test equipment and procedures they will use when manned flights begin. To generate excitement among students and others, NASA is offering a FREE opportunity for people to send their names along on the first Artemis flight. They will be loaded onto a computer flash drive and taken aboard the Artemis craft that is due to launch in May or June from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. To submit your name for the Artemis flight, click here. Then use the newspaper or Internet to read up on the first Artemis flight. Use what you read to write a personal column expressing how it will make you feel about the Artemis program to have your name included on the first flight.

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. Vocabulary Parade

Building a bigger vocabulary will make you a better reader, writer and speaker all through life. But building up your vocabulary doesn’t need to be work. It can be lots of fun! Students at an elementary school in the state of North Carolina demonstrated that earlier this month when they put on a parade to show how much they love learning new words. In the vocabulary parade at Oakley Elementary School in the city of Asheville, students each picked a vocabulary word they had learned and dressed up in costume to show what the word meant. One girl liked books and reading so much, she dressed as a “bookworm.” A boy honored his grandfather by choosing “ancestor.” Other words on display in the parade ranged from “feline” (which means “cat-like), to “festive” (“cheerful and fun”) to “prosperous” (“well-off or successful”) to “luscious” (“delicious.”) A vocabulary parade is a fun way to show off new words you learn. In the newspaper or online, find a word in a story that you don’t know or have just learned. Read how it is used in the story or look up its meaning. Draw a picture of a costume you could wear to show the word’s meaning. Share pictures as a class and discuss. Then plan a vocabulary parade of your own!

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. ‘March Madness’ Fun

This week the “March Madness” of college basketball shifts into high gear with men’s and women’s teams competing to qualify for the “Elite Eight” competition this weekend. The Elite Eight are the eight teams that still have not lost in each tournament, and this weekend’s winners will go on to the Final Four. To increase the fun of the men’s and women’s tournaments, newspapers, magazines and sports websites create special features for fans about the teams involved. The Washington Post newspaper, for example, created a special interactive “Basketball Search” feature that challenges fans to find basketballs representing teams in the tournaments while learning about the mascots, players and coaches involved (to view the feature, click here). In the newspaper or online, find and study special features, charts, graphs or brackets designed to engage readers who are interested in the NCAA tournaments. Pick one and write a paragraph telling how it engages readers and makes the tournament more fun to follow. Or brainstorm an interactive feature or video game of your own based on the teams involved. Share with the class.

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.

5. Really Old Crater

A huge crater that was formed when a meteor crashed into the Earth thousands of years ago is actually much older than scientists had originally thought. The 19-mile-wide Hiawatha Crater in the Arctic nation of Greenland near the Earth’s North Pole was thought to have been created about 13,000 years old when it was discovered under more than a half mile of ice in 2015, CNN News reported. Now, a new study of the crater has declared it may have been formed by an earlier meteor crash 58-million years ago. That would be just a few million years after a meteor is believed to have crashed into Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. At the time of the collision, Greenland would have been a rainforest that supported crocodiles, turtles and hippo-like animals, scientists said, and the habitat would have been changed greatly. To figure out how old the crater was, scientists used high-tech equipment to determine the age of rocks that were found in and around it. Scientists are constantly finding new things in rocks and natural environments that shed light on the Earth’s past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery that has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or teacher, telling what was discovered and why the discovery was important to scientists.

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.