For Grades K-4 , week of May 08, 2023

1. Be Kind to Animals

This week is Be Kind to Animals Week in the United States and around the world. It has been observed for more than 100 years in an effort to protect both wild and tame animals and raise awareness about their needs. It calls attention to the important roles that animals play in people’s lives — from the pets who provide joy to families to wild animals that bring beauty to the natural world. During the weeklong celebration started by the American Humane Association, people work to help animals in a variety of ways. They may volunteer with rescue groups, adopt pets from animal shelters, clear trash from natural habitats or support groups that protect endangered species, among other activities. “Let’s be kind to every animal we come across — both this week and always,” the Humane Association declares on its website. “The vision and mission of this event [is] to show kindness to animals, anywhere, anytime.” There are many ways to be kind to animals. In the newspaper or online find photos or stories involving tame and wild animals. Pick one wild animal and one tame animal. Write a paragraph for each telling how people could be kind to it or help it. Share and discuss as a class.

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

2. Rihanna Smurf

The superstar Rihanna has won worldwide fame as a singer, actress and businesswoman — and as the featured act at this year’s Super Bowl. But she’s always looking for new challenges, so she has decided to become … a Smurf. The Paramount movie company has just announced that Rihanna will play the character Smurfette in the new “Smurfs” movie that is scheduled to come out in theaters in February 2025. Rihanna will also create and perform original music for the film, which will mix animation with live action. The new “Smurfs” movie is the sixth full-length film for the popular cartoon characters, and the fourth since 2011. The Smurfette character was the first girl to be featured in the tribe of male Smurfs. The “Smurfs” movie is not the first time Rihanna has lent her voice to an animated film. In 2015 she played a lead role in the movie “Home” that was a hit around the world. She also is the second-best-selling female music artist of all time, with sales of more than 250-million records worldwide. Her Super Bowl performance had the second highest audience in history. Cartoons and comic books often can inspire full-length movies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read comic strips or comic books. Pick one and brainstorm an idea for an animated movie based on it. Write a summary of an adventure the comic characters could have in a movie. For added fun, pick actors and actresses you think would be good to provide voices for the characters.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. The Most Coasters

When the weather gets warm in the spring and summer, kids and families like to get outside for thrills, excitement and entertainment. For nearly 140 years in the United States, one of the most exciting ways to find thrills has been riding roller coasters at amusement or theme parks. If you are a roller coaster fan, the place to be this summer is the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California. Magic Mountain is home to 20 roller coasters — more than any other theme park in the world. When Magic Mountain opened in 1971, it had just two roller coasters. But it added more and more through the years, and is now a destination location for roller coaster fans. Magic Mountain has one more coaster than the Number 2 park, Energylandia in the European nation of Poland, which has 19. Number 3 is Canada’s Wonderland, which has 17 roller coasters, while Number 4 is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, with 16. Amusement parks provide fun family activities in the spring and summer months. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, photos and ads for amusement parks in your state or region. Use what you read to write an invitation to a friend for a visit to one or more parks. In your invitation, be sure to list attractions that you think would appeal to your friend.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Buried Treasure!

People sometimes dream of finding hidden treasure as they go about their everyday lives. A group of hikers in the European nation of Italy actually did. The hikers discovered a stash of 175 silver coins that date back more than 2,000 years to the time of the ancient Roman Empire. The coins were Roman denarii coins, and they may have been the salary of a soldier in the Roman army, CNN News reported. They have a value of about $28,000 U.S. dollars today. The coins were stored in a terra-cotta clay pot, and nearly all were in good condition. They were discovered by a group of archaeology researchers who were hiking in a cleared area of a forest in northern Italy near the city of Pisa and its famous leaning tower. A member of the group saw a few coins glimmering in the dirt, leading to discovery of the pot full of treasure. Experts said there is no way to know exactly who buried the coins, but the person would most likely have been a former soldier. “This treasure is about a person’s life, the savings of a soldier’s life and his hopes for building a farm,” one expert said. “However, it also tells a sad story: [T]he owner of the coins died before he could make his dreams come true.” Starting this month, the coins will go on display at a museum near the forest where they were discovered. Items from the past often tell stories about the person who owned them. Items from today also can tell stories about their owners. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photograph of a person showing things he or she uses or owns. Use what you see in the photo to tell a short story about the person for your class or family.

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. Feeding Families

Life lessons are the things you learn from experiences you have as students or adults. They can come from things you did that were successful and from things you did that were unsuccessful but taught you something. They also can come from experiences that make you more aware of the feelings and needs of others. In the U.S. state of Utah, a woman who runs two mobile home communities used an experience she had as a child to help residents in need. Pat Blake knew hunger growing up as one of seven siblings raised by a single mom. So when she saw children hungry in her communities of mobile homes, she did something about it, the Washington Post newspaper reports. She set up a food pantry in her office and invited residents to come and take what they needed. For free. She started small, buying items like peanut butter with her own money. She later partnered with a regional food pantry that collects and distributes food donations throughout her county. “Needing groceries is nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “We could all use a boost sometimes. These families need someone, and I’m happy that I can be that person to help.” People do many things to help people in need in their communities, states or the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone helping in this way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor publicly thanking the person for helping, and telling how his/her actions made the community a better place.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.