Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 28, 2022

1. Inspired Singing

When 7-year-old Amelia Anisovych was forced to leave her Ukraine home, she was able to bring very few things with her. Fortunately, a wonderful singing voice was one of them, and Amelia has used it to call attention to the war caused by Russia’s invasion of her European homeland. First, she got worldwide attention singing the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” while hidden from Russian attacks in a bomb shelter. Now she has used her voice to sing the Ukrainian national anthem at a special concert that raised nearly $400,000 for Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country. The concert took place in the city of Lodz in the neighboring nation of Poland, where Amelia is now staying with her grandmother. She wore a traditional Ukrainian dress decorated with embroidered flowers. She seemed nervous when she first came on stage, but then sang in a strong, clear voice the national anthem “?? ?? ?????? ???????,” which means “Ukraine has not yet perished.” Music can inspire people in many ways. As a class, discuss songs you like that have inspired you or had special meaning. Then use the newspaper and Internet to find and read stories about songs that are inspiring people today. Think like a music critic and write a review of an inspiring song you know or have read about. Be sure to give reasons the song is inspiring in your review.

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.

2. ‘The Book Lady’

Reading books is one of the best ways to build writing, reading and communications skills. Not all children own or have easy access to books, however. A woman in a small town in the state of Virginia wants to correct that — and she’s doing it book by book, child by child. In five years teacher Jennifer Williams has donated more than 90,500 books to local children, most of which she has paid for out of her own pocket. Her goal is to donate 1-million books before she is done, the Washington Post newspaper reports. “Wherever I go, I carry books with me,” said Williams, who has earned the nickname “the Book Lady” in the communities she serves. Williams donates books mostly to elementary students, because that is where good reading habits begin. Reading outside of school improves “their vocabulary, their ability to answer questions, their ability to relate to [ideas and] concepts,” she says. Everyone can benefit by reading books. And there are books to suit every student’s interests. As a class make a list of books you have read that you have enjoyed. For each, write a complete sentence telling something about it. Then use the newspaper and Internet to find books to add to your list for students your age or younger. Write descriptions for these books and share with other classes. If you need help finding books, check out Oprah Winfrey’s Kids’ Reading List here, the Coretta Scott King Award books here or the Pura Belpré Awards here.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Dog-Sled Disaster

The Iditarod competition in the state of Alaska is one of the world’s greatest challenges for dog sled racers. Competitors and their teams of 12-14 dogs must travel nearly 1,000 miles over hills and mountain passes, through frozen tundra and spruce forests, across rivers and even over sea ice. On top of all that, they must face and survive snowstorms and blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds and whiteout conditions. This year, six racers — called “mushers” — were knocked out of the race by a massive storm near the end that forced them to call for help and hunker down in emergency shelters, the Huffington Post news site reported. Forty-two-year-old Brent Sass of Eureka, Alaska, won the race, but even he had weather problems just a few miles from the finish. He fell off his sled, lost the trail and thought he might have to stop until the weather improved. “I couldn’t see anything,” he said in an interview after the race. “The only reason we got out of there is because [the dogs] trusted me to get them back to the trail. And once we got back to the trail, they just took off a hundred miles an hour again.” People and animals often team up to work or perform special tasks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of these people-animal teams. Use what you read and your imagination to write the dialog of a conversation that could occur between the person and the animal, telling what each gets out of the partnership. Alone or with a partner, read your conversation aloud — with expression!

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

4. Great Horned Rescue

Great horned owls are one of the largest owls in North America, with a height of 25 inches, a wingspan of nearly 5 feet and a weight of 3.5 to 4 pounds. They get their name from the tufted feathers on their heads, which look like horns from a distance. Great horned owls are at the top of the food chain for birds in their habitats and have no natural predators. They do sometimes need help, however. In the state of Connecticut this month, a great horned owl got snagged in a fishing line tangled in the branches of a tree and had to be rescued by firefighters in town of Greenwich. The owl’s right wing got caught in the line as it was flying near a water reservoir and it was found dangling from the line up in the air. Fortunately, the firefighters were able to avoid the owl’s fierce claws, cut it down and take it to a rescue center, UPI News reported. A great horned owl’s claws can exert 500 pounds of pressure per square inch, a grip comparable to that of a golden eagle or a German shepherd police dog. People often reach out to help wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone helping a wildlife species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling why it is important to look for ways to help wildlife that may need it.

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.

5. Lucky Clovers

Four-leaf clovers are hard to find, and because of that they are said to bring good luck. If that is the case, a woman from the state of Wisconsin is one lucky person. Betina Reich of the city of Eau Claire found a four-leaf clover for 258 days in a row last year and is now trying to get her feat recognized as a new world record. Reich started searching on March 22 in the spring and ended when Eau Claire had its first heavy snowfall on December 4. She recorded her finds on the TikTok social media site. The stems of most clover plants have three leaves not four, so when people first started finding the four-leaf variety they were thought to be a sign of good fortune. Some folk traditions say each leaf represents a different quality. The first leaf represents hope, the second stands for faith, the third is for love and the fourth leaf brings luck to the finder. Four-leaf clovers occur in nature about once in every 5,000 clovers. People experience good luck in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a person who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing how this person might feel experiencing good luck. Then write how you have felt at a time when you or your family had some good luck. Your luck can be something big or something small.

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.