Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 13, 2023

1. Women Illustrators

Women’s History Month is celebrated all through March, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” Women tell stories in many ways — by writing books, poems and songs, for example, or by making movies and TV shows. They also tell stories in pictures, as illustrators and artists for children’s books. The illustrations these artists create add to the mood, emotions and meaning of stories — and sometimes tell stories without any words at all! Molly Bang’s “The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher” is one book like that, as are “Good Night, Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann, “Flashlight” by Lizi Boyd and “Good Dog, Carl” by Alexandra Day. Other illustrators add meaning to poems, as Susan Jeffers did with “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and Ekua Holmes did for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.” Still others interpret familiar stories and issues, such as Beatrix Potter, who illustrated the Peter Rabbit tales, Michaela Goade, who won prizes for the Native American story “We Are Water Protectors” and Faith Ringgold, who illustrated “Tar Beach,” a story about summer life in the city. As a class, discuss favorite “picture books” you have read and enjoyed. Then find a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Pretend you are an artist and illustrate this story for children your age or younger. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. 5th Grade Music Star

Kids often make up tunes in their heads when they are playing by themselves or doing other tasks. Sometimes they even may write them down. A 10-year-old from the state of Pennsylvania did that recently, and she has become an Internet star as a result. Olive Wallace wrote the music when she didn’t feel like doing her fifth grade homework. Because she takes violin lessons, she knew a little about written music, so she wrote out the notes as they might appear on a music sheet. She wanted it to sound mysterious like something from the Middle Ages 700 to 1,300 years ago. When she played it after school, she didn’t think it was that good, so she set it aside. Her mom, however, wanted to know what it would sound like with adult musicians playing and posted it on the TikTok website. The Internet quickly went crazy for Olive’s music, with people playing it on violin, clarinet, guitar, harp, trumpet, flute, saxophone, cello and viola. It even was adapted for a string orchestra (see here), a version that Olive loved, according to the Washington Post newspaper. Olive named the song “For Greatness We Bring,” and more than 6-million people checked it out online. Students often do things that adults and other students think are great. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about a young student doing something great. Write the word GREATNESS down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter to start a phrase describing why this student’s achievement was great or special.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Brother for Brother

In last month’s Super Bowl, Travis and Jason Kelce made history as the first brothers ever to play against each other in the National Football League’s championship game. This month brothers Brett and Nick Ritchie made history in the National Hockey League — by being traded for each other. The Ritchie brothers were part of a four-player trade between the Calgary Flames and the Arizona Coyotes. The Flames traded Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey to the Coyotes for Nick Ritchie and Troy Stecher, the teams announced just before the NHL trade deadline. The deal marked the first time ever that brothers were involved in the same trade, according to the NHL. While both brothers are forwards, they are known more for their physical play than their scoring, Sports Illustrated magazine reported. Nick Ritchie has produced 21 points in 58 games this year compared to Brett’s eight points in 34 games. The 29-year-old Brett Ritchie had been with the Flames since 2020, while 27-year-old Nick had been with Arizona since 2021. Brothers, sisters or a combination of the two often have interesting or unusual experiences together. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about siblings who have experienced something unusual with each other. Pretend you are a reporter and write out three questions you would ask the siblings about how they felt about their experience together and how it happened.

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

4. Pizza Acrobatics

Pizza can be a fun and exciting food to eat, but did you know it can also be a fun and exciting sport to watch? Really. The sport is pizza acrobatics, and it features talented pizza makers tossing pizza dough high into the air and performing acrobatic tricks with it. Some competitors slide pizzas through their legs, across their shoulders and around their backs like a basketball. Some even keep two pizzas in the air at once, the Washington Post newspaper reports. While many pizza makers toss dough into the air in their shops, competitors in pizza acrobatics perform three-minute routines accompanied by music in front of live crowds. “Tricks that you see a Harlem Globetrotter do with a basketball, we do with a pizza,” said Tony Gemignani, a seven-time world champion for pizza acrobatics. The sport, which is sometimes called pizza freestyle or pizza tossing, requires focus, strength, stamina, showmanship and coordination (to see how, click here). And there’s always the ability to perform under pressure. “You’ve got to pull it off,” Gemignani says. Many people develop unusual skills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has done this. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story based on something that could happen to someone with this skill. Your stories may be funny or serious. Write the opening scene and share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Chunky Dunk

A fish called a dunkleosteus was an apex predator in the subtropical seas 360-million years ago. But it didn’t look anything like the sharks and killer whales that are at the top of the ocean food chain today. Dunkleosteus (DUN-kul-OS-tee-us) was a fat, round creature with an armored head that looked like an overweight tuna. Nevertheless, “the Dunk,” as it is called, was a fierce predator, with powerful jaws that could snap a shark in two. Scientists once thought the Dunk was as long as a school bus, but new studies indicate it was probably about half that size, the New York Times newspaper reports. Still, it had a mouth twice as large as a modern great white shark’s and probably outweighed longer sharks of its time. “People say it’s pudge, but that’s probably just solid muscle,” one researcher said. Discoveries about creatures that lived long ago give scientists new information about creatures that live today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what was discovered, how it was discovered and why that was 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.