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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 27, 2023

1. French Bulldogs Rise

Dogs are the most popular pets in the United States, and for 31 straight years Labrador retrievers were the most popular dog. Not any more. In 2022 French bulldogs rose to the top spot among pure-bred dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. The Kennel Club, which tracks some of America’s favorite dogs, said registration statistics from 2022 revealed that French bulldogs had nudged into first place. The bulldogs, which have flat heads, cute wrinkly faces and ears that stand up, were Number 2 the previous year. The popularity of French bulldogs has been rising in recent years with many celebrities owning them. Among the famous owners of the breed are Lady Gaga, John Legend, Reese Witherspoon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Megan Thee Stallion, Leonardo DiCaprio and Snoop Dogg. The rise of French bulldogs in 2022 dropped Labradors to Number 2, followed by golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, bulldogs, Rottweilers, beagles, dachshunds and German shorthaired pointers. As a class, discuss the kinds of dogs you and your classmates like. They can be purebred breeds such as French bulldogs, or mixed-breed “mutts” or rescue dogs. Then find a photo of a dog you like in the newspaper or online. Read the caption that goes with the photo, and any story connected to it. Then write an outline for a creative story about kids your age having fun with this type of dog.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

2. Final Four Excitement

It’s time to choose the champions in the top division for men’s and women’s college basketball. This weekend, the best men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA’s Division I will face off in Final Four competition that will determine who will play in the national title games. The women’s Final Four games will be held Friday, March 31 with the championship on Sunday, April 2. The men’s Final Four games will take place Saturday April 1, with the championship game on Monday, April 3. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read stories about the teams competing in Final Four games this weekend. Pick one that you think could be the champion for the men or women. Use information from your reading or prior knowledge, to write a sports column explaining your pick. Discuss picks 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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Giant Clump of Seaweed

When it is floating in the ocean, seaweed can provide many benefits for the environment. It provides food and protection for fishes, mammals, marine birds and turtles, and homes for microscopic sea creatures as well. Too much seaweed can be a problem however, especially when it clumps together in large “blooms.” This spring a huge bloom of seaweed twice as wide as the United States is heading toward the U.S. state of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, CNN News reports. When it washes ashore on beaches it can pile up five or six feet deep and cause damage to wildlife, the environment and even humans. The seaweed threat is the result of a huge “bloom” of a species known as sargassum out in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bloom began forming over the winter and doubled in size between December and January. It could be the biggest bloom ever, covering more than 5,000 miles of ocean from the continent of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico south of the United States. In addition to polluting beaches, large quantities of sargassum can block sunlight from plant species in the ocean and create “dead zones” by sucking the oxygen out of the water. Natural events can sometimes cause problems for marine life in the world’s oceans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one natural event that has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a teacher or friend telling how the natural event occurred and how it is affecting the environment or wildlife.

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.

4. Washington Artwork Found

In American history, one of the most famous early events was General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River to launch a surprise attack on soldiers working for Great Britain. The crossing from the state of Pennsylvania to Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas Day in 1776 led to the first major victory for American forces in the nation’s War for Independence. Many artists have created paintings of “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” and a significant one has just been re-discovered. It had been rolled up in the basement of a building at a New Jersey state park for more than 50 years. The painting by famous military artist George M. Harding had once hung in a theater in Trenton but had been removed when the theater was torn down in 1971. There were plans to display the painting at a museum on the New Jersey side of the river for the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, but at 16 feet long and 10 feet high it was too big for the available space. So it went into storage at Ringwood State Park 80 miles away, where it sat for more than half a century, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported. Now the painting showing General Washington standing tall in a boat during the crossing will get new life (click here). A private group is raising money to have the painting restored for display during America’s 250th anniversary in 2026. Artists often create paintings or drawings of events from real life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an event that interests you. Think like an artist and draw a picture of this event showing how it looked as it happened and how it affected the people involved. Present your picture to the class and discuss.

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.

5. April Fools!

Saturday is April 1, which is observed in many parts of the world as April Fools Day. On April Fools Day people play jokes and pranks on each other to share humor and laughs. Or they pretend silly things have happened and shout “April Fools!” to let others know they were joking. April Fools celebrations have been around for hundreds of years, though no one knows how they first began. Some historians have linked April Fools Day to festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March. Hilaria involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens (the word “hilaria” has the same origin as “hilarious”). One way people celebrate April Fools Day is by making up silly news stories as jokes, or turning real news stories into silly ones. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a news, sports or entertainment story that interests you. In the spirit of April Fools Day, rewrite the story by changing or adding facts in a humorous way. Share with family, friends and classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.