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For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 10, 2023

1. To the Moon!

With the Artemis II space program, the United States is making plans to fly astronauts back to the moon for the first time in 50 years. Last week America’s NASA space agency announced the four astronauts who will make up the first crew of an Artemis moon mission in November 2024. The crew will include three American astronauts and an astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency of the neighboring nation of Canada. Commander of the crew will be G. Reid Wiseman, 47, a captain in the U.S. Navy who previously served as NASA’s chief astronaut and spent 165 days in orbit aboard the International Space Station in 2014. Pilot of the mission will be Victor J. Glover, Jr., 46, the first Black man assigned as a crew member on the space station who spent 168 days on the orbiter and participated in four spacewalks. Mission specialists on the flight will be NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency. Koch, 44, holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman — 328 days — and performed the first three all-women spacewalks with astronaut Jessica Meir in 2019 and 2020. Hansen, 47, is a fighter pilot and one of four active Canadian astronauts. He will be making his first space flight as part of the Artemis II mission. The Artemis II mission to the moon requires a lot of planning by the NASA space agency. Other activities also require careful planning. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an event or activity that interests you. Pretend you are a planner for this event. Write out five things that need to be carefully planned in advance for the event to be successful.

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.

2. Special Lullaby

When children are frightened or upset, music often can help them calm down and feel better. That’s why mothers around the world sing lullaby songs to their children to help them relax at bedtime. In the Middle East nation of Syria, a special lullaby is being used to help children deal with the fear and stress of living in a country at war. Life in Syria has been disrupted by a civil war within the nation since 2011, and children have had to grow up hearing the sounds of bombs, gunshots, warplanes and soldiers fighting with each other. On top of that, a huge earthquake hit Syria in February, destroying many neighborhoods and towns. To help children deal with the stress of all these events, Syrian radio stations have started broadcasting the special lullaby “Close Your Eyes” every evening to help children across the country fall asleep. The lullaby was written and recorded by Syrian singer Ghaliaa Chaker as part of the Frequencies of Peace lullaby project, CNN News reports. The 24-year-old singer recorded the lullaby in the Arabic language spoken in Syria. It is broadcast every night at 8 p.m. so that it can be heard in homes, neighborhoods and refugee camps from radios and from speakers mounted on top of cars and trucks. Music can help children calm down and feel better when they are frightened or upset. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a situation that could make children upset in some way. Choose a song you know or like that you think would calm the children in the situation and make them feel better. Write a paragraph telling why you chose this song and how it would help.

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.

3. Pop-Up Fun

All across America, communities are looking to create open spaces where children and families can enjoy the outdoors. In many places that is difficult and expensive because there are few open spaces that can be turned into parks or playgrounds. In New York City an organization called Street Lab is offering a solution to that problem. It is providing “pop-up” parks, play zones and reading rooms that can be set up in closed-off streets for short periods of time, the New York Times newspaper reports. The pop-ups offer children’s activities, art projects and reading rooms that can be enjoyed by families and other residents for a day or less, and then taken down and moved to another location. The program, which is supported by the New York City government, ran 353 pop-ups across the city last year. “Everything we do is designed to be pop-up,” the executive director of Street Lab says. “Here today, gone tomorrow.” From restaurants to play zones, pop-up attractions are growing in popularity in many communities. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an outdoor space in your community or state. Use what you see to brainstorm an idea for a pop-up attraction that would be fun for children and families. Share your ideas as a class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific visual or textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Deep, Deep Fish

The world's oceans are home to 20,000 species of fish, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They also live in drastically different depths and temperatures. Off the coast of the Asian nation of Japan, scientists recently took videos of fish living deeper in the Pacific Ocean than ever seen before. A team of scientists captured video of a young snailfish swimming near the bottom of an ocean trench more than 27,000 feet (5 miles) below the surface, CNN News reported. Previously, the deepest snailfish ever spotted in the Pacific was at 25,000 feet. In addition to setting a record for filming, the scientists captured two snailfish at a deeper depth than ever before in the Pacific Ocean. The two fish were captured at a depth of more than 26,000 feet, the first time any fish had been captured in the Pacific below that depth. While snailfish also live in shallower water, young fish in the species stay as deep as possible to avoid being eaten by bigger predators. The world record holder for depth among fish is a species of cusk-eel observed and collected in the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean at a depth of 27,455 feet. Scientists are constantly making new discoveries about fish and other marine life and learning more about species that live in the world’s oceans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery such as this. Use what you read to design a poster or artwork showing what was discovered, how it was discovered and why that is important to scientists and other people.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. A Giant Egg Tradition

The European nation of France is known for its cooking feats and achievements. But every year around the Easter holiday, a small town there does something that is a tradition like no other. The town of Bessières collects 15,000 eggs, cracks them into a giant frying pan and creates an enormous omelet to feed to residents and visitors gathered in the town square. All for free. The giant omelet is the featured attraction of a yearly festival established by a local food organization that calls itself, not surprisingly, the World Brotherhood of the Knights of the Giant Omelet. The festival, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, features a parade and musical performances along with the omelet and attracts visitors from all over the world. It is quite a show. At 6 a.m. on the Monday after Easter, chefs start cracking eggs and mixing them with giant amounts of salt, pepper and French herbs, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Then a dozen gallons of duck fat is placed in a 13-foot frying pan that weighs more than a ton and has a handle made from a telephone pole. The omelet is cooked over a wood bonfire and then served with French bread to those who have gathered. “It’s a story of friendship,” the president of the omelet brotherhood said. “It’s a story of sharing.” Many communities have spring traditions like the omelet festival in the town of Bessières. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a spring festival in your community or state. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, inviting him or her to attend the festival with you. Be sure to list the attractions included in the festival and how they would be fun to do together.

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