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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 03, 2018

1. White House Decorations

Every year, the holiday decorations at the White House draw national attention. This year is no exception. First Lady Melania Trump has filled the residence of the President’s family with a glittery display of Christmas trees, lights and bows to celebrate “American Treasures.” The First Lady designed the displays herself, and they were assembled by her staff and volunteers. Among the highlights: 20,000 feet of lights, 14,000 ornaments, 12,000 bows, a gingerbread house made from 225 pounds of dough and a forest of 40 bright red Christmas trees on the East Colonnade porch. Decorations also put a spotlight on the First Lady’s “Be Best” program for children with wreaths made of Be Best pencils and ornaments showing the Be Best logo. Displays of holiday decorations are a big attraction every December. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos of holiday displays in your community or others. Use what you read to write a creative holiday story for children your age or younger. Have your story take place in one or more of the displays you saw pictured. Give your story a title that would make children want to read it.

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

2. InSight on Mars

Because it is next out from Earth in the solar system, the planet Mars has gotten a lot of attention from America’s NASA space agency. Scientists say it is the planet most like Earth, and learning how it formed could shed light on Earth’s early history. Mars also may have once supported life as Earth does today. This month NASA successfully landed a space probe that could provide new information about the history of Mars. The InSight landing craft will study the “underworld” of the so-called Red Planet to learn what causes tremors called “marsquakes,” how thick the planet’s outer layer is and the size of the planet’s hot, molten liquid core. InSight landed on a flat area just north of the planet’s equator. The InSight mission seeks to gather new information about the planet Mars. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another mission seeking to gather new information about our solar system. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or relative telling why the mission is important. Explain the mission in simple terms so that your friend will fully understand it.

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

3. Banana Love

Everyone needs support and encouragement. That’s especially true of students, and in the state of Virginia they are getting it from an unusual source. Bananas. Or more exactly, bananas specially prepared by the cafeteria manager at Kingston Elementary School in the city of Virginia Beach. Each school day, Stacey Truman writes messages of support on the 60 or so bananas the cafeteria serves every day. “Shoot for the moon,” she may write. “Dream big.” “Be yourself.” “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Truman got the idea for banana writing when preparing lunches for her own daughters, now 10 and 7. This year she expanded it to her extended school family, the Washington Post newspaper reports. “Whenever I can put a smile on all of those little faces, I’ve done my job,” she says. There are many ways to offer support to other people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone offering support in an unusual or special way. Use what you read to write a personal column or essay, telling how you think the person getting support felt as a result. Include how you would feel if you got that kind of support.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. What a Gift!

The holiday season is a time for getting gifts from friends and family. But a man from the state of South Dakota got a gift from a total stranger — and he still can’t believe it. Twenty-year-old Hunter Shamatt lost his wallet while flying to his sister’s wedding in Las Vegas, Nevada. It contained $60 in cash, a $400 paycheck from his job as a carpenter and, most importantly, his bank and identification cards. He thought it was gone forever. But the day after he returned home, he got a package in the mail. A man had found the wallet between the seats of the plane Shamatt had flown. He returned everything inside, and added a bonus of 40 extra dollars. “I rounded your cash up to an even $100 so you could celebrate getting your wallet back,” wrote the man, later identified as Todd Brown of Omaha, Nebraska. “Have Fun!!!” Holiday gifts often involve money or presents. But they also can involve actions and things people do for others. As a class, talk about things you or your classmates could do as gifts that don’t involve money or presents. Then make a plan on your own to do something for a relative, an elderly person or a neighbor as a holiday gift. Write out what you would do, how you would do it, and how you would explain it to the person receiving your gift.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Football Excitement

The regular season has ended for college football, and now excitement is building for bowl games and the playoffs for the national championship. The teams that qualify will have to do a lot to top one of the last regular season games, however. Texas A&M and Louisiana State played SEVEN overtimes before A&M prevailed by the whopping score of 74-72. There were many great performances in the game, led by the quarterbacks for the two teams. A&M’s Kellen Mond threw six touchdown passes and ran for another. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more. Sports performances are often exciting. And sport writers choose words to show that excitement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an exciting sports contest. Write down every word the writer used to convey the excitement of the contest. Look especially for verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Share lists as a class. Present your words as if they were a poem to show some real excitement!

Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.