For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 09, 2023

1. Lunchroom Recycling

All over the nation, recycling is getting more and more attention as communities seek to reduce the amount of trash and garbage that pollutes the environment. At an elementary school in the city of Columbus, Ohio, students are even learning to recycle more at lunchtime in the cafeteria! As part of a city-wide program to reduce the amount of material sent to the local landfill, students at Horizon Elementary School are sorting and separating everything on their trays at the end of each meal to make sure it is dealt with properly. Clean paper and plastics go in a barrel for materials that can be Recycled, food wastes go in a barrel for Compost that can be broken down for use in gardens and only what is left goes in the barrel marked Landfill. Even the youngest students are learning which materials go in which barrel, and they are taking what they learn home to their parents, the New York Times newspaper reports. Day by day, they learn it’s easy to recycle properly. “It shouldn’t have to be a big deal,” one fifth grader said. Every family and school can reduce waste by recycling. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one successful recycling effort. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or family member outlining ways they could recycle more, and how this will help the community. Share and discuss 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 or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Soccer Superstar

As the recent World Cup tournament proved, soccer is one of the most popular sports in the United States and around the world. And the superstar Pele was one of the main reasons. Pele (pronounced PAY-lay) was the best player of his time and perhaps the best of all time. His style and skill playing what he called “the beautiful game” inspired millions of people to follow the sport or to play it themselves. He was one of the world’s greatest scorers, won a record three World Cups and dazzled fans and opponents for more than 20 years as a player. Born in the South American nation of Brazil, he developed his skills as a boy on the streets of Sao Paulo, where he would kick around a sock stuffed with newspapers or rags because he could not afford a ball. He carried Brazil teams to the highest levels of the sport and was a key figure making soccer popular in the United States and other nations. When he died late last month at the age of 82, he was celebrated as one of the most popular athletes of all time. Athletes can inspire people in many ways both on and off the field. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete who inspires people. Use what you read to write a short sports column telling how this athlete inspires fans, teammates or students your age.

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. Snowy Visitor

Snowy owls are beautiful birds made famous in the Harry Potter movies as the pet of the Young Wizard. This winter, a snowy owl has earned new fame by visiting the heart of the movie world in Southern California. The owl has turned up in the city of Cypress, just 30 miles from Hollywood’s movie studios and has excited residents of all ages with its size and bright white feathers. Snowy owls are birds of prey that usually live in wide-open tundra areas near the Earth’s North Pole, so it is “extremely rare” one has turned up in a place known for warm temperatures and palm trees. It may have been driven south by weather or hitched a ride on a boat traveling from the north. And it might have been attracted to the flat land of a National Guard airport in Cypress, which would look like the tundra from the air. However it got there, the owl has drawn great attention for its wing span of nearly 5 feet, it’s weight of nearly 5 pounds and a length of 25 inches. It is “absolutely ginormous,” said one resident who has seen it. Birds and other wildlife often make news by turning up in areas they don’t usually live. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a case in which this has happened. Use what you read to write a creative story about the journey that brought the bird or animal to the unusual area, and what challenges it might have experienced along the way.

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.

4. Keeping His Cool

Many people dream of how much fun it would be to learn to fly an airplane. But it is also a lot of responsibility, as a teenager from the state of California found out this winter. Just four months after getting his pilot’s license, 18-year-old Brock Peters had to make an emergency landing after his engine quit with his grandmother and two cousins on board. When the engine conked out, Peters put the plane down on an open area next to a two-lane highway in the San Bernardino National Forest east of the city of Los Angeles, CNN News reported. The plane was a single-engine Piper in the middle of a 45-mile flight from Apple Valley Airport to Riverside Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Throughout the emergency, Peters remained calm, officials said. “I can hear my grandma crying in the back,” Peters told local TV station KCBS/KCAL. “I’m like, ‘I've got to tune her out, focus on what I need to do and get this plane down safely and make sure everybody is OK.’” People often have to deal with unexpected emergencies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone dealing with an emergency. Use what you read to make an oral report to the class about how the person responded to the emergency, what skills were needed and what the person needed to focus on the most.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. ‘Tandem’ Triumph

The word “tandem” means “together” or “in pairs,” and it indicates people are working as a team. A married couple from the European nation of Great Britain certainly know the meaning after riding a tandem bicycle around the world in 180 days. Laura Massey-Pugh and Stevie Massey started their journey last summer and traveled 18,000 miles through 21 countries on their worldwide trip, UPI News reported. A tandem bike features seats one in front of the other, and the couple have been riding them together since their very first date. They are both experienced long-distance bicyclists, and they needed those skills on their worldwide trip. They had to overcome rain, heat and even snow to complete their round-the-world journey, which they believe is a record for a male-female “mixed” team. They have applied for recognition for their effort from the Guinness World Records organization. People often do unusual things in efforts to set world records. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a short, rhyming poem about their effort or achievement. Your poem can be humorous or serious. Read your poem aloud, with good expression!

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; 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.