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For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 03, 2022

1. Food for Students

An elementary teacher who loves her students gave them a huge and important gift this holiday season. She raised more than $100,000 to make sure they had good food to eat while schools were closed for the holiday break. Turquoise LeJeune Parker of Durham, North Carolina launched her fund-raising drive to provide food for low-income children who depend on schools for one or two meals a day when schools are open. She started at Lakewood Elementary School where she is a library teacher and expanded to 12 schools throughout the Durham Public Schools district. In the dozen schools, 98% of the students rely on the low-cost or free lunches provided by their school each day, CNN News reported. “We need to make sure we take care of our schools,” she said, “because when we take care of our schools, we’re taking care of our community.” In the holiday season — and throughout the year — many people do special things to help children and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor thanking the person for their efforts and pointing out how they could be a role model for other people who want to help children or families.

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. New Year Adventure

Explorer Edmund Hillary was one of the world’s great adventurers. On January 4, 1958, he reached the Earth’s South Pole after traveling through snow for hundreds of miles. A few years earlier, he had climbed to the top Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. If you were going to set off on a big adventure this year, where would you go? Using the newspaper for ideas, pick a country or area you’d like to visit. Use the newspaper, Internet or other resources to learn more about your pick. Then write a paragraph explaining why you’d like to go there.

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

3. A ‘True Millipede’

Millipedes are long, squiggly creatures that have hundreds of legs lined up two-by-two on their bodies. They get their name from two words in the ancient Latin language — “mille,” which means thousand, and “ped” (or “pes”), which means foot. Up to now, however, no millepede has actually had 1,000 legs, with specimens topping out at about 750. That has changed with the discovery of a millipede living 200 feet underground in the Southern Pacific nation of Australia, CNN News reports. The newly discovered species has a whopping 1,306 feet, making it the world’s first “true millipede” and the creature with the most legs of any species on Earth. The new true millipede is about 3.7 inches long and 4/100 of an inch wide, with 330 body segments and no eyes, scientists reported last month in the journal Scientific Reports. It was found in a hole drilled by a team exploring for minerals. Scientists are constantly discovering new things about wildlife and wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to draw a picture of the species, labeling important parts of its body. Write a paragraph explaining the importance of the discovery.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. A Farmer at 6

At 6 years old Kendall Rae Johnson has already decided the career she wants to have when she grows up. And she’s been recognized by the governor of her state for her ambitions. Kendall Rae operates a backyard garden at her home in Atlanta, Georgia, and she has been recognized by the governor as Georgia’s youngest certified farmer. Kendall Rae grows and sells all kinds of fruits and vegetables from her garden, and through her aGROWKulture business she teaches other kids how to plant and harvest. Each month, she also costars in a YouTube cooking show called Farm to Kitchen on which she makes recipes using freshly grown vegetables. As a young Black farmer, she says her goal is to “make new friends, make new things, and inspire other kids.” Like Kendall Rae Johnson, children often make news by doing unusual or impressive things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one child doing this. Pretend you are a news reporter and write out three questions you would ask him or her in an interview. Then write why you think readers would want to read or hear the answers.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Nature in a Building

In cities across the United States, buildings constructed to provide homes for people are usually solid towers of glass, steel, bricks and concrete. In the city of Denver, Colorado, a new residential building is making a big break with that design. It will have a nature trail cut into its floors and exterior to provide outdoor experiences for residents. In addition to 187 living units, the 16-story One River North building will include more than 13,000 square feet of natural features that residents can climb the way they might climb a mountain. “One River North is the model for how we should be living, surrounding ourselves in the natural environment [and] bringing nature into our homes,” said a designer of the tower, which is due to be completed in 2023. People who design new buildings often make an effort to provide “green spaces” for the people who live or work in them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a building or building group that is doing this. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing what benefits the green space adds to the building or the community where it is located.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

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