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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 30, 2023

1. PANDA BEARS HEADED HOME

There are only a few weeks left to see the three giant pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub Xiao Qi Ji will return to China in mid-November. President Richard Nixon arranged a zoo exchange program with the Chinese government about 50 years ago, but the deal comes to an end this winter. After the current trio return to China, the National Zoo plans to negotiate another giant panda program with the China Wildlife Conservation, but until then, the last giant pandas left in the United States will be at the Atlanta Zoo. China has sent 65 pandas to 19 countries through cooperative research programs—they return to China when they reach old age, and any cubs are sent to China at age 3 or 4. Using reference books in your classroom or the internet, research giant pandas, including where they live in the wild, what they eat, and how many are left in the world. Why do you think it would be beneficial for China to send their giant pandas around the world? Write a paragraph about what you think, using at least 2 facts you learned from your research in your answer.

2. STATUE TRANSFORMED

A state of Robert E. Lee, who was a general for the Confederacy during the Civil War, was melted down to be repurposed into new works of art. The statue was the subject of a deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when it was suggested that it be taken down. The Charlottesville City Council voted in 2021 to donate the statue to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, a Black history museum, to repurpose it into works of art that “express the city’s values of inclusivity.” Two groups sought to preserve the statue, but a judge ruled that it should be turned over to the heritage center as planned. Write a paragraph that summarizes the facts of this story.

3. EXPENSES RISING

Many Americans are struggling to save money right now. About 66 percent of adults say their household expenses, like costs of housing, food, electricity, and more, have gone up in the past year, but only 25 percent say their income has gone up in the same time period. Only 15 percent say their household savings have gone up from last year. About 25 percent of people also say they aren’t confident they can keep up with their expenses. One of the big factors is inflation, which is where the cost of items increases, but people’s income doesn’t increase at the same rate. Explain what inflation is, in your own words, and write an example from real life.

4. PUMPKIN PRO

With Halloween happening this week, the New York Times interviewed a professional pumpkin carver. Adam Bierton carves more than 100 pumpkins each fall, etching into the orange gourds instead of cutting straight through them like a typical jack-o’-lantern. He appeared on Food Network’s “Halloween Wars,” helping his team win the competition show in 2015. There are fewer than twenty professional carvers like Bierton in the United States. For most of the fall, he does live events, like at the New York Botanical Garden, where he carves pumpkins in front of audiences. Look up examples of Adam Bierton’s pumpkin carvings online. Then, write down at least five questions you’d ask if you were interviewing him about his pumpkin work.

5. BIRDS OF A FEATHER

A flock of swans in Florida are descended from a pair of mute swans given by Queen Elizabeth II to the city of Lakeland in 1957. Every year, members of the flock are rounded up for an annual physical, where a veterinarian examines them, checking their weight and making sure they’re healthy. The flock is now 50 swans large and has become an icon of the city of Lakeland. Read more about the swans in this article from last year, then write a paragraph that summarizes the facts of this story. Draw a picture to go along with it!

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