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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 14, 2020

1. ‘Double Planet’

Jupiter and Saturn are the two largest planets in the Earth’s solar system, and this month they are coming so close together in the night sky they are forming what’s being called a “double planet.” Now through December 21 they will move closer and closer until they will look like a “super-sized” star in the western sky, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The two planets have not appeared to be this close in nearly 800 years. Though they will appear to be almost touching when viewed from Earth, Jupiter and Saturn actually will be about 450-million miles apart in space. They appear close together because of the way they line up with Earth in their orbits around the sun. The planets Saturn and Jupiter look similar in the sky, but they are very different from each other. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Saturn and Jupiter. Use what you read to write a paragraph for each, telling the most interesting and important facts about them. Share your findings with family, friends or classmates.

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. The Mountain Grew

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and it just got a little bit taller. The Asian nations of China and Nepal have agreed that the mountain that sits on their border is 29,032 feet tall, or about 5.5 miles. The new height, which came after years of on-foot surveys and satellite and GPS calculations, is nearly three feet taller than the height that had been accepted for Everest since the 1950s. Mount Everest is considered the greatest challenge in the world for mountain climbers, and its summit can be reached from either Nepal or China. Scientists who study geography are always looking to learn new things about natural features like mountains, hills, grasslands, forests, rivers and lakes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about scientists studying one of these natural features. Write a letter to a friend or classmate, explaining one thing scientists have learned about this natural feature and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Fun Holiday Words

The holiday season is an exciting and fun time, and one of the ways people share their excitement is the language they use to describe it. The season just begs to be described by colorful adjectives (“sparkling,” “glowing”), adverbs (“brightly,” “magically”) or verbs (“celebrate,” “wish” or “believe”). To get in the holiday spirit, write out the alphabet on a sheet of paper. Then use the newspaper and Internet to search for holiday adjectives, adverbs or verbs that start with each letter. You can list more than one for any letter, but try to find at least one for each letter. Then use your adjectives, adverbs and verbs to write a holiday poem, rap or song. Make it exciting or fun and give it an eye-catching title. Share with family, friends or classmates.

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.

4. Art to Smile About

Art can touch people in many ways. And sometimes art that starts out as a joke can have far-reaching effects. In the European nation of England, a dad named Phil Heckels started drawing cartoons of the family dog as a way to inspire his son to create thank-you cards for others. For fun, he decided to post the pictures on his Facebook page with the note: “For sale: Beautiful hand-drawn pictures of your favorite family pets.” As a joke he suggested a price of $400. To his total surprise, requests started pouring in for his odd and funny portraits. He started filling orders and told people to donate to a local homeless charity instead of paying him. By this month he had raised more than $47,000! “I can’t get my head around the fact that so many people seem to like what I’m doing,” he told CBS News. “ … I think the honest answer is they make people smile.” Cartoons and comic strips are two kinds of art that make people smile. In the newspaper or online, find and study different examples of cartoons and comics. Use what you find to draw a cartoon or comic of your own that you think will make people smile. You can draw pets, friends, celebrities, favorite activities or something else. Give your comic/cartoon a fun title and share with family and friends.

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

5. That’s a Cheesy Pizza!

If you like your pizza with extra cheese, you might want to try the pie cooked up by a chef in the European city of Lyon, France. Chef Benoit Bruel has set a new Guinness World Record by making a pizza that contains 254 varieties of cheese! The oh-so-cheesy pizza uses just enough of each cheese to qualify for the record, according to a video released by Guinness. While the neighboring country of Italy is famous for its pizzas, Bruel said it was fitting the cheese record was set in France, because France is world famous for its cheeses, according to UPI News. Pizza is a favorite food for many people. What are some of your favorite foods? In the newspaper or online, find stories, ads or photos of foods that you like. Use what you find to create a menu of Favorite Foods to share with friends. Try to include at least one food for a first course, one for a main course and one for a dessert. For added fun, write descriptions of your foods as if they were on a restaurant menu.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; writing informative/explanatory texts.