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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 05, 2022

1. Holiday Season

December has arrived, so that means it’s time to get the holiday spirit. Three major holidays are celebrated in December — Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. And for many people, that means giving and receiving gifts. As a class, talk about favorite gifts you have given or received in the past. Then use ads in the newspaper or online to find gifts you would like to give family and friends, and gifts you would like receive. Don’t worry about prices when doing your “shopping,” but think carefully about the reasons you would like to give or receive the gifts you choose. Make a list of gifts you would choose for family or friends and write a reason for choosing each one. Then make a list of gifts you would like to receive and write a reason for each. Share lists with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. White House Decorations

One of the things people look forward to at this time each year is seeing how the White House will be decorated for the holidays in Washington, DC. As the home and workplace of the President and First Lady, the White House gets special attention not only for the beauty of the decorations but for the message they offer the nation and the world. The theme is picked by the First Lady, and this year Jill Biden chose “We the People.” Those words are taken from the first lines of the U.S. Constitution and reflect the First Lady’s belief that the White House is “the People’s House.” To show this, some of the 77 Christmas trees on display are decorated with mirrors, so that visitors can see themselves as part of the White House celebration. Other trees are decorated with self-portrait drawings created by students of the 2021 Teachers of the Year from across the country. “The First Lady specifically wanted the project to include self-portraits, because she wanted kids to see themselves in the holiday decor[ations],” said a White House spokeswoman. More than 50,000 people are expected to visit the White House to view the decorations this holiday season. As a teacher, First Lady Jill Biden wanted to include children’s drawings as part of the White House holiday decorations. In the newspaper or online, find a story or photo of a person you would like to draw to be part of the decorations. Draw a picture of this person, and write a sentence explaining why you chose him or her. For added fun, draw a picture of yourself for the White House celebration.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Double Volcano

Volcano eruptions are among the most dramatic events in the natural world. They happen when pressure builds up on hot, liquid rock called magma inside the Earth, forcing it through the outer layer of the Earth’s crust. This month the world’s biggest active volcano erupted in the U.S. state of Hawaii — and it gave Hawaiians a double dose of volcano excitement. The eruption of the giant Mauna Loa volcano happened next door to the volcano Kilauea, which has been erupting for more than a year on Hawaii’s Big Island. Just 21 miles apart, the two volcanoes have not erupted together since 1984, CNN News reported. Neither volcano is threatening homes, roads or other structures at this time, according to officials of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. Yet with lava and gases soaring as high as 200 feet in the air, the Mauna Loa eruption is causing dangerous volcanic fog — known as “vog” — that affects air quality. Mauna Loa, whose name means “long mountain,” rises 13,679 feet above sea level (2.5 miles) and about 30,000 feet from the ocean floor, according to the National Park Service. Volcano eruptions are a natural event that can have great impact on the surrounding area. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another natural event that is affecting people and the environment. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper on the cause and impact of this natural event. Print or clip photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your paper.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A First for Space

The European Space Agency (ESA) is the continent of Europe’s version of America’s NASA space agency. And like NASA, the ESA is doing new things in space every year. This month, the European agency announced it has done something no space agency has ever done before. It has selected a person with a physical disability to train to be an astronaut. John McFall, a 41-year-old British paralympic runner who now works as a doctor, is one of 17 candidates chosen from 22,500 applicants to join the space agency’s 2022 astronaut class, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The members of the class now will go through one year of basic training in space technology, science and medicine before entering training for service on the International Space Station orbiting above the Earth. McFall, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident at age 19, is a former sprinter who represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games — and won a bronze medal for finishing third. People with disabilities — or “different abilities” — often make news for doing unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a person doing something special. Use what you read to write a short editorial, telling how this person’s achievement could inspire others.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Save Those Memories

In the holiday season families get together for meals or special events and make memories that they will look back on with smiles and warm feelings. In the state of Missouri, a woman with a big family has come up with an unusual way to preserve those memories. Every Thanksgiving, Deb Mills asks everyone who comes to dinner to sign their name on her holiday tablecloth in colored marker. Then she uses thread of the same color to make those signatures permanent with a sewing skill called embroidery. She started the tradition 22 years ago, and since then she has added dozens of names to her tablecloth, TV station KAKE reports. She uses a different colored thread and marker for each year, so she can tell which guests she had for each holiday. The tradition strengthens family connections, she says, and that’s what is most important to her. “We are so blessed with such a great family,” she says. “Families are of extreme importance, and making memories and traditions that carry on to the next generation [is] irreplaceable.” At every holiday, families do things that they will remember happily in years to come. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a family doing something they will remember this way. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling why this family’s activity will become a special memory. Talk as a class about some of your favorite holiday memories. What made them special?

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.