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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 28, 2016

1. Kobe Socks

The Los Angeles Lakers are wearing Kobe Bryant socks in their games, the first time an NBA team has ever worn anything to honor a current player. The basketball superstar is retiring from the Lakers this summer after his 20th NBA season. The socks were produced by Stance, the league’s official on-court socks provider. They are a purple/gold/white/black set with the number 2 on the right and 4 on the left to mirror his uniform number 24. Fans often like to wear sports clothing that features the numbers or images of players they like. In the newspaper or online, find and read ads featuring this kind of sports gear. Pick one item you would like to have for yourself, a family member or a friend. Write a poem, rap or rhyme explaining what you like about this item and why you or someone else might like it.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Obama ‘Never Outgrew Peanuts’

Like many other fans, President Obama loves the “Peanuts” comic strip. And now the President has written the foreword to the 25th (and final) book in a series that has reprinted every “Peanuts” comic strip from 1950 to 2000, when the comic’s creator Charles Schulz died. “Like millions of Americans, I grew up with ‘Peanuts’,” Obama writes. “But I never outgrew it.” In newspapers and online, comic strips entertain and inform people. For kids, they are a great way to practice reading while being entertained, and almost everyone has a favorite. In the newspaper, find and read a comic strip that you find interesting for several days or a week. Then think like a “comic strip reviewer” and write a paragraph telling what you like about it and why. Be sure to give specific reasons you like the strip from what you have read and observed.

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.

3. Civil War Shipwreck

America’s Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but historians are still making new discoveries about it. This year, the wreckage of a southern Confederate ship was found off the coast of North Carolina in an area known for Civil War shipwrecks. Because the area is a “high energy” ocean environment, wrecks found there are often broken apart, but this one is “relatively intact,” experts say. The 226-foot-long wreck is believed to have been one of three Confederate ships trying to run through an ocean blockade set up by northern Union forces to cut off the of the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. It was found by using electronic sonar imaging and is the first Civil War wreck found in that area in decades. Shipwrecks reveal a lot about the past because water preserves artifacts that give a glimpse of life in earlier times. As a class, discuss what things historians could learn by studying the contents of a shipwreck. Then search the newspaper for items people use that would tell future historians the most from a shipwreck today. Write a paragraph explaining what each item would tell about the way we live.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task;

4. Risks to Fish

The number of fish in the world’s oceans has been cut in half since 1970, ocean conservationists report. Some food species — such as tuna, mackerel and bonito — are down almost 75 percent. The ocean experts say the changes have been caused by overfishing, plus coastal development, pollution, climate change and damage to coral reefs and mangrove swamps (which serve as nurseries for many fish). Mismanagement is pushing the oceans “to the brink of collapse,” the experts say. That could lead to a “massive, massive decrease in species” necessary to preserve ocean habitats and provide food for billions of people. The worldwide United Nations organization has set goals to end harmful fishing practices by 2020 and restore fish stocks “in the shortest time” possible. Efforts to restore fish populations in the world’s oceans will require the cooperation of many nations. As a class, find and closely read articles about efforts to build up the number of fish in the ocean and why that is important. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor of the newspaper, telling why it is important for nations to work together to correct the situation.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions

5. Terrible Handwriting

Martin Van Buren was the nation’s eighth president. He led the nation from 1837 to 1841, after serving for four years as President Andrew Jackson’s vice president. A project at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, has started to collect and organize his papers, but the job won’t be easy, according to the director. The reason? Martin Van Buren’s handwriting was terrible, making it hard to read and understand many of the papers. The goal of the project is to post online more than 13,000 of Van Buren’s documents, including speeches and letters. Libraries and universities often seek to preserve the papers, speeches, letters and videos of leaders and famous people so that students and historians will understand them better in the future. In the newspaper or online, find and read about a leader or famous person whom you think future historians would like to study. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why it would be important to preserve this person’s papers, speeches or observations — and what they could teach future historians.

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.