For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 09, 2020

1. Political Conflicts

The 2020 election has been one of the nastiest and most bitter in recent history. In ads and personal appearances, candidates put their opponents down in the meanest possible ways in an effort to build themselves up. This approach — called “attack” advertising and campaigning — was evident in contests ranging from the race for president to contests for the U.S. House and Senate to local and state competitions. It has created great conflicts between Democrats and Republicans, who now face the challenge of making government work for the people who elected them. Many voters are frustrated that politicians can’t put their conflicts aside after elections and have openly asked “can’t we just get along?” Resolving conflicts in politics is not that different from resolving conflicts caused by arguments, disputes and even fights in schools. With family or friends, talk about the ways that students are taught to resolve their conflicts at school. How could those approaches be used to resolve conflicts in politics? Use what you discuss to write a letter to the editor telling how the approaches used to resolve conflicts at school could help politicians resolve conflicts with their opponents after the election.

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.

2. Space Milestone

The International Space Station is one of the great examples of nations working together. And this fall, the station operated by the United States, Russia and other countries observed a major milestone — 20 years of humans living and working there. The first astronauts — one American and two Russians — began living on the station in November 2000, and astronauts from those and other nations have been working there continuously ever since. Orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, they have conducted thousands of experiments involving everything from how plants grow in space to how humans react to weightlessness. The space station, which is now the size of a football field, travels at about 17,500 miles per hour and circles the Earth every 90 minutes. The work of astronauts on the International Space Station ranges from making repairs to conducting science experiments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something the astronauts are doing on the space station. Write a paragraph explaining what the astronauts are doing, if it is something new and why it is important. Create a drawing to go with your paragraph if you like.

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.

3. Flying for a Home

People all over the world work together to help animals that need homes. But few do it in as big a way as an effort in the state of Hawaii this fall. Animal rescue groups recently teamed up with state emergency officials to airlift more than 600 dogs and cats to the mainland United States so that they could find homes. The airlift was largest animal rescue flight in history, according to Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency. The animals came from shelters across the Hawaiian Islands that were overcrowded because not enough homes could be found for them during the coronavirus emergency. The “Paws Across the Pacific” flight transported the adoptable animals to the city of Seattle, Washington, where volunteer groups and shelters picked them up to find them homes. Rescue shelters work hard to find homes for adoptable animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a shelter doing this. Use what you read to create an ad for the newspaper or Internet seeking people to provide homes for such animals. List things possible owners should be prepared to provide to provide good homes and give your ad an eye-catching headline. Illustrate your ad with an animal photo from the newspaper or Internet.

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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Snow Days

The coronavirus epidemic has forced schools to rethink how they operate and cut back on many traditions and activities. In the state of New Jersey, however, students in one school district will be happy to learn they won’t have to give up one tradition they love. The Mahwah Township Public School District has announced that even with online learning it will still declare snow days when there are big snowstorms. “Snow days are chances for on-site learners and virtual learners to just be kids by playing in the snow, baking cookies, reading books and watching a good movie,” the district said in a statement. Snow days give students a chance to have a day off from their school routine and just have fun. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, photos and ads showing people doing things that would be fun to do on a snow day or day off from school. Take the tune of a song you like and re-write the words to tell how these kinds of activities would be fun and rewarding to do on a snow day. Share or perform it for family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. All Those Cartoons!

Kids all over the world love cartoons, and know a lot about them. But none may know more than a boy in the Asian nation of India. Five-year-old Shrish Nirghav has set a new world record by identifying 50 different cartoon characters in one minute. Shrish identified characters ranging from Dora the Explorer to the Flintstones to Scooby Doo as fast as he saw them when flash card pictures were put in front of him, UPI News reported. The record was verified by the Guinness World Records organization, which released a video of Shrish’s big cartoon achievement. Most students have favorite cartoon shows or characters. In the newspaper or online, find cartoons and cartoon characters that you like. Write a letter to a friend or relative telling why you like the show or character and why you think your friend/relative would like it too.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.