For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 12, 2020

1. Community Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles have been around as entertainments for longer than the United States has been a nation. Invented by a mapmaker in 1760, jigsaw puzzles feature pictures or photographs cut into odd shapes that users have to piece together. They are an activity friends and families can do together, and now they have brought a whole community together in the state of Massachusetts. To give people a fun activity while they stayed at home during the coronavirus emergency, a store called Eureka! Puzzles distributed 10 parts of a 40,320-piece puzzle to community members in the town of Brookline with the goal of completing the giant puzzle together. Each part of about 4,000 pieces featured a scene from a popular Disney movie such as “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” or “Cinderella,” the Washington Post newspaper reported. Users shared their progress on the Internet and encouraged each other when they were struggling. It was a way to bring people together and “create something that is bigger than any one of us,” said store owner David Leschinsky. Jigsaw puzzles can be made from any picture. In the newspaper or online, find and print out a picture that interests you. Glue the picture to a thin piece of cardboard and cut it into odd shapes. Share with family or friends, but don’t tell them what the picture is about. Write a paragraph offering clues that would help them figure out the subject of the picture. (Note: If you don’t have cardboard, you can just cut out the paper printout.)

Common Core State Standards: 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. Fat Bears

To survive through the winter months, bears hibernate and sleep in their dens. They live off the fat in their bodies, so they have to be really fat before winter arrives. To teach people about bears and hibernation, the Katmai National Park in the state of Alaska holds a Fat Bear Week each year in which people vote to crown the fattest bear of all. This year’s winner is a male brown bear named Bear 747, who has been chowing down on salmon fish throughout the summer and fall. Bear 747, which has the same name as a jumbo jet, ate so much he could have started hibernating at the end of July, CNN News reported. His stomach was sagging with extra fat and he just kept eating and eating, park officials said. With all those extra pounds he easily topped the second-place finisher, another brown bear named Chunk. Animals prepare for winter in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of animals that do special things to get ready for winter. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or classmate telling what one animal does to prepare for winter. Compare what the animal does to things your family does to prepare for winter.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Halloween Creativity

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the year, and people are going to great lengths to preserve it. With health officials giving a thumbs down to face-to-face trick-or-treating and costume parties due to the coronavirus, people are getting creative to preserve the fun and still keep people safe. In the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, a Halloween lover has invented a special “candy chute” that can deliver treats from his front door to kids waiting on the street below. In Centreville, Virginia, a farmer created a drive-through “hayride” in which families can enjoy Halloween sights and sounds without getting out of their car. And in the city of Tokyo, Japan, a parking garage has been converted into a “haunted house” that lets visitors experience a “zombie attack” while practicing social distancing in their parked automobiles. With a little creativity familiar places can be turned into safe Halloween attractions. With family, friends or classmates, use the newspaper or Internet to find a photo of a familiar building or place in your neighborhood or community. Brainstorm a way this place could be turned into something scary or fun for Halloween. Give your place a name and design an ad for the newspaper or Internet that would make people want to visit your attraction. Make sure your ad tells how the place would be safe for visitors.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Support in the Skies

When people do outstanding things for themselves or others, it’s often said they soar “to great heights” in their efforts. A teenager from the state of Virginia has done exactly that while taking flying lessons during the coronavirus emergency. T.J. Kim, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from McLean, Virginia, is using his lessons to fly medical safety equipment like gloves, masks and gowns to rural hospitals outside cities in the states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. He even has created a charity group called Operation Supplies Over the Skies (SOS) to collect donations for his efforts. Through September, Kim had completed 17 missions and delivered 58,000 items to hospitals in need. For his efforts he was honored by President Trump at the White House. People often find ways to use their skills to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who is doing this. Write a letter to the editor telling how this person is helping and asking people how they could use their skills to help others. Finish by talking with family or friends about skills that you have that could be used to help people in your community. Your skills could be used in big ways or small ways.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. A City Saved

The European city of Venice, Italy, is built on a series of islands connected by canals and a lagoon next to the Adriatic Sea. It’s known for flooding, when high tides from the Adriatic overflow the lagoon and cover streets and squares in the lowest parts of town. Venice has been battling these high tides for more than 1,000 years, and this month it seemed at last to have found success. A series of barrier gates constructed at the edge of the lagoon successfully blocked high tides from the Adriatic from entering the city. The gates, which were raised when the tides were predicted, kept areas that would have flooded in the past from getting wet. “This was a historic day for Venice,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told CNN News. Flooding is a problem that is often in the news, especially during high tides or severe weather. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about flooding affecting an area. Use what you read to write a short editorial offering tips on how people can stay safe when flooding occurs.

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.