For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 19, 2020

1. Feel Better — Smile!

Across the nation and around the world, face masks are widely recommended as the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But they also cause frustrations that have nothing to do with health and germs. One of the big things users don’t like is that masks cover people’s faces so you can’t see what emotions they are feeling. People miss seeing if others are smiling, and being able to show their smiles to others, mental health experts say. So what should you do? Keep smiling! Even with a mask, others can see you are smiling through the expression of your eyes, experts say. The eyes narrow when you give a big smile and the cheeks rise up toward your eyes. People will notice. And YOU will feel better because you are smiling. Smiling releases impulses in your brain that make you feel good and help improve your mood. To share your good feelings even more, experts say, give a nod, a wave or a “hello” when you’re smiling behind your mask. Everyone will feel better. Even with masks, smiling has many benefits. Use a mirror to practice smiling with a mask on. Notice how your eyes change when you smile. Then search the newspaper or Internet for pictures of people wearing masks. Which ones do you think are smiling under their masks? Use what you see to write a poem, rap or rhyme on the theme “Keep Smiling!” Share with friends, family or classmates.

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

2. Smaller Turkeys

Thanksgiving is just over a month away, and already families are thinking about what kind of meal they’ll serve. There’ll be turkey, of course, for most families. But how MUCH turkey? With the coronavirus emergency, most families will be having fewer people for Thanksgiving dinner for safety reasons. And fewer people means less turkey. Should cooks buy smaller turkeys? Or just turkey parts like breasts or drumsticks? Farmers who grow turkeys are having to make the same kinds of choices when deciding how to offer turkey to Americans for their Thanksgiving feasts. They expect fewer families will order big birds this year, so they are harvesting their birds earlier so they’ll be smaller. And they are considering a variety of ways to offer parts that will appeal to cooks and their families. What kind of Thanksgiving dinner is your family having this year? In the newspaper or online, search the grocery ads for foods you would like to have. Make up a menu for the number of people your family expects to have. List the prices for the food you would like to buy. Add up the total to figure the cost of this ideal Thanksgiving dinner.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

3. A Wedding Surprise

When people get married, they often plan special events to make the day memorable. In the Asian nation of India, a couple got married in September and hosted a feast for 500. The “guests” weren’t people, however. They were stray dogs. When Eureka Apta and Joanna Wang got married, they teamed up with an animal shelter to feed about 500 stray dogs in their city. On their wedding day they brought food and medical supplies to the Ekamra shelter and helped conduct a city-wide drive to feed the strays. Apta and Wang first learned of the shelter when a friend brought a stray dog there. “We were so inspired.” Apta said. “When we decided to get married … we decided to do a simple wedding and make it grand for the animals.” All over the world people do things to help animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling what help was given to animals, why it was important and how it could inspire others to help animals. Finish your letter by writing a way people could help animals in your community.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. She’s in Charge

When people are trailblazers in their field, they often have to put in extra hours to achieve success. Kate McCue, who is America's first female captain of a giant cruise ship, has really been putting in the extra hours since the coronavirus emergency shut down the ocean cruise industry. She was at sea from December until last weekend when she finally got to go ashore and see her husband. That was more than 310 days straight in charge of the cruise ship Celebrity Edge, most of it spent at anchor in the nation of the Bahamas south of the U.S. state of Florida. The 42-year-old McCue has been captain of a “mega” cruise ship since 2015. Before taking over the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge, she was in charge of the 2,158-passenger Celebrity Summit. She is one of just five women to command mega cruise ships in the world and hopes to inspire other women to follow in her footsteps. “I hope that when people look at me, they see that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, you put in the time … and have a good attitude,” she says. As captain of the cruise ship Celebrity Edge, Kate McCue has to perform tasks ranging from steering the ship to directing the crew to ensuring that passengers are safe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another woman who has to do many things in her job. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend detailing what skills are needed to do a job that involves many tasks.

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. Reward for Smart Eating

To reduce food waste, the Asian nation of China has launched a “Clean Your Plate Campaign” to encourage students and others to take no more than they can eat at meals and to eat all they choose. At a university in Central China, cafeterias are offering a bonus to students who follow the rules. Students who turn in a clean plate, get a serving of free fruit as a reward. Each cafeteria offers more than 1,600 pounds of fruit per day and students can choose from apples, oranges, pears or other varieties. They appear to like the reward system. “I have to say the reward is a good [idea] for me,” one student said on the Sina Weibo website. “I used to not care very much about how much food I take from the buffet, but now I will think twice about the amount I can finish.” Food waste is a problem in many communities. So is getting students and others to eat healthy meals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a school working to solve one of these problems. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a public service TV ad offering ideas on how schools can get students to waste less food or eat healthier meals.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusion;