For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 21, 2019

1. What a Feast!

When college football teams win the national championship, they get more than a trophy — they get an invitation from the President to visit the White House and celebrate. Clemson University won this year’s championship by crushing the University of Alabama in the national title game. And President Trump threw them a party they won’t soon forget. He served up an all-you-can-eat feast of fast food from popular restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Domino’s, and paid for it himself. The feast featured hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, filet-of-fish, pizzas and salads served on silver trays in the very fancy State Dining Room of the White House. The President said he decided to serve fast food because he figured it was “their favorite food.” And he bought a lot of it. “We have some very large people that like eating, so I think we're going to have a little fun,” said the president, who is a fast food fan himself. According to reporters, Clemson players “whooped” with excitement when they saw the feast. It was estimated to have cost about $3,000. President Trump said he chose fast food for the Clemson team because he felt it was “their favorite.” What kind of food would you serve if you were throwing a party for a sports team at your school? Search the newspaper and Internet for food and restaurant ads. Use what you find to make up a menu for your party feast. Write a paragraph explaining your choices.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

2. Giant Robots

Once upon a time, robots only existed in science fiction stories or movies. Now they are widely used in factories and laboratories and even help police in bomb emergencies. Soon they’ll be coming to a food store near you. The Giant Food Stores company has announced that robots will be put in place at 172 stores to improve safety by watching out for spills, messes and other hazards. The effort is the world’s largest use of robots in situations where they will have contact with the public. The Giant robots ARE giants — they stand 6-feet, 5-inches tall and have googly eyes and sensors to detect problems. They are all named “Marty” and programmed to move slowly so they won’t bump into people. When they detect a spill or hazard, their lights flash, and they notify the store public address system that human assistance is needed. Robots are being used more and more. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about robots. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing the robot in action. You can make your strips realistic, or use your imagination to create a story line. Share strips with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

3. A Barrel of Fun

At age 71, Jean-Jacques Savin has had his share of challenges in life. He once was a military paratrooper jumping out of airplanes. He also has competed in sports triathlons that test athletes’ skills in running, bicycling and swimming. This winter he is taking on a new challenge: attempting to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in a homemade barrel. The oversized barrel has no motor, and will rely on ocean currents to get it across the sea. Savin, who comes from the European nation of France, launched his barrel on December 26 from the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. His goal is to float on ocean currents until he reaches one of the nations in the Caribbean Sea south of the U.S. state of Florida. He expects to complete his 3,000-mile trip in about three months, despite being blown off course for several days by high winds at the start. Jean-Jacques Savin is having an adventure trying to float across the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person having an adventure. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining preparations that this person had to make before starting his/her adventure. Write a second paragraph telling whether you would like to have this adventure, and why.

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.

4. Seals and More Seals

In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the town of Roddickton-Bide Arm takes pride in its wildlife. It calls itself the “Moose Capital of the World,” but this winter it may have to change that to “The Harp Seal Capital.” In early January high tides and high winds drove dozens of the seals ashore in the town. After they got there, they couldn’t find their way back to the sea. Seals were everywhere: on roads, in driveways, along local streams. Harp seals spend winters in the waters off Newfoundland, which is the easternmost province of Canada. Wildlife officials feel this group may have come ashore from an ocean inlet next to Roddickton-Bide Arm, and gotten stranded when the inlet froze over. The problem is not a small one for the town: harp seals grow up to five feet long and weigh 300 pounds. Helping wild animals can be a challenge in some situations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a challenging situation of people trying to help wild animals. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor, commenting on what is being done or offering ideas on other things to try.

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.

5. Ice Circle

In many parts of the country, this is the season of snow and ice. But no place has had an odder experience than the city of Westbrook, Maine. This month, a giant circle of ice has formed in the Presumpscot River, and its width has grown to the length of a football field. It hasn’t moved from its position since it was first reported on January 14, although it slowly rotates in a counter-clockwise direction from the river currents. No one knows how long it will last, but local officials fear it could grow larger and eventually block the river. It’s already become a tourist attraction, and popular with wildlife. When one local businessman first saw the ice circle, he said “There were … ducks were rotating on this big Lazy Susan. It was a big duck-go-round.” Winter weather is often in the news for the situations and conditions it creates. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an unusual weather situation. Use what you read to create a public service ad for the newspaper, offering tips on how to stay safe when dealing with this weather situation.

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