For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 26, 2022

1. Special ‘Little Mermaid’

“The Little Mermaid” movie has long been one of the most popular Walt Disney films — especially for girls. Now the animated classic is being remade as a live-action film designed to expand its appeal in a dramatic way. In the new film starring real people, the Little Mermaid character is being played by a Black actress instead of the White cartoon character of the original that came out in 1989. The selection of Halle Bailey to play the mermaid Ariel is a historic move for the Disney movie company. And it has been greeted with cheers by Black women and girls excited to see a woman of color playing the lead role. Many Black moms are so excited they have posted videos of their daughters seeing the preview film for the first time, the Washington Post newspaper reported. In the videos, little girls can be seen squealing with delight, dancing, shedding tears or proclaiming, “She’s Brown like me!” For the 22-year-old Bailey, “seeing these little babies’ reactions makes me so emotional,” she wrote on the Instagram website. “Thank you all for your unwavering support.” The new “Little Mermaid” movie is due out in May next year. As the star of the “Little Mermaid, Halle Bailey will be a role model for African American girls — and all girls. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another person who is a role model for others. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or classmate talking about the importance of having role models. Include role models who have inspired you, if you like.

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.

2. Hello, Fall

Fall officially has arrived in the United States. The first day of fall, or the Autumnal Equinox, occurred on Thursday, September 22 in America and other countries north of the Earth’s equator. On this day there are equal amounts of daylight and darkness (in the Latin language, the word “equinox” means “equal night”). Although it still feels summer-like in many parts of the country, there are many signs that fall is arriving. Some can be seen in nature, and some can be seen in the activities of people and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, photos, ads and other materials that include different signs of fall. Print or clip images and stories and create an artwork titled “Fall Is Here.” Write a paragraph explaining why you chose the images in your artwork and share with family, friends or classmates. For added fun, write a short poem, rap, or rhyme to go with your artwork.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; demonstrating understanding of figurative language.

3. Great Toys

What are the best toys you have ever played with? Everyone has favorites, but did you know there is a national museum that picks the best of the best? The National Toy Hall of Fame is run by the Strong Museum of Play to recognize toys that have changed children’s lives or been popular for many years. Each year, the Hall of Fame honors toys that have shown great innovation, promoted discovery or been “breakthrough” playthings that offered a new kind of play. This year 12 finalists have been announced by the Strong Museum, which is located in Rochester, New York. They include such popular favorites as Bingo, Breyer Horses, Masters of the Universe, Nerf Toys and Pound Puppies, plus Settlers of Catan, the Lite-Brite picture game, party Piñatas, the Phase 10 card game that is similar to rummy, the Racko card game, the Spirograph drawing game and spinning tops. This year’s winners will be announced in November. What toys from today do you think could end up in the National Hall of Fame? In the newspaper or online, find stories, photos or ads showing popular toys from today. Pick one and write a paragraph nominating it for the Hall of Fame and telling why it should be included. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Dogs and CATS

As odd as it sounds, dogs are CATS at Denver International Airport in the state of Colorado. How can that be? The dogs make up the airport’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad — or CATS — helping to calm and help nervous passengers waiting to fly. The word “canine” is an adjective referring to dogs, and the Denver squad includes 84 dogs from 33 breeds (and one real cat). This fall it was recognized as the largest in the world by the Guinness World Records organization, UPI News reports. The dogs provide comfort and help by patrolling the halls of the airport wearing plaid vests inviting travelers to “pet me.” “We are extremely proud of our CATS program,” airport leader Phil Washington told local TV station KUSA. “The continued growth of the program [shows] the positive impact it has on travelers.” Dogs and other animals do many things to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of an animal doing this. Use what you read to write a thank you letter to this animal from the person it helped. Be sure to include how having an animal provide the help made it special.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5.‘Super Floods’

Heavy rains and storms have caused severe flooding in the United States and other parts of the world this summer and fall. In the United States, more than 1,000 miles of coastline were left underwater by a typhoon storm that hit the state of Alaska, and in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico thousands of residents were left homeless by 30 inches of rain dropped by Hurricane Fiona. Perhaps the worst flooding, however, occurred in the Asian nation of Pakistan, where record rains caused “super floods” that left more than 3.4-million children in need of “immediate, lifesaving support.” That plea came from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an international organization that provides aid and support for children around the world. The floods were caused by record rains in Pakistan’s yearly monsoon season and have affected a total of 16-million children, CNN News reports. With schools and other facilities closed, “young children are living out in the open with their families with no drinking water, no food … exposed to a wide range of flood related risks and hazards,” said UNICEF’s representative in Pakistan. Many organizations in the United States and around the world provide help for children in need. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about one of these organizations. Hold a class discussion of ways your class, school or community could support this organization to provide help for the children of Pakistan or another nation.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.