For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 04, 2021

1. Masked Picture

All over the country, students are learning that masks can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, a first grader learned that lesson really well — and wouldn’t take his mask off even for picture day. Mason Peoples’ elementary school requires students to wear masks inside the building, and his mom told him he should keep his on except when he was eating. When picture day came around, the photographer told Mason it would be OK if he took his mask off for the few seconds it would take to shoot the photo. Mason politely but firmly said no. “I said ‘No thank you, my mom told me I can’t,’” Mason told CNN News. So Mason’s school picture shows him sitting proudly with his mask on in a matching blue shirt. Even with the mask, “you can see that twinkle in his eyes,” his mom said. “We have a family portrait wall where we put all our family portraits [and] that’s definitely going right in the center.” Mason Peoples is a person who “follows the rules,” whether for wearing masks or other things, his mother said. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of someone else following the rules. Write a letter to a parent or teacher telling what rules are being followed and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Oldest Ranger, at 100!

Betty Reid Soskin didn’t become a National Park ranger until she was 85, but in 15 years she has made her mark telling the stories of African Americans who contributed to America’s war effort during World War II. Among those stories are her own from when she served on the home front and experienced racial discrimination first-hand. Today, Soskin is the oldest ranger in the National Park Service at age 100, and she is still telling stories of inequality and the struggle for justice at The Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. The Home Front National Park is located on the site of huge shipyards that made ships for the United States in the war, and Rosie the Riveter was a symbol of women who worked in shipbuilding, weapons and other industries when men were fighting, the New York Times newspaper reports. But the stories of Black women and other women of color often have been overlooked, Soskin says in her talks at the park. At a time when she could be retired and living comfortably, she is making sure those stories still get told. “What gets remembered depends on who is in the room doing the remembering,” she has often said. Betty Reid Soskin tells stories about African American women who contributed to American life during World War II. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an African American woman contributing to American life today. Use what you read to write a two-minute presentation on the contributions of this woman, and why they are important.

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. Surprise Car

Across America, custodians are the unsung heroes of schools. They are front line workers who keep buildings and classrooms clean, and in the age of the coronavirus they keep them safe and disinfected as well. It’s not often custodians get special attention, but at an elementary school in the town of Locust Grove, Georgia it happened in a big way. Custodian Chris Jackson was so dedicated to his school that he walked more than four miles a day to get to and from work. When teachers learned that he hadn’t been able to save up enough money for a used car, they decided to solve his problem. They organized a fund-raising campaign on the Internet to raise $2,500 for a used Chevrolet Impala and presented it to him as a surprise. “I thought, ‘What? This is for me?’ ” Jackson recalled in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper. “Oh, my stars, there is a God. I never could have dreamed of something like this. Thank you all!” A video of the moment Jackson received the car was posted online and has been viewed more than 2-million times. The teachers at Chris Jackson’s school did something unusual to help someone who was important to their community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people doing something else to help someone who is important to the community. Write a letter to the editor telling what the people did for the person and why the person is special.

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

4. Giant Floating Violin

The European city of Venice, Italy is world famous for its canals and the gondola boats that carry people through them. This fall it hosted one of the most unusual boats its waters have ever seen. On a Saturday morning last month, a boat shaped like a giant violin floated down the city’s Grand Canal. And the special occasion didn’t stop there. The violin boat carried a string quartet of musicians playing the famous “Four Seasons” composition by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, who lived in Venice in the 1700s. The floating violin was created by local craftspeople to celebrate the “restarting” of art, culture and music after the city was forced to close down for months due to the coronavirus epidemic. It was named “Noah’s Violin” because like Noah’s ark in the Bible, it was meant to bring a message of hope after a storm. Its creators hope it will become a place to showcase local art and music in the city. Artists contribute to the community in many ways. In the newspaper or online find and study a story or photo of an artist helping make the community better or more interesting. Use what you read to write a short editorial calling attention to the artist’s efforts and why they make the community a better place to live.

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. Huge Penguin

A huge penguin discovered by a group of junior fossil hunters 15 years ago has been identified by scientists as a new species and a new link in the evolution of penguins in the South Pacific nation of New Zealand. The penguin stood about four and a half feet tall and lived between 27.3-million and 34.6-million years ago, scientists wrote recently in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Because the penguin had longer legs than modern penguins, scientists gave it the name Kairuku waewaeroa, which means “long legs” in Maori, the language of New Zealand’s Indigenous peoples. “The way the fossil penguin was discovered, by children out discovering nature, reminds us of the importance of encouraging future generations to become kaitiaki” guardians of nature, one scientist said. Fossil discoveries give scientists new information about people and wildlife that lived in the distant past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another fossil discovery. Use what you read to prepare a TV news report about the discovery, detailing how it was made and why it is important to scientists.

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