For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 27, 2023

1. School Lunch Success Story

The national school lunch program provides healthy meals to millions of students every day in schools across America. Run by the U.S. government, the program offers free or low-cost meals to students whose families cannot afford to pay full price. The program helps more than 30-million students a year, and a movie star who once benefited from it is now telling her story to help fight hunger in America. Star actress Scarlett Johansson has revealed how she was helped by the program as a child as part of her efforts today to support the Feeding America program. “My family relied on public assistance, and the meals I ate at school were part of the free school lunch program – which provides free breakfast and lunch to students from low-income families,” Johansson wrote in an Internet post for the organization. “These meals fueled my involvement in theater and the arts as a child, which fostered my love for acting.” Celebrities often offer public support of programs that help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a celebrity who is doing this. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining how the celebrity’s support helps the efforts of the program. Share and discuss as a class.

2. What a Gift!

The winter holiday season is a time of giving. People give gifts to children, family and friends, or make donations to organizations that do good in the community, or volunteer their time to help others. In a small town in the eastern state of New Hampshire a man who lived a quiet life gave his town a gift when he died this year — and it shocked and surprised his neighbors. Geoffrey Holt made it a point not to stand out in the town of Hinsdale, which has just 4,000 residents in the southwestern corner of the state. He lived in a trailer park. He was a retired teacher who later worked in a grain mill. He owned a car but never used it, preferring to get around on an orange riding lawnmower. But when he died at age 82 in June, he revealed there was a whole lot more to him than his appearance, the Washington Post newspaper reported. He left his town $3.8-MILLION that he had earned through careful investments. He had no children of his own and wanted to do something good for others. He asked that the town use the money for education, recreation, health and culture programs. If you could give a big gift of money to an organization, what type of group would you choose? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a group that deserves support for the way it helps people. Write a short editorial explaining what the group does and why it deserves support.

3. Animation Scare

Animated movies are popular with kids and families all over the world. They are made in a variety of ways, but all string together single images and present them quickly to create a sense of movement. Some of these images are painted by hand, others generated by computers and still others created by molding clay figures of characters and presenting them in different poses. This last approach is called “claymation,” and it requires very special skills. It also requires a lot of clay, which is similar to children’s Play-Doh. Fans of one of the most popular claymation projects got a scare this month when it was reported that the makers of the “Wallace and Gromit” movies might run out of clay because their supplier had gone out of business. That could put future “Wallace and Gromit” movies at risk, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported. Not so, said the Aardman Animations company that makes the films that tell stories about an inventor and his pet dog. “Absolutely no need to worry,” the studio said in a statement. The studio has “high levels of existing stocks of modeling clay to service current and future productions,” it said. Aardman is working on a full-length “Wallace and Gromit” movie to be released next year and previously has created four short movies and a second full-length film. Animated movies are popular with kids and families. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories or ads involving an animated movie you would like to see. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, inviting the friend to see the movie and telling him or her why you think it would be fun to see.

4. Bird Dinosaur

In recent years, scientists have learned that dinosaurs were ancient ancestors of today’s birds — and some even had feathers! Fossil discoveries have shown that modern birds descended from dinosaurs known as theropods, a group that included the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex. A new discovery in the Asian nation of Mongolia has further confirmed the connection between dinosaurs and birds. A fossil of a new species has shown that dinosaurs not only looked like modern birds; they may have behaved like birds as well. The fossil was discovered in a sleeping position with its head and long neck curled over its limbs and its tail wrapped around its body, CNN News reported. The position is similar to that of some species of modern birds when they are sleeping. “We’ve all seen ducks sleeping with their heads tucked under their wings,” said one dinosaur expert. “And then you see this little dinosaur with the exact same sleeping posture.”Scientists gave the new species a fierce name: Jaculinykus yaruui. “Jaculus” was a mythical dragon, and “onykus” means “claw” in the ancient Greek language. Fossil discoveries often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a recent fossil discovery. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing how the fossil was discovered and why the discovery is important.

5. A Lake in a Desert

Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places on Earth. In the summer, temperatures soar as high as 130 degrees on some days, and the sun bakes the desert soil as hard as a rock. This fall, however, a new and unusual attraction is drawing people to Death Valley National Park on the border between the states of California and Nevada in the American West. A lake has formed in an area known as Badwater Basin as a result of heavy rains last summer from Tropical Storm Hilary. The basin is the lowest place in North America with an area almost 300 feet below sea level, the New York Times newspaper reported. When Hilary dumped more than a year’s worth of rain in a matter of days, water rushed down from surrounding mountains and formed a lake in the basin almost overnight. The rains caused heavy damage to roads and forced the national park to close for nearly two months. When it reopened in October, tourists flocked from around the country to see water in the middle of a desert. Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower United States and covers an area as big as the entire state of Connecticut. Unusual weather often is in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an unusual weather event. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, describing how the weather affected people, wildlife or the environment.