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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 19, 2011

1. A Cold Winter

Terrible weather battered the troops of General George Washington 234 years ago, as they hunkered down for the winter in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania during the U.S. War for Independence. At that time, things did not look good for Washington and his troops. The British occupied the nearby city of Philadelphia, and the Continental Army was on the brink of collapse. But after recruiting new officers and giving his soldiers a chance to rest, Washington’s army was able to fight the British again. Look in your newspaper for weather reports for Pennsylvania or Philadelphia. Then look for ads for supplies you might need to survive a winter if you had to camp outside there. Discuss as a class what it must have been like for Washington’s army.

Core/National Standards: Initiating and participating effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Giving Gifts

The eight-day festival of Hanukkah starts at sundown on Tuesday, December 20. Children are given gifts each day of Hanukkah, but often the gifts are not big. Look through the ads in the newspaper and pick out eight items you might give as gifts to a younger brother or sister. How much would these gifts cost? Repeat the shopping for an older brother or sister. How much would eight gifts cost for this person?

Core/National Standard: Acquiring information from books, maps, newspapers, data sets and other sources, organizing and presenting the information, and interpreting the meaning and significance of the information.

3. A Jumping Record

The world may know her as the First Lady of the United States, but now Michelle Obama can add Guinness world record holder to her list of accomplishments. About 400 children joined the First Lady on the South Lawn of the White House recently as part of an effort by groups around the world to set a record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. The number of people participating was more than 300,000, easily breaking the previous record of 20,000. The event was part of Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program to promote physical fitness and healthier eating. “More than anything, I want to say thanks to every young person that showed exercise isn’t just good for you, but that it’s fun too,” the First Lady said. As a class, find a newspaper article about kids and exercise. Or find an example online. Using the article as inspiration, organize an exercise event at your school. Create posters to advertise the event and put them up around the school.

Core/National Standard: Using drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings; demonstrating understanding of the importance of health, nutrition and physical fitness.

4. No, No, No!

More and more people are saying “no.” In 2011, many rules and laws were put into effect stopping people from doing certain things. In March, a school told a boy who had a special-needs service dog that he couldn’t bring the dog to school. A Chicago school in April banned students from bringing lunches from home. An airline told parents that babies weren’t welcome on some first-class flights. Parents in New Zealand are no longer allowed to name their children Lucifer, and if you sneeze in one teacher’s class, you can’t say “bless you.” Students at some schools can’t wear jeans that are too baggy or too tight. And starting in October, students in France can’t use ketchup on their school lunches. As a class, search the newspaper for a rule or law that prevents people from doing something. Or find something you would like to see stopped by a law. Write a paragraph stating your opinion why you think the activity should be stopped, or what you think of a law that exists.

Core/National Standard: Writing an opinion piece in which students state an opinion, supplying reasons that support the opinion.

5. Welcome, Your Highness

Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Ariel and the other Disney princesses have a new friend. Sofia the First is the first child princess being introduced by Disney. The little girl becomes a princess when her mother marries the king of her storybook world. Other Disney princesses will also show up in the movie, which is set to come out in the fall of 2012 followed by a TV series in 2013. In the series, Sofia will have many adventures and learn many lessons. Find an newspaper story about a young girl in a challenging situation. Write your own creative story about her and illustrate it.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives, using effective techniques, relevant descriptive details and well-structured event sequences.

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