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For Grades K-4 , week of May 25, 2020

1. No Pony Swim

For more than 70 years, one of the most popular books for young readers has been “Misty of Chincoteague.” “Misty” tells the story of two orphan children raising a wild pony and her foal, and like many stories it is based on real life. The children in the book acquire their ponies at the yearly Chincoteague Pony Swim, a real-life event in which the local fire department rounds up the young foals from wild herds on Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Volunteers then get the foals to swim across a short channel to the mainland, where they are sold to raise money for the fire department. The Pony Swim has been held for nearly 100 years, but this year it has been canceled due to health concerns connected to the coronavirus. The event draws thousands of spectators, and local officials said they could not guarantee the safety of people who might come to watch. In addition to helping the fire department the pony roundup keeps the herds of wild ponies from getting too large for their habitat. The story “Misty of Chincoteague” is based on real-life events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read an article about a person or event that you think could would make a good story or movie for kids your age. Write a paragraph telling what the story/movie would be about. Then write the opening scene. Share with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Reading Aloud

Kids who struggle with reading often improve their skills by reading to therapy dogs in programs at libraries, schools and other places. The dogs are good listeners and don’t make judgments or embarrass the readers when they stumble on a word. In the city of Bethesda, Maryland, a program started by a retired veterinarian connects dogs with children for special, no-pressure reading sessions. The program urges kids to sign up to “Read to a PAL Therapy Dog!” and in normal times connects dogs and readers face to face. With shutdowns caused by the coronavirus emergency, the PAL program has moved online. Instead of sitting right next to a dog, kids now connect online through the Zoom video program. Each session lasts 30 minutes and readers get to connect with two or three dogs, the Washington Post newspaper reports. “We think part of the awesomeness is to see the dog on the screen,” said a spokesman for PAL, which stands for “People. Animals. Love.” “A lot of the kids take the assignment of reading to a therapy dog very seriously.” The newspaper and Internet provide great ways to build reading skills by reading aloud. Find a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Read it to yourself in a whisper to decide which words should be emphasized. Then read it aloud to a friend or family member.

Common Core State Standards: Reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Food Adventure

All over America people are stepping up in amazing ways to help their communities. None may be more adventuresome than the actions taken by a grocery store owner in the state of Alaska. When ocean ferry service shut down for the community of Gustavus, store owner Toshua Parker and his staff took to the sea to keep the community supplied. Once a week, he travels 50 miles in a converted military boat to bring essential food and supplies from the city of Juneau to his community located next to Glacier Bay National Park. They’ve had to overcome rough weather that delayed several trips, but have kept the supplies coming for the city’s 450 residents. “The town needed to be supplied with groceries so we just did whatever it took to make that happen,” Parker told CNN News. “Just another day in our world.” People are stepping up in many different ways to help others during the coronavirus emergency. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who is doing this. Use what you read to design a Thank You card for this person. Use your art skills to design the cover and your writing skills to write a thank-you note inside.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. ’Magnet Fishing’

During the coronavirus emergency, many people have turned to new activities to entertain themselves. An activity chosen by a 6-year-old boy in the state of South Carolina did much more than that — it solved an 8-year-old mystery! When schools closed, 6-year-old Knox Brewer took up the sport of “magnet fishing,” which uses strong magnets attached to a fishing rod to find metal objects in lakes or streams. When he took a trip to Whitney Lake near the city of Charleston, he found a lot more than old metal food cans. His magnet latched onto a metal safe stuck in the mud at the bottom of the lake. With the help of a stranger, Knox and his family hoisted the safe out of the water and pried it open. Inside they found jewelry, credit cards and a checkbook. They called the police and were able to track down the owner, a woman who lived nearby who had lost the safe in a break-in robbery eight years earlier. Knox loved getting to play detective. “Magnet fishing is awesome,” he told a local TV station. “My favorite part about doing this is when we get something.” When schools closed in his state, Knox Brewer decided to try “magnet fishing” to learn new skills and entertain himself. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story, photo or ad showing an activity you would like to try. Write a personal letter to a friend or family member, telling why you would like to try this activity.

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.

5. Let There Be Art

In times of stress or hardship, art can raise people’s spirits and give them an outlet for their emotions. If you doubt that, talk to a 10-year-old girl from the state of Connecticut who is using art to raise the spirits of kids isolated by the coronavirus in homeless shelters and foster homes. Since the virus closed schools and forced people indoors, Chelsea Phaire has sent out more than 1,500 art kits to give children a creative outlet while they are indoors. The kits include markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils and gel pens and are sent out by Chelsea's Charity, an organization founded by Chelsea and her parents. “It gives the children and teens a fun creative outlet to channel their energy because they can’t be in the classroom right now,” one supporter told CNN News. “Chelsea’s kits have been a blessing to many children in hard places and have brought them joy.” Art can be a great way to express your emotions about events or stressful situations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read story about an event that you find stressful. Use what you read to draw a picture expressing your feelings about this event. Then draw another picture expressing your feelings about something you are experiencing right now. Talk about your pictures with family members.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.