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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 19, 2012

1. Storming Sun

Children living in the northern areas of the country may have seen the beautiful results of recent solar storms caused by the sun. According to an Associated Press article, solar storms can’t hurt people, but they do increase the beauty and size of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Scientists said the recent solar storms were the most powerful since 2004. Sometimes these solar storms can affect electric grids, GPS systems and satellites due to the strong magnetic fields they create. Another solar storm is expected in the next few weeks. Find a newspaper article about the sun, solar storms or outer space. As a class, discuss what is making news and why it is important to people on Earth. Then draw a comic strip explaining one reason the news is important. Finish by visiting the website of America’s NASA space agency at and seeing what is making news in the nation’s space program. Discuss as a class.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; adding drawings or visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Spring Has Sprung

Spring officially starts this week. But will it feel springlike? Check out this week's newspaper to see what the weather will be like in your community. Then shop with the ads in the newspaper to create an outfit for yourself that would prepare you for the weather. How much would it cost to outfit yourself head to toe in fashions you would like most?

Core/National Standard: Describing seasonal changes in weather.

3. What a Temper!

A 2-year-old child waits in line at the grocery store with her mom. She sees a candy bar at the checkout stand that she wants. Mom says no. Suddenly the child erupts in ear-splitting screams, throws herself on the floor and kicks at her mother as she tries to put the child in the shopping cart. Temper tantrums aren’t unusual for toddlers, but at what point do they become dangerous? A Rhode Island family found out recently, when they got kicked off a flight home from their vacation because their 2-year-old daughter was having a temper tantrum. The girl refused to sit strapped into a seat for take-off in accordance with federal flight rules, and the pilot decided it was a danger to her. He turned the plane around, and the family of four was removed. As a class, find a newspaper article about children’s behavior or safety. Or find one online. Discuss as a class what the rights are of the child and the rights of others involved.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Clean Up That Mess

The United States uses more oil and gasoline than any other country in the world. And sometimes oil can be a risk to the environment. On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran into a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska. It spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the Sound, polluting 700 miles of coastline. In April 2010, an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. About 4.9 million barrels of oil went into the water, and the British Petroleum oil company is still cleaning up the mess. Find a newspaper story about ways the environment can be affected by human activities. Or find a story or picture involving an outdoor area. Write a paragraph or short essay describing ways people could protect or improve the environment in your story or picture. Share with the class.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

5. Game On!

Skeeball has been a favorite amusement park game for more than 50 years. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to become a master of the game, Yahoo! website writer Mike Smith shares some tips. First, pick a machine and stick with it, because skeeball machines vary in ramp shape, the geometry of their backboards and the surface of the ramps. If you stick to one machine, you will become more familiar with it and will become better playing on it. Second, figure out the throwing technique that works best for you and stick to it. Since shorter people generally have an easier time of it, taller people should kneel down when throwing the ball, he said. Find a newspaper story or ad that involves a game. Or find an example online. In small groups, design your own game. Be sure to include instructions and illustrations.

Core/National Standard: Using illustrations and details to describe key ideas.

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