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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 20, 2023

1. Presidents Day

On Monday this week, the nation celebrated Presidents Day to honor the memory and achievements of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington, who was the nation’s first president, was born on February 22 in 1732. Lincoln, who was the nation’s 16th president, was born on February 12 in 1809. Before becoming president, Washington led the American army in the nation’s War of Independence. Lincoln was president during the American Civil War, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation freeing African American slaves in southern states. As a class, discuss the many things the president of the United States is asked to do, and find examples in the newspaper or online. Use what you learn to write a song about the role of “Being the President.” Use the tune of a song you like and change the words to explain the president’s duties. Perform your song for classmates, friends or family.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Enormous Eagle

The Steller’s Sea Eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world with a wingspan of up to eight feet, a length of 3 feet or more, a weight of 20 pounds and a giant orange beak that gives it a fierce appearance. It is native to northeastern Asia, living mostly on the coast of the northern Pacific Ocean in Siberia, northern Japan and South Korea. For the last two winters, however, a lone Sea Eagle has been a celebrity visitor to the U.S. state of Maine more than 5,000 miles from its native area. No one knows why this giant black-and-white bird has taken up residence there — it likely was blown out over the ocean in a storm and couldn’t find its way back — but it has thrilled bird-watchers. Hundreds have traveled great distances to see the Sea Eagle, its distinctive white tail and the white markings on top of its wings. They also have been drawn to see the Sea Eagle’s enormous size, which dwarfs the bald eagles it has been roosting and hunting with. The Steller’s Sea Eagle was named for a German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who worked in Siberia and was one of the first to see the giant bird. Many people have traveled great distances to see the Steller’s Sea Eagle in Maine. What wild animal or bird would you travel a great distance to see, if you could? In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of this animal or bird. Use what you find to write a letter to a friend telling what attracts you about this wildlife species, why you would want to see it in person and how that would make you feel.

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

3. A Favorite Smell

What is your favorite smell? Is it a pizza delivered to your home? Fresh-baked cookies or brownies? A chicken roasting in the oven? The state of New Mexico may soon become the first in the nation to choose a favorite smell — and it will have a group of fifth graders to thank. The students have teamed up with a state senator to propose a law that would make the smell of roasting green chile peppers the “official aroma” of New Mexico. The law was proposed by Senator Bill Soules after he met with fifth graders at Monte Vista Elementary School in the city of Las Cruces. The students asked if New Mexico had an official state smell, and noted that the spicy smell of roasting green chiles is something everyone enjoys in the summer and fall. Chiles are already one of New Mexico’s official state vegetables, because they are popular with the state’s large Latino and Mexican population. Soules asked the students if they would like to help make the smell the official state aroma, and they jumped into action, the Washington Post newspaper reported. They researched how an official aroma would benefit the state’s economy and tourism, wrote letters to legislators and even testified before a committee of the legislature. The law is now one step away from approval, and the students can take a lot of credit. In every state, lawmakers choose different things to “officially” represent the state. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about things that have been chosen to “officially” represent your state. With a partner, read a complete list and propose something you would like to add. Write a paragraph explaining why your choice would be valuable to the state or its residents.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Gettysburg Battle Shell

The Battle of Gettysburg in the state of Pennsylvania was one of the most important of America’s Civil War. When the Union Army prevailed, it prevented rebellious Confederate forces from invading the North and becoming an independent nation. The battle took place in the summer of 1863, and historians are still discovering new evidence of what happened. Just this month a researcher working with a metal detector found an unexploded artillery shell buried in one of the fields where the battle was fought, CNN News reported. The 7-inch, 10-pound shell was found in the area of Little Round Top, where Union troops beat back an attempt by the Confederates to attack the Union line from the left flank. Gettysburg experts believe it was fired by the Confederate forces and fell short of its target due to a miscalculation. It may have fallen in the middle of Confederate soldiers as they struggled to reach the top of Little Round Top, exposing them to “friendly fire.” Due to safety concerns, the 160-year-old shell was exploded by experts for fear it might still be “live.” The Gettysburg battlefield has been preserved as a significant historic site. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a historic site or building that has been preserved in your state or community. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling why it is important to preserve this site or building and how it makes history “come alive” for visitors.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Healthy Trees

There are many things people can do to live longer and healthier lives. At the top of the list are eating better foods, getting exercise and avoiding sweets, smoking and alcohol. Now scientists have come up with another way to live longer: Plant trees. A recent study conducted in the city of Portland, Oregon has found that in neighborhoods where more trees were planted, fewer people died, the Washington Post reports. Using a mathematical model to control for factors such as race, income, age and education, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service found that for each 100 trees planted, there was roughly one fewer non-accidental death a year. There are several reasons trees may boost health, including better air quality, reduced stress, increased physical activity and lowering the temperatures of global warming. “Across the board, the benefits of trees are astounding,” one tree expert said. “And they come at a lower cost than many other solutions.” Health studies and discoveries are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health study or discovery that affects children or families. Use what you read to prepare a short oral report telling why the discovery is important.

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

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