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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 18, 2023

1. LONG(-HORNED) DELAY

Travelers in New Jersey were delayed last week when something very unusual was on the train tracks. A long-horned bull got loose from a fenced-in lot and started walking down the tracks during the busy morning commute. Trains were delayed for 45 minutes while Newark Police caught it. He was taken to a sanctuary, where he was named Ricardo. Ricardo will live the rest of his life being taken care of at the sanctuary. Using the facts you read here, write a version of this story from the perspective of Ricardo the long-horned bull. Include illustrations to go with it!

2. RETIREMENT AGE

Dozens of members of Congress have announced they will retire from the House of Representatives and not run to keep their seats in the 2024 presidential election. A big topic of conversation in recent years has been the age of Congresspeople. While more young people are beginning to be elected to Congress, the average age of voting members in the House is just under 58 years old and in the Senate is about 65 years old. But the average age of the United States’ population is about 39 years old. Of course, that includes kids, who aren’t eligible to be elected to Congress! But many think that since Congress is, on average, older than the population, the laws and policies they pass aren’t always in line with how many Americans think. Do you think age is a factor in how well someone is able to do their job? What are some ways being older can help someone be better at their job? What about some ways that being young is beneficial? Write down your ideas.

3. PRINCE WINS FOR PRIVACY

In the United Kingdom, across the Atlantic Ocean, Prince Harry won an important lawsuit against a British tabloid. Tabloids are newspapers that publish entertainment stories that are often exaggerated or untrue, usually about celebrities. The prince sued a tabloid publisher for hacking his cell phone between 2004 and 2009. Prince Harry has said that the way tabloid reporters harassed him and intruded on his life was a major reason why he and his wife, American celebrity Meghan Markle, left Britain in 2020. The judge in the case sided with the prince and the media company will have to pay a fine to Harry as a result. Think about why some ways of gathering information aren’t allowed because it’s an invasion of privacy, or it takes away from a person’s right to be away from public attention. Why do you think privacy is important to protect? Write down some of your ideas and share them with your classmates.

4. SELF-DRIVING SAFETY

Self-driving cars might seem like something out of a cartoon set in the future, but they are a reality for some—and they’re being looked at closely by safety officials in the US. Car company Tesla, which is famous for making self-driving cars and electric cars, now has to fix 2 million of its cars. Tesla cars have a feature called Autopilot that allows the car to steer, speed up, and brake by itself. Officials in the US now want Tesla to do more to make sure that drivers are still paying attention to the road while this feature is on. As a result, Tesla is wirelessly updating its cars to have alerts that tell drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and keep their eyes on the road. Using the facts you read here, write a summary of this story.

5. CHRISTMAS TREE SURPRISE

A family in Kentucky got a live Christmas tree this year and found there was something extra hiding between the branches. A baby owl was living in the tree and was found by a carpet cleaner who was doing work in the family’s home four days after they brought the tree in. The owl was released into the family’s backyard. It’s not the first time an owl has been rescued from a Christmas tree: In 2020, a tiny owl now nicknamed Rocky was found in the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and taken to a wildlife sanctuary. Write your own story about a Christmas owl living in a festive tree!

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