For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 15, 2021

1. Big Bird Vaccinated

In all its years on television “Sesame Street” has tackled many big topics in a way that young children can understand. Now it is weighing in on coronavirus vaccines — and some people don’t like it. Big Bird has announced he has gotten the Pfizer vaccine, now that it has become available for children 5 to 11 years old. “My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,” the feathery fellow announced on the Twitter social media site on the Internet. Support and criticism quickly followed. “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe,” President Biden wrote on Twitter in response to the Sesame character’s announcement. Politicians and others who oppose government requirements that people be vaccinated protested Big Bird’s message from a show that is funded with public money. One called it “twisted.” Another said it was “actually evil” and urged people “Do Not Comply.” Others sided with the popular puppet: The message “I stand with Big Bird” was spreading rapidly on the Internet and social media. Getting vaccination shots continues to spark debate across America, especially now that vaccines are available for young children. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about parents making decisions about getting their children vaccinated. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your view on whether young children should be vaccinated — and why.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. MVPs and More

This year’s World Series is over, and the Atlanta Braves have been crowned the champions of Major League Baseball. But that does not mean that the excitement has ended. This week the top awards will be given out for the best individual player performances in the American and National Leagues. On Monday, the Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced; on Tuesday Manager of the Year: on Wednesday the Cy Young Awards for pitching; and on Thursday the Most Valuable Player Awards. The Most Valuable Player Awards always draw the most attention, which is why they are being announced last. In the American League the three MVP finalists are led by two-way star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, who not only hit 46 home runs but recorded a 9-2 record as a pitcher. The other American League finalists are two members of the Toronto Blue Jays — Marcus Semien, who hit 45 home runs to set the single-season record for a second baseman, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who tied for the Major League lead in home runs with 48. In the National League, the three MVP finalists are Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres, Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies and Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals. Tatis finished first in the league in homers with 42; Harper batted .309 with 35 homers and Soto hit .313 with 29 home runs. Major League Baseball awards are based on the performances and statistics of top players. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories that include the statistics of this year’s award finalists. Use the statistics to create three math problems to exchange with classmates or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

3. What a Fight!

When on patrol, police are often called on to break up fights in the street. In the city of Plymouth, Minnesota, one officer responded to such a call this month and found two bald eagles locked up in the middle of the road. And they were REALLY locked — with their claws stuck together. Officer Mitch Martinson had had training to break up fights between people, but he’d never had to do it with birds — and really big birds at that. Bald eagles, which are America’s national bird, can grow up to 3 feet tall, weigh 10-14 pounds and have a wingspan of 6-8 feet. To get help Martinson called a local raptor center that deals with eagles and hawks. He was told the two eagles were probably fighting over territory when they collided in midair, locked claws and crashed to the ground. They continued to fight and scream in the street, but when Martinson moved in to cover their heads and separate them they got themselves untangled and flew off. Scientists study animal behavior to learn more about how they live, hunt, breed and raise their young. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about scientists studying a wildlife species. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what scientists have learned (or seek to learn) and why that is important.

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

4. Fall Beauty in DC

In Washington, DC, the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin waterway are famous for putting on a show of pink and white blossoms in the spring. They are not as famous for an attraction they offer in the fall, but it is just as beautiful. When the leaves of the trees turn color, they give visitors an eye-opening show of reds and oranges and yellows. This month the trees put on quite a display of “fall foliage,” and visitors came from near and far to see it. Fall color, in Washington and elsewhere, is caused by the changing of the seasons, drops in temperature and shifts in the amount of daylight the trees get each day. In the newspaper or online, find stories and photos of things you like about fall. Use what you find to write a haiku poem telling why you like one thing about fall. A haiku (HY-koo) is a three-line poem that has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. Read your poems aloud.

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; demonstrating understanding of figurative language.

5. ‘Go! Be Happy!’

In Peru and other South American nations, river turtles are popular as pets and even as food. They are so popular in fact that their numbers are dropping, and they have been classified as being at risk and “vulnerable” by wildlife experts. To help the turtle population recover, a group of wildlife supporters has launched a program to hatch them on artificial beaches and release them back into the wild, CNN News reports. This month, 3,000 of the human-hatched turtles were released into a river in Peru that flows into the Amazon rain forest. “Go! Be happy!” people in the crowd shouted as the turtles were released near the city of Inquitos. The baby turtles, which are green with yellow spots, were about 2 inches long, but they can grow to be one of the largest river turtles in South America, with a length of more than 14 inches and a weight of 14 pounds. People help wildlife in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people helping a wildlife species. Use what you read to design a Thank You card for the helpers. Use your art skills to design the cover and your writing skills to write a thank-you note inside. For added fun, write the note as if it were created by the species being helped.

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.