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For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 28, 2011

1. A Trip to Mars

Marvin the Martian, with his huge white eyes, funny green helmet and skirt, first appeared in cartoons in 1948. Cartoonist Chuck Jones created him to be a villain against Bugs Bunny. He became so popular, his image was painted on the side of the Mars exploration rover named Spirit. Spirit and another rover named Opportunity were launched in the summer of 2003 and landed on the planet Mars in January 2004. Since then, the two robot rovers have been taking pictures and collecting data from the so-called Red Planet. A third rover, Curiosity, headed into space last week. Curiosity has cameras, instruments to measure compounds, the ability to identify minerals, a tool to measure weather and much more. Search the newspaper or the Internet for articles on space exploration. Read and discuss one as a class. Then divide the class into groups of four and have each group design its own space exploration vehicle.

Core/National Standard: Knowing that models help scientists and engineers understand how things work and that models take many forms including physical objects, plans, mental constructs and computer simulations.

2. You Said What?!

Find a picture in today's newspaper of a person who is talking. Don't read the story or the caption that goes with the picture. Write down something that that person could be saying, based on his or her facial expression, body position or what is around her or him. Get creative! Then share with the class and discuss.

Core/National Standard: Distinguishing between verbal and nonverbal communication; recognizing the impact of variations of facial expression, posture and volume on oral communication.

3. Antarctic Adventure

What do you consider to be an adventure? Is it exploring a cave up in the mountains? Is it rafting down a river? Maybe it’s simply riding your bike some place new. Felicity Aston has something a bit bigger in mind. The 33-year-old from the European country of Great Britain plans to cross-country ski across the continent of Antarctica near the South Pole. She has been waiting for the weather to clear before setting out on her journey, which will take about 70 days. She packed only the essentials she would need because she will be pulling all her supplies behind her on a sled as she skis. If she completes the journey in late January as planned, she will set a world record for longest solo polar expedition by a woman. As a class, search the newspaper for an article about an adventurer. Or find an example online. Pretend you are with one of them on an adventure. Write and illustrate a journal about your daily experiences.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives in which students recount or create a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events

4. Twain Inspiration

Two of the greatest heroes in American books weren’t men and weren’t women. They were boys. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn captured the imaginations of generations of children in books by the famous American author Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Twain’s books tell the stories of the boys and their adventures along the Mississippi River. Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. He worked as a riverboat pilot and as a journalist for several newspapers before writing books. Many of his stories were based on his own experiences and things happening in the news. Find a newspaper story or photo involving a boy or girl in your community. Use what you find to write a fictional adventure story about that boy or girl.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details and clear event sequences.

5. Flu Fighter

It starts with the sniffles, often followed by sneezing, a sore throat, a fever, chills and a hacking cough. It’s a cold, or the flu, and the season is upon us. A new study at five elementary schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, showed that healthy hygiene training can make a difference in the number of children who get colds and flu. The five-step “Whack the Flu” program includes frequent hand washing and sanitizing, staying home when you’re sick, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your mouth, nose and eyes and avoiding sick people. As a class, find a newspaper article about preventing illness and staying healthy. Then design a poster offering tips for staying healthy at your school.

Core/National Standard: Demonstrating understanding of arts elements, qualities and principles and simple art structures, subjects and design problems.