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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 14, 2022

1. School Hero

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and can become heroes in any place at any time of day. In the state of Maryland, a school crossing guard became an instant hero one morning this month, while simply doing her job. Police Corporal Annette Goodyear was on duty outside a middle school in Cecil County, guiding students across the street as she normally does. Suddenly, a car came speeding down the street, right toward a girl in the middle of the crosswalk. Goodyear said the car was going so fast it was just a “blur” out of the corner of her eye, but she knew just what to do. She shoved the student out of the way and took a hit from the car herself. “No matter what happens, you got to protect that child and make sure that child is safe,” she told the Washington Post newspaper. “That was the only thing that was going through my mind.” People often make news by being heroes in their community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who did something heroic. Use what you read to write an editorial thanking this hero for what he or she did and telling how this person’s actions could inspire other people to offer help when it is needed.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. The Healthy Outdoors

For years and years, parents of restless children have been telling them to “go outside and get some fresh air.” Now doctors in the nation of Canada are giving adults the same advice. Last month, under a new program, Canadian doctors have been given permission to prescribe visits to national parks as a way to improve the health of patients. The PaRx campaign, which is pronounced “parks,” gets its name from the Rx symbol for medical drug prescriptions. Its goal is to get healthcare professionals to encourage patients to spend more time in nature — whether that’s a hike, gardening or just sitting outside. The program recommends two hours of nature time per week, in outings at least 20 minutes long. “There’s almost no medical condition that nature doesn’t make better,” said Melissa Lem, director of the PaRx program. Getting outdoors is especially good for relieving tension and anxiety and improving mental health. A similar program, Park Rx America, operates in the United States. Going outside and experiencing nature first-hand has many benefits. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an outdoor scene. Use what you see to write a paragraph or short personal column telling how people could benefit physically, mentally or emotionally by visiting this place. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Classical Trash

Ludwig van Beethoven’s melody “Für Elise” is one of the most famous in classical music, because it is often one of the first things children learn to play when they are beginner piano players. In the Asian city of Taipei on the island of Taiwan, it has become famous among adults for an entirely different reason. When it is played by garbage trucks on the streets of the city, it is a signal for residents to bring out their trash. The musical signal is part of a national program that requires residents to hand-deliver their trash to collection trucks rather than simply putting it at the curb. Under the rules, “trash is not allowed to touch the ground,” the New York Times newspaper reported. “Through this system we can avoid garbage piling up and keep our environment clean,” said one official. The “Für Elise” melody has been heard around the world in everything from advertisements to dance performances to television cartoons. To listen to it, click here. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find an example of music being used to add interest or get people’s attention for something. Find and listen to a recording of the music. Then write a letter to a friend telling how the music adds interest or gets people’s attention.

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.

4. Children’s Wellbeing

Children’s books offer a wide variety of ways to reach and teach kids on different subjects. In the European nation of England, a leading member of the English Royal Family went on television this month to read a children’s book that puts a spotlight on children’s mental health and wellbeing. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of England’s Prince William, appeared on the “Bedtime Stories” TV show and read "The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark.” The book by Jill Tomlinson tells the tale of a baby barn owl, who grows in confidence and overcomes his fears with the help of others, CNN News reported. For nearly 10 years Catherine has been involved in early childhood development and has promoted support for the mental health and wellbeing of young children. She previously led a mental health campaign called Heads Together with her husband Prince William, his brother Prince Harry and Harry’s wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue important to children. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a children’s book teaching kids about this issue. Come up with two characters whose actions could rerveal important things about the issue. Write the opening scene of your book to introduce the characters and the issue. Share as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Record-Setting Tortoise

If you want to live to a ripe old age, you would do well to find a place that has lots of peace and quiet. That approach certainly worked for Jonathan the tortoise — and he has lived to be 190 years old! At that age, Jonathan has officially been declared the Earth’s oldest living land animal by the Guinness World Records organization and officials of the tiny British territory of St. Helena Island. Jonathan arrived at the island 1,000 miles off the west coast of Africa around 1882 as a “fully grown” tortoise of about 50 years old, the Washington Post newspaper reports. He lives on the grounds of Plantation House, the official residence of St. Helena’s governor. In his life, he has seen 31 governors installed on St. Helena and lived through the terms of 40 U.S. presidents. He lives on a diet of carrots, cucumbers, apples and bananas, and he is hand fed every day. “While wars, famines, plagues, kings and queens and even nations have come and gone, he has pottered on, totally oblivious to the passage of time,” his caregiver said. Tortoises are one of nature’s longest living wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another long-living species. Use what you read and additional research to prepare an oral report telling what the biggest challenges are for this species to live a long life.

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