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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 07, 2022

1. ‘Greenscraper’ Garden

Gardens are good for the Earth. They help clean the air, slow global warming, enrich soil and provide food and habitats for insects, birds and other wildlife. They are especially valuable in cities, where they provide much-needed green spaces among the streets and buildings made of steel and concrete. In the South Pacific nation of Australia, a new garden will do that in a spectacular way in the city of Melbourne. A two-tower skyscraper project will create vertical gardens on the front of the buildings that will provide more than 135,000 square feet of green spaces that will benefit the public. Calling itself the “world’s tallest greenscraper,” the complex will feature terrace tree gardens on the high floors, and fern and shrub gardens on the lower floors, plus public parks on the ground and at the top of one tower, CNN News reports. The taller of the two towers will rise 1,198 feet over the Southbank District in Melbourne, making it about the size of the Empire State Building in the United States and the tallest tower of any kind in Australia. The second tower will be 896 feet tall, and its top floors will be occupied by a Four Seasons Hotel. Public green spaces benefit every community because they let people get outside, have fun and enjoy nature. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of a green space in your community or state. Use what you read to write a poem “I Love Green,” highlighting all the benefits this greenspace offers people or wildlife. Your poems do not need to rhyme but should include lots of colorful language!

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

2. ‘That’s Not Going to Happen’

Students who are elementary age or a little older sometimes get into situations in which they need help from people who are older than they are. In the state of Pennsylvania, three students 9 to 11 years old were fortunate that a teenager was nearby when they needed such help after falling through thin ice. The three had been playing on a frozen pond when the ice gave way and they fell into the frigid water in the town of Collingdale. They were crying and thrashing around and afraid they were going to drown when 16-year-old Anthony Alexander Jr. arrived on the scene. “They were all screaming they were going to die,” Alexander told the Washington Post newspaper. “I told them, ‘No, that’s not going to happen today. I’ll get you out.’” After calling 911, Alexander found a tree branch on the ground and reached one of the kids in the water. Then he waded and swam to reach the others. “He’s one quick-thinking kid,” police said. He also is a kid who remembered how his father taught him to behave in an emergency. “He followed the three C’s,” his father said. “He remained calm, cool and collected.” Anthony Alexander Jr. saved three younger children by staying calm and cool. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else being successful by staying calm and cool in a stressful situation. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling how staying calm can help people get through challenging situations. Give two or three examples in your editorial.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Pen-Pals

Long before texting and emails were invented, students made friends and kept in touch with other students by becoming pen-pals. In a pen-pal program, students would write letters to students in another school — or country! — to tell what their schools and lives were like. In those days, pen-pal letters were delivered by snail mail, and students were always excited when they got one. During the coronavirus epidemic, a third-grade teacher in the state of Pennsylvania decided to revive the old pen-pal tradition to keep in touch with her students. According to a recent report from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, teacher Eileen Seitz of the Bethlehem School District sent letters to all 21 students in her class to connect with them in a special way while they were not in school. She told them what she had been doing and provided stamped, addressed envelopes so students could write back to her. The effort was a huge hit, with 18 of 21 students writing back to their teacher. “It was also a nice way to stay in touch with the classroom because then when we did meet on Zoom we were talking about the letters that we were sending back and forth,” she said. You don’t need to send letters by snail mail to be a pen-pal these days. But letters should be longer than a text or email. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story you would like to tell a pen-pal about. Use what you read to write a paragraph or two telling what interests you about this story. Then tell your pen-pal about other things that interest you.

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.

4. Record for Electric

Electric cars are getting more and more attention as a way to reduce air pollution and global warming. Every major car company has unveiled plans to make nothing but electric vehicles or mostly electric vehicles as early as the year 2030. To call attention to the reliability of electric vehicles, two long-distance drivers took a trip around the United States that set a new world record for distance. Drivers Rainer Zietlow and Derek Collins drove a Volkswagen ID.4 model 35,770 miles to set a new Guinness World Record for electric travel inside one country. Their 97-day journey included visits to more than 600 Volkswagen dealerships and more than 200 stops to charge the vehicle’s battery, UPI News reported. Electric vehicles are an example of an invention that is changing people’s lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new invention or product that will change how people live or do things. Write an opinion column telling how this invention will change people’s lives for the better.

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.

5. A Pearl for Dinner

Pearls are precious gems formed inside sea mollusks like clams or mussels. They are round and shiny and greatly valued for their use in making jewelry. Most modern pearls are produced in “pearl farms” but some still form in the wild. These “natural pearls” are rare and considered more valuable. So you can imagine the surprise a couple from the state of New Jersey felt when they found a big, shiny pearl in an order of clams they were eating at a seashore restaurant in the town of Cape May. Michael Spressler was finishing an order of clams on the half shell, when he bit down on something hard. At first he thought he had broken a tooth, KYW news radio reported. But it was a pearl that measured a hefty 8.8 millimeters in size. It could be worth thousands of dollars, but Spressler plans to have it made into a piece of jewelry for his wife Maria. “It’s a beautiful remembrance of that day,” she said. Pearls and other gems are natural resources produced by nature. In the newspaper or online, find stories and photos of other natural resources found in nature that benefit people. Use what you find to create a poster showcasing natural resources that are important to people. Use images from the Internet to illustrate your poster and write a sentence under each to tell how it is used or helps people.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.