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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 06, 2012

1. Your Royal Highness

Some of your moms might be in their middle or late 20s. Imagine if suddenly your mom became a queen. That’s what happened to young Princess Elizabeth in the European nation of England. Her father died on February 6, 1952, making the 26-year-old woman the next Queen of England. She was in Africa when she learned of her father’s death. She officially was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, when she was 27 years old. It was the first time an English coronation was shown on television, much to the objections of then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Today, Queen Elizabeth is one of the wealthiest women in the world with many palaces and jewelry collections. Find a newspaper article about England or the queen. Practice your letter writing skills by writing her a letter asking about her life.

Core/National Standard: Recognizing and observing differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

2. Climate Change

Find a picture in today's newspaper of a climate that is different from the one in which you live, such as a desert or a rain forest. Then imagine that you lived in the place you see in the picture, or in a similar climate. Write a short paragraph that describes how your life might be different there than it is where you live.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience; describing patterns of weather and climates.

3. Snakes in the ’Glades

The Everglades natural area in Florida has become an all-you-can-eat buffet for pythons. According to a news article from the Associated Press, the python population has grown in the Everglades because people let these giant snakes loose when they get too large to keep as pets. They have multiplied, and a recent study found that sightings of medium-sized animals like raccoons, opossums and bobcats are down as a result. Scientists said they are afraid the pythons will disrupt the food chain and upset the natural balance of the Everglades. They estimate that there are tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now living in the Everglades, where they love the warm climate and abundant food supply. These pythons can grow up to 26 feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds. They have been known to swallow animals as large as alligators. Last month, the U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a federal ban on the importing of Burmese pythons from other countries. Find a newspaper story about an animal or another topic that interests you. Form groups of four and do research on that topic.

Core/National Standard: Participating in shared research and writing projects.

4. Help My Cause

A Michigan boy who fought cancer for seven years wants to do something for the sister of a family friend who is now battling cancer. He is growing his hair out to donate to Locks of Love, an organization that takes donated human hair and makes wigs for people who are going through cancer treatments that cause them to lose their hair. J.T. Gaskins is growing his hair so he’ll have a 10-inch ponytail, which will be cut to make a wig. The hitch? His school suspended him for having hair that is too long – not off the collar, the ears and out of the eyes. His mom asked people to sign a petition to get the school to change the rules. Find a newspaper article about someone trying to make a change. Using that article, write and deliver a speech to see if you can get your class to support the cause backed by the person in the news.

Core/National Standard: Reporting on a topic or text or presenting an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas.

5. That’s Some Simile

She is as thin as a toothpick. He is brave as a lion. The brothers fought like cats and dogs. These are all examples of similes. Similes (SIM-il-ees) are common comparisons people make using the words “like” or “as” in the comparisons. If they are used too much, they become what people call clichés (clee-SHAYS). Journalists and writers try to avoid clichés and come up with their own comparisons, but other people use them a lot — especially politicians in political campaigns. In teams or pairs, read several newspaper articles and come up with a list of similes you find. Explain them to your friends. Then use what you find to write an original Simile Poem.

Core/National Standard: Explaining the meanings of simple similes and metaphors in context.