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for Grades K-4

Dec. 10, 2018
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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 18, 2017

1. Constitution Day

Every year on September 17, the nation celebrates Constitution Day to honor the document that set up the U.S. government. The U.S. Constitution divided the government into three branches — the executive (president), the legislative (Congress) and the judicial (the courts). Later, the first 10 amendments established a “Bill of Rights” that guarantees some of the most important rights Americans have. The First Amendment in particular lays out key rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press and the freedom to ask the government to take action. As a class, discuss how each of these rights plays a part in the daily lives of Americans. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find examples of each right in action. Use what you find to write a paragraph describing how American life would be different if people did not have these rights.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; closely reading written or visual text to make logical inferences from it.

2. Hurray for the Six-Toed Cats!

Hurricane Irma caused great damage and destruction in the state of Florida. But amid all the hardship, a “feel-good” story came out of the town of Key West at Florida’s very tip. A colony of six-toed cats started by the famous writer Ernest Hemingway survived the storm by holing up in Hemingway’s house with the building’s caretakers. The 54 cats — and the 10 humans who took shelter with them — weathered the wind and rain of Irma in the Spanish- style stone house in which Hemingway lived in the 1930s. Most cats have five toes on their front paws, but those at the Hemingway house have six. Many are descended from Snow White, a six-toed white cat given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain, according to the caretakers of the house, which is now a museum. People who stayed in their communities instead of leaving during Hurricane Irma had some tense and amazing experiences. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read a story about one or more people who survived the storm while staying in their community. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie or video showing what the people experienced during the storm. Write an outline for your movie, including images you would show. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. What a Birthday

It’s often said that nurses are what hold hospitals together. They provide the personal touch and care that make stressful situations a little less stressful for patients. That was certainly the case at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, during Hurricane Irma. A 3-year-old girl who had just been diagnosed with cancer got a surprise birthday party from nurses when her whole family couldn’t be with her. Willow Stine was diagnosed with leukemia on the Friday before the storm hit, and turned 3 on Sunday. But because the area was under evacuation orders, her father and older sister couldn’t join the girl and her mother at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. That’s when the nurses in the cancer unit stepped in. They rounded up presents from unused toys stocked at the hospital, bought a birthday cake and even gathered in Willow’s room to sing “Happy Birthday. “The nurses were amazing,” said Willow’s mother Jennifer, fighting back tears. “They're so wonderful.” In times of hardship, people often show special kindness to others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people offering special help or kindness to victims of Hurricane Irma. Use what you read to write a poem, rap, song or rhyme about the importance of “Special Kindness” in times of hardship.

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

4. Surprise Tennis Winner

The U.S. Open tennis tournament attracts top players from all over the world. But in the women’s singles competition this year, the winner was the lowest ranked player ever to win the tournament. American Sloane Stephens, who was ranked 83rd among professional women, won in her first appearance in the finals of a “Grand Slam” event like the Open. She is just the third player ranked outside the top 10 to win the Open since computer rankings began in 1975. The 24-year-old Stephens won the championship by defeating fellow American Madison Keys, 22. The matchup was the first All-American final at the Open since 2002, and just the second in which both players were making their first appearance in the final. Sloane Stephens’ win in the U.S. Open was a surprising performance. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another athlete doing something surprising or unusual. Use what you read to write a short sports column explaining what this athlete did to succeed.

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.

5. New Tomb Discovery

The African nation of Egypt has a long and rich history — and not just with its pyramids. Because of early achievements in writing, farming, religion and government, it is often called a “cradle of civilization” for ancient peoples. Yet more is being learned about ancient Egyptian life every year. This summer, the discovery of a tomb in the city of Luxor is providing scientists and archaeologists with new information about how everyday Egyptians lived. The tomb belonged to a craftsman who worked in gold and his wife. It contains mummies, sarcophagus burial containers, statuettes of the husband and wife, funeral masks, pots and other artifacts, according to Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities. It dates back 3,500 years and sheds new light on burial customs and the lifestyle of people who were not royalty like kings or pharaohs. Archaeologists and history experts study items and artifacts from the past to learn how ancient people lived. What items used by you and your family would tell a future history expert the most about how you live? Find five items in the newspaper or online that your family uses most. Write a sentence for each, telling what it would tell a future history expert about how you live your life.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.