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for Grades K-4

Sep. 17, 2018
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For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 29, 2018

1. Mission to the Sun

Since it was founded 60 years ago, America’s NASA space agency has explored our solar system from the Earth’s moon to the rings of Saturn and beyond. This summer, NASA will attempt something that has never been done when it launches a probe that will attempt to “touch” the sun. The Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the sun than any spacecraft has gone before and send back historic data on the sun’s atmosphere, winds and radiation. It will travel inside the orbit of the planet Mercury to touch the outer corona of the sun’s atmosphere for the first time. The Parker spacecraft has been built to withstand both the frigid temperatures of deep space and temperatures of nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it nears the sun. At peak moments it will travel at speeds approaching 430,000 miles per hour. The Parker Space Probe is attempting to do something that has never been done before. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another mission that did something new, in space or in another field. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing the biggest challenges faced in the mission and how they were overcome.

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.

2. Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the championship game of pro football and the most watched game of the year. This year’s game on February 4 will feature one of the National Football League’s most successful Super Bowl teams and one that has never won a Super Bowl. The New England Patriots will be making their 10th appearance in the Super Bowl and seeking their sixth championship. The Philadelphia Eagles will be appearing for the third time, and have never won. This season both the Eagles and the Patriots have achieved 15-3 records, including two playoff wins each. Excitement is building for the Super Bowl. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about players who will be performing in the game. Use what you read to write a short sports column, predicting which player you think will have the biggest impact on the game. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Reading Is Popular!

Everyone knows that the way to build strong reading skills is to read more. But what is the best way to get kids to WANT to read more? At an elementary school in Washington, DC, school leaders set up a book club to get boys reading more, and it quickly turned into the most popular club in school. It was so popular that girls wanted one like it, and the girls club also has taken off. So what was so special about these clubs? Like many public schools in cities, Truesdell Elementary has many minority students, but few books in the school library feature minority characters. When a fifth grade boy complained about this, the principal gave him and several of his friends a copy of “Bad Boy: A Memoir” by African American writer Walter Dean Myers. They started reading and discussing the book, and other boys wanted to get into the club as well. “The books that we read here, we can relate to,” 11-year-old Devon Wesley said. As a class discuss books you have read that feature minority characters, and why that is important for young readers of all races. Use the newspaper or Internet to create a list of books with minority characters to share with other classes. (For more choices, check out the Coretta Scott King Award winners, the Pura Belpré Awards for Latino books or Oprah Winfrey’s Kids Reading List). Write a review of one book that you would recommend.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Ruby KitKats

Ruby chocolate is a new flavor made from pink-colored, “ruby” cocoa beans. It was introduced with great excitement last fall as a new type of chocolate to go with the familiar dark, milk and white varieties. Now the Nestle candy company is doing something special with ruby chocolate. It is using it to create a pink-colored version of its popular KitKat candy bar. The Ruby KitKats will be introduced in stores in the Asian nations of Japan and South Korea and online in the United States and other nations just in time for Valentine’s Day on February 14. Ruby chocolate has a berry flavor and is smoother than other kinds of chocolate. Most kids have favorite candies or snack foods. In the ads of the newspaper or Internet, find and study ads of several candies or snacks you like. Use what you find to create a series of comic strips or cartoons showing two candies or snacks as characters getting ready for Valentine’s Day. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or event; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Yikes!

When people travel, accidents happen. But most aren’t as dramatic as what happened to a passenger plane in the nation of Turkey between Europe and the Middle East. A Turkish jet skidded off the runway after landing, and plunged down the side of a cliff. The Pegasus Airlines plane came to rest nose down just yards from the Black Sea next to the Trabzon Airport. The plane’s 162 passengers, two pilots and four cabin-crew members all got out of the aircraft safely by using the plane’s rear exit. Safety is important for every kind of transportation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a kind of transportation people use. Use what you read and images from the newspaper or Internet to create a poster showing steps that are important for safe travel with this kind.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.