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For Grades K-4 , week of July 13, 2020

1. A Letter from Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh has been one of the most popular characters in children’s books for nearly 100 years, and a star of family movies for nearly 60. With his friends Piglet, Tigger, Eyore, Rabbit and Christopher Robin, Pooh has entertained children of all backgrounds with gentle adventures and lessons that help them in their lives. Now, it turns out Winnie-the-Pooh was a writer as well as a Teddy Bear adventurer. A letter signed by “Winnie-the-Pooh” and sent to an 11-year-old boy in 1935 has just been discovered and sold to a Pooh fan for nearly $15,500! The letter, of course, wasn’t written by the bear created by author A.A. Milne. It was written and illustrated by Ernest Howard Shepard, an artist who did the drawings for the original Winnie-the-Pooh books. It was an apology for not being able to come to the 11th birthday party of a boy named “Buffkins.” “Dear Buffkins,” Shepard wrote. “We are terribly sorry that we shan’t be able to come to your party on March 30th but we are going to be away.” The “Winnie-the-Pooh” character was based on a Teddy Bear owned by Milne’s real-life son, who was actually named Christopher Robin. It’s fun to think what characters from books or movies might say if they wrote letters to their fans. With family or friends, talk about characters you have liked in books or movies. Or find examples in the newspaper or online. Think like one character and write a letter to the editor offering advice to fans for dealing with issues kids are facing, or issues that are in the news.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Movies at Walmart

With many regular movie theaters closed down due to the coronavirus, drive-in movies are becoming popular again. At a drive-in, you watch a movie on a big screen from your car rather than from an indoor space. And now Walmart is getting into the drive-in business. Beginning in August, the store chain will be converting 160 of its U.S. store parking lots into pop-up drive-in movie theaters. Drive-ins were once hugely popular forms of entertainment across the country but lost popularity when indoor theaters offered more and more attractions. Now, in the age of the coronavirus, they are becoming popular again as a way for people to practice safe social distancing and avoid indoor spaces. The Walmart drive-ins will run through October and feature hit movies and snacks delivered right to your car. Going to the movies is one of the things families like to do for fun during summer vacation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about movies you would like to see this summer. Or think about movies you have seen in the past that you would like to see again. Design an ad for one or two movies, showing why they would be fun to see at a drive-in. Share with family or friends.

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

3. Beaver Impact

Beavers are known for being busy, but in the state of Alaska their busy-ness is causing problems for the environment. The furry, flat-tailed animals have moved into northern areas where they have never been before and created dams that block streams. The dams are made from trees the beavers cut down, and they form ponds that melt the permafrost layer of the soil in the Alaskan tundra. That contributes to global warming and alters the environment through climate change, CNN News reports. The beaver ponds release the greenhouse gas methane, which traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Global warming is having a big effect on habitats and the environment all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect that is being felt. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining ways people or communities could deal with this effect.

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. Great Park Photos

America’s national parks feature some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the world. To showcase these spectacular sights, the National Park Foundation sponsors a yearly photo contest challenging visitors to “Share the Experience” of their visits to park areas. This year, with fewer people visiting national parks due to the coronavirus, the National Park Foundation is changing the rules of its contest. Instead of asking for photos taken just this year, it is inviting park visitors to submit photos they have taken over the last 10 years in a “Best of the Decade” competition. Photos can be of natural attractions, wildlife, historical and cultural sites, outdoor recreation, family fun and any other things people can see and do in national parks. The contest is open to non-professional photographers and has a top prize of $10,000. Photos often connect with people’s emotions in ways that words alone cannot. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo you find beautiful, interesting or unusual. Use the photo to write a poem, rap or rhyme telling how the photo makes you feel. Share with family or friends.

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

5. Puppy Love

Being a firefighter is a very stressful job. Firefighters face danger every time they leave the station and have to constantly worry about the risks of injury or even death. To help firefighters deal with the stress of their jobs, a community in the state of California has turned to an unusual source of relief — puppies. The Hanford Fire Department has added two English Cream Retriever puppies to its firefighting team, and their job is to help firefighters unwind and relax after difficult situations. “After we come back from a bad call … it's nice just to … pet a dog, kind of relax and get our minds off things," said firefighter Connor Kurtz. Animals can often help people deal with stress or feel better. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal doing this. Use what you read to write a letter from the person telling how the animal makes him or her feel. For added fun, pretend you are the animal and write another letter telling how the activity makes the animal feel.

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.