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Grades 5-8
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for Grades K-4

May 03, 2021
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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 29, 2021

1. Happy to Be Happy

If you want to be happy, where is the best place in the world to live? For the fourth year in a row, the European nation of Finland has been rated the happiest country in the world, according to a yearly survey conducted by the Gallup polling company. The World Happiness Report 2021 based its findings on a combination of life expectancy, generosity, social support, trust and individual freedom. It also factored in how countries have dealt with the coronavirus epidemic. Following Finland in this year’s happiness rating were seven other European countries: Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Norway. The United States ranked 14th in this year’s survey, up from 18th in the previous year. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? In the newspaper or online, find and study photos and stories of a place you would like to live. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, telling why you would be happy living in this place.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Volcano

Volcanoes form when hot, liquid rock called magma forces its way through the outer layer of the Earth’s crust. This usually happens when pressure builds up on the magma due to shifts in the rock plates within the Earth or other changes. Volcanoes can be active, inactive (dormant) or even extinct. A dormant volcano can come back to life, even if it hasn’t shown activity for thousands of years. The European nation of Iceland learned that first-hand this month when a volcano that had been dormant for 6,000 years erupted. The eruption of Mount Fagradalsfjall sent fiery, orange lava flowing down the mountainside and filled the skies with smoke. Though the eruption was “considered small,” roads were closed and people were asked to stay away from the site. Still, one Iceland celebrity was very excited by the event, the Associated Press news service reported. “YESSS !!, eruption !!” Icelandic singer Björk posted on Instagram, “we in iceland are sooo excited !!! we still got it !!!” Volcano eruptions are a natural event that can have great impact on the surrounding area. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another natural event that is affecting people and the environment. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper on the cause and impact of this natural event. Print or clip photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your paper.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Protect the Birds

Tall buildings are a beautiful part of the “skylines” of cities. Unfortunately, they also are a threat to birds, especially during the spring and fall migration seasons. Birds get confused by the reflections created by glass in the buildings or by lights that keep them lit up at night. Thousands of birds collide with the buildings and die each year, wildlife experts say. In the state of Pennsylvania, a group in the city of Philadelphia is taking action to reduce bird deaths by getting businesses to turn out their lights at night. The Bird Safe Philly group is organizing the effort as part of the nationwide Lights Out effort started by the Audubon Society, which seeks to protect the nation’s birds. The Lights Out effort is an example of people taking steps to help wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort to help wildlife. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling how this effort is helping wildlife, why that is important and how it could inspire other people to help wildlife.

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. Dr. Fauci for Kids

Children’s books are a great way to learn about the world, and this June one will tell the story of one of the most important people in America. A new picture book will tell the life story of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been America’s leading medical expert on the coronavirus emergency and what should be done about it. The book, titled “Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor,” will trace Dr. Fauci’s life from his childhood to a career in which he has served seven U.S. presidents. The book is written by Kate Messner, and she says kids will learn a lot about life and science by reading it. “Before Tony Fauci was America's doctor, he was a kid with a million questions, about everything from the tropical fish in his bedroom to the things he was taught in Sunday school,” she told CNN News. Children’s books tell stories about events and people in ways that young readers can understand. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person, event or activity that would interest young readers. Use what you read to write the beginning of a children’s book on your topic. Draw pictures to go with your story. For added fun, complete your book and share it with friends or family.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. April Fools!

Thursday is April 1, which is observed in many parts of the world as April Fools Day. On April Fools Day people play jokes and pranks on each other to share humor and laughs. Or they pretend silly things have happened and shout “April Fools!” to let others know they were joking. April Fools celebrations have been around for hundreds of years, though no one knows how they first began. Some historians have linked April Fools Day to festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens (the word “hilaria” has the same origin as “hilarious”). One way people celebrate April Fools Day is by making up silly news stories as jokes, or turning real news stories into silly ones. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a news, sports or entertainment story that interests you. In the spirit of April Fools Day, rewrite the story in a silly way by changing or adding facts in a humorous way. Share with family, friends and classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.