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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 12, 2022

1. Living a Dream

Dreamcatchers have long been important to Native American peoples for catching good dreams while blocking out bad ones. On September 29, if all goes according to plan, a dreamcatcher will travel into space to help a Native American astronaut achieve a dream she has held for years. Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann will become the first Native American woman to fly in space when she blasts off on a mission to the International Space Station 250 miles above the Earth. On top of that, the 45-year-old Mann will be the mission commander of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on her very first spaceflight. Mann, who is a member of the Wailacki Tribe of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, was chosen to be an astronaut in 2013. She was selected after earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford University and flying fighter jets for the Marine Corps in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Bringing a dreamcatcher made by her mother on her first flight was very important, Mann told the Indian Country Today news site. “I think it’s important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids … realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down.” Native Americans were the first Americans and have contributed many things to American life beyond dreamcatchers. With a partner, use the newspaper and Internet to research names, foods, beliefs and traditions that have their roots in Native American culture. Use what you find to create a colorful poster showing some of these things and where they came from. Give your poster an eye-catching title and present to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Two Important Things

Hard work and kindness are two of the most important things in life. For two boys in the state of Maine, they are values they won’t soon forget after getting to see country music star Luke Combs in concert — and meeting him in person. Twelve-year-old Bo Fenderson and his friend Tanner are big Luke Combs fans and wanted to see him when they learned he was performing in the city of Bangor. Their parents, however, said the tickets were a little “pricey” and suggested the boys pay for the tickets themselves. So they got a job stacking firewood for stoves people use to heat their homes in Maine. They earned $100 for the tickets and let Combs know it at the concert. From their seats, the boys held up handmade signs that read: “We made $100 bucks stacking 5 cords of wood, bought two Luke Combs tickets. Man, he sounds good.” And “Our Dads swore it was a waste of time, oh but they were wrong. Today’s my 12th birthday, oh Lord when it rains it pours.” Combs saw the signs from the stage and was impressed with the boys’ hard work. He stopped his show and pulled $140 out of his pocket to pay back the boys and invited them backstage after the show. He made good on the promise, signed the boys’ hats and met with them one-on-one. The experience was “really cool,” Bo said, and he learned things he’ll remember. “The two most important things in life are hard work and kindness,” Bo told WABI TV. People often achieve success by working hard or being kind to others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has succeeded in one of these ways. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing how hard work or kindness can bring rewards to people — and make the community better.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Zippy

Birds and animals often travel great distances when they migrate in the fall and spring. They don’t usually travel by boat, however. Yet that is what a squirrel from the Asian nation of India did, and wound up more than 7,000 miles away in the European nation of Scotland. The squirrel started its journey in southern India, traveled through the Red Sea and Suez Canal in Egypt, moved across the Mediterranean Sea to the Rock of Gibraltar and then headed north in the Atlantic Ocean to the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. For most of the three-week journey aboard the ship called the Deep Explorer, the squirrel roamed loose, but it was finally captured three days before the vessel got to Scotland, the Economic Times newspaper reported. The crew named him Zippy, because he was so fast and hard to catch. Animal rescuers identified Zippy as an Indian palm squirrel, also known as a three-striped palm squirrel. Rescuers hope to find a new home for Zippy at a zoo that has palm squirrels, so he can live with his own species. Fall is a good time to learn about animal and bird migrations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a bird or animal species that is migrating. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing where the species began its migration, where it will end up and challenges it will face along the way. Illustrate your paragraph with photos from the newspaper or Internet.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

4. No Snow Days?

In northern states across America, one of the joys of winter has always been that school sometimes got canceled by snowstorms. Students looked forward to those “snow days” because they gave them a chance to play outdoors, read books, watch movies, or just hang out with friends. Thanks to technology, however, snow days may be coming to an end. And the coronavirus epidemic is to blame. Remote learning technology adopted by school districts when schools were closed due to the virus now makes it possible to continue classes when the weather is bad. In New York City, the head of the city’s public schools broke the news to students last week. “There are technically no more snow days,” said city Education Chancellor David C. Banks in a TV interview. “So, sorry kids — no more snow days.” Banks tried to put a happy face on his announcement, telling students “it’s going to be good for you!” because they won’t fall behind on classwork. But other school leaders aren’t so sure. “I think there’s value in these moments of reckless, joyful abandon,” Chicago, Illinois, Principal Ben Blair told a local TV station. “Whether flopping in the snow or meeting neighbors out on the street … that human connection … during a snow day is fantastic.” Snow days often give students a way to connect with friends, family and neighbors. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of another event or activity that helps people connect. Draw a picture of people connecting in this way and write a paragraph explaining how people benefit.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Twisted Skyscraper

Architects are artists who combine math, science and artistic talent to create special buildings for people to live and work in. This is especially true for architects who design modern skyscrapers that are beautiful or unusual. In the Asian nation of China, a new and unusual building has just been unveiled, and it is a really “twisted” design. In fact, the architecture team that designed it say it is one of the world’s most twisted towers ever built. The Dance of Light tower is 580 feet tall and looks as if it was twisted from the top and bottom. It was inspired by the shapes of the swirling northern and southern lights that appear in the winter sky around the Earth’s North and South Poles. As with those polar lights, the appearance of the twisted 39-story skyscraper changes as the light changes during the day from sunrise to sunset. The Dance of Light tower is located in the business district of the city of Chongqing in southwestern China. It has 34 floors of office space with an additional five stories of meeting rooms and facilities. Unusual buildings often make news when they are constructed in neighborhoods or communities. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories or photos of an unusual building that has been built in your community or state. Pretend you are an architecture writer and write a “review” of the building, examining how people have responded to it, how it fits in with other buildings and whether it will change the way people think about the community and its “image.” For fun, design and draw a picture of a new building you would like to see built in your community. Share with the class.

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.