For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 25, 2021

1. ‘First Dogs’

Last week, as President Joe Biden was being inaugurated, there was another celebration involving the Biden family. An animal rescue association in the President’s home state of Delaware hosted an online “indoguration” event to celebrate that the Bidens are taking their dogs Major and Champ with them to the White House. Even more important for the Delaware Humane Association is the fact Major is the first dog adopted from a shelter ever to live in the White House. The Bidens adopted Major from the Humane Association just over two years ago to be a companion to Champ, whom they had purchased 10 years earlier. Both are German shepherds, and they’ve become good friends. There’s even a children’s book about them coming out this month: “Champ and Major: First Dogs.” Animal rescue shelters and associations work hard to find homes for stray or abandoned animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a shelter doing this. Use what you read to create an ad seeking families for cats or dogs that need a home. Include what kind of care pet owners need to provide and what benefits they get in return. Give your ad an eye-catching headline.

Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Blessings from the Bills

From the time kids start playing or watching sports, they are urged to practice good sportsmanship as players or fans. In the National Football League playoffs this year, fans of the Buffalo Bills did it in a really big way. The Bills were locked in a fierce battle with the Baltimore Ravens when the Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson sustained a concussion injury when he was tackled and slammed his head against the ground. Jackson had to leave the game, which helped the Bills win. But afterwards, Buffalo fans wanted to honor Jackson as a competitor. They began donating to a charity he supports called Blessings in a Backpack, which provides weekend meals to students who rely on schools for food. In a matter of days, the charity had received more than $400,000 in donations in Jackson’s name from Bills fans. Many charity groups offer help for children and families. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about one group doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling what this group does and why people should support it. In your letter, suggest an athlete who could support this group and how that could help.

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.

3. Little Art Gallery

Little Free Libraries have become popular all over the country as places people can share or exchange books they have read or want to read. Now a woman in the Seattle, Washington has taken the Little Free Library idea and created a Little Free Art Gallery outside her home. The approach is the same: She has erected a box that people can look into when they are passing by. But instead of books she has small artworks inside that people can take for free if they replace them with other artworks. It’s a way to add “beauty to an otherwise dismal year,” said artist Stacy Milrany, who came up with the idea. It has quickly become popular with other artists. Nearly 100 pieces have come and gone since the gallery opened last month, Milrany told the Washington Post newspaper. Sometimes she just sits by her front window “watching people come by and be surprised — that’s what I like.” Artists sometimes create works of art from things they find in nature, on the street or in playgrounds or parks. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos of things you could find and turn into small artworks. Draw a picture of how you could turn one item (or items) into an artwork. For added fun, find real items outdoors and turn them into artworks. Create a Little Free Art Gallery with friends or classmates to display and share your art.

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

4. ‘Floating’ Train

In the Asian nation of China, millions of people use trains to get from city to city each day. Now Chinese scientists have developed a train that will allow them to do it faster and more efficiently. And it’s not a train most people would recognize. It has no wheels and floats above the tracks using a kind of reverse magnetism that pushes metals apart. That reduces friction and makes it possible for the train to achieve speeds of more than 385 miles per hour, officials said. The “floating” magnetic levitation train will not be accepting passengers immediately, however. Chinese officials say it will take 3 to 10 years to get the train up and running. China’s floating train is an example of a new invention making life easier for people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new invention. Write a short consumer column telling people what this invention does and why that is a benefit for people.

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.

5. Clean That River!

Trash pollution is a huge problem in the United States and other countries. Especially in waterways, where people feel they can get away with pollution because the water will cover it up or float it away. In the state of Tennessee this month, volunteers took aim at one of the dirtiest rivers in America — the Tennessee River. Over three days, the volunteers removed more than 9,200 pounds of trash, much of it plastic that can break down and remain in the river for years. The cleanup was the second time in four months that volunteers had worked together to clean up the Tennessee River. In October, they removed nearly 5,000 pounds of trash from the waterway, CNN News reported. Another cleanup is scheduled for April. “It’s been truly inspiring for us to see these change-makers take action,” said the head of a local environmental group. People and communities all over the world take action to clean up trash and pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort. Use what you read to write a short editorial thanking the people involved and telling how it could inspire others to take action to fight pollution.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.