For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 02, 2012

1. Flying Circles

There are many shapes in the world —squares, circles, triangles and more. Pick a shape you like. Then hunt through today's newspaper and cut out objects, pictures or images in that shape. Paste your cutouts on to stiff paper and then create an art mobile. Label each piece with a word that you think of when you see the shape.

Core/National Standard: Classifying common objects and substances according to observable attributes: color, size, shape, smell, hardness, texture, flexibility, length, weight, buoyancy, states of matter or magnetic properties.

2. Fannie Farmer

On January 7, 1896, teacher and author Fannie Farmer published “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.” Known today as “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” it remains very popular. With a partner, look in this week’s newspapers for an interesting recipe. Or find one as a class online. Using a table listing various weights and measures (you can usually find one in the back of a dictionary), figure out how much of each ingredient you would need if you were to make the recipe four times larger. Use the largest sensible unit to describe the amounts — for instance 1 gallon, instead of 4 quarts.

Core/National Standards: Analyzing problems, determining strategies for solving the problems and evaluating the adequacy of the solutions in the context of the problems; using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to solve problems.

3. Dumping No More

Mexico City wants to set the standard for reducing, reusing and recycling. In the past, Mexico’s capital city dumped 12,600 tons of garbage each day, but that amount has been cut in half by the city’s efforts to recycle. Three years ago, the city recycled only 6 percent of its garbage, but now residents recycle about 60 percent. The largest dump in the city, which has taken in more than 76 million tons of trash, closed recently, except for its recycling operation and a composting plant, which breaks down plant and vegetable materials naturally. As a class, talk about ways recycling helps the environment. Then find a newspaper or Internet article about recycling trash and garbage. Discuss as a class what your school could do to increase recycling. Design a poster encouraging the school to do more.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; Adding drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings.

4. A Presidential Example

Getting vaccination shots is no fun! But there is one crucial vaccination that has changed the lives of children – the polio vaccine. It was introduced first in 1955 by Jonas Salk. A second type of vaccine was discovered by Albert Sabin, which was first given in 1962. Polio is a virus that spreads rapidly, affects the nervous system and can cause partial or total paralysis. One of our presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, got polio when he was 39. He lost the use of his legs. Because of his experience, he founded an organization called the March of Dimes on January 3, 1938. The foundation helped raise a lot of money for research for a polio vaccination and to help families whose children suffered from the disease. Find a newspaper story about an organization that helps others. Or find an example online with your teacher. Write a paragraph telling what the article is about, in your own words.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative or explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. She Swallowed What?

In wacky news last month, a 76-year-old woman had a felt-tip pen removed from her intestines after accidentally swallowing it. The pen had been inside her for 25 years — and it still worked! She had gone to her doctor recently complaining of stomach pains. She said she had accidentally swallowed the pen when she was using it to help look at a spot on her tonsils. She slipped and fell, swallowing the pen. She told her husband about it, but he didn’t believe her, and her doctor could not find the pen after testing her at the time. On her latest checkup, however, her doctor did a body scan and found the pen. Find an odd story in your newspaper. Using it as an example, make up your own wild story and share it with the class.

Core/National Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences using effective techniques.