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For Grades K-4 , week of Mar. 01, 2021

1. Historic Space Trip

SpaceX is a private company building rockets and spacecraft for missions to the International Space Station. It also is pioneering flights for private citizens that are getting a lot of attention. Later this year it will launch a craft into orbit around the Earth that will carry no passengers who are astronauts. But that’s not the only bit of history it will make. The craft will carry the youngest American ever to go into space, the first cancer survivor and the first with a prosthetic replacement body part. Twenty-nine-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, a cancer survivor who has the prosthetic limb, will be one of four specially selected passengers aboard the craft when it blasts off, the New York Times newspaper reports. The flight was made possible by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who bought the “tickets” for the special passengers from SpaceX. Arceneaux was chosen because she is a front-line healthcare worker for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Arceneaux was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was 10 and had metal rods inserted into her left leg to replace parts of the bones. People overcome obstacles in life in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling how this person’s experience could inspire other people facing obstacles.

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.

2. 20 Tons of Fossils

The coronavirus epidemic has disrupted all kinds of activities all over the world. In the African nation of Niger, it has delayed the recovery of a huge collection of dinosaur fossils found in the Sahara Desert. The fossils were discovered during a series of trips to the Sahara in 2018 and 2019. The discoveries include 11 new species dating back 200-million years, along with flying dinosaurs and an armored creature that looked something like a dog, the Washington Post newspaper reported. When the coronavirus emergency hit the nation, plans to remove and store the 20 tons of fossil bones had to be put on hold. “This is our cultural identity,” said one of Niger’s leading fossil experts. “But saving the living comes first.” Dinosaur discoveries always excite scientists because they provide new information on species that lived millions of years ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a dinosaur discovery. Use what you read to create a chart or poster telling the most important things about the discovery. Present your poster to friends, classmates or family members and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. ‘Snow Mazing’

With hundreds of twists and turns, mazes are amazing for family fun. They can be made in corn fields or snow fields, and they challenge people to find their way through the confusing turns from one end to the other. In the Canadian province of Manitoba, an amazing “snow maze” that is the biggest in the world has gotten even more amazing this winter. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus and give people room for safe social distancing, the owners of the maze in the town of St. Adolphe have nearly doubled the size of their maze made from walls of snow. The new maze has wider paths to allow people to pass each other safely while getting fresh air and exercise, UPI News reported. “We love mazes,” co-owner Angie Masse said. “Now we are into snow mazing!” Snow mazes are just one kind of outdoor winter fun. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and ads of other kinds of winter fun in your area. Use what you find to brainstorm an ad for TV or the Internet encouraging people to try one or more of these activities. Give your ad a title and write an outline for how it would tell the story of these events. Include images you would use in your outline.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Baseball Cards

Like many kids, Father John Ubel collected baseball cards when he was growing up. What the Catholic priest from the state of Minnesota didn’t know when he was a child is that many of those cards would be valuable one day. This month Father Ubel will find out how valuable when he puts his 50 best cards up for sale to raise money for charity. The cards will be sold at an auction in which the highest bidder gets each card. Money from the auction sale will be used to provide scholarships for elementary students so they can attend Catholic schools in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. Father Ubel’s collection features some of the most famous players in baseball history, CNN News reports. He has a 1948 Leaf rookie card for Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play in the modern Major Leagues. He also has a 1954 Topps rookie card for home run king Hank Aaron, plus rookie cards for Minnesota Twins stars Tony Oliva, Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew. With the auction sale, Father Ubel hopes to raise $25,000 for the Aim Higher Foundation, which distributes scholarships for students in Minnesota Catholic schools. Father John Ubel is doing something special to meet a need in his community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a need in your community. Use what you read to write a short editorial suggesting an unusual way people could do something to meet that need.

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. Native Alaskan Art

For the first time in history, a U.S. postage stamp will feature a design by a native artist from the state of Alaska when it is released this year. The stamp was designed by Tlingit and Athabascan artist Rico Lanáat’ Worl and tells a story famous in Tlingit tribal culture. The stamp features a black raven bird with a star in its beak and other stars in its feathers. The image represents the story of “Raven and the Box of Daylight,” in which the Raven steals the stars from a chieftain to bring light to humanity. The Raven is a trickster character featured in many Tlingit stories, and Worl hopes his stamp will make people want to learn more about these Alaskan native people. Every year the U.S. Postal Service picks new images to show on postage stamps. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the images that will be featured this year. Then think of a story, person or event you would like to show on a postage stamp. Draw a picture of what your stamp would look like and write a paragraph explaining your image.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.