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For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 08, 2021

1. High-Tech Harry Potter

Ever since J.K. Rowling’s first book came out in 1997, the Harry Potter stories have been among the most popular ever in books and movies. Now they are about to be celebrated in a high-tech exhibition that will travel the world. “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” will open in February in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Franklin Institute museum and then move on to other cities in the months and years to come. Through “immersive design” and technology, the exhibition will take visitors inside interactive environments featuring the most famous moments, characters, settings and beasts seen in the films and stories. Visitors also will also get an up-close look at items from the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” films. Of special interest to Potter fans will be a feature that allows people to pick what “house” they identify with at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and, through technology, experience parts of the exhibition through the personality of that house. The Franklin Institute is a fitting location to launch this innovative exhibition: It is named for Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s first great inventors. Many exhibits, entertainments and attractions are using technology in new ways to provide visitors with fun and new experiences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely study stories or ads about one attraction that does this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing how the attraction uses new technology and why that would make it more exciting or fun to see.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. An Unusual Mayor

Across the nation, older Americans are living longer, healthier and more active lives than ever. If you need proof, you only need to look at the election results from the borough of Tinton Falls, New Jersey. In this community of 18,000 people, Vito Perillo was re-elected as mayor — at 97 years old! Perillo topped three other candidates in the non-partisan election in which candidates did not run as either Republicans or Democrats. He would be 101 if he serves his full four-year term. Perillo, who is believed to be the nation’s oldest mayor, first ran in for mayor in 2017 and surprised everyone by defeating a former police chief who had already served two terms as mayor. He hopes people didn’t vote for him just because he is old. “My hope is that it’s because [they] see that I care about our town and the people who live in it above anything else.” In politics, business or other fields, older adults are achieving great things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one older person doing this. Pretend you are a reporter who is going to interview this person. Write out three questions you would ask, and explain why.

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

3. Save the Environment!

For 35 years American Girl dolls have been among the most popular toys in the United States and around the world. Each doll comes with a “back story” that tells about her life and the time in history in which she was supposed to have lived. This fall American Girl is introducing a new doll, and she’s unlike any that have come before. The doll, named Evette Peeters, is both biracial and an environmentalist! Her father is White and her mother is Black and she lives in Washington, DC, near the Anacostia River. Evette is passionate about recycling and protecting the environment, especially the Anacostia, which in real life has become more and more polluted in recent years. She also stands up against racial injustice, due to the racism and discrimination she has experienced in her own family. Evette Peeters is breaking new ground as an American Girl doll. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Evette. Use what you read to write a short, creative story about her as she works to help the environment or stand up against discrimination. Share stories with classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Monster Potato

One of the fun things about having a garden is that you sometimes grow things you don’t expect. A couple in the Southern Pacific nation of New Zealand did that — and they may have set a new world record in the process. Donna and Colin Craig-Browns were cleaning up their vegetable plot recently when Colin’s hoe struck something hard just beneath the surface. They carefully dug around it and discovered it was a huge, odd-shaped, brown object. At first they thought it was a piece of fungus, but after scratching it with a fork they determined it was a potato. And what a potato! When they cleaned up their find, they discovered it weighed a whopping 17.4 pounds! That is 6 pounds more than the biggest potato listed by the Guinness World Records organization for an 11-pounder grown in the European nation of England, the Associated Press news service reported. The Craig-Browns don’t know where the potato came from. “It’s a mystery to me,” Colin said. “It’s one of nature’s little pleasant surprises.” Gardening can give people a lot of fun and surprises, and at this time of year they celebrate the things they have grown and harvested. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has grown something fun or unusual. Use what you read to plan a one-minute TV news report on the person’s achievement. Write the text for your report and read it aloud with a timer to make sure it does not run longer than one minute. Present your report to family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. Protecting Trees

In the battle against global warming and climate change, trees play a hugely important role. They absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, store the element carbon in their wood and slow down the warming of the Earth and its air. All over the world, however, people are cutting trees down for their wood or to clear forests to make way for farms, ranches and other development. Last week in a move designed to protect the Earth’s forests, more than 100 world leaders pledged to halt the widespread cutting of the world’s trees and end “deforestation” over the next 10 years. The leaders gathering at an international summit addressing climate change represent nations that have 85 percent of the world’s forests. It is not the first time that nations around the world have vowed to protect forests, but with nearly $20-billion in public and private funds backing the agreement, leaders hope it will be more successful than past efforts. Trees are often called “the lungs of our planet” because they “breathe” in carbon dioxide from the air and “breathe” out the gas oxygen which is needed by people and animals. As a class, discuss other benefits of trees for people or communities. Use points from your discussion and additional reading to write a letter to the editor telling why trees that exist in your community are important, or why more should be planted — and where.

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.