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for Grades K-4

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For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 31, 2022

1. New-Look Minnie

For nearly 100 years, Minnie Mouse has been one of the most popular cartoon characters in the Disney family. As she has pursued fun and adventures, she has become familiar to fans — and easy to see — in a bright red dress with white spots. Now, as she approaches her 100th birthday, Minnie is getting a new look, trading her familiar dress for an outfit featuring matching pants and top. She’ll still be wearing polka dots, but they will be black on her pantsuit with a dark blue background. She’ll also still be wearing a bow, but it will be in the new colors, not red and white. Pantsuits are popular with women in business, politics and other fields, and the change in Minnie’s costume is designed to give her a more modern look in keeping with the times. It will be “a symbol of progress for a new generation,” said fashion designer Stella McCartney, who created the new look. “She will wear it in honor of Women’s History Month, in March 2022.” People often update things to reflect the attitudes, tastes and trends of the present time. And sometimes people are not happy about it. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about Minnie Mouse’s costume or something else that is being updated. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how you feel about the change — and why.

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

2. Flying Bears

In the city of Hershey, Pennsylvania, the local minor league hockey team is named the Bears, so it is not surprising that one of its most successful charity events involves bears. In fact, the team’s “teddy bear toss” has set a world record for the second time in three years. For the event, the team asks spectators to bring new or lightly used stuffed animals to the stadium for donation to charity groups helping children. The fans then throw bears and other animals onto the ice after the team scores its first goal of the night. This year, according to team officials, 52,341 stuffed animals were collected and donated to various children’s organizations. That set a new world record, topping the 45,765 stuffed animals tossed and collected at a Bears game in 2019. On top of that, the Bears received a huge charity donation from fan Jeff Sweigart, who said he’d donate $50,000 to charity if the record was broken. That money will go to the Children’s Miracle Network at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, according to local TV station WGAL. The Hershey Bears teddy bear toss is an unusual charity event to help and support children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another unusual charity event to help children, families or groups that support them. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling why this event is an effective way to call attention to a cause worth supporting. As a class, discuss other unusual ways to call attention to worthwhile support efforts.

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.

3. Very Special Substitute

All over the nation, schools have been scrambling to find substitute teachers to fill in when regular teachers get sick from the coronavirus. In the state of New Mexico some elementary students might get a very special substitute if their teacher is out — the governor of the state! Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed up for training to be a substitute teacher and could be helping out in an elementary classroom as early as this week. The governor’s decision came as she asked state workers and members of the military National Guard to volunteer as teachers to ease the substitute shortage in schools, preschools and childcare centers. She said her state had to ask for help from the public because “there aren’t any other options.” New Mexico’s governor is asking people to volunteer to help schools deal with the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about volunteers helping the community deal with the coronavirus or other issues. Use what you read to design a Thank You card for the volunteers. Use your art skills to design the cover and your writing skills to write a thank-you note inside.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Football Learning

Last weekend the Cincinnati Bengals earned a spot in pro-football’s Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years. It was an achievement the entire city in the state of Ohio celebrated. For a second-grade glass at St. Antoninus School, it was just the latest chapter in a Bengals celebration that has been going on since the start of the season, thanks to teacher Joyce Snyder. All season long, Snyder has been using Bengals football to teach math, reading, geography, social studies and more. Each week her students will do such things as find the city of the week’s opponent on a map, research how the team got its name or do math problems based on things you might buy at a game. Or they might look up the capital of the state where the team plays or read up on key players. “It’s a lot of fun,” student Grace Miller told local TV station WLWT. Last weekend the teams for this year’s Super Bowl were set. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to read stories about these teams and the cities they play in. Use what you read to create three Football Learning questions to share with classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Dogs at School

Many dogs are really smart, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit by going to school. In the city of Tacoma, Washington, a group of dogs got to use a real school to advance their training. The school was Fawcett Elementary, which is closed and due to be torn down in March. The dogs were search-and-rescue dogs being trained to find people who have been trapped or buried during a disaster. At the school the dogs got to search for people in a real setting and to test their sense of smell in a situation where scents can get shifted by moving air. “The air movement in buildings can be quite challenging,” said Janiece Miller, president of Northwest Disaster Search Dogs. “You can have someone hiding in a cupboard on this side, but their odor is going up on the ceiling and maybe dropping on the [opposite] wall. … This gives the dogs an opportunity to work through those more challenging odor pictures.” Dogs and other animals often can be trained to help people in different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal that has been trained to help people. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing the animal being trained or helping people.

Common 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.