For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 18, 2021

1. Go Trick-or-Treating!

Halloween is just two weeks away, and one of the nation’s leading health experts says it’s time to get out and celebrate. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been America’s leading spokesman about the coronavirus epidemic, says kids should be able to safely go trick-or-treating outdoors and adults should be able to take part in Halloween parties, “particularly if you’re vaccinated.” In a television interview with CNN, Fauci said declining infection rates should make it safer for Halloween than last year, when a high number of infections — and no vaccines — prompted officials to discourage or even cancel Halloween activities. “Go out there and enjoy Halloween, as well as the other holidays that will be coming up,” Fauci said. “… I mean, this is a time that children love.” Halloween is a holiday most children look forward to because they can dress up in costumes. In the newspaper or online, use ads and photos to find a costume that interests you. Use what you read to write a paragraph titled “A Costume I Would Like to Wear.” Draw a picture of yourself wearing this costume. Share and discuss with family, friends and classmates. Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. One Tired Elk

When living in the wild, animals face many dangers and hazards to their survival. In the state of Colorado, a wild elk had to deal with a hazard unlike any that wildlife experts had seen before. The male bull elk had a car tire stuck around his neck — and had been carrying it around for at least two years! No one knows how the elk first got into tire trouble. Wildlife experts say it probably occurred when the elk was grazing near discarded junk when it didn’t have antlers at a young age or when it had shed them in early spring. Once the elk’s antlers grew out to their full, five-point size, they were too large to fit through the tire. Colorado wildlife officers had been tracking the tire elk since it was first spotted in July 2019 but until this fall had been unable to get close enough sedate the elk with a tranquilizer dart. This month wildlife officers got lucky and found the tire elk in a group of about 40. They had to saw off his antlers to remove the tire, the Washington Post newspaper reported, but they are expected to grow back next year. Elk are larger cousins of deer and reindeer. People do many things to help wild animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people doing this. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling what the people did and how it could inspire others to help wild animals in some way.

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.

3. Toys for All

For years, stores and toy companies have labeled and grouped toys as being “for girls” or “for boys” — even though either boys or girls could enjoy playing with them. Now the state of California and the Lego toy company are moving to change that. Lego, which is the world’s largest toymaker, has announced it will eliminate such labels from its product descriptions and work toward eliminating gender stereotypes from its products. California has gone even further, passing a law that requires large stores to have “gender neutral” sections for displaying toys by the year 2024. “Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them’,” a Lego spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper. In California stores will still be allowed to have boys’ and girls’ sections for toys, but they will be required to have “a reasonable selection” of toys and items in a “gender neutral section … regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or boys.” With friends or classmates, discuss toys you have played with that may have been advertised and sold “for boys” or “for girls” — or that are still sold that way. Use the newspaper or Internet to find a toy advertised for a gender that is not your own that you might like to try. Write a letter to a friend telling why you would like this toy and how you could enjoy or benefit from it.

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.

4. Ultra Problems

In the world of running, ultra-marathons are among the most challenging races there are. For starters they can be more than twice as long as regular marathons and they often are run on steep, rough or mountainous courses. In the state of Utah this month, the ordinary dangers of ultra-marathons were made even worse when runners were hit with a snowstorm that created “near whiteout” conditions in which they could barely see. Nearly 90 runners in the 50-mile race through Utah’s northern mountains had to be rescued after the storm dumped 12 to 18 inches of snow and winds of up to 40 miles per hour blew it around so much that runners couldn’t see the course, the Washington Post reported. Some could only follow the footprints of the runner who went before them, and hope he or she knew the way. Hours into the race organizers canceled it, and local rescue crews were called in. “I’ve never been that cold,” one runner said. “And you just think, how can I be this cold?” Unexpected severe weather can be dangerous for people. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about severe weather affecting people this way. Use what you read to create a public service ad for the newspaper or Internet offering tips for survival or staying safe. Give your ad an eye-catching headline so people will read it.

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.

5. ‘A Perfect Match’

It’s often said that you’re never too old to make a new friend. That certainly is the case for an elderly woman in the state of North Carolina and the cat she recently adopted. The woman is 101 years old and the cat is 19, which equals 133 in human years! The woman, identified only as Penny by the Humane Society of Catawba County, is a cat lover and recently had lost a cat she had had for a while. Her family was looking for an older cat, and the shelter had just the right answer. Nineteen-year-old Gus had just been brought to the shelter because its owner had had a job change and could no longer care for him. Because of the age of both the woman and the cat, the shelter wasn’t sure if it should approve an adoption. After Penny’s family said it would be taking care of the cat, however, the shelter decided it would be fine to go ahead with this “perfect match.” In addition to age, Gus was perfect in another way. When Penny had lost her cat, her family had gotten her a stuffed toy cat to replace it. The shelter said she didn’t like it because “it didn’t purr.” Problem solved! Connecting Penny and the Gus was a solution that benefited both the elderly woman and the cat. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a situation in which people found a solution that benefited everyone equally. Write out what the solution was and why it was “perfect” for all involved.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; 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.