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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 10, 2018

1. Secret Santas

During the holiday season, “Secret Santas” do good for others without revealing who they are. They help the elderly, school children or people in need by buying gifts, sending cards or doing other acts of kindness. In at least three U.S. communities, Secret Santas have stepped up in a huge way to make the holiday season bright this year. In Uniondale, New York, a Secret Santa paid for all the gifts hundreds of families had bought on “layaway” plans at the local Walmart — a total of $57,000. Another did the same at a Walmart in Longmont, Colorado, paying off $44,000 in bills. A third shelled out $29,000 at a Walmart in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In a statement, Walmart said “When customers quietly pay off others’ layaway items, we’re reminded how good people can be.” In the holiday season, people often go out of their way to do good for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing good things for people. Use what you read to design a holiday Thank You Card to thank the person or group. Write a paragraph inside the card telling why the good deed made the community a better place.

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.

2. Legal Snowballs

Snowball fights have been popular among kids for almost as long as there has been snow. But in the Colorado town of Severance, they were against the law. Or they were until recently when a 9-year-old boy persuaded the Town Board of Trustees to change the law. Student Dane Best told the board that the law was “outdated,” and that kids should be allowed to have fun throwing snowballs “without getting in trouble.” The ban on snowball fights was part of a long-established local law that made it illegal to throw rocks or “missiles” at people, animals, buildings or vehicles. Snowballs were classified as “missiles.” Dane was supported by friends and classmates who wrote letters to the Town Board asking members to change the law. The board voted unanimously to make snowball fights legal, the Associated Press reported. Young students often can have an impact on their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a student doing something special or unusual for the community. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how this student’s actions could inspire other students to get involved. Finish by talking as a class about things you would like to do for the community.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Surprise!

Every year certain toys become incredibly popular when the holiday season arrives. This year, L.O.L Surprise! Dolls are the biggest hits. The success of the dolls isn’t really a surprise, since L.O.L. Surprise! toys have already been named Toy of the Year by the nation’s Toy Association. But their popularity continues to grow. The appeal of L.O.L. Surprise! dolls is that they are not just one item, but a box full of different items. The items are all connected to the dolls – clothes, shoes, wigs — but children have to unwrap each one before they get to the dolls in the box. With up to 60 items per box, the unwrapping may last up to a half hour, experts say, and that stretches out the fun of getting the gift. What are the most popular toys for kids your age this holiday season? In the newspaper or online, find an ad featuring a toy you would like to have. Study the ad and write a personal letter to a friend or relative, telling what you like about the toy, why you would like to have it or why you would recommend it to someone your age.

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.

4. Great Coach Leaving

In 17 years as a head college football coach, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has won 186 games and lost just 32. He has won three national championships — one for Ohio State and two with the University of Florida. His current Ohio State team is 12-1 and has won the Big Ten championship for the third time. It will play on national television against the University of Washington in the Rose Bowl on January 1. After that, however, the 54-year-old Meyer has announced he will retire from coaching. Meyer’s decision was sparked in part by health problems that have bothered him for the last few years. In 2014 he had brain surgery to treat a cyst that was giving him headaches. The headaches reportedly have returned, and doctors have advised him to step away from coaching to avoid long-term health risks. Urban Meyer is one of the top sports coaches in America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another coach who has been successful for a long time. Use what you read, prior knowledge and other resources to write a short sports column, telling why this person has been “A Success in Coaching.”

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Good Dog

Everyone knows that puppies like to chew on things. But one in the state of Washington did a lot more than gnawing his owner’s slippers. It found a pre-historic bone to chew on. Actually, it was a giant tooth, and experts say it came from a woolly mammoth that likely lived 13,000 years ago. The puppy, named Scout, made the historic discovery digging in his owner’s back yard in the town of Langley. His owner Kirk Lacewell thought the tooth was a rock, but after Scout kept chewing it day after day, he took a closer look. When he cleaned it up, it looked like something more than a rock so he took it to experts at the University of Washington. They identified it as part of a mammoth’s tooth. Pets often make news by doing special or unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a pet doing something unusual. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a movie or cartoon showing this pet in action. Give your movie a creative name that would make students your age want to see it.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.