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For Grades K-4 , week of May 15, 2017

1. Books N Bros

Sidney Keys III has always loved to read, but when he went to his school library he was frustrated that there weren’t a lot of books about African-American kids like himself. So the 11-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri did something about it. He started a book club for 8- to 12-year-old boys called Books N Bros. The club focuses on books with African-American characters, and members get together once a month to discuss what they are reading. For $20 a month, each member gets a book, worksheets, snacks and the experience of sharing books about people and subjects they like. “I started it so we could read about African-American literature and raise awareness of that,” he says. Now he’s talking about taking his book club online so that boys everywhere can share the experience. Book reviewers write about books they like for newspapers, magazines and the Internet. As a class, look up an example to see how they are written. Then write a book review of a book you have read and liked. Be sure to summarize the plot in your review and give specific details about what you liked. Display reviews on a bulletin so others can get ideas for good books to read.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Snakes in the House!

Buying a new home is often a dream come true, but it turned out to be a nightmare for a Minnesota mother and her children. When they moved into their split-level home in Oak Park Heights, they found it was overrun with snakes! Home buyer Angie Whitley found the first one the day she moved in and “one quickly turned into 3, 4, 5. … Six months later I’m [up to] about 95 snakes that I’ve found inside my house. And a few hundred more outside.” The snakes are garter snakes and can’t harm humans. But they are creepy — and expensive. Whitley has spent more than $13,000 trying to seal them out of her house and to find their den on her property, which is close to a marsh. Snakes are a kind of wildlife many people would not like to meet up close. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another type of wildlife you would not like to have a close encounter with. Use what you read to write a creative story of an adventure that could happen if you met this kind of creature. Your story can be realistic or a fantasy.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Racing Retirement

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the great stars of NASCAR auto racing, but the 2017 season is going to be his last. He has announced he will retire from racing after 25 seasons, 26 NASCAR wins in 603 starts, and 14 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards. Earnhardt, who won the famous Daytona 500 race in 2004 and 2014, is certain to be selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame after his retirement. Earnhardt, 42, is the son of Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion who died in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been a top racing driver in a career lasting many years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who has been successful for many years. Write a fan letter to the person, asking three questions you would like answered about what it took to be successful for so long.

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. A Garden from Scraps

Pearl Fryar is a local gardening legend in Bishopville, South Carolina. And he had to overcome racial prejudice and stereotypes to do it. When he first moved to the small town in the 1980s, he was almost blocked from building his house because neighbors feared that as an African American, he wouldn’t keep up his yard. He worked doubly hard to prove them wrong, winning “Yard of the Month” awards from the local garden club and creating a world famous topiary garden of plants trimmed to look like statues. Even better, he created his 300-plant garden mostly with plants he rescued from the compost waste pile of a local nursery. Pearl Fryar created a beautiful garden from scraps and discarded plants. In the newspaper or online, find photos and stories about other things that people throw away that could be reused to create something beautiful. Draw a picture of how these things could be used. Give it a creative — and beautiful — title.

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.

5. Time for Lunch

As First Lady, Michelle Obama pushed hard to get schools to serve healthier foods to reduce the number of students who are overweight or obese. Now some of the rules she promoted are being delayed by President Trump’s secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue. As his first major action. Perdue announced changes to federal nutrition standards that will delay a rule reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in foods and allow some schools to get waivers from a rule requiring that grains in meals be 50 percent whole grain. The Trump administration changes leave most of the Obama administration rules in place, including rules that students must take fruits and vegetables on the lunch line. Some schools have asked for changes to that policy, saying students often throw them away. Eating fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest things kids can do. They provide vitamins and minerals and replace fats and salt contained in many snack foods. As a class, discuss fruits and vegetables you like to eat the most. Pick one and create a series of comic strips in which the fruit or vegetable tells people why it is good to eat. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.