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For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 06, 2017

1. A Giving Girl

It’s often said that anyone can make a difference. If you don’t believe it, consider the story of Sunshine Oelfke of Ishpeming, Michigan. Sunshine is 5 years old and in kindergarten, but that didn’t stop her from helping classmates who were less fortunate than she is. When she saw that others in her class couldn’t afford milk money, she emptied her piggy bank to buy milk for them. Her teacher was touched when she brought the money in, but the story didn’t end there. Sunshine’s grandmother told what she had done on Facebook, and within days dozens of people offered to donate money themselves. Her grandmother set up a fund-raising account on the Internet, and within a week people had donated enough money to buy milk for Sunshine’s class for a year. But even then, the story didn’t end. As word spread of Sunshine’s efforts, people from around the world offered help and donations topped $11,000. Sunshine’s grandmother said the money would be used to make sure Sunshine’s classmates will always have milk as they go through school. People help others in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about someone helping others. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme thanking the person for helping.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

2. Lost at Sea

When Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set sail from Hawaii for the island of Tahiti last spring, they knew it would be a long trip. But they never dreamed their ocean journey would last five months! On May 30 bad weather knocked out the engine on their sailboat, and when they tried to continue with just wind power they got lost. Last week, they were finally rescued by the U.S. Navy — thousands of miles from Tahiti. They and their dogs Zeus and Valentine were drifting 900 miles southeast of the Asian nation of Japan when they were sighted by a fishing boat. The women had packed enough dry food to last a year, but were frustrated when their distress calls went unanswered. People often are in the news when they overcome challenges. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone overcoming a challenge. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, stating how this person’s success could inspire others.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Pet Furniture

It’s no secret Americans love their pets, and Ikea is giving them new ways to show that love. The Swedish company has created a collection of modern furniture and accessories exclusively for dogs and cats. New products go way beyond basics like beds, brushes or leashes. If your dog needs its own couch, for example, Ikea offers a low, black futon model. If your cat needs space for quiet time, a “cat house on legs” doubles as an end table next to a couch or chair. And if your pet needs a special shelter, there’s a bookshelf that can provide one. Ikea calls its new collection the Lurvig line — a name that means “hairy” or “shaggy” in the Swedish language. People often are in the news for things they do for pets. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing something special for a pet. Use what you read to write a creative story, telling what the person did and how you think the pet responded.

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.

4. Higher Park Prices

America’s National Parks are among the most popular attractions in the nation, but it could cost you more to visit some of the top ones next year. The National Park Service is proposing to more than double the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone. The price increase would boost the entrance fee to $70 per car from the present price of $25-$30 per vehicle. The Park Service says the money raised from higher fees would be used to pay for improvements to roads, bridges, campgrounds, water lines, bathrooms and other visitor services. The pricing would be put in place during each park's five busiest months. National parks offer Americans ways to enjoy nature and wildlife first hand. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a national park. Use what you read to create an ad for the newspaper telling people why they should visit the park. Share ads with the class and discuss.

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. They’re So Stinky!

In the insect world, stink bugs have a name that tells you all you need to know. When you touch or step on them, they give off a very nasty smell. At this time of year, you’re likely to see more and more of them trying to get into your family’s home. That’s because stink bugs are looking for a warm place to hibernate for the winter after feasting on fruits and vegetables all summer and fall. This year the stink bug population jumped because of warm temperatures during the summer and fall. There are “literally trillions and billions of stinkbugs nationwide,” says Michael Raupp, an insect expert at the University of Maryland Entomologist. “They are coming to find a place to chill out … survive winter, then get up and get back outside.” When fall turns to winter, many wild animals change their behavior to get ready. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wild animal getting ready for winter. Use what you read to prepare a short oral report for the class. Use pictures from the newspaper or Internet with your report, if you like. Present your report and discuss.

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.