For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 20, 2020

1. Play Ball!

In the United States and other nations, sports events have been canceled to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Not so in the foreign state of Taiwan in East Asia. The island state next to the People’s Republic of China has largely been spared the effects of the coronavirus, with just six deaths in a population of 23-million people. And that means its professional baseball season has begun right on schedule. With one big exception. To prevent spread of the virus, no fans can attend the games. To make up for that, the Rakuten Monkeys team filled the seats with mannequins and cardboard cutouts showing fans cheering the action, holding up signs, banging on drums and wearing shirts and caps in the Monkeys’ red and white colors, the Washington Post newspaper reported. In keeping with the times, many of the stand-in fans were wearing face masks. In the United States, the situation is much different than it is in Taiwan. With no games to cover, sportswriters are writing stories about the lives, interests and hobbies of different players. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a sports story that does this. Then pick an athlete you would like to interview. Write out five questions you would like to ask about their lives or non-sports activities. Share with family or friends and explain why you would like answers to your questions.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. The Power of Art

Art can raise people’s spirits in times of trouble or uncertainty. Especially for children. And especially if it involves familiar stories or movies. A father of two in the state of Florida is using art this way by turning the sidewalk outside his home into a gallery of favorite characters from Disney movies. Brian Morris started his art project to lift the spirits of his own two children, but every new drawing is cheering up others in his neighborhood as well. Drawing in chalk, he has created colorful portraits from “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and more since Florida’s Disney World shut down and families were asked to shelter at home. What movie characters, celebrities or sports stars would you draw if you were making a sidewalk gallery? Find a photo of one or more in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to re-create the photo as an original drawing in your own style. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose this person for your gallery. For added fun, buy or use chalk to draw your portrait on a sidewalk near your home.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Gift Cards for All

Across the nation, millions of people have lost their jobs because businesses have closed due to the coronavirus. In many communities people have stepped up to help them. One of the most generous efforts has come in the small town of Earlham, Iowa. To help families deal with impact of the virus, one person bought gift cards for food for every family in town. Through the donor’s gift, each family will get $50 gift cards for the local grocery store and two local restaurants — a total of $150 per family. The donor asked that his/her name not be made public, but with more than 350 households and families in town, the gift added up to a total of $82,000, Mayor Jeff Lillie reported. “I can’t even describe the level of gratitude that I have for this person,” he said. “I don’t believe ‘thank you’ is a big enough word.” The un-named donor in Earlham, Iowa helped many families by giving them $50 gift cards. If you could help a family with a $50 gift card, what would it be for? In the newspaper or online, find and study ads for things people need while dealing with the coronavirus. Pick a store or product for which they could use a gift card. Write a letter explaining your gift to the family receiving it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Steepest Street

The Guinness World Records organization awards “official” world records for all kinds of situations and achievements. And winners of those records take them very seriously. Consider the case of the community of Dunedin in the southern Pacific nation of New Zealand. Until last year, the city had been recognized for having the steepest street in the world. Then last June, Guinness recognized a street in the European nation of Wales for having the steepest street. Not so fast, Dunedin said, and appealed the change. A new survey of the Wales and New Zealand streets returned the title to New Zealand after measuring both streets by their slope at the center line. New Zealand’s Baldwin Street was found to have a slope of 34.8 percent, compared to 28.6 percent for the Wales street in the town of Harlech. Wales still can lay claim to having the more exotic street name. Its steep street is called Ffordd Pen Llech in the Welsh language. Many Guinness world records are awarded for odd or silly things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a Guinness record you think is odd or silly. Use what you read to write a silly poem, limerick or rap describing this record.

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

5. Nature Hunt

Learning at home can take many forms while schools are closed during the coronavirus emergency. One way is to practice visual learning and observation by going on nature scavenger hunts. Practice with family members by finding a picture of an outdoor scene in the newspaper or online. Have each person study the picture and make a list of things that can be seen in the picture — a bird, a branch, a flower, etc. Then exchange lists and see if you can find what others saw in the picture. Be alert to small things as well as large. For added fun, go outside with family members in your yard, your street or a park (keep safe distancing). Make a list of real things you see in nature and exchange the list. See if each person can find the items on the exchanged list. Finish by discussing what roles different items play in nature, and why they are important to the natural habitat.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.