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For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 10, 2017

1. Two Panther Babies

The Florida panther is one of the rarest of America’s endangered species. The big cats are rarely seen in the wild, and at one point just 20 to 30 were thought to be left in the entire state. This spring, panther watchers got good news, when state wildlife experts confirmed that two baby panthers had been spotted in an area just north of the wilderness region they live in southwest Florida. The Florida panther once ranged across all the southeastern states and is the official state animal of Florida. A breeding program has helped boost the population of the cats to about 200 statewide, and the new baby panthers are a sign it is continuing to grow. Many people would like to help wildlife species that are endangered. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about problems faced by one endangered species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, listing things that are being done to help this species, and other things that might be tried. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Surprise Guest

Geoffrey Lane and Marni Goldberg are huge fans of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, and when they were planning their wedding they made an unusual decision. They invited Eagles offensive lineman Brandon Brooks to come. They never thought he’d respond, but when the couple got married on March 25 in Oxford, Ohio, Brooks showed up. Brooks had never met Lane or Goldberg, but decided to say yes when he realized he and Lane had attended the same college, Miami of Ohio. Lane and Goldberg were “over the moon” when they spotted the 6’5” lineman. “I asked him, ‘Why … did you decide to drive all the way up here to come to a stranger's wedding?’” Lane said. “He said ‘because you invited me.’” People often make news by doing kind things for other people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone being kind. Use what you read to draw a series of comic showing this person being kind, and how other people responded.

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.

3. Nature Poem

April is Earth Month, a time when people celebrate nature and work to clean up the environment on Earth Day. It’s also National Poetry Month, a time to enjoy poetry in all its forms. Take part in both celebrations by using the newspaper to find a story or picture about nature or the Earth. Then write a short poem about how this part of nature makes you feel. If you can’t find nature in the newspaper, write about a natural thing in your neighborhood. Share poems as a class.

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

4. Prince to Donate Billions

A royal prince in the Mideast nation of Saudi Arabia has pledged to give away his entire $32 billion fortune to charitable causes. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says he has decided to give the funds to Alwaleed Philanthropies to support causes like fighting disease, promoting cultural understanding, and empowering women. Prince Alwaleed, who holds no official position in the Saudi government, says his Islamic faith guided his decision. Wealthy people often donate money to help communities, support a cause or solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person, problem or situation that would benefit from outside help. Pretend you are a wealthy person and write a proposal to donate money to improve the situation. Be sure to state what the money would be used for and what you want it to achieve.

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.

5. Chicken Pox Declines

The disease chicken pox continues to decline in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a steady decrease in cases since doctors started recommending that children get two doses of a vaccine that blocks the disease, instead of one. The CDC credits the extra vaccinations with preventing more than 3.5 million cases, 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths each year. The fall-off has been greatest among 5-to-14-year-olds, the age group most likely to have received two doses of the vaccine. Efforts to treat or control childhood diseases are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about efforts involving one childhood disease. Use what you read to design a poster to educate families about the things they need to know about this disease and efforts to eliminate it. Give your poster an eye-catching title to make people notice it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.