For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 12, 2011

1. Up, Up and Away

Twelve seconds and 120 feet don’t seem like large numbers when you’re talking about airplanes. But for Orville and Wilbur Wright, those numbers added up to an huge feat on December 17, 1901. The two men were the first to fly a self-propelled aircraft that day when they took off on North Carolina’s Outer Banks in a gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane. People had flown in gliders before, but never in a motorized plane. Though the Wright Brothers’ first flight went just 120 feet, they went 852 feet in 59 seconds on the last flight of the day. Find a newspaper story about airplanes or flying. Draw a comic strip showing where you would like to go if you could fly anywhere. Write a short paragraph explaining your choice and present it to the class.

Core/National Standard: Using drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings.

2. New Toys

New toys are in the news, because people often give children presents at this time of year. Look at the toy ads in today's newspaper to help you get some ideas. Now "invent" a brand new toy. Draw a picture of a fun, made-up toy you'd like to give to someone your age who lives in a different country. Give your toy a creative name that would make kids want to have one.

Core/National Standards: Using drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings; representing creatively.

3. Bah! Humbug!

The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come leaped off the pages of the book “A Christmas Carol” for the first time 168 years ago. Charles Dickens’ classic tale follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy man who was a mean boss to his employee Bob Cratchit, on the night of Christmas Eve. While he is in bed, four ghosts visit Scrooge. The first is the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge he must change his unkind ways and learn to give to others. The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge that he wasn’t mean as a child, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows people in need of gifts and cheer, and finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge what life will be like if he doesn’t change. Search your newspaper for stories about people in need of gifts and cheer this holiday season. Discuss as a class what you could do to help them.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; demonstrating command of the convention of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

4. Going Buggy

People who are scared of insects might not want to travel to New Zealand. A former park ranger was traveling there, when he found the world’s largest insect, called a giant Weta Bug. It had a wingspan of seven inches and weighed about the same as three mice. According to a Yahoo! News article, Mark Moffett searched for the elusive bug for two nights before he found one. Moffett put the bug in his hand and fed it a carrot. It ate some of the carrot before Moffett and his friends put the bug back where they found it. “She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn’t want to risk indigestion,” Moffett said. Find a newspaper story about an unusual creature or one doing something unusual. Write a short summary of the story and illustrate it.

Core/National Standards: Writing informative or explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; adding drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings.

5. Earth’s Twin?

Finding other planets that can support human life is kind of like Goldilocks looking for the perfect meal, chair or bed. If it’s too close to a sun, it will be too hot, and if it’s too far from a sun it will be too cold. But scientists from America’s NASA space agency believe they have found a planet that is just right. It seems to have an average temperature of 72 degrees and has plenty of water. It is 600 light years away. As a class, find a space story in the newspaper. Or find one at the NASA website, Discuss as a class what kinds of life might live on another planet.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.