Activities & Lesson Plans - 1st & 2nd Grade Newsletter 11/20/09

Grade: 1st-2nd

Grades 1 & 2 | November 20, 2009

This Week's Issue: Space Gets Busy; Being Thankful; A Big-Screen Book

Shuttle to the Space Station
After a two-day commute, six U.S. astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS)  bearing gifts: 20,000 pounds of spare parts and other goodies, including Amelia Earhart's scarf and a stuffed blue toy spider. During the Atlantis crew's 11-day mission, there will be three spacewalks—and numerous tweets. In a message on Wednesday, one ISSer tweeted: "Atlantis arriving today... Always amazing sight out window. Will be good to see our friends!"

Share with your child: Astronauts carry high school football jerseys, plush mascots and other items on the shuttle to honor their alma mater, hometown or meaningful people, places or things. 

  • THINK: Imagine that you are an astronaut traveling into space. What important nonessential items would you want to bring with you? Explain the significance of each.
  • Watch Atlantis launch.
  • See mission updates, video and more at NASA.
Meanwhile, on Mars:
Spirit Rover caught in a sand trap: How on earth will scientists at NASA headquarters make it move? After about six months of being stuck, efforts to help Spirit escape began slowly on November 17. The little-rover-that-could stopped less than 1 second into its first attempt. NASA says that it could take weeks or even months to free Spirit, and even that is uncertain. Still, being stuck didn't crush its spirit—the rover continued to send valuable data back to scientists.
  • See artists' drawings of the Mars rovers and the Mars landscape. Explain that the rovers are there to help scientists learn more about Mars. ASK: What tools might the rovers need to send information back to Earth? Why don't we just send astronauts there?
  • Explore our solar system with NASA. Have your child draw the planets in their orbits around the sun, using color to convey each planet's landscape or temperature as described. ASK: How many planets are between us and the sun? What are Saturn's rings made of? 
  • Follow the engineers' efforts to drive Spirit to safety and eceive tweets from Mars (kind of).
  • Play on Mars, at the NASA kids' page. 
And on the Moon:
Spacecraft that crashed into a crater on its surface revealed evidence that there is water on the moon. The October lunar-crash-landing kicked up 25 gallons of water—in the forms of ice and vapor. The discovery had some experts and dreamers talking about moon exploration; with a supply of drinking water, astronauts could set up a base camp.

Tell your child: NASA says that it would take 142 days to get to the moon from Earth, traveling 70 miles per hour. 
  • ASK: How many days would it take you if you were traveling twice as fast, at 140 mph?
  • Learn more about the mission and find more fun facts about the moon.
  • ASK: Have astronauts ever gone to the moon? If so, who and when?
  • Play Alien Games: Alien Addition and Scavenger Hunt—Letter Bugs and Space Trash 

Give Thanks 
Get your kids thinking about ways to give thanks by giving to others. Encourage them to research organizations in your area that help feed the hungry. Share this statistic: A federal study indicates that more than 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger. That includes nearly 17 million children.
  • ASK: What are some ways that we can help others throughout the year? 
  • ASK: What are you most thankful for? Give your child old magazines, newspapers or catalogs and help him or her make a collage with pictures showing some of the activities, animals, food, events and other things that he or she likes. 
  • ASK: Who are you thankful for? Help your child write a note to a teacher, friend or family member to tell that person why he or she means so much. 
Talk Turkey
Tis the season to involve your child in the planning and preparing
  • Making pie? Have your child draw two circles on a piece of paper; the pumpkin pie will have four slices and chocolate cream will have six slices. ASK: How many total pieces of pie are there? If we eat one-half of the chocolate pie, how many pieces of that pie will be left? If we eat one-quarter of the pumpkin pie, how many slices will be left? Which pie has bigger slices?
  • Have your child research the first Thanksgiving menu. ASK: Is there anything that the Pilgrims ate that you would like to try? What would you miss most from Thanksgiving's modern-day menu?
  • Get a behind-the-balloons look at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A Fox Tale
When kids first met Mr. Fox, he was the main character of a children's book by Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Kids and parents thought Mr. F and friends were so fantastic that the book became a bestseller—and now, an animated movie. 
  • If your child hasn't read the book, suggest that you read it together. ASK: Do you think this would make a good movie? Why or why not? Which parts of the story would you most like to see onscreen?
  • Suggest that your child research author Roald Dahl, then write a brief bio about him.
  • Watch the trailer.

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