Activities & Lesson Plans - 3rd & 4th Grade Newsletter 11/20/09

Grade: 3rd-4th

Grades 3 & 4 | November 20, 2009

In This Issue: Space Gets Busy; Being Thankful; 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!"

  • ASK: Imagine you are an astronaut. If you could only choose one item to honor by taking it into space, what would it be and why?
  • See mission updates, video and more at NASA. DO: Have your child write a series of tweets, one for each day of the mission, as if he or she were tweeting from the ISS. 
  • Watch Atlantis launch.

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 stop Spirit. The rover continued to send valuable data back to scientists.

  • Watch the "Free Spirit—Plotting an Escape" video. 
  • Follow the engineers' efforts to drive Spirit to safety.
  • Receive tweets from Mars (kind of). 

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.

  • Learn more about the mission.
  • ASK: Why is this new discovery important for future moon missions? Do you think moon exploration is important or should NASA focus on Mars? Explain your answer.
  • Learn more about our solar system.
  • ASK: Which planet was recently demoted to dwarf status? Why? Do you think [Pluto] should still be called a planet? If so, share your reasons. 

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? Have your child research and identify an organization or cause that addresses an issue they feel strongly about. Then suggest your child do something about it: write to a local politician; present the issue to his or her classmates; start a fundraiser. 
  • ASK: What are you most thankful for? Give your child old magazines, newspapers or catalogs and have them cut out pictures to create a collage of activities, animals, food, events and other things that they like. 

Talk Turkey
Tis the season to involve your child in the planning and preparing
Share this with your child: The general rule when it comes to buying the bird is 1-1/2 pounds per person. Have your child figure out the size of your turkey based on the number of guests.

  • Ask your child to create a day-of timeline based on the prep and cooking time for each dish. Give him or her the menu and the time that you plan to serve the meal. Then have him or her do the rest.
  • Imagine that each of your guests asks to bring a friend. Give your child a few of your recipes and ask him or her to double them. Then imagine that half of your guests call to say they can't come; have your child halve the ingredients. Challenge him or her to convert most of the cup measurements into tablespoons and teaspoons.
  • 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. Fox 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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