Activities & Lesson Plans - 3rd & 4th Grade Newsletter 12/04/09

Grade: 3rd-4th

Grades 3 & 4 | December 4, 2009

In This Issue: Muppets Rock; Deep-Sea Census; Troops to Afghanistan; Sore Subjects

Online Muppet Mania
The Muppets have made a comeback, thanks to a YouTube video. In just one week's time, Animal, Miss Piggy and friends managed to rack up more than 8.6 million views (and counting) while rocking out on a parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" video. We'd like to give a hand to a new generation of Muppet fans, who helped to put it on Kideos Top 10 List.

  • Come up with your own parody video. Have your child choose a song and change the words or word combinations to make it silly. Then stage a fun performance in costume. 
  • Have your child keep a vocab-building journal, to record words he or she doesn't recognize or especially likes for the way they sound or for what they mean. Ask him or her to look up the unfamiliar words, and choose one word per week. CHALLENGE your child to to use the word—correctly and creatively—in conversation and in his or her writing. 
  • Visit Fun With Words: A Celebration of the English Language. 

A 10-year sea census launched in 2000 continues to surprise scientists. Most recently, exploration of an area 3 miles below the ocean's surface has revealed a diverse community of marine species. The creatures thrive in a frigid, black world without sunlight. So far, researchers have discovered 17,650 animals living in eternal, watery darkness—and loving it. Watch "Beyond Sunlight" to see some of the creatures that live in total darkness. 

  • Have your child learn more about the habitat where these deep sea creatures live and research the adaptations that help them survive the extreme conditions. Then, ask him or her to create a chart that matches each adaptation with the condition it addresses. 
  • Come up with a new creature. First, imagine a world with extreme or unusual conditions that the creature must adapt to. Then, help your child identify features that the critter will need to survive its environment. 

More Troops to Afghanistan

In an address to the nation on December 1, President Barack Obama announced that an additional 30,000 U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan. U.S. Military officials say the move is meant to help stabilize Afghanistan and ultimately lead to a nation that can govern and protect itself. The President also set a July 2011 deadline to begin troop withdrawals.

Find tips on ways to discuss the war with your child, from the NYU Child Study Center. Websites for Afghanistan research: National Geographic Kids, the Afghanistan Embassy, and CIA World Factbook


  • Virtual Visit: Learning about an unfamiliar country and its people can refocus your child's attention to something more positive. Have your child write down a few beliefs he or she has about the people or the landscape of Afghanistan. Then have him or her research these points to see what the country is really like. 
  • Have your child locate Afghanistan on a world map and identify the capital. ASK: On which continent is the country located? Name the neighboring countries.
  • Suggest that you and your child find a charity that provides support to U.S. troops and their families. Together, find a task that will give your child a sense of empowerment.


Talking 'Bout ...
Tiger Woods: Recent coverage of the star's every move has been unavoidable, and golf has nothing to do with it. If your child is talking or curious about the scandal, you may want to turn this into a teachable moment.
  • Read Woods' statement. DISCUSS: As sports fans, we tend to expect professional athletes to be winners in all aspects of life; but experience has shown that even the best performers make mistakes. 
  • ASK: Is it fair to expect athletes or other famous people we admire to be role models? Why or why not? Imagine that you are the head of a company that sponsors an athlete that makes a very public mistake. Would you pull the sponsorship? Explain your reasoning. 

Toxic Toys: A consumer group released a report citing more than 32% of 700 toys tested as containing one or more toxic chemicals. Be sure to shop carefully!

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