Activities & Lesson Plans - 5th & 6th Grade Newsletter 11/20/09

Grade: 5th-6th

Grades 5 & 6 | November 20, 2009 

In This Week's 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!"

Tell your child: Three minutes into the shuttle's flight, it had reached a speed of 4,000 miles per hour. At 3 1/2 minutes, it was traveling 5,000 miles per hour; at 4 minutes, 6,000 mph. 

  • Based on these numbers, at what speed would the shuttle be traveling 7 minutes into the flight? How many minutes would it take to triple its speed of 4,000 mph? 
  • 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?
  • 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 stop Spirit. The rover continued to send valuable data back to scientists.
  • Watch "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; with a supply of drinking water, astronauts could set up a base camp.
  • Learn more about the mission.
  • ASK: Do you think moon exploration is important or should NASA focus on Mars? Explain your answer. 

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 letter 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.
  • Making pie? Imagine that half of your guests will have one piece each of pecan and pumpkin; one-quarter will have one piece of pumpkin and one third will have pecan. Have your child make a pie chart based on different scenarios. 
  • PLAY Percent Goodies.
  • Get a behind-the-balloons look at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

New Moon Hysteria
The film based on the second book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series descends on theaters today. Advance ticket sales have been out of this world. Even with a PG13 rating, the books have a big tween following. Believe it or not, Meyer got the idea for the vampire series in a dream. 
  • If your child is interested in writing, suggest that he or she keep a dream journal. Great ideas can come in your sleep.
  • ASK: Have any of your favorite books become movies? Would you rather read the book before seeing the movie, or vice versa? Explain your answer.
  • If your child has read the book, ASK: Do you think a PG13 rating is fair, since many of the readers are younger?  
  • Imagine that your child has the chance to make a favorite book into a movie. Which book would it be? Which actors or actresses would they cast in the different roles? If scenes in the book had to be left out, which ones would he or she choose and why?
  • Watch the New Moon Trailer.

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