Activities & Lesson Plans - 5th & 6th Grade Newsletter 12/04/09

Grade: 5th-6th

Grades 5 & 6 | 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, change the words or word combinations to make it silly. Then stage a fun performance in costume. 
  • Make up some Mad Libs.

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 research the adaptations of these deep sea creatures that help them survive their extreme climate. Then, ask him or her to identify one adaptation in particular and explain why it is so important. 
  • Ask your child to point out the adaptations he or she sees in the Census of Marine Life gallery
  • Explain that oceanographers divide the ocean into different zones based on the amount of sunlight that penetrates each area. After researching the zones, have your child draw a diagram that identifies the different layers, to include information on depth, conditions and at least one plant or animal that lives there.   

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 and the Afghanistan Embassy.


  • 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.
  • CALCULATE: Give your child the following numbers: population estimate, 28.396 million. Ask your child to round the number. Then, tell your child that 24% of Afghans live in urban areas. Have your child determine the urban population. Based on these numbers, what percentage of the population lives in rural areas? How many people is that? 
  • Find current population figures, land area and other statistics at the CIA World Factbook. Compare Afghanistan with the U.S. Have your child input the data he or she gathers into a Venn diagram, writing differences in the outer circles and similarities in the inner circle. 
  • PRINT a map activity on Afghanistan for your child.


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' statementDISCUSS: 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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