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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 20, 2021

1. What a Wheel!

Ferris wheels — also called observation wheels — have been providing high-flying fun for riders for more than 125 years. But none has gone as high as a new observation wheel opening next month in the Middle East city of Dubai in the nation of the United Arab Emirates. The new observation wheel called the Ain Dubai will be the tallest ever built in the world. The Ain Dubai is more than 820 feet tall, making it 269 feet taller than the world’s second biggest Ferris wheel, the High Roller in the U.S. city of Las Vegas, Nevada. From bottom to top it is nearly the height of three U.S. football fields and almost twice the size of the famous London Eye Ferris wheel in the European city of London, England. The Ain Dubai doesn’t have swinging seats for two or three people as you would find at an amusement park. Instead, there are 48 cabins designed to fit 40 people each, CNN News reports. That means up to 1,920 people can ride the Ain Dubai at any given time. Each ride lasts 38 minutes and tickets start at around $35. Amusement parks offer a great many attractions to provide fun and thrills for visitors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story or ad about an amusement park attraction in your state. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend inviting him or her to visit this attraction. State the reasons you think your friend would like this attraction and what makes it special.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Beautiful but Deadly

With spotted wings of bright red and brown and a black and white body, the spotted lantern fly is one of the world’s most beautiful insects. It is also a deadly and destructive invasive species that is attacking trees, fruit orchards and grape vineyards on America’s East Coast. The lantern fly, which is native to the Asian nation of China, was introduced to the United States in 2014 in a shipping container sent from Asia to eastern Pennsylvania. It has since spread through the states of Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. Lantern flies feed on the sap of trees and vines, causing them to shrivel and die back. Lantern flies also encourage the growth of a fungus disease called sooty mold, which can indirectly damage plants. Especially hard hit are trees that grow apples, cherries and peaches and vines that produce grapes. Invasive species are species introduced to habitats where they would not ordinarily live. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an invasive species of plants or wildlife that is affecting an area. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing the damage being caused by this invasive species and what can be done about it.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. A Golden Mask

One of the great things about being an archaeologist is that there are always exciting things to find from the past. In the Asian nation of China, archaeologists have made some spectacular discoveries in a series of pits they have explored in a province in the nation’s western regions. One is a solid gold mask that dates back more than 3,000 years, CNN News reports. The mask, which was discovered in June but unveiled just this month, weighs about 2/10 of a pound and would have been part of a larger bronze head rather than a stand-alone object. It is believed to have been made during a period known as the Shang Dynasty, which came to an end in the year 1046 BCE. Other items found in the ceremonial pits in Sichuan Province include ivory relics, a knife made from the precious stone jade and several bronze figurines. Many of the objects appear to have been ceremonially burned before being buried, leading experts to believe that the pits were used for sacrificial purposes. Archaeologists use items they find to piece together what lives were like in earlier times. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo showing a place where people work or live today. Pretend you are an archaeologist from the future and write a paragraph explaining what life today was like from what you see in the photo. Share and discuss with friends or classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. All-Women Workplace

All over the world, businesses are being urged to hire more women to increase diversity and opportunity among workers. In the Asian nation of India, a company that makes electric scooters is taking that advice to heart in a big way. The company Ola Electric has announced that a factory it is opening will be run entirely by women and have an all-female workforce of 10,000 women. The first of the women started working at the factory last week, and the full facility will be up and running by the end of 2022. The plant will be “the world’s largest women-only factory and the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility globally,” Ola Electric’s co-founder said in an Internet post. Companies around the world are looking to hire more women to increase diversity in their workforces. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business that is doing this or might want to in the future. Use what you read to design a Help Wanted ad to attract women workers. Be sure to explain why they would want to work for this company.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. Sailing Voyage to China

Long before there were container ships and super tankers, sailing ships were used to move cargo from place to place around the world. Next spring, a replica of one of the largest wooden cargo ships from the 1700s will leave the European nation of Sweden and re-create a journey made to the Asian nation of China halfway around the world. The ship, a 192-foot galleon named the Götheborg II, will leave the city of Stockholm next April and conclude its journey in the city of Shanghai in October. The original vessel, also called the Götheborg, was owned by the Swedish East India Company, which was set up to establish trade between Sweden and Asian nations, particularly China. The original Götheborg sank outside the city of Gothenburg on its return from its third voyage to China in 1745. Cargo ships play an important role supplying goods to the United States and other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a cargo ship and what goods it is transporting. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how these goods would be delivered if there were no cargo ships.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.