Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 19, 2019

1. Seesaw Connection

The nation’s crackdown on illegal immigration has separated many families and friends at the border between the United States and Mexico. But in one spot, people are being brought together rather than pushed apart. By seesaws. Three seesaws have been installed at a border fence separating Sunland Park, in New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico. The seesaws go right through the fence and allow kids and adults on either side to play together. The seesaws were the idea of two California college professors who wanted to show that a border fence would not end the relationships between people who live on each side. The seesaws show that children and adults remain “connected in meaningful ways on both sides” even with a fence between them, said one of the professors, Ronald Rael of the University of California at Berkeley. The seesaws installed on the U.S.-Mexico border were created to help people stay connected. What other activities help people stay connected? In the newspaper or online find photos or stories that show people staying connected in different ways. Use what you read to create a song telling why it is important to be connected to others. Take the tune of a song you like and re-write the words to fit the topic. Then share it with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

2. North Pole Lightning

Climate change and global warming are causing the Arctic area near the Earth’s North Pole to warm twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The higher temperatures are causing the area’s permanent ice sheet to melt and sea levels to rise. This month, residents of the Arctic witnessed another effect of global warming on the area. Lightning was recorded within 300 miles of the North Pole. Lightning is rare in the Arctic, because it requires thunderstorms to form. In most summers the Arctic weather is too cool for thunderstorms, which need warm and moist air to occur. This year, however, the Arctic has been setting records for high temperatures, creating the conditions needed for thunderstorms and lightning. The National Weather Service scientists were so surprised they issued a special alert, declaring “A number of lightning strikes were recorded … within 300 miles of the North Pole.” Then they added: “This is one of the farthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory.” Global warming is affecting habitats and the environment all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one result of warming. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor, telling how warming is affecting the environment in this case and why that is important.

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.

3. Awesome Simone

Simone Biles is the greatest athlete competing in women’s gymnastics today — and perhaps ever. She boosted her spot in the history books this month by winning a record-tying sixth all-around title in the United States Gymnastics Championships. In winning the championship, the 22-year-old Biles nailed two moves never done successfully in women’s competition before. One was a triple-double (two flips with three twists) in her floor exercise and the other was a double-double dismount (two flips with two twists) from the balance beam. She finished a whopping 4.95 points ahead of the next closest competitor and seemed to be gearing up to win more gold medals in next year’s Olympic Games. Gymnast Simone Biles is one of the world’s top athletes. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about another top athlete you like or admire. Use what you read to write a sports column for the newspaper, telling what makes this athlete special, how he/she became successful and how that could inspire other athletes. Give your column an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Teeth and More Teeth

Talk about a toothache! A 7-year-old boy from the Asian nation of India had complained for many months that he had a swollen and aching jaw. When doctors finally looked at his mouth, they decided that he needed surgery to correct the situation. What they found when they operated astounded them. Growing in the boy’s mouth were 526 teeth! Most were contained in a “bag-like mass” that doctors removed from the boy’s jaw. The mass weighed 7 ounces and contained hundreds of miniature teeth. Most 7-year-olds have 20 primary teeth, while adults have 32 permanent teeth. Unusual medical situations often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one situation. Write a paragraph telling why the situation was unusual and what was done about it.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. A Hoverboard Record

Hoverboards are personal flying machines that use a backpack motor to lift riders into the air. They once only existed in science fiction stories, but now they are real. So real that an inventor from the European nation of France used one to fly 22 miles over the English Channel to reach the nation of England. Inventor Franky Zapata was the first person ever to cross the Channel on a hoverboard, and he completed the journey in just over 20 minutes. “It’s just an amazing moment in my life,” he said after reaching speeds up to 110 miles per hour on his record-setting trip. He said dealing with shifting winds was the hardest part of the journey. Franky Zapata challenged himself to do something no one had ever done before. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person challenging himself/herself. Pretend you are a TV newscaster and prepare a short report on what the person did, what obstacles had to be overcome and why the achievement would interest viewers.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.