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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 11, 2021

1. Space Movie

Space pioneers continue to make history aboard the International Space Station by doing things never done before. This month, a Russian crew rocketed to the station with a historic goal: to make the world’s first feature-length movie shot in space. A Soyuz rocket carried actress Yulia Peresild, filmmaker Klim Shipenko and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov to the station for a 12-day mission to shoot footage for a film titled “The Challenge.” The three Russians will team with two Russian cosmonauts already on the space station — Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov — to shoot about 35 minutes of the film. The movie is a thriller in which Peresild will play a doctor who has to race against time to save the life of a crew member in space. America’s NASA space agency also has plans to shoot a movie in space, with superstar Tom Cruise playing a leading role. The International Space Station is an unusual place to make a movie. In the newspaper or online, find a story or photo involving another place that would be unusual to make a movie. Use what you read to write a paragraph outlining a plot for a movie and how the plot could be affected by this unusual place

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Major League Playoffs

The playoffs for Major League Baseball are under way, and fans across the nation are watching to see which teams will advance to the World Series. In many years there are surprises — teams that do better than expected and players who become unexpected heroes. Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays advanced through the playoffs to earn spots in the World Series. The Dodgers won the Series and baseball’s World Championship 4 games to 2. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about the Major League playoffs this week. Keep a log or journal of interesting or unexpected things that happen each day. Think like a sportswriter and use your journal to write a column titled “Surprises in Baseball.”

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.

3. Fossil Find

Fossil hunters come in all shapes and sizes, and make discoveries in all kinds of ways. In the state of Michigan this summer, a 6-year-old boy made headlines when he discovered a fossil that dates back 12,000 years. Julian Gagnon was walking along a creek with his family when he stumbled upon a rock that looked like a tooth. And what a tooth it was! It belonged to a mastodon, an ancient relative of modern elephants that is the official state fossil of Michigan. The fossil found by Julian at Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve is roughly the size as a human hand and was confirmed to have belonged to an American mastodon by researchers at the University of Michigan. Mastodons lived 12,000 years ago and were among the largest land animals on Earth at the time, reaching lengths of 10 feet and weighing 8 tons or more. People often make news when they make unusual discoveries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has made such a discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend explaining who would be the first people outside your family that you would tell about your discovery. Explain why.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Food from the Sea

In communities across America, many poor families struggle to provide enough food for children, parents and other relatives. In the state of Maine, an accidental catch by a fishing crew reduced this “food insecurity” for 350 people who rely on a local soup kitchen for meals. Ross Alex and the crew of the Kathryn Ann fishing boat were fishing for lobster bait off the city of Belfast when they pulled up something unexpected in their net — a giant tuna fish. That would be a good thing for other fishermen, but not for Alex, whose boat was not licensed to catch tuna. When they couldn’t free the tuna from the tangled net and release it back into the sea, they came up with another solution. They took the fish to shore and with the help of a local lobstering business got permission from state officials to donate the fish to a local soup kitchen, UPI News reported. The Belfast Soup Kitchen said the 600-pound bluefin tuna provided about 350 servings of food delivered to the community. Many groups and individuals provide help to families and individuals who do not have enough healthy food to eat. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about groups in your area or state that are doing this. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining different ways people could raise money for these groups that help the hungry. Be sure to include ways that students your age could help.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. That’s Nuts!

In the fall many wild animals are busy storing food for winter. Among the busiest are squirrels who put away nuts they find to eat in the colder months. In the city of Fargo, North Dakota, a red squirrel was extra busy this year and set a neighborhood record for nut gathering. The squirrel packed Bill Fischer’s Chevrolet Avalanche truck with 42 gallons of black walnuts! The walnuts, still in their yellow husks, were stuffed into every vacant space of the truck’s interior — packed tight behind the fenders, wedged between the engine parts, piled deep below the hood. Squirrels have done this before with Fischer’s truck — every two years when the walnut tree produces nuts. “The squirrel set a record,” Fischer said. “Most I’ve ever pulled out was four or five six-gallon buckets. This year was seven.” Wild animals often make news by doing things that humans don’t expect. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wild animal that surprised humans this way. Use what you read to write a creative story about the animal’s surprise actions and why it might have acted that way. Tell your story from the point of view of the animal, if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.