For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 02, 2021

1. Listen to the Birds!

Have you ever heard a bird singing outside and wondered what it was? A new computer app from one of the nation’s top birding organizations can now give you the answer almost immediately! The app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which you can download onto a smart phone, contains the songs of 400 North American species — including some that sing in multiple voices. Called the Merlin Bird ID, it is based on recordings contributed by tens of thousands of birdwatchers and can monitor birdsongs in real time to tell you what you are hearing in the trees and bushes around you, the New York Times newspaper reports. Sharing the name of a famous magician, it has been magical for bird lovers who have long puzzled over birdsongs they have never heard before. The Merlin Bird ID is an example of technology being used to learn more about nature or wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another use of technology that is helping people learn more about the natural world. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing what the technology does and how that is an advance for people. Finish by discussing a wildlife species you would like to learn more about — and how technology might help.

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.

2. Eskimo-Indian Olympics

In the Asian nation of Japan, the Summer Olympic Games have been getting worldwide attention this week. Getting less attention, but perhaps more interesting, is an Olympic competition that took place in the U.S state of Alaska just as the Summer Olympics were starting. The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics showcase the skills and traditions developed by Native peoples and practiced for hundreds of years in Alaska and other Arctic regions. The events are meant to symbolize Native survival and hunting skills and test athletes’ stamina, balance and strength, according to organizers. In one event, an athlete must carry four other people to duplicate the experience of carrying game killed while hunting. In another, contestants have an “ear pull” tug of war with string looped over their ears to re-create the pain of frostbite. In a third, contestants sit face-to-face and try to pull a big stick away from each other — a move meant to symbolize pulling a seal through an ice hole. The Eskimo-Indian Olympics have been held for 60 years, except for last year when the event was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic. Many events each year celebrate the culture and history of different ethnic and racial groups. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such event. Use what you read to create a newspaper or Internet ad encouraging people to attend this event. Use bullet points to highlight different things people would see or learn by attending.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Deadly Hailstorm

Hailstorms are a common occurrence during the summer in many parts of the world. That includes the Po River Valley in northern Italy, where one took place late last month that will be remembered for a long time. Hail the size of tennis balls pounded a highway near the city of Modena, causing severe damage to cars and injuring some drivers in the European nation. Cars had to pull over to the side of the highway during the storm, and drivers had to shield their faces to protect themselves from flying glass. The storm also devastated fields, vineyards and orchards in the area, with the damage to farming and agriculture estimated in the millions of dollars. Italian weather experts said hailstorms have become more frequent and destructive this summer, the Associated Press news service reported. Severe weather also has caused damage in other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a severe weather event. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor summarizing the damage caused by the event and what people need to recover.

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.

4. Turtle Superheroes

As with many things, helping wildlife is something you do one step at a time. In a community in northern Iowa, a group of elementary school friends have been doing that over and over this summer to help young turtles survive and find places to nest. The students have been carrying western painted turtles across a busy road after seeing that some had been crushed by cars. They started when brothers Cole and Blake Meyer — ages 10 and 8 — were riding bikes and came across a group of baby turtles flattened by cars. There were lots more turtles trying to cross from the Ventura Marsh to Clear Lake, so they got off their bikes and started carrying them, step by step. Soon three other friends joined their effort, and all summer long they have been helping turtles as a kind of superhero squad. “We’re helping the turtles to see a lot of extra days, and that makes me feel happy,” 9-year-old Keygan Hoover said. The kids’ efforts have gotten praise and attention from the rest of the community, especially when they raise their hands to stop cars when turtles are in the road. “You help a few across and then more show up,” 8-year-old Kasen Wenzel said. “There’s sure a whole bunch of turtles out there.” People help wildlife in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species that could use some sort of help. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining different ways people could help this species.

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

5. Synonyms/Antonyms

Reading about the Summer Olympics or other sports is a great way to build vocabulary and word power. In describing athletes and competitions, writers use many colorful adjectives and adverbs. These words provide a terrific way to explore how synonyms (SIN-o-nims) and antonyms (ANT-o-nims) work. Synonyms are words that mean the same as other words, and antonyms are words that mean the opposite of other words. In the newspaper or online, find 10 words from sports stories that you know the meaning of. List them on a sheet of paper. Next to each, write a synonym that could be used in place of the word. Then go back and write an antonym for each word. Finish by using two synonyms and two antonyms in complete sentences (one per sentence).

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.