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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 04, 2019

1. ‘Frozen’ Alligators

For the second year in a row, a group of alligators in North Carolina is teaching a real-world science class on how reptiles survive the cold. The 18 alligators at the Swamp Park alligator preserve in Ocean Isle Beach stuck their noses out of the water just as it was turning to ice and have been breathing quietly waiting for it to melt. Seeing alligator noses (and teeth) sticking out of the ice is a bit “freaky” to some observers, but it’s perfectly natural. Scientists call the behavior “brumation,” which is like the hibernation that bears and other mammals do in winter. In the process, the alligators shut down their bodies, slowing their heart rate and digestive system while waiting for the weather to warm. It’s an “amazing adaptation,” one biologist observed. Both people and wildlife have to make adjustments to severe weather. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about adjustments that have been made to severe cold. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme on “Dealing with Cold Weather.” Share poems as a class.

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

2. No Sweethearts!

Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away, and people are planning what treats they’ll be giving their friends and family. One familiar treat won’t be part of this year’s celebration. Sweethearts — the heart-shaped little candies that deliver messages like “Be Mine” — won’t be available in stores this year. The company that made Sweethearts was sold this spring, and the new owner said it hadn’t had time to gear up for Valentine Sweetheart sales. The popular candies had been made since 1886 by the New England Confectionary Company, known as Necco. Every Valentine’s Day people like to buy candies or gifts to show their love for family and friends. With the newspaper or Internet, find ads featuring things people could give to show their love on Valentine’s Day. Pick three for special friends or relatives. Write a complete sentence for each one, explaining why you would choose it for one friend or relative.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. He’s Perfect

In the sport of bowling, a perfect game occurs when a bowler knocks down all 10 pins with every ball he or she rolls. These “strikes” add up over the course of a game to a perfect score of 300. It’s a great challenge to bowl a perfect game, and especially for kids. But a 10-year-old boy from the state of New Jersey has just done it. In achieving that mark Kai Struthers of the town of Maplewood has become the second youngest person to bowl a perfect 300 in the United States. Kai’s mother says he has been interested in bowling since he was 18 months old and joined his first league at age 4. “He eats, sleeps and drinks bowling,” she told local TV stations and UPI news. According to U.S. bowling officials, Hannah Diem of Seminole, Florida, is the youngest person ever to bowl a perfect game in the United States. She achieved that record in 2013 when she was 9 years, 6 months and 19 days old. Students and young children often develop special skills at an early age. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one young student who has done this. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how this person developed his/her skill and how that could inspire others.

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.

4. Free at Last

The best toys aren’t just things to play with. They also teach skills and lessons. In Fort Lee, New Jersey last week, a 20-month-old boy learned a lesson he won’t soon forget. Luca Choe was playing with a toy designed to teach shapes when he decided to climb inside one in the shape of a square box. After folding his legs up inside, however, Luca discovered he couldn’t get out. And he was wedged in so tightly his mom couldn’t get him out either. Mom Soona Choe called the Fort Lee Police and was fortunate that Sergeant Rick Hernandez responded. He managed to force the toy open without having to use the “jaws of life.” “When I got there his expression was just priceless,” Hernandez said. “He had this face on like ‘yeah, I did it.’” Luca’s mom was relieved when he was freed and after calming down told TV station CBS 2 that the experience was “kind of comical if you think about the situation.” Kids can learn a lot from the experiences they have. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a student having an unusual or memorable experience. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor describing a lesson (or lessons) the student could learn from the experience.

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

5. Records Keep Coming

In 19 seasons with the New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera set record after record as a relief pitcher. He recorded more saves in Yankee wins than any other relief pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball. He also had the most saves ever in playoff and World Series history. Though retired for five years, Rivera has just set another record. He has become the first player ever to be unanimously elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Rivera was named on every ballot in this year’s voting, something no one had ever done before. And how did it feel to set yet another record? “Amazing,” he said in one of his first interviews. “It was a beautiful, long career.” Mariano Rivera was successful in baseball over a long period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has been successful over a long period. Use what you read to prepare a short TV news report explaining why this person has been so successful for so long.

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.