For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 10, 2020

1. Space Milestone

For the first time in history, American astronauts have been launched into space and returned safely on spacecraft built by a private company instead of America’s NASA space agency. And to top off the achievement, they landed in the ocean for the first time in 45 years. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley successfully landed the Crew Dragon space capsule in the Gulf of Mexico near the state of Florida after spending more than 60 days orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft that launched the astronauts and brought them back to Earth were both built and operated by the private SpaceX company from California. The historic mission ended when the Crew Dragon capsule dropped out of orbit and floated to Earth under four giant orange-and-white parachutes. The astronauts were greeted by cheers from a fleet of small boats that had gathered near the landing site. Space missions help scientists better understand other planets, the solar system and the universe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one mission that is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or relative, telling what the mission has done, what new things it has learned and why that is important to scientists

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

2. Mystery Seeds

In the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story, mystery seeds grew into a giant beanstalk that allowed a boy to climb to a magical castle high in the sky. This summer mystery seeds are causing concern for U.S. officials because they have no idea what the seeds could lead to. The seeds have been mailed to people across the United States from the Asian nation of China. Officials don’t know who is mailing the seeds — or why — or what damage they could cause to U.S. farming or plant species. All 50 states have issued warnings about the seeds, and officials are urging people not to open their packages or try to plant them. They urge anyone who receives a seed package to keep it closed and turn it over to state farming and agriculture officials. They also ask that people turn in the shipping package the seeds came in. The seeds don’t pose a danger to people, but they could threaten habitats by introducing plants or weeds that could overrun natural areas. Across the United States officials are trying to solve the mystery of who is sending packets of seeds to people in America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another mystery that officials are trying to solve. Pretend you are one of those officials and list three steps you would take to solve the mystery. Discuss this mystery with family or friends.

Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Get Those Snakes!

Burmese pythons are powerful snakes — and they are especially dangerous if they have no natural predators. In the state of Florida, Burmese pythons have threatened many other species since being introduced as an “invasive species” in the Everglades natural area. To control the pythons, the state launched a python hunting and elimination program, and this month officials announced how successful it has been. In the three years since the program started 5,000 invasive pythons have been removed from the Everglades. “Each invasive python eliminated represents hundreds of native Florida wildlife saved,” said a leader of the elimination program. Native to Southeast Asia, Burmese pythons are among the largest snakes in the world. They feed on birds, rabbits and even small deer and take food away from native wildlife species like panthers, bobcats and alligators. Invasive species are problems in many states because they invade natural areas and cause problems for native plants and animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an invasive plant or wildlife species in your state or region. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing the problem and outlining ways people or government leaders could address it.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. An Island Rescue

In a scene right out of an adventure movie, three sailors were rescued from an uninhabited island in the western Pacific Ocean by writing a giant message seeking help on a beach. The sailors wrote the letters “SOS” in the sand — a distress signal that sea captains and others have used to mean “Save Our Ship.” The sailors had become stranded on the island when their boat ran out of fuel on a voyage from the island of Pulap in the Micronesia region of the Pacific. The men were spotted by an American rescue aircraft from a U.S. Coast Guard base on the island of Guam and picked up by a Micronesian rescue vessel. Being stranded on a deserted island could be the start of a creative adventure story for an author. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that could inspire a creative story of your own. Ask yourself what might happen to people in the news story after the events described. Write an outline for your adventure story. Draw a picture to go with it.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. Paying It Forward

Children who are adopted by a loving family know how important it is to have a forever home. And sometimes they look for ways to pay their appreciation forward. In the state of California, a 14-year-old girl who was adopted as an infant has made it her goal to find forever homes for a group that is especially at risk — senior dogs living in animal shelters. Meena Kumar even has raised money to help these older animals — a whopping $14,000 to support a shelter that supports them. Meena, who was adopted in the Asian nation of India after living in an orphanage, started a pet-sitting and pet-services business when she was 12 because she was too young to volunteer at the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue facility near her home in the city of San Jose. Her efforts turned into an even bigger contribution than volunteering, CNN News reports. Over two years she raised $7,000 from her pet-sitting and doubled that amount through a matching program run by the Intel company, where her father works. “More people should adopt senior dogs,” she says. “They give you the same unconditional love as any other dog.” People who have been helped in some way often look for ways to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has been helped. Write a paragraph telling how this person could help others who need help. Talk with family or friends about ways you or your family have been helped. Then brainstorm ways you could help others.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.