For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 28, 2022

1. Flying Reptile

In the age of dinosaurs, the sharp-toothed reptiles known as pterosaurs were the first creatures to develop the power to fly. Pterosaurs (pronounced TER-uh-sors) swooped through the air under their own power, diving down to hunt fish and other prey and may have roosted in trees. Scientists have long wanted more information about these ancient species, and now a discovery in the European nation of Scotland has provided it. A 170-million-year-old fossil of a previously-unknown pterosaur has been discovered on the Isle of Skye, and it has been described as the best preserved ever. The “exceedingly rare” fossil is the largest of its kind ever found from the Jurassic period more than 150-million years ago with a wingspan of more than 8 feet, scientists said. It was found in rock right next to the ocean on the remote island in the northwestern corner of Scotland, CNN News reported. The pterosaur has been given a name in a local language that means “winged reptile.” Fossil discoveries give scientists new information on species that lived millions of years ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or teacher, describing the fossil discovery, how it was made and why it 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.

2. ‘Twosday’

Last week the world celebrated “Twosday” because Tuesday was February 22 —the 22nd day of the 2nd month of the year 2022, which can be represented as 2/22/22. A couple in the state of North Carolina celebrated in a way they’ll never forget. They had their first child at 2:22 a.m. on 2/22/22 — in Delivery Room 2 at a regional medical center in Burlington, North Carolina. On top of that, the baby girl named Judah Grace Spear weighed 122 ounces (7 pounds, 10 ounces). Parents Aberli and Hank Spear called Baby Judah “a miracle baby,” and not just because there were so many TWOs involved. Mom Aberli had been treated for cancer and doctors weren’t sure she’d be able to have children. They named their daughter Judah because it means “praise.” Numbers are often in the news, and not just for birthdays. In the newspaper or online, scan the news to find three stories that involve numbers. Use what you find to create a math word problem based on each story. Do the problem yourself so you know the right answer and check it with a calculator. Then exchange problems with classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

3. ‘Hank the Tank’

In state and national parks across the country, visitors are told not to feed human food to wild animals for fear animals will get a taste of it and not want to hunt for themselves. In a city in the state of California, a wild black bear developed that taste on his own, and has been causing problems for residents. “Hank the Tank,” as the bear has been nicknamed, is a 500-pound black bear that officials say has been breaking into homes in the city of South Lake Tahoe in search of food, garbage or leftovers like pizza. Police have been called more than 100 times since last summer and nearly 30 break-ins have been confirmed, the New York Times newspaper reported. Complaints started coming in during the season when bears fatten up to hibernate, but Hank is still out in the community rather than curling up in a den. Experts say some bears may not hibernate if they have easy access to food. That has certainly been the case in South Lake Tahoe, and now wildlife officials are looking for a way to get rid of Hank before he causes more damage. Among the choices are moving Hank to another area or placing him in an animal rescue sanctuary. Many people love wildlife, but close encounters with them can sometimes cause problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people having close contact with a wildlife species. Use what you read to create a chart showing the results of this close contact. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns labeled “Good” and “Not-So-Good” to show how close contact with a wildlife species can have positive and negative effects.

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.

4. No Obstacle for Him

When faced with obstacles in life, many people shy away because they fear they’ll fail or be disappointed. Not a high school wrestler in the state of Connecticut, however. Cole Snider didn’t let the fact he was born almost blind in his left eye keep him from pursuing his dream to become a champion athlete. This month, his drive paid off when he won the state championship in Connecticut’s Class M competition for Branford High School. Snider, a sophomore who competes in the 170-pound weight class, was the Number 1 seed in his class going into the tournament after recording a 30-4 record in the regular season. Snider’s performance helped Branford win the team Class M championship as well — the school’s first state title ever. “It feels amazing,” Snider told local TV station WFSB. “I’ve been dreaming of this my whole life.” Cole Snider didn’t turn away when faced with the obstacle of having almost no sight in one eye. He faced the challenge and worked with determination to achieve his goals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has worked with determination to overcome an obstacle. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper outlining how this person’s determination could inspire others. Share with the class and discuss times you have shown determination in something you tried.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. A Swim for Survival

People sometimes do extraordinary things when faced with life-or-death emergencies. In the state of California this month, a fisherman who was tossed off his boat in rough seas turned into a long-distance swimmer to survive and keep from drowning. Dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt, Scott Thompson swam for five hours in the freezing waters of Santa Barbara Channel before reaching an oil platform where he could hang on until he could be rescued. Thompson had been thrown into the water when waves hit his boat as he stood near the railing on an early evening cruise. The boat quickly drifted away from him and he was unable to swim fast enough to catch up. He then started swimming in hopes of finding safety, CNN News reported. Eventually he saw the lights of the oil platform and made it to the poles of its base. The crew pulled him out of the water and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, which transported him to a hospital. Survival stories are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read how someone did something extraordinary to survive. Use what you read to write a short creative story telling how the person might feel or react after having had this extraordinary survival experience.

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.