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For Grades K-4 , week of July 09, 2018

1. The Truth at Last

From the time you are small, you’re taught you should always tell the truth. Even if it takes a while. A 90-year-old from the state of Texas proved that this summer, by confessing to stealing a stop sign more than 70 years ago. The theft occurred in the city of Midvale, Utah, and the confession came in the form of a hand-written letter received by the city’s mayor and public works department. The letter was unsigned, but the writer said it was time to tell the truth about the theft and make things right. “I’m trying to remember things I’ve done wrong and try to do restitution as well as I can,” the letter read. The writer included $50 to pay for the stolen property. Midvale Mayor Robert Hale said the money would be used to pay for the next stop sign that is stolen, adding that the writer has “cleared it up as far as we're concerned.” People often make news by making positive choices to “do the right thing.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone making a positive choice. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme describing good things that can happen when you act to “Be Positive.” Share with family and friends.

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

2. ‘Ugly Dog’ Winner!

In most situations, drooling and slobbering are things to be avoided. But when you have a tongue that hangs down to your chest, they can’t be avoided. And they were the ticket for success for an English bulldog named Zsa-Zsa earlier this summer. They helped her win the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma, California. To win the title, Zsa-Zsa had to top a field competitors that were so weird they turned ugly into something cool. For her efforts, she and owner Megan Brainard got a $1,500 prize, a huge trophy and a trip to New York City to appear on the “Today” TV show. In addition to honoring unusual dogs, the competition urges people to adopt pets from animal shelters with the message that even “ugly” dogs make beautiful pets. The bulldog Zsa-Zsa is an “ugly” dog but a great pet. In the newspaper or online, find a story, photo or ad featuring a pet you think would be a great pet for someone. Use what you find to write a personal letter to a friend or relative, telling why this pet would be great and what kind of person it would be great for.

Common Core State Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Frog Fossils

Fossils teach scientists many things about ancient species. A new discovery in the Asian nation of Myanmar, for example, has just taught scientists that frogs lived in wet, rain-forest environments as far back as 99 million years. Frogs have been around for more than 200 million years, but most fossils up to now have been from drier environments. The new discovery — of four frogs trapped in the mineral amber — gives scientists the earliest direct evidence that frogs inhabited wet, tropical forests as well. One of the frog fossils was a new species that scientists had never seen before. “This is pretty special,” one researcher said. Fossil discoveries help scientists understand what species lived on Earth millions of years ago. With a friend or family member, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Read it together and discuss what new information the discovery has given scientists and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Mow Lawns for Good!

People can help senior citizens in many ways, and one of the best in the summer is mowing their lawns. Because seniors often live on limited incomes, an Alabama man has set up a nationwide challenge for teens and pre-teens. Rodney Smith Jr. has started a non-profit 50-Yard Challenge program to teach kids about community service by getting them to mow 50 yards for free this summer for elderly people, military veterans or people with disabilities. “A lot of the elderly we come across are on fixed incomes, and they can’t pay someone to mow their lawn,” Smith said in an interview with the CNN news organization. To publicize the effort, Smith is challenging himself to mow 50 lawns in 50 states for free this summer, CNN reports. The program is open to kids 7 to 17 years old, and Smith eventually hopes to have a chapter in every state. There are many ways to help senior citizens. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about students helping seniors in different ways. Then brainstorm a way students could help senior citizens in your neighborhood this summer. Design a poster to announce your idea and get friends and classmates to sign up. Put your plan into action!

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.

5. Learn from the Setting

News stories take place in different locations all over the world. And where they take place can be important to understanding the action or events that happen. The place where something happens is called the “setting.” Use the newspaper or Internet to make a list of different settings that are in the news. Then pick a story that interests you and read it closely. Write out where the story takes place. Then write three ways this setting affects the action or events of the story. Finish by finding a photo of an interesting or pretty setting. Write out three ways this setting could affect action or events that could take place there.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.