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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 13, 2018

1. Meteor Show

When it comes to natural fireworks, the Perseid meteor shower is one of the greatest shows on Earth. It occurs every year at this time, filling the sky with thousands of “shooting stars.” This year’s display peaks August 12-13, giving sky-watchers a light show featuring more than 90 shooting stars an hour. Meteors are bits of rock and ice that break off from comets passing through the solar system. When they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn and light up, creating a dazzling display. The particles that create the Perseid meteor shower are from the Swift-Tuttle comet, which was first observed in 1862. The Perseid meteor shower is an inspiring sight for many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories telling how people are reacting to this year’s shower. Then talk with family or friends about other ways looking at the stars and planets in the night sky can be inspiring. Write a “Night Sky” poem, rap or rhyme telling how watching the sky at night inspires you or how it makes you feel. Create a drawing to go with your poem.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Row, Row, Row the Boat

An old saying declares that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” A teacher from the state of Ohio proved that this summer, when he set a new record for rowing alone across the North Atlantic Ocean. In the process, Bryce Carlson survived his boat tipping over a dozen times, electronics that fritzed out when they got wet and the failure of his system to turn sea water into drinking water. To survive, he said he forced himself to live “in the moment” and concentrate on what he needed to do to keep going. The result was a new speed record for rowing across the North Atlantic from west to east — 38 days, 6 hours and 49 minutes. That easily smashed the old record of 53 days, 8 hours and 26 minutes. Carlson’s trip started in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and ended in the coastal Isles of Scilly in England. And what did the 37-year-old learn from the trip? “Spending any mental energy looking back cannot help you move forward,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. Bryce Carlson’s rowing feat required great personal character and commitment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who has done something that required character and commitment. Write a personal letter to a friend, telling what this person did and what character traits he/she needed to succeed.

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.

3. New Space Crews

When it was running America’s Space Shuttle program, the nation’s NASA space agency regularly sent astronauts on missions from launch pads in the United States. That stopped when the Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011, though astronauts still went on missions in spacecraft operated by the European nation of Russia. Soon, however, astronauts again will blast into space from U.S. soil under a program being developed by NASA and the privately run space companies SpaceX and Boeing. This month, NASA introduced the nine astronauts who will fly missions for SpaceX and Boeing to the International Space Station orbiting 200 miles above the Earth. The first flights are scheduled for 2019. America’s new astronauts will face many challenges as they train for their missions. They also are feeling great excitement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about America’s new astronauts. Then pretend you are a science reporter and write out five questions you would like to ask the astronauts if you could meet and interview them. Share with friends and explain why you would want the answers to your questions.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Ancient Library

In ancient times, the Roman Empire stretched across the continent of Europe to the northern shores of Africa. With great skill and determination, the Romans built roads, bridges and buildings that lasted thousands of years. One of those buildings has just been rediscovered, and it sheds new light on Roman activities nearly 2,000 years ago in what is now the nation of Germany. Workers constructing a new community center in the city of Cologne have discovered remains of the country’s oldest public library. Researchers were able to identify the structure as a library because it had 30-inch deep recesses in the walls. Those indented spaces were features of Roman libraries found elsewhere and were used to store rolls of parchment writings. Experts say up to 20,000 parchment rolls were likely stored at the Cologne library, though none have survived. Archaeologists can learn a lot by studying ancient buildings to see how people lived and worked. They could also learn a lot by studying buildings in use today. Pretend you are an archaeologist from the future. Find and study a photo of a building being used today. Write a paragraph explaining what this building could tell archaeologists of the future about how people live and work today.

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

5. Help for a Cause

When cancer strikes someone you know, it can be a “call to action” to do something. It was for a 15-year-old farm boy in the state of Wisconsin — and he got some unexpected help from strangers. When Waylon Klitzman learned his favorite teacher Kim Katzenmeyer was leaving to take care of relatives with cancer, he decided to raise money for cancer research. He told her he would auction off the pig he had been raising as part of the local 4-H farm program and donate the proceeds to fight neuroblastoma, a children’s cancer that had afflicted his teacher’s niece. At the 4-H auction, however, Klitzman got a huge surprise. Three bidders who had learned of his plan bought his pig — and then donated it back to him so he could sell it again. By the time the pig was finally sold to a fourth bidder, Klitzman had raised more than $10,000 for the neuroblastoma group Beat Nb. “I did not see that happening,” Klitzman said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Usually, they just sell it once!” Waylon Klitzman chose to do something special to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else doing something special to help others. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper, telling what the person did, why it was important and how it could inspire others to do positive things.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.