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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 20, 2018

1. Clean-Up Crows

Crows are among the smartest birds in the world, and now a theme park in the European nation of France is putting that intelligence to work. The Puy du Fou historical theme park has trained six birds from the crow family to pick up trash and cigarette butts and drop them in trash containers. In return they get a food reward. The birds are rooks, a type of crow native to Europe and parts of Asia. They were raised in captivity and trained by Christophe Gaborit, a falconer and bird expert who works at the theme park. He said he was inspired to train his rooks after observing wild crows known as ravens naturally sorting through trash in their habitat. Scientists are always looking to learn more about the intelligence of animals and birds and what skills they can learn. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about scientists studying behavior, skills and intelligence in an animal or bird. Use what you read to write a paragraph, detailing what skill the animal/bird has, how or why it acquired it and why scientists think that 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.

2. A New Oscar

The Oscar awards have been given out for 90 years to honor excellence in the world of movies. But in some years, the movies chosen for Best Picture haven’t been ones that have attracted large audiences in theaters. That will change next year, when the Academy Awards program for the first time will give out an Oscar for Achievement in Popular Film. The new category will give the Academy a way to honor blockbuster hits like “Wonder Woman” or “Star Wars” that are popular with audiences but have not been traditionally included in the Best Picture category. As a class, discuss what movies you saw this summer that you liked. Which were the most popular among your classmates? Pick one movie you liked and write a review of it for the newspaper. Use specifics from the movie to tell people what you liked about the movie, what surprised you most, and why you would recommend it to others.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. What a Wedding Day

For most married couples, their wedding day is a day they never forget. That certainly will be the case for a couple who got married this month in the state of New Jersey. Their wedding day coincided with heavy rains and flash floods in the town of Bogota. Flood waters rose so fast from the Hackensack River, in fact, that the car carrying the bride and groom got swamped and the wedding party had to be rescued. When police arrived to help, they found bride Sabrina Torrens standing on top of the submerged car, still in her wedding dress and wedding shoes. She had gotten out through the sun roof opening in the car and with the help of a police officer, she calmly stepped from the roof of her car to a rescue Humvee vehicle. Husband Connor Reilly and the rest of the bridal party followed, and no one was hurt. Severe weather makes news all over the world. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a severe weather event. Use what you read to create a one-minute news report for your local TV news. Write out your report, including images you would show. Then test run it by reading it aloud and timing it. Make sure it does not go longer than one minute. Present your report to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. You Go, Ryan!

The Internet can turn anybody into a star. Consider the case of the six-year-old boy named Ryan, who has attracted a wide following for his YouTube program called “Ryan ToysReview.” On the show, Ryan plays with toys and tells what he thinks of them. The program, which appears on six YouTube channels, has become hugely popular, attracting more than 1 BILLION views a month in some months. Now Ryan will be getting even more influence. He and his parents have signed a deal with Walmart to create a line of toys and kids’ clothes to be sold under the name Ryan’s World. Ryan will help select the toys and clothes that will be sold at more than 2,500 Walmart stores in the United States and on the website. What are your favorite toys? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories or ads showing toys you like. Pick three toys and write a paragraph for each, telling why you like it. Use evidence from the stories/ads and personal experience to explain things you can do with the toy.

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.

5. Weird Potato

The world of nature is full of surprises, and this year a couple in South America has gotten a weird one. Farmers Marli and Paulo Ciquinel in the nation of Brazil have grown a 17-pound potato that is one for the record books. The potato is shaped like a human foot, with a big toe, five smaller toes and roots on the toes that look like human hair. The couple planted the potato in their backyard vegetable garden and were shocked when they dug it up. “I was a little bit scared when we harvested that potato,” Paulo said. They don’t expect to eat it, though. “Perhaps, we can put it on display,” Marli said, “if anyone would like to see it.” Odd fruits and vegetables are often in the news. And they can inspire creative stories or cartoons. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an odd fruit or vegetable. Brainstorm an idea for a humorous cartoon featuring the vegetable. Write an outline for the story and give it a creative title. Share with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.