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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 03, 2018

1. New Animal Crackers

For more than 100 years kids have enjoyed Animal Crackers as a popular snack. But if they buy them this fall, they’ll be getting a different product. The crackers will be the same, shaped like lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, monkeys and other wild animals. But the package has a new look. Animals that once were shown in cages are now shown roaming free. The change reflects changing attitudes about wild animals. The original package showed cages because Animal Crackers were connected with the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which displayed animals in cages. The circus closed down in 2017 under pressure from animal rights supporters, who objected to the use of elephants and other animals for entertainment. A spokesman for the company that makes Animal Crackers said now was the “right time for … showing the animals in a natural habitat.” Attitudes are changing about wild animals and animal rights. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that tells how attitudes are changing in some way. Make a short oral report to the class telling how this change will affect or help the animals.

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.

2. Record Pay for Beckham

With bleached-blond hair and the skills of an acrobat, Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most colorful players in the National Football League. And now the New York Giants star has another claim to fame: He has just signed a contract that makes him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Beckham’s new deal will pay him $95 million over the next five years, with $65 million of the total guaranteed. Though he was injured most of last season, Beckham was one of the most exciting players in the NFL in the three seasons before that. In those years, he caught more than 90 passes per season (with a high of 101) and scored 35 touchdowns. With the 2018 NFL season starting this week, fans will be watching to see how Odell Beckham and other stars perform. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a player people are watching. Use what you read to write a short sports column telling how you think the player will perform in his first game. For fun, write a follow-up after the game, telling how the player did.

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

3. What a Rain!

Along with wind and high tides, heavy rainfall is one of the top dangers of hurricanes. Last summer, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 60 Inches of rain on the state of Texas, and this summer Hurricane Lane unloaded more than 50 inches on the state of Hawaii. Over a five-day period, a total of 51.53 inches of rain fell on parts of Hawaii, the third highest total for a U.S tropical storm or hurricane since records were first kept in 1950. The second wettest storm also affected the Hawaiian islands. Hurricane Hiki dumped 52 inches of rain on the island of Kauai in 1950. Severe weather is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a severe weather event. Use what you read to create a one-minute TV news report telling how people were affected by the storm, and the damage it caused.

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.

4. Isolated Jungle Tribe

It’s often said that the world has become more connected than ever before. But not all people are connected to others — or want to be. More than 100 native tribes around the world live by themselves with no connection to outsiders, according to the Survival International group. And this summer a new tribe has been discovered living in isolation in the Amazon region of Brazil in South America. The tribe was discovered by a drone video aircraft being flown over northwest Brazil by the National Indian Foundation, which works to protect native tribes in the region. Tribal members were observed in the Javary River valley carrying weapons or tools in a settlement of thatched huts. The Javary River region is home to 11 previously confirmed isolated tribes, foundation officials said. Tribes that live by themselves in isolation have no idea how people in modern communities live. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos and ads showing things people in modern communities use. Use what you read to write a personal column telling which you think would amaze or puzzle a member of an isolated tribe the most. Share columns with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Mantis Preserved

The mineral amber is a great tool for scientists seeking to understand ancient life. Amber was formed from the sap of plants millions of years ago, and that sap often captured small living creatures. When the sap turned hard, the creatures were preserved for future scientists just as they appeared when alive. A piece of amber from the Dominican Republic, for example, gave scientists a rare view of an ancient praying mantis insect. The mantis was captured standing up in a clear piece of amber believed to be about 30 million years old. Scientists said the amber likely was formed from sap of a prehistoric tree that is now extinct. The mantis looks much like praying mantises of today. Scientists study fossils and insects caught in amber to learn more about ancient wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery that is teaching scientists more about an ancient species. Write a paragraph explaining why the discovery is important to scientists.

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.