For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 26, 2020

1. Race for President

Election Day is just a week away, and millions of Americans are expected to turn out to vote in the race for president. Actually, nearly 50-million Americans have already voted by mail or in person at early voting sites in many states. Their ballots will be counted with the votes cast on Tuesday, November 3 to determine whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden will be the next president. Trump is the current president and is seeking re-election to a second four-year term. Biden was vice president for President Barack Obama for eight years and is seeking to win the job on his own. Biden and Trump are the oldest pair of candidates in the nation’s history — Biden is 77 and Trump is 74. They are very different in personality and in the issues they feel are the most important for the nation. With family, friends or classmates, discuss issues that are most important to you or your families. With a partner, use newspapers, the Internet or the candidates’ websites to find and closely read what the candidates are saying about one of these issues. Write a paragraph summarizing each candidate’s position and which candidate you would support on that issue.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

2. Get Out the Vote!

Kids in elementary school aren’t old enough to vote, but they still can have an impact on an election. Three third graders in Washington, DC are proving that in the days leading up to Election Day by running a Get Out the Vote campaign with their friends. The students got the idea after learning about elections in class, NBC News reported. Impressed that every vote counts, they started making and mailing out postcards, reminding adults to vote. They soon were joined by 50 other students who wanted to make a difference. The hand-drawn postcards have simple, direct messages: “Voting Is Your Superpower,” “Be a Part of Democracy,” “Every Vote Counts, Including Yours.” They have sent out more than 1,200 cards to registered voters and hope to send more. “I like that every kid can make a difference,” said Simone, one of the students. Even though they can’t vote, students in elementary and middle school are getting involved in the presidential race. They are reminding adults to vote, attending rallies with their parents and pointing out that children represent the future of the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos showing young students taking part in the presidential race. Write a letter to the editor telling how their involvement can get the attention of adults who will be voting. Include ways that children can get adults to think about the future.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Cat Carving

Cats were influential creatures to the Paracas people of ancient Peru in South America. They were often portrayed on pottery and textiles, and now it’s been learned they were carved into whole hillsides. Archaeologists have just announced they have found the image of a giant cat carved into a hillside in the region around the Nazca Desert. The cat is one of a collection of line carvings known as the Nazca Lines created more than 2,000 years ago. Scientists said it was incredible that the 120-foot cat design remained “hidden in plain sight” for so long. Erosion and wind had pushed dirt into the 12- to 16-inch-wide lines making them hard to see. The figure was discovered when workers were planning a new path to a lookout platform. Most of the Nazca Lines are found on the Nazca Desert floor rather than on nearby hills. They are archaeological forms known as “geoglyphs” (JEE-oh-gliffs), a scientific name for “earth drawings.” Other geoglyphs found in the Nazca Lines region include birds, animals, plants and mysterious geometric shapes. Ancient peoples used art in many ways to express their beliefs or show things that were important to them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one group of ancient people using art in some way. Write a paragraph explaining what the art shows about their beliefs.

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

4. Helping Koalas

In the Southern Pacific nation of Australia, the leaves of gum trees are the main source of food for the animal species known as koala bears. Earlier this year deadly wildfires destroyed thousands of gum trees, and now a leading conservation group is doing something about it. The Australian unit of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is raising money to use drone aircraft to drop gum tree seeds over areas destroyed by fires to provide food and habitats for koalas in the future. The WWF seeks to raise more than $200-million over five years to revive the forest habitat and double the koala population near Australia’s east coast. This year’s fires destroyed or damaged up to 7-billion trees and killed or displaced 3-billion mammals, birds and reptiles, WWF said. Drones can plant up to 40,000 gum tree seeds a day. People help wild animals in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing this. Use what you read to write a thank-you letter for the help, as if you were the animal.

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

5. Asteroid Touchdown

Asteroids are hunks of rock that orbit the sun like “mini-planets” in our solar system. They have long fascinated scientists, because they contain materials that could offer clues to how the planets in the solar system formed. Now America’s NASA space agency has collected some of those materials for the first time. A NASA spacecraft named OSIRIS-Rex has successfully touched the asteroid Bennu and sucked up dust and pebbles that will be returned to Earth for study. Bennu, which is currently located more than 200-million miles from Earth outside the orbit of the planet Mars, is considered a Near Earth Asteroid because its orbit crosses the Earth’s orbit at different times. It is about 1,600 feet wide, which is about the height of the Empire State Building in New York City. NASA and other space agencies are interested in asteroids because they can offer clues about how planets formed — and even how life developed on Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another space mission seeking to learn more about asteroids or planets. Use what you read to draw a picture showing what the mission is doing, or trying to do. Write a paragraph to go with your picture telling why the mission is important to scientists.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.