For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 15, 2022

1. Goodbye, Serena

Tennis star Serena Williams is one of the most admired, successful and inspiring athletes of all time. For 23 years she has dominated women’s professional tennis, inspired women and girls with her determination, and served as a role model for African Americans and all Americans. Now, at age 40, she has announced that she will end her tennis career sometime after the U.S. Open tournament in New York later this month. The Open was where she won the first of her 23 “Grand Slam” singles championships in the top-rated tournaments in the world back in 1999. She also won 14 women’s doubles championships with her sister Venus and two mixed doubles championships for a total of 39 Grand Slam victories. Williams doesn’t like the word “retiring” so she says she is “evolving away from tennis” to expand her family and explore other interests. She has a lot of choices. With nearly $100-million in prize money, she is the highest-earning woman athlete of all-time. Serena Williams has been hugely successful in tennis for many years. What does it take to be successful for a very long time? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has been successful this way. Use what you read to create a chart showing the skills, attitudes and personal qualities this person needed to succeed for a long time. Create a second chart showing the skills and qualities an athlete like Serena Williams needed to succeed for a long time. Share with family and friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. Treasure Hunt

Global warming is having severe effects all over the world — and nowhere more than around the Earth’s North Pole. New research shows that temperatures there are rising four times faster than the rest of the Earth. The rising temperatures are melting ice that has existed for centuries in places like Greenland. The melting there has set off a “treasure hunt” for valuable minerals and metals in areas previously covered by ice and snow, CNN News reports. Interestingly, many of those minerals could be used to produce electric cars and storage batteries that could reduce global warming in the future. Global warming is affecting people, animals and environments around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining what is happening and what can be done to slow or eliminate the problem.

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. Lost and Found

Have you ever dreamed putting a note in a bottle and tossing it into the ocean to reach someone who lives far away? Or have you even tried it on a visit to a beach or the seashore? In the state of Texas, four elementary school boys did that in 1995 in the city of La Marque near Galveston Bay. As it turns out, their note didn’t travel very far in distance – but it traveled really far in time. This summer, it was discovered by a man cleaning up trash in a park two miles downstream — 27 years after the boys tossed the bottle in the water. The boys had put telephone numbers on their note, urging “if you find this, please call.” Of course, the numbers were no longer in service, so finder Terry Pettijohn did what people do in the electronic age, the Washington Post newspaper reported. He posted the note on the Facebook page of the group cleaning up the park and contacted a local TV station. Several local residents recognized the name of Brian Standefer from the note, and they soon put Pettijohn in touch with him. “I couldn’t believe he’d found that bottle,” Standefer said. “I hadn’t thought about it since the day we threw it in” when he was 10 years old. Kids often make news by doing unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a news story about someone your age who has done this. Use what you read to write a creative story based on the events in the news story. Your story can lead up to the events in the news or take place after those events. Give your creative story a title that would make your classmates want to read it.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A Pink Lake! Really!

In the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, Lake Lobeituz provides one of the most unusual attractions in all of nature. The lake is so salty that people can’t sink in it, but that’s not what draws visitors from near and far. Its color is the attraction. When the conditions are right, bacteria in the lake turn the water from blue to a bright pink. The change occurs every several years when the temperatures are warm and the salt level is high. This summer is one of those special times, and pink Lake Lobeituz is getting worldwide attention. That’s because a video of a woman playing a native musical instrument in the lake has gone “viral” on the Internet and been viewed by millions of people. In the video, which can be viewed here, the young woman appears to be sitting on top of the pink water as she plays a dombra, which is a stringed instrument similar to an American guitar. Nature provides many unusual attractions around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an unusual natural attraction. Use what you see, to create a list of adjectives to describe the attraction. Use your adjectives to write an original poem about the attraction. Read it aloud for family and friends.

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

5. Fiona Has a Brother

From the time she was born five years ago, Fiona the hippo has been one of the most famous zoo animals in America. And now the hippopotamus at the Cincinnati Zoo in the state of Ohio has become a big sister. Zoo officials announced this month that Fiona’s mother Bibi has had a baby — and it’s a little boy hippo. In the hippo world, of course, “little” is not that little: the baby weighed in at about 60 pounds at birth. Fiona, who was born six weeks early in 2017, weighed about half that much at birth, which was one of the reasons she got wide attention. Fiona now weighs a whopping 1,800 pounds and is still growing. Adult females can weigh 3,000 pounds and grow to more than 10 feet long. Fiona the hippo was named after Princess Fiona from the “Shrek” movies. After getting 90,000 suggestions, the Zoo has narrowed the choices for the new baby to Fritz and Ferguson. The final decision will be announced Monday, August 15. People often name pets or zoo animals after famous people or celebrities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a celebrity you like. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what kind of animal would be a good choice to name after this celebrity — and why. Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.