For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 10, 2022

1. Sounds from Jupiter

The planet Jupiter is the largest planet in the Earth’s solar system — and its moon Ganymede is the system’s largest moon. Scientists have long been fascinated by Jupiter, and not just for its size. Its history could shed light on how other planets and even the solar system formed. To learn more about Jupiter, America’s NASA space agency has sent eight spacecraft to orbit and explore the giant planet. The latest, called Juno, is currently orbiting and is the first to explore below the planet’s thick gas cover. The information Juno is sending back is causing scientists to sit up and take notice. It has surveyed Jupiter’s north and south poles, mapped its magnetic field and explored Jupiter’s moons. On one moon visit, Juno discovered something fascinating — and weird — about the giant moon Ganymede. It gives off electric and magnetic radio emissions that sound a lot like the droid R2-D2 from the “Star Wars” movies. “What always impresses me is we wind up discovering all kinds of stuff that we never anticipated,” one scientist told the Washington Post newspaper. NASA spacecraft continue to explore the solar system and beyond. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a NASA mission exploring space. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what the mission has accomplished or seeks to accomplish and why that is important. Discuss your letter together.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. ‘Real-Life Lassie’

In books, movies and a popular TV show, a collie dog named Lassie was famous for getting help for her owners and saving them from danger. In the state of New Hampshire this month, a Shiloh Shepherd dog named Tinsley is being hailed as a “real-life Lassie” after she led police to her owner, who had been badly injured in a truck accident. Tinsley got the attention of state police on a bridge spanning the border between the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. Tinsley repeatedly looked at the officers and ran to an embankment at the side of the highway and looked over. When the state police investigated, they found a badly damaged truck and Tinsley’s owner and another man lying on the frozen ground. The men had been thrown from the truck when it went through the guard rail and rolled over. Police said without Tinsley’s help it was unlikely the injured men would have survived the night. The most famous Lassie movie is based on a book called “Lassie Come Home.” Animals often do amazing things to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an animal helper. Use what you read to create a picture book showing how this animal helped and how people reacted. Tell your story by writing text to go with the pictures you draw or narrate the story aloud using just the pictures.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. One Fishy Rainstorm

In a scene that seemed like something out of a fantasy story, a city in the state of Texas experienced a weird rainstorm that had fish falling out of the sky onto streets, schools and homes. The late afternoon storm in the town of Texarkana featured wind, heavy downpours and fish as long as 5 inches falling onto the ground. “Fish were droppin’ here and everywhere,” one local businessman told news reporters. Scientists said the odd “fish storm” was likely caused by a waterspout or updraft sucking water out a lake or river and carrying the fish into the air. Then, as the waterspout weakened, gravity took over and pulled the fish back to Earth. Such events are called “animal rain” and can include frogs, snails, crabs and other pond life as well as fish. Wildlife sucked out of water like this can be carried miles and miles by winds. Extreme or unusual weather is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an unusual weather event. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how people should respond to this weather event, or why they will remember it.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Super(man) Price

Superhero comic books cost only a dime when they were first introduced, but they’ve gotten a lot more expensive. Especially if they are old and feature famous or popular heroes. Consider the first Superman comic book, which appeared in stores 83 years ago and cost just 10 cents. A rare copy of the 1939 Superman #1 comic book recently was sold at an auction for a whopping $2.6-million dollars. The comic showed Superman leaping over tall buildings on the cover and had been carefully preserved by its original owner for 40 years before first being sold in 1979. The second owner kept it in a temperature controlled safe until it was sold last month to a buyer who did not want his/her identity revealed. Superman #1 is not the first Superman comic book to sell for a huge price. In April a copy of Action Comics #1, which introduced Superman in 1938, sold for $3.25 million. Many things grow more valuable with the passage of time. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about something very old selling for a great price. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why this item has gotten more valuable as it has gotten older.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Two Twins, Separate Birthdays

Twins are babies born at the same time from the same mother. In the state of California this month, a pair of twins was born that way in the city of Salinas. But because they were born just as the calendar was turning on New Year’s Eve, they will have different birthdays, birth months and birth years! The first twin — a baby boy named Alfredo Antonio Trujillo — was delivered at 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve: December 31, 2021. His sister — a baby girl named Aylin Yolanda Trujillo— came into the world exactly at midnight on January 1, 2022. Alfredo weighed in at 6 pounds and 1 ounce, while Aylin weighed 5 pounds and 14 ounces, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Twin births are not rare in the United States and other nations, but twins born in different years is highly unusual. The chance of twins being born in different years is about one in 2 million, according to Natividad Medical Center, where the Trujillo babies were born. There were about 120,000 twin births in the United States in 2019 and 3,000 triplet births, according to the latest statistics. Twins and triplets often make news when they take part in the same activities or have the same interests. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a set of twins or triplets doing this. Write a paragraph describing reasons twins/triplets might like doing things together. Write a second paragraph describing reasons they might annoyed or frustrated by doing things together.

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