For Grades K-4 , week of June 25, 2018

1. Quite a Climb!

A raccoon from the state of Minnesota became an Internet star this month by doing something you wouldn’t expect from a wild animal. It climbed a 25-story skyscraper in the city of St. Paul. Its journey was streamed live to the Internet, where thousands of people followed the adventure. The raccoon was first spotted by a local radio reporter a few stories up the UBS Plaza building. Rather than coming down, it decided to seek an escape going up. Digging its claws into the rough surface of the building’s walls, it climbed 10 stories in the next few hours and 10 more stories after that. As darkness fell, it was 23 stories up, and by the middle of the night it had reached the roof on the 25th floor. There it was captured, fed a can of cat food, taken to a wild area and released. Wild animals often do amazing or surprising things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something unusual a wild animal has done. Use what you read to write a song about the animal, putting new words to a song you know or like. Share with the class.

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

2. Honor for an Immigrant

What to do about immigrants who enter the United States illegally has caused great debate across the nation. But in the state of California, one immigrant who came to America that way has been honored. In the town of Mountain View, the school board has voted to name a new elementary school for Jose Antonio Vargas, who went to school in the town and grew up to be a prize winning newspaper and magazine writer. Vargas came to the United States as a 12-year-old in 1993 after his grandfather paid $4,500 to a pretend “uncle” to bring him here with a fake passport and name. He remains “undocumented” in the eyes of the government to this day, which makes his latest honor extra special. “I don't really have words for how meaningful this honor is,” Vargas told the CNN news organization. Communities often honor people they consider special. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who is special to your community or state. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why this person is special and suggesting a way he/she could be honored.

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. Running for Office

The year 2018 is an election year, which means people will be choosing leaders for national, state and local offices on Election Day November 6. Already, candidates are campaigning for offices such as the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, governor’s offices and local positions. Elections give voters a chance to choose leaders who will work on issues that are important to them. As a class, discuss issues you think candidates should be talking about. Then read stories in the newspaper or online about issues candidates are discussing. Use what you read to write a short editorial urging candidates to talk about one issue — and explain why it is important to you or the community.

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.

4. Fish Comeback

Paddlefish are an unusual species that have been on Earth since before the dinosaurs. Human activities almost killed them off in some areas of two southern states, but now they are making a comeback in a lake on the border between Texas and Louisiana. Paddlefish date back 350 million years and are one of America’s oldest wildlife species. They get their name from their spoon-shaped snout, and can grow to be seven feet long and weigh 200 pounds. State wildlife experts say their existence in the area was threatened when construction of a dam disrupted their breeding and spawning activities. Now they have been introduced to Caddo Lake, which is a better habitat for breeding. The effort to help paddlefish is an example of people taking special steps to help a wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people helping another species in some way. Use what you read to write a “thank you” letter to the editor — from the point of view of the species being helped. Be creative.

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. Free Ride

Sometimes when a baby is ready to be born, it doesn’t wait to get to a hospital. In the European nation of France this month, a baby boy was born in a public train in the city of Paris. The agency that runs public transportation in Paris was so excited about the event that it shared the news on social media. Then it offered the baby a present that will be enjoyed for a long time. The agency said the baby boy will get to ride on public transportation in Paris for free until he turns 25 years old! Giving the Paris baby free rides on public transportation was a present that will be enjoyed for a long time. In the newspaper or online, find ads or stories that feature something else that could be a present enjoyed for a long time. Design a birthday card featuring this item and write a message explaining how you hope it will be used for a long time. Share cards as a class, and tell whom you would like to give this present.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.