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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 01, 2011

1. Two Letters. One Sound

When you are learning to read, it is very important to be able to identify the different parts of words. For example, you need to know the sounds that two consonants together make. The "bl" sound in blue for instance. This is called a cluster and it makes two sounds together when you say them. Sometimes we put two consonants together and it makes just one sound, like "ch" in chair. These are called digraphs. Find an interesting story in the newspaper. Go through the story and circle every digraph you see. They are ch, sh, th, wh and ph.

Learning Standard: Using structural cues to recognize and decode words with long and short vowels, consonant digraphs and irregular vowel patterns.

2. Appreciate an American Artist

August is American Artist Appreciation Month. Look through today's newspaper, or use the Internet, to find an artist who is currently exhibiting or developing work. Then choose a famous American artist who is no longer living and do some research on him or her. With family or friends, compare and contrast the works of the two artists. For fun, create an artwork in the style of one of the artists to interpret a news story in the newspaper.

Learning Standards: Responding to visual, written and electronic texts; selecting, reading, listening to, viewing and responding thoughtfully to both classic and contemporary texts recognized for quality and literary merit.

3. It's Football Time

Are you ready for some football? You can be sure Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson are. These top five draft picks in the NFL almost saw their dreams of being professional football players fumbled away in the work disagreement between the NFL owners and players. They won't have to worry any more. The players and owners came up with a labor agreement on work rules and money last week that will allow all 254 players drafted this year to go to training camp to prove their worth. Not all the players drafted will make the teams, and several veteran players who are now free agents will be going to different teams. Find a story in the newspaper about a rookie player on an NFL team. Using that story, write a fantasy story about being offered the chance to try out for the team along with that player. Write it from your own perspective.

Learning Standards: Writing a narrative piece such as realistic fiction, fantasy or a personal narrative depicting major story events; responding to a variety of texts by making connections to students' personal lives and the lives of others.

4. Map It Out

As summer vacation rolls on, you and your family might want to get out and see someplace new. Newspapers are a great resource for finding travel ideas. You may want to get out into nature in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, see the planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, check out the amazing motorcycles in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, take a trip along the historic Route 66 or even go to another country. One important skill to have when you travel is reading a map and knowing directions. Look in your newspaper and find five different articles about places you could travel on vacation. Using those articles and a map of the United States and the world, locate those travel destinations on the map. Figure out what states or countries are directly north, south, east and west of each destination.

Learning Standards: Using cardinal and intermediary directions to describe the relative location of significant places; acquiring information from written, visual and electronic texts.

5. Reading Rocks!

Listening to someone "robot read" can be difficult. They read with no feeling in their voice, don't take breaths at the ends of sentences, and stumble over many words. Robot reading also makes things hard for the reader. They can't understand what they are reading because they are working so hard to just get through the words on the page. That is why fluency practice is so important to becoming a good reader. So let's practice. Find a story in the newspaper that you think might be interesting. Print out the story. Have a parent or friend time you reading for one minute and circle the word where you stop when the time is up. Do this three more times and count how many more words you read each time.

Learning Standard: Fluently reading beginning-grade-level text and increasingly demanding texts as the year proceeds.

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