1. Election Day
Tuesday is Election Day all across the country. In state after state, voters will be choosing people to serve as governors, U.S. senators, U.S. representatives and state legislators. Some communities also will be choosing local leaders. As a class, talk about qualities you think people need to be good leaders. Then look through the newspaper and find three people who are leaders in some way. Write a complete sentence for each, explaining what quality each person has that makes him or her a good leader.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. Cliff Climber
When 8-year-old Sam Baker was born, his parents gave him the word “Adventure” as his middle name. In his short life the second grader from Colorado Springs, Colorado has had lots of amazing adventures, most of them involving mountain climbing. Now he has had his biggest adventure of all, climbing the cliff that forms the face of the famous El Capitan rock formation in California’s Yosemite National Park. By successfully reaching the top of El Capitan, Sam became the youngest climber ever to master the 3,000-foot summit. He did it over four days with the help of ropes, metal clamps and anchors, and a team that included his father Joe Baker, ABC News reported. The multi-day effort required that Sam and his dad sleep at night in platforms attached to the face of the cliff hundreds of feet in the air. El Capitan (“The Captain”) is widely regarded as one of the most difficult rock formations to climb. The youngest person to climb it previously was a 10-year-old who climbed to the top over the course of five days in 2019. Sam Baker has been having adventures with his dad climbing mountains. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone your age having an adventure or interesting experience with a parent or relative. Pretend you are the child who had the adventure and write a thank-you note to the parent/relative telling why it was special to have the experience with them. Share notes as a class and discuss special experiences you have had with parents or relatives.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. What a Flight!
Every fall, millions of birds migrate from cool areas where they spend the summer months to warmer areas where they spend the winter. Some of these journeys cover amazing distances, and this fall a wading shore bird has made the most amazing journey of all. A bird called a Bar-Tailed Godwit has set a new world by making a non-stop journey that covered 8,426 miles! The journey, which took 11 days and one hour, started in the U.S. state of Alaska and ended on the island of Tasmania south of the Pacific nation of Australia. Scientists know exactly how far the 5-month-old Godwit traveled, because it had been equipped with an electronic monitor that was followed by satellites orbiting in space. It easily topped the previous non-stop flying migration, which had been set last year by another Bar-Tailed Godwit at 8,100 miles. Bar-Tailed Godwits are large wading birds with red breast feathers, long legs and a long, upturned bill. They feed on worms and shellfish along beaches and other coastal areas and can grow up to 16 inches long. They have black bars on their tails, a wingspan of 30 inches and can fly as fast as 55 miles per hour. Birds, animals and other wildlife often do amazing things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species doing something unusual or amazing. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining what skills or physical traits the species needed to do the amazing thing.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Longest Passenger Train
For people who love railroads, one of the greatest pleasures is watching a long train pass by and counting the number and variety of the cars. Those people would love to have been in the European nation of Switzerland this fall. A passenger train hauling 100 cars set a new world record for length while traveling one of the most spectacular tracks through the Alps Mountains. The narrow-gauge train was 6,253 feet long (1.2 miles), contained 4,550 seats and traveled a 15.5-mile route through the mountains in about one hour, UPI and the Hindu News reported. A narrow-gauge train runs on a narrower track than most railroads and can make tighter turns in mountainous areas. The previous record for the world’s longest passenger train was 5,686 feet and was set in the European nation of Belgium in 1991. Trains are one of many forms of transportation that move people, products and materials from place to place. In the newspaper or online, find examples of other forms of transportation. Use what you find to create a chart listing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of transportation.
Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. ‘Fairy Circles’
“Fairy Circles” got their name because they look like something that magical creatures might have created in the middle of the night. Yet they are a very real thing in the Namib Desert in the African nation of Namibia — and no one can agree where they came from. The circles are areas of bare ground surrounded by plants in dry, desert areas, and they have stumped scientists for years. Some have argued they are caused by poisonous gases, while others point to plant-killing microbes or even termites. A new study of fairy circles released this fall points to a less exotic cause for the desert formations — and it will make sense to people who follow nature. The study says competition for water creates fairy circles by drawing moisture from the inside of the circles to support plants on the edge and beyond, the New York Times newspaper reports. All scientists know that water is necessary to support all plants, and without it they dry up and die. In the desert conditions of Namibia, “Plants are forced to create these circles to redistribute water to maximize their chances of survival,” said an author of the new study. Scientists are always looking to explain unusual events or occurrences in nature. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an unusual event that scientists are trying to explain. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing the unusual event and what scientists think is the cause of it.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.