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For Grades K-4 , week of July 18, 2022

1. Spectacular Space Views

America’s NASA space agency has a new state-of-the-art telescope orbiting the sun, and it has just started sending back images from deep in space. Scientists are amazed at how clear the images from the James Webb Space Telescope are and overjoyed at how perfectly the telescope is performing. It took $10-billion and more than 20 years to get the Webb operating from an orbit more than a million miles from Earth on the opposite side of the sun. The mission had to overcome many delays and added expenses, but it was well worth the wait, NASA officials said last week when it released the first full-color pictures from the telescope. Measuring infrared light, the Webb will peer deep into the universe with a set of 18 gold-plated mirrors that will reveal details of planets, stars and galaxies never seen before. The Webb will study the formation of the earliest galaxies and the changes in the universe as it has expanded. Because light travels at 186,000 miles per second, the light from some of those galaxies has been traveling through space for more than 13-BILLION years, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. With family or friends, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about the images that the James Webb Space Telescope is sending back from deep space. Then click here to view them on the NASA website. Use what you read and see to write a letter to a friend, explaining the importance of the Webb mission, how its images add to your knowledge about the universe and how they make you feel.

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.

2. Baby Mammoth

Gold is one of the world’s most precious metals, but searching for it can sometimes turn up other treasures. In the Yukon territory of the North American nation of Canada, miners digging for gold unearthed a frozen baby mammoth that had been preserved in the ground for more than 30,000 years! The baby mammoth was an ancestor of modern elephants. It was discovered by miners digging in the permafrost layer made up of soil and ice near the surface of the Klondike gold fields of the Yukon. It was about the size of a modern deer with short legs, deep eye sockets, a skinny, wrinkled trunk and a short tail, the New York Times newspaper reported. Experts believe it died at about one month old when it got trapped in mud that existed in the area 30,000 years ago. “It’s like we got rewarded by Mother Earth when you pull something like this out of the ground,” the owner of the mining company said. Discoveries of ancient animals can teach scientists new things about wildlife that lived long ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to prepare an oral report telling family or friends the most important things scientists learned from the discovery.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Laughter Is Healthy

It’s often said that “laughter is the best medicine.” What that means is that people who laugh and have fun feel better emotionally and even physically, scientists say. To get people to laugh more, International Joke Day is celebrated at the start of July each year. Unlike April Fool’s Day, when the goal is to trick people, International Joke Day is designed to put a smile on people’s faces and make them laugh and feel better. Laughter does that in many ways. It relieves stress, reduces pain, boosts your mood and brings people together, humor experts say. The world famous Mayo Clinic medical center says it even helps your body by stimulating your heart, lungs and muscles and increasing the brain’s endorphin chemicals that make you feel better. To explore the effect of laughter, find and study a photo that shows people laughing. Without reading the caption, write a paragraph telling what you think is making them laugh and why they find it funny or joyful. Share photos with family or friends and discuss.

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.

4. It’s Ice Cream Month!

Summer weather has arrived, and people all over the country are looking for ways to cool off. One of the most popular activities is going out for ice cream, or picking some up at a local market to bring home. If your family does that, you are not alone. July is National Ice Cream Month, and last Sunday (July 17) was National Ice Cream Day. The national celebration of Ice Cream Month and Ice Cream Day was started by President Ronald Reagan 38 years ago in 1984. President Reagan, who was famous for loving sweets (especially jelly beans), declared that ice cream was a “nutritious and wholesome food” that should be celebrated with “appropriate ceremonies and activities” on National Ice Cream Day. According to the International Dairy Association, the average American eats about 20 pounds of ice cream each year, or about 4 gallons. And, in case you were wondering, it takes an average of 50 licks to finish a single-scoop cone. To celebrate National Ice Cream Month, search the newspaper and Internet for articles or advertisements about ice cream. With family or friends, discuss which flavors you like best and which new flavors you would like to try. With a partner, come up with a new flavor and design a newspaper ad to promote it.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Medal in the Trash

Taking walks in your neighborhood or community can lead to many interesting discoveries. You may learn new things about your neighbors, notice buildings you have overlooked before or see birds or other wildlife you didn’t know lived nearby. In the city of Anaheim, California a woman took a walk with her dogs in the neighborhood near her office — and discovered an Olympic gold medal! The medal was stashed inside a McDonald’s bag along with crinkled hamburger wrappers and empty french-fry boxes, the Washington Post newspaper reported. At first Maria Carrillo wondered if it could possibly be real, even though it looked official with the words “Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020” written on the surface along with the five Olympic rings. A call to the police removed all doubt. The medal had been stolen from the Anaheim garage of Jordyn Poulter, a starter for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that had defeated Brazil to capture the first Olympic gold in the team’s history. Poulter had left her car unlocked and never expected to see her prized medal again. “It’s crazy that it was stolen and crazy how it was found,” Poulter said. “But I’m really happy to have it back.” Carrillo noted that it pays to pay close attention to your surroundings when taking a walk. She said she will never look at a bag of trash in the same way again. Every neighborhood has interesting things to see and learn about. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an outdoor scene. Use what you read to list the most interesting things you see in the photo and why they interest you. For each item, write a question you would like answered to learn more about it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

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