For Grades K-4 , week of July 19, 2021

1. Naomi Osaka Barbie

Naomi Osaka is one of the top women’s tennis stars in the world — and now she’s a Barbie star as well. The Mattel toy company has released a Naomi Osaka doll as part of its Barbie Role Models line, and it sold out almost immediately. The doll features the outfit Osaka wore at the Australian Open tournament, a giant Afro haircut and Nike shoes. Osaka, who is 23, has won four of tennis’s top rated Grand Slam tournaments and is now gearing up for this month’s Summer Olympics in her native nation of Japan. She hopes the Barbie doll will inspire girls around the world to follow their dreams, especially girls of color. “I hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything,” Osaka said on social media when her Barbie doll was introduced. Naomi Osaka is a role model for girls all over the world, not only as a tennis player but as someone who speaks out on important issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who is a role model for girls or boys. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how this person is a role model and why that is important to young people.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Traveling Totem Pole

Totem poles hold great significance for Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. “Totem” is another word for “symbol,” and totem poles symbolize things that are important to the culture and history of these Native peoples. This summer members of the Lummi Nation of Native Americans are taking a 25-foot totem pole on a nationwide journey to call attention to sacred Native American sites that are threatened by development or other human activities, CNN News reported. After stopping at such sites as Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, the 5,000-pound totem pole will be presented to President Biden in Washington, DC, as a reminder to give Native peoples “a seat at the table” when decisions are made affecting sites important to Native Americans. Totem poles play a significant role in the culture of Pacific Northwest Native Americans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely study stories or photos of an item or tradition that is important to the culture of another group. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing this item/tradition and explaining its importance.

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.

3. Hot, Hot Milestones

Incredibly high temperatures have set new records across America and other parts of the world this summer. A “heat dome” that settled over the western United States contributed to the hottest June on record in North America. Portland, Oregon set a record for a new high with a temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit on June 28. And inside the Arctic Circle in the European nation of Norway, a record high temperature of 94 degrees in the town of Banak tied the highest temperature of the year in Miami, Florida 4,899 miles to the south in the United States. When temperatures are very hot, writers look for unusual or dramatic words to describe the heat and its effect on people. In the newspaper or online scan stories about the heat and make a list of interesting or unusual words. Use the best ones to write a poem about the summer heat. Your poems can rhyme or not but should make people feel what intense heat feels like. Read your poem aloud for family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

4. Giant Goldfish

In a story that sounds like science fiction, goldfish the size of footballs have been found in a lake in the state of Minnesota. The goldfish found in Keller Lake were 12 to 15 inches long and weighed up to four pounds, wildlife officials said. The giant goldfish were discovered during a survey of the fish population of Keller Lake, which is located south of the city of Minneapolis. Officials said they likely were introduced to the lake by people looking for a home for pet goldfish they no longer wanted. When introduced to a wild environment, goldfish become “invasive” species that can grow very large and disrupt the habitat of other fish. They also root around at the bottom of lakes or ponds and disturb native plants. “It seems like there are a lot of folks that don't realize how large they can get,” one wildlife expert told CNN News. “… There are some unintended environmental consequences to releasing goldfish or other types of pets into the wild.” Invasive species are species introduced to habitats where they would not ordinarily live. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an invasive species of plant or wildlife that is affecting an area. Use what you read to write a short editorial offering ideas on what could be done to control or eliminate this invasive species.

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. Tiny Cow

Rare or unusual animals are often in the news. In the Asian nation of Bangladesh, thousands of people have been flocking to a farm near the nation’s capital to see a dwarf cow that is believed to be one of the tiniest in the world. Rani the cow is less than two feet high, which makes her smaller than many dogs, children and even some newborn cows, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Rani’s owner believes she is the smallest cow in the world and has submitted her size for consideration by the Guinness Book of World Records. Rani — which means “queen” in the Bengali language — is a Bhutti breed cow that is 27 inches long, 20 inches tall and weighs 57 pounds. That is four inches shorter than current shortest-cow record holder — a 24-inch Vechur cow from India. Many things can make animals unusual. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal that is unusual in some way. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie about this animal. Your short can be a real-life movie or a creative story with a made-up plot. Write an outline for your movie. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.