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For Grades K-4 , week of May 24, 2021

1. Perfect Pet

Pets can make a huge difference in a child’s life — especially the perfect pet. A first grader in the state of Minnesota got that perfect pet this spring, and now he tells everyone “she’s just like me.” Seven-year-old Paxton Williams was born prematurely, and at age 4 he had to have his right foot removed so that he could be fitted with an artificial one that would allow him to walk more easily. His new puppy Marvel is also “limb challenged.” Marvel was born without a right front paw. Marvel was healthy otherwise, a fluffy, friendly golden retriever. His owner Barb Felt immediately wanted to match her up with a child who had a limb challenge, the Washington Post newspaper reported. She posted a video of Marvel’s litter on Facebook and told of her dream for the three-legged pup. One of the people who saw it was an occupational therapist who works with Paxton. She asked Felt if she would like to meet his family. She said yes, and soon Paxton’s family drove to the farm where Marvel was born. “It was love at first sight,” Paxton’s mom said later. “Marvel is the cutest dog ever,” Paxton says. “She’s just so soft, I can’t stop petting her. And she loves me.” Pets can often help people deal with challenges or obstacles. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a pet that is helping this way. Use what you read to write a thank you letter to the pet, from the point of view of the person being helped. Then write a letter responding as you think the pet might. Share with family, friends or classmates.

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.

2. Leading Scorer

Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is one of the great shooters in the National Basketball Association, and this season his shooting made history. This month Curry became the oldest player since Michael Jordan to win the NBA scoring title. Curry, who is 33, earned the honor in style by scoring 46 points in the final regular season game to finish the season with an average of 32.0 points per game. Jordan averaged 28.7 points per game when he won the scoring title at age 35 during the 1997-1998 season. Curry has won the scoring championship once before, averaging 30.1 points per game in the 2015-2016 season. Earlier this year, he became the Warriors' all-time leading scorer. Following sports statistics is a great way to build math skills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories involving sports statistics. Or look up statistics from a single game or season. Use what you read to create three math word problems to exchange with classmates. Write out your problems and do them yourself so you know the correct answers. Exchange problems with classmates or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. One Huge Insect!

The southern Pacific nation of Australia has a wide range of wildlife in fields and forests, but one of the most unusual species made news recently by going to school. A giant wood moth turned up on the wall of a new classroom building near a rain forest, giving a thrill to both students and scientists. The moth was a gray wood moth, and it is the heaviest moth species in the world, weighing as much as a small mouse. It also has a wingspan of nine inches from tip to tip, giving it the second largest wings of the world’s 160,000 moth species. (The white witch moth of South America has a wingspan of up to 12 inches.) The gray wood moth also has an unusual life cycle, spending up to three years as a caterpillar larva but just a week as a fuzzy moth with wings. The children at Mount Cotton State School were delighted to have a celebrity moth at their school, and wrote fictional stories based on it (including one in which a giant insect eats a teacher!). Animals or other wildlife often can be the inspiration for creative fictional stories. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo involving a wildlife species. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story involving this species. Write an outline for your story. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. A First in Space

In a first for space exploration, the Asian nation of China has successfully landed a rover spacecraft on the planet Mars. China is the second nation to land a rover on Mars after the United States, which has landed five rovers on the so-called Red Planet next out from Earth in the solar system. The six-wheeled Chinese rover will explore the Utopia Planitia region in the planet’s northern hemisphere, looking for signs of earlier life and testing the make-up of Martian soil for ice and other materials. The China National Space Administration did not immediately confirm the successful landing, but after several days, the rover started sending back photos of its surroundings. The rover is named Zhurong after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology and is part of the Tianwen-1 mission, which means “Heavenly Questions” in Chinese. Tianwen-1 is China's first mission to another planet. Until now, Chinese spacecraft have only gone as far as the Earth’s moon, where the nation has successfully landed two rovers. The planet Mars is getting a lot of attention from the United States and other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a mission that is trying to learn more about Mars. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, telling what the mission seeks to learn, what it has learned so far and why that is important to scientists.

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.

5. A Park on Stilts

New York City has many attractions for residents and tourists, but this month it got one like none it has ever had. A manmade park called Little Island has been built on stilts in the Hudson River as part of the Hudson River Park, and people are flocking to see what it has to offer. First of all, the stilts that the park sits on look like giant tulip blooms of different heights, creating a multi-level space of hills, valleys and walkways that provide great views of the river and New York’s West Side. The park is planted with beautiful trees, flowers and grass, and includes a variety of performance spaces, including a 687-seat amphitheater overlooking the water. The park took seven years to build and cost $260-million, most of it funded by billionaire Barry Diller’s foundation. Though it covers just 2.4-acres, the park offers a wide variety of attractions for nature lovers, including 65 species of shrubs; 290 varieties of grasses, vines and perennial flowers; and 114 trees, representing 35 different species. Some of the trees eventually will grow 50 to 60 feet high. Parks provide a wide range of outdoor attractions for families and children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a park in your community or state. Use what you read and additional research to draw a mural showing families enjoying attractions and activities offered by the park.

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.