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For Grades K-4 , week of July 11, 2016

1. Refugees in Olympics

At least 10 athletes in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer will be competing for “no home, no team, no flag.” They are the first refugee team ever to participate in an Olympic Games, and were selected by the International Olympic Committee from 43 candidates who have escaped violence and unrest in their own countries. They will stay in the Olympic Village in the South American city and will carry the Olympic flag in the opening ceremonies. Among the refugee athletes two Syrian swimmers, five South Sudanese track stars, two judo competitors from the Democratic Republic of Congo and an Ethiopian marathon runner. “I will win a medal,” said Congo judo middleweight Popole Misenga, “and dedicate it to all refugees.” The Summer Olympics will feature athletes from all over the world and many of them have truly unusual stories. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an Olympic athlete who has an unusual or interesting story. Write the words “SO UNUSUAL” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use what you read to use each letter to start a sentence or phrase saying something about the athlete’s journey to the Olympics.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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

2. ‘Fog’ in the Skies

More than one-third of humanity can no longer see the Milky Way galaxy from Earth even on the clearest night, a new study discloses. That’s because nearly four out of five people around the world — and 90 percent of Americans and Europeans — live under skies that are “polluted” by manmade light that makes stars harder to see. In an updated version of a world atlas created by scientists, researchers report that manmade, artificial brightness is giving people a steadily hazier view of the night sky. In the journal Science Advances, they report that for most of the world, the night sky glows as if “enveloped in a luminous fog.” Scientists are always studying the natural world to see what changes are happening and to come up with ideas on what could be done. With family or friends, use the newspaper and Internet to closely read a story about a study of the natural world. Think about what scientists are discovering, and how that could affect people. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme describing the discoveries, how they could affect people and how that would make people feel.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Walk for Health

Living in a “walkable” neighborhood can be good for your health, a new study has found out. It can decrease by 10 percent or more the risk of being overweight or obese or of getting diabetes, according to researchers in the nation of Canada. That’s because walkable neighborhoods encourage people to get more exercise. The study by the Canadian researchers looked at the lifestyles of more than 3 million people in 8,777 neighborhoods in urban and city areas in the Canadian province of Ontario. It ranked the neighborhoods for “walkability,” based on population density, facilities within walking distance of homes, and how well connected the streets are. It concluded the more “walkable” the community, the better it was for people’s health. Walking is a great way to get exercise, and walking is part of many things people do for fun. Any walking is good walking, no matter much or how little. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story or listing about an event you might like to do that includes walking. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing you having fun at this event — and walking.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Children & War

More than 500,000 children have been “deeply affected” by the violent conflict between government forces and rebels in the European nation of Ukraine, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports. Many need emotional and social support in addition to medical attention. “Two years of violence and fear have left a [huge] mark,” UNICEF says. More than 200,000 children have been driven from their homes, one out of every five schools has been damaged or destroyed, and more than 20 children have been killed. When children suffer from conflicts, poverty, disease or lack of food, people in other nations often want to help. With family or friends, use the newspaper to find and closely read a story about a situation causing problems for children in another country. Talk about ways your school or community could help the children. Then write a short editorial giving your ideas on ways local people could help the children in the other country.

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. Loose Python Alarms Town

A python broke out of its foam container and slithered away from show-and-tell at an elementary school in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The snake created a panic among residents that didn’t end until it was found hiding behind a cabinet in the building. The escaped snake was a ball python, the smallest of the African pythons. While some pythons can grow to more than 25 feet long, the ball python is generally less than six feet. When the snake was re-captured, the child who had brought it to science class took it home. While the snake was missing, school officials sent out a message, assuring concerned parents that pythons are not poisonous, and that there was no danger to students or residents. When animals make news, it makes readers want to learn more. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wild or tame animal species. Then do some additional research to learn more about this animal. Prepare an oral report for your family and describe three or four things from your research that you found most interesting about this animal. Discuss your findings with family members.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.