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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 03, 2016

1. Election Travel

On November 8, the United States will elect a new president. Either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will be elected to succeed Democrat Barack Obama, who could not seek re-election because he has already been elected to two terms. Between now and Election Day candidates Clinton and Trump will travel all over the country seeking support. In the newspaper or online, follow the travels of the two candidates for a week or more. Print out a map of the United States that shows each state and record where each candidate appears each day (use different colors for Trump and Clinton). Draw a line between campaign stops as they occur to get a picture of each candidate’s travels. Use the scale of miles of the map to estimate the distance each candidate traveled during the time you were keeping track. As a class, discuss why you think the candidates traveled the way they did.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Losing Wilderness

About one-tenth of the world’s wilderness has vanished in the last 20 years, scientists from the World Conservation Society report. Despite their ecological and cultural value, wild areas are ignored in international conservation efforts and agreements, the researchers report in the science journal Current Biology. About 20 percent of the world’s land area is classed as “wilderness” — which means it is free of large-scale human activities such as housing, development and industry. The researchers warn there have been “alarming losses” of wilderness areas, particularly on the continents of South America and Africa. “We probably have one to two decades” to do what’s necessary to “maintain wilderness areas,” the researchers state. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a natural or wilderness area. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing what it would be like to live in this wilderness area — as either an animal or a human.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

3. Spacecraft Headed to Asteroid

A spacecraft launched by America’s NASA space agency is on its way to an asteroid on a quest for dirt and gravel. The craft will briefly touch the asteroid to scoop up the material with a mechanical arm, and then deliver the material back to Earth. There it will be analyzed for organic molecules, the carbon-containing “building block” materials found in living things. Chief goal of the $800 million mission is to help researchers understand the role asteroids played in helping life get started on Earth. Target of the Atlas-delivered OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is the 1,640-foot-wide asteroid Bennu. It will take the craft two years to reach the asteroid, and the return flight will take place after about two years of study while the spacecraft travels alongside the asteroid. Scientists are constantly exploring and learning new things about space. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about a mission exploring space in some way. Write the word “LEARNING” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a complete sentence or phrase describing something scientists are learning from the space mission. As a class, share and discuss what scientists are learning.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Chimps Freed from Labs

Hundreds of chimpanzees used in medical research experiments in the past are being moved to a new home. Thanks to the work of a nonprofit group called Project Chimps, they are leaving a medical testing center in the state of Louisiana for a sanctuary in Georgia. There they and about 200 other lab chimps will be allowed to roam free. It‘s “the end of privately funded research on chimpanzees in the U.S.,” a Project Chimps official said. Earlier, chimps had been granted endangered species status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Institutes of Health denied all support for research using chimps. Chimps are primates like humans and great apes. Efforts to promote fair or kind treatment of animals are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about one effort to help animals. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor, giving your opinion on how this species should be treated.

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. Catfish Falls from Sky

Of all the unlikely things that could happen in the center of a big city, a catfish falling from the sky is about the most unlikely. But that’s just what happened to a young woman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A five-pound catfish hit Lisa Lobree in the face as she walked along the Schuylkill River next to the city’s famous art museum. Now that she’s recovered from a small cut and some swelling, she admits it makes “a good story for people to laugh at.” But how this happened remains a mystery. Friends who were walking with her suspect the fish was a bird’s lunch that the bird accidentally dropped it on Lobree while flying overhead. Odd events are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about an odd event. Use what you read to write a short, rhyming, humorous poem about the event. Draw a humorous illustration to go with your poem.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.