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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 02, 2017

1. Voyage On, Voyagers

In one of the great achievements of space exploration, two U.S. spacecraft celebrated a milestone this summer that few thought could ever happen. The craft known as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 marked 40 years of exploring space since their launch in August 1977. And they are still sending back valuable information from the outer edge of our solar system. They are farthest-traveling and longest-living spacecraft ever launched by America’s NASA space agency. Voyager 1 is now almost 13 billion miles away from Earth and Voyager 2 almost 11 billion miles — yet they continue to communicate with NASA every day. The Voyager spacecraft have sent back valuable information about the solar system for more than 40 years. Use the newspaper or the NASA website to find and closely read a story about another space mission providing valuable information to scientists. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining the most important discoveries the mission has made.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

2. White Giraffes

The African nation of Kenya has many giraffes, but none quite like the two spotted this summer in the northeast region of the country. Those giraffes — a mother and her baby calf — are pure white. White giraffes are rarely seen in the wild, with only two other confirmed cases on record with an African nature conservation group. Most giraffes are brown and white or brown and tan, with the colors alternating in a spotted pattern. Giraffes are considered a “vulnerable” species in Africa, which means they face about the same threats as African elephants for survival. Many people love reading about wild animals, or seeing pictures of them in their natural habitats. They are attracted by animals’ strength, beauty, skills and habits. Pair off with a partner and use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely study a story or photo of a wild animal that interests you. Then write the letters of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper. See how many adjectives you can think of to describe the strength, beauty, skills or habits of the animal.

Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Record Heat

The first day of fall was September 22, but in some parts of the country it still feels like summer. States in America’s Midwest, Northeast and Great Lakes regions this year had the hottest weather ever recorded in late September. Temperatures soared into the 90s for more than six straight days in Chicago, Illinois, and topped that mark as far north as Burlington, Vermont in New England. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Packers football team played its hottest NFL game ever, with a temperature of 89 degrees at Lambeau Field at the opening kickoff September 24. From hurricanes to heat, extreme weather has been in the news a lot in recent months. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an extreme weather event. Use what you read to design a poster, telling people ways to stay safe in such an event. Share and discuss as a class.

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.

4. 2 Holes in One!

In the game of golf, making a hole-in-one shot is a very rare achievement. It requires hitting the ball into a cup hundreds of yards away with a single swing. So imagine the surprise of a Pennsylvania high school student who made not one, but TWO holes-in-one in a single round of play. Ben Tetzlaff, a 17-year-old senior, achieved his rare feat while playing just nine holes in a practice round with teammates from Parkland High School in the city of Allentown. According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of Tetzlaff’s achievement are 67 million to 1. “I still can’t believe it, and I was the one who did it,” Tetzlaff said later. Young athletes often make news by doing special things. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about a young athlete doing something special. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining how the athlete’s success could inspire other young athletes.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Kitten Yoga

Yoga classes have become popular because the exercises help people relax and stay healthy. In the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada, a yoga class is also helping kittens find homes. The St. John’s SPCA animal shelter offers Kitten Yoga nights, at which adoptable kittens roam the class space and introduce themselves to participants. Instructor Laura-Beth Power says the kittens not only add playfulness to classes but help students focus when they interact. “Our current motto is ‘be in the meow, be in the now’,” she says. The classes have proved popular, with most filling up quickly. They also have found homes for many kittens from the shelter. Kitten Yoga is an example of an organization trying something unusual to call attention to its efforts. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about an organization that helps people or animals. Brainstorm an idea for an unusual event or activity to call attention to the group’s efforts. Design an ad for the newspaper announcing your idea.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.