For Grades K-4 , week of May 17, 2021

1. Recycle Those Toys!

Old toys may be valuable as collector’s items, but they also may be valuable for the materials they contain. To recapture those materials, the Mattel toy company has launched a program called “Mattel PlayBack” that is designed to recover and reuse materials in old toys for future products. The company is starting the program with three of its most popular toy lines —Barbies, Matchbox cars and MEGA toys — and plans to add other brands in the future, CNN News reports. Toy owners can participate in the program by visiting Mattel’s website, printing a free shipping label and mailing their toys back to the company. Individuals, businesses and communities are looking for ways to recycle more and more materials. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort to promote recycling. Use what you read to write a short editorial, telling why the effort is important and why people should support it.

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. ‘Condor Party’

With a 10-foot wingspan, California condors are the largest bird in the United States and North America. Only a few hundred live in the wild, and they usually steer clear of people. Except for a 68-year-old woman in the mountain city of Tehachapi north of the city of Los Angeles in California. For reasons that have baffled wildlife experts, about 20 of the birds held a “condor party” on the deck of Cinda Mickols’s house this month — and they made a huge mess. They knocked over plants, ruined decorative flags, ripped a spa covering and — worst of all — left droppings of smelly poop all over the place. Condors are smart and social birds, often eating together and even playing tug-of-war with dead carcasses they eat for meat. But wildlife experts have “no idea” why they chose Mickols’s deck for their gathering, because there was no food there. California condors nearly went extinct from lead poisoning after eating lead pellets or bullets in animals killed by hunters. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another species that is threatened or in danger of going extinct. Use what you read to prepare an oral report for classmates or friends, explaining the threats to the species and what people, groups or communities can do to protect it. Use photos from the newspaper or Internet to create a poster to go with your report.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Chess Champion

A homeless boy who became a statewide chess champion just a year after learning the sport at age 7 has achieved another milestone. Competing against players of all ages in a tournament in the state of Connecticut, Tani Adewumi won every game and achieved a rating that qualified him as a national master. At an age of 10 years and 7 months, Tani is one of the youngest players ever to become a chess master in the United States and has had one of the fastest rises to master status. Now he has set his sights on another goal. “I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” he told the New York Times newspaper. “I want to have it when I’m 11 or 12.” The youngest person ever to become a grandmaster achieved that honor at 12 years 7 months. Tani’s family lived in the African nation of Nigeria before coming to the United States to escape the terrorist group Boko Haram. Thanks to community support in New York City, the family was able to move to an apartment on Long Island, where Tani is in fifth grade. Students often do amazing things at very young ages. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a student who has done something remarkable. Write the word AMAZING down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to begin a sentence or phrase describing a skill or character trait the student needed to achieve his or her amazing feat.

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.

4. King of the Mountain

For most mountain climbers, climbing to the summit of Mount Everest is the achievement of a lifetime. For a Sherpa guide from the Asian nation of Nepal, it’s almost routine. Kami Rita, 51, has climbed Mount Everest a record 25 times, the most recent coming this month. Rita and a group of 11 other Sherpa guides were the first people to scale Everest this year. They were installing or repairing ropes on the climbing route so that others can reach the peak later this month. Rita first scaled Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since then, the Associated Press news service reported. His father was among the first Sherpa guides, and Rita followed in his footsteps. Mount Everest, which is the world’s tallest mountain, was closed to climbers last year due to the coronavirus epidemic. This year Nepal has issued more than 400 permits to climb to the summit from the southern side of the mountain. China, which controls the northern side, has issued only a handful of permits. Kami Rita has demonstrated his mountain climbing skills over and over again. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has demonstrated an outstanding skill over and over. Use what you read to write a personal column explaining how this person was able to maintain an outstanding level of achievement again and again. Compare that to a skill you have and how you maintain a high standard of excellence when you use it.

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.

5. Friends of Turtles

It’s baby turtle season in the eastern United States, and many face a lot of risks and challenges in their first days out of the nest. In addition to natural predators, baby turtles face dangers created by humans. In the state of New Jersey, highway storm drains have proved particularly dangerous, but scientists at Stockton University are coming to the rescue, CNN News reports. The scientists have rescued more than 825 baby diamondback terrapin turtles that have fallen or been swept into storm drains by rain water. The baby turtles will be cared for by the university for up to a year before they are ready to be released into the wild. Diamondback terrapins live in marshes near the ocean that have brackish water — a mix of fresh water and salt water from the sea. They get their name from the diamond-shaped markings on their shells and can grow 5 to 8 inches long. Sports teams at the University of Maryland take their name Terrapins from the species. Scientists at Stockton University are making a special effort to help diamondback terrapin turtles. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person, group or institution making a special effort to help wildlife. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor publicly thanking this person or group for the effort, and telling why it is important.

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.