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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 17, 2020

1. Learn About ‘Derecho’

If you follow the weather, you know the names of dangerous weather events like hurricanes, thunderstorms and tornadoes. This summer Americans are learning a new weather word: Derecho (deh-RAY-cho). A derecho is a wide line of powerful storms that feature high winds of up to 100 miles per hour. To be a derecho, the storm line has to be at least 250 miles long, have gusts of wind 58 miles per hour along its entire length and super-gusts of 75 to 100 miles per hour. There have been several derechos in the news this summer. The most recent struck the America’s Midwest region last week and caused widespread damage and heavy rain from the states of Iowa and Nebraska, to the city of Chicago, Illinois, to the states of Indiana and Ohio farther east. Homes, businesses and power lines were among the structures damaged, and more than one million people were left without electricity. The winds were so strong they left entire cornfields knocked flat. Severe weather events often occur in the summer. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about one such event. Use what you read and other resources to draw up a list of tips that could keep people safe in this severe weather event. Design a poster to draw attention to your tips.

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.

2. No Wonder Wheel

All across America, amusement parks have been popular summer attractions for years and years. And at many, Ferris wheels have been the biggest attraction of all. This summer, coronavirus restrictions have changed all that. And one of the nation’s most famous Ferris wheels is facing a summer when it won’t carry a single passenger. Virus restrictions have shut down Deno’s Wonder Wheel in the Coney Island neighborhood of New York City, and its owners say it is unlikely it will be able to open at all. The timing couldn’t have been worse. This summer the Wonder Wheel was set to celebrate its 100th birthday, the New York Times newspaper reports. But with no riders, there will be nothing to celebrate for the 15-story, 20-ton attraction. “We haven’t given up hope, but it doesn’t seem likely” the Wheel will open, one of its owners told the Times newspaper. “It’s very sad.” The coronavirus emergency has forced many amusement parks to close or reduce their operations this summer. In the newspaper or online find and read about other attractions that families could enjoy safely. Choose one and write a letter to a friend, telling him or her about the attraction and why it would be fun to visit.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Wizard at Work

Attention Harry Potter fans. If you’re looking for a real-life wizard, you might want to travel to the city of Christchurch in the southern Pacific nation of New Zealand. Christchurch has an official wizard — and he gets paid more than $10,000 a year to practice his brand of wizardry. With a long beard, pointed hat and black robes, Ian Brackenbury Channell has been Christchurch’s official wizard for 22 years, since he was appointed by the City Council in 1998. In his job, he doesn’t cast spells, or impersonate Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter tales, CNN News reports. He sees his role as more of an entertainer, bringing fun to the world and getting people to think about things in new ways. “Every day the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing in the world right now,” he says. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, photos and ads showing people having fun. Take the tune of a song you like and re-write the words to tell how this kind of fun can be a “powerful thing” making people happy. Share or perform it for family or friends.

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

4. Welcome Back, Beavers

Beavers are animals well known for their ability to build dams, create ponds and gnaw down trees with their big buck teeth. They also are good for the environment, according to a five-year study in the European nation of England. As a result, beavers will be allowed to live in the wild again in England, after a 400-year absence. Beavers were once common in England, but they were hunted to extinction in local habitats for their fur. Then in 2013 a family of beavers was spotted in the River Otter in southwest England. Instead of removing them, local officials let them stay to see what effect they would have on the environment. Wildlife experts studied them for five years and have given them a big thumbs up. The scientists found that the dams the beavers built reduced the risk of flooding, trapped pollutants and improved water quality. Beaver activity also benefited wetland habitats, fish, insects, birds and other animals. With all those achievements, England has now decided to let the beavers stay permanently. Returning wild animals to natural habitats can have many positive effects. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to return or re-introduce a wildlife species to a natural area. Write a letter to the editor telling what positive effects the return of this animal has had on the area.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. The JOY of Words

Dr. Seuss is one of America’s favorite children’s authors. One of his most popular books — “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” — came out 30 years ago this year, and it is still a favorite gift for birthdays, graduations and other milestone events. The books of Dr. Seuss are full of fun, energy and excitement. With silly rhymes and whimsical characters, they teach valuable life and behavior lessons. Most important of all, they expose readers to the sheer JOY of words and language. Seeing how words can entertain as well as inform brings language to life and gives readers an appreciation that can last a lifetime. Use the Internet to find and read a Dr. Seuss book that uses language in a fun way (to do this, type the name of the book in the search field and add the word “text”). Read a book like “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” aloud with family or friends. Talk about which words catch your attention. Which make you laugh? Which are silly or made up? On a sheet of paper, draw pictures of what you think words from the story would look like if Dr. Seuss were drawing them. Then read a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Draw pictures of words from that story as if Dr. Seuss were drawing them. Share and discuss with family or friends.

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.