For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 23, 2019

1. Great Toys

What are the best toys you have ever played with? Everyone has favorites, but did you know there is a national museum that picks the best of the best? Each year, the National Toy Hall of Fame honors toys that have shown great innovation, promoted discovery, been popular for a long time and become “icons” as breakthrough playthings. This year 12 finalists have been announced by the Strong National Museum of Play, which runs the Hall of Fame. They are: My Little Pony, Masters of the Universe toys, Care Bears, the Risk board game, Jenga, Magic the Gathering, Matchbox Cars, Nerf Blaster, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, coloring books, spinning tops and smart phone games. This year’s winners will be announced in November. Toys already in the Hall of Fame can be viewed online at What toys from today do you think could end up in the National Hall of Fame? In the newspaper or online, find stories, photos or ads showing popular toys from today. Pick one and write a paragraph nominating it for the Hall of Fame and telling why it should be included. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. Careful Listeners

Squirrels are extremely smart animals. They frequently outwit humans to steal food from bird feeders, and they use their tails to signal other squirrels when danger is near. Squirrels also have learned to listen closely to the sounds that birds make to know when predators are nearby or things are safe. A new study of gray squirrels has shed new light on how squirrels use those bird sounds to protect themselves. Researchers from Oberlin College in the state of Ohio have found that squirrels not only listen to alarm sounds from birds to know when predators are around; they listen to the relaxed chatter of birds to know when danger has passed and the coast is clear. Researchers reached that conclusion by observing squirrels and playing recordings of both alarm sounds of birds and their calm chatter to see how squirrels reacted. Their reactions to calm chatter showed they recognized it as “the sound of no danger,” scientists said. Wildlife develop special skills and behavior to stay safe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species that has special safety skills. Write the word SAFETY down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a sentence or phrase describing how special skills help the species stay safe. Finish by drawing a picture of the species staying safe.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. 9/11, 9:11, 9/11

September 11 is a special day for remembering in the United States. It will certainly be a day to remember for a mom and dad in the state of Tennessee. On that day — 9/11 — their baby girl was born in a hospital in the city of Germantown. And not only that: She arrived at 9:11 p.m. And she weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces. “The doctor [was] excited,” said dad Justin Brown. “She’s like, ‘Oh my God, this is a 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 baby!” Brown and his wife Cametrione named the little girl Christina, and after several days in intensive care she went home to meet her siblings. It was a special occasion, but not as special as the moment of her arrival. In news stories, numbers often play an important role. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read three stories in which numbers are important. For each, write a complete sentence stating why numbers are important to the story. Then use numbers from each story to make up a math problem to share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

4. Space Watch

A visitor from outer space is heading for our solar system. It’s not a spaceship, but it’s still causing a buzz among astronomers. It is the second object in two years to enter our solar system as an “interstellar” body. Interstellar objects travel between stars and this one is heading for our sun, the star at the center of the solar system. The object is believed to be a comet and will enter the solar system on October 26, scientists said. It does not pose a threat to Earth, because it will never get closer than 190-million miles. Scientists have not yet declared officially that the object came from outside our solar system, but its high speed of 93,000 miles per hour indicates that it did. “The high velocity indicates … that the object likely originated from outside our solar system,” one scientist said. Scientists study objects from outer space to learn more about our solar system, our galaxy and the universe. As a class, find and closely read a story about an object in space that scientists are studying. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what object scientists are studying, why that is important and what they have learned.

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

5. Time-Lapse New York

Time-lapse photography shows how the world changes by taking picture after picture of the same scene. It can show how flowers bloom, how weather moves or how people come and go from popular locations. A photographer in the state of New Jersey is a big fan of the time-lapse approach, and he’s launched a project that will last 30 years. From his home in the town of Weehawken, Joseph DiGiovanna has trained his camera on the skyline of New York City, recording how it changes day to day. His computer-controlled camera takes a picture every 30 seconds, or 2,880 every day. In the first four years of his project, he has taken more than 4.2-million images, CNN News reports. Through Instagram he releases time-lapse videos of sunrises and sunsets, and he has a website where people can search for specific dates. He sees the project as a living history of New York. In just four years, he says, his photos show more than a dozen new buildings under construction or completed. Time lapse photography can show how the world changes. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo showing an indoor or outdoor scene that would be good for a time-lapse project. Write a letter to a friend, telling what time-lapse photography would reveal about the scene and why that would be interesting or important.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.