For Grades K-4 , week of June 26, 2017

1. Help for a Guide Pony

For 14 years, a miniature horse named Panda has helped a blind woman in Albany, New York get around and live her life. When the specially trained pony got sick, horse lovers rewarded her years of service by raising more than $11,000 to pay medical and veterinary bills. Her owner, Ann Edie, had already spent more than $30,000 from retirement savings to pay for vet care, so the help from others was deeply appreciated. “Of course I wanted to do everything I could to save her, because she’s very special,” said Edie, a 69-year-old retired teacher who has been blind since birth. While there are an estimated 10,000 dogs guiding blind people in the United States, there are only about a half-dozen miniature horses in that role. Panda has been trained to lead Edie across busy streets, fetch house keys and even take her to restaurants to eat her meals. Communities often pitch in to raise money or help people in need. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a community making an effort to help someone. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how the effort to help made the community stronger.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

2. Free Books for Summer!

Most elementary students get better at reading during the school year, but they often “slide back” in skills during the summer when they read less. To keep that from happening, a school in Silver Spring, Maryland, gives away books each year to keep kids reading during summer vacation. At Saint Francis International School, librarian Carolyn Johnson collects books all year to make sure she will have enough to give out to students in every grade. With the help of donations, more than 2,000 books were given to the 400 students at the private Catholic school this year to spur summer reading. Students get to take home three to 13 books, depending on the number of books available for each grade. “I tell every student, ‘This is just a start,’” Johnson said. “I’m really hoping every student will have some adult in their lives take them to the public library.” Everyone has a favorite book, and most of them are available at public libraries. With family or friends, discuss books you like a lot. Then pick one to write a “review” of, telling what things make it special to you. Share reviews with your friends or family members. Then make plans to visit a public library to take out other books to read this summer.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. Shipwreck Found

One hundred years ago this month, the Coast Guard Cutter “McCulloch” collided with a passenger ship and sank in dense fog on the Southern California coast. At long last, its wreckage has been found, the U.S. Coast Guard has announced. The steam-powered, three-masted ship was found by a research team not far from the collision site off Point Conception, a place that turns dangerous in foggy or heavy weather. “We call that, the graveyard of the Pacific,” said Greg Gorga, executive director of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum in an interview with CNN news. Shipwrecks excite people who study history because they often contain items that reveal what life was like in earlier times. What items on a ship operating today would tell future historians things about our lives? With family or friends, talk about things people on a modern ship would have and use. Then write a paragraph explaining what these things would tell historians of the future about the way we live today.

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.

4. A 5th Grade Scholarship?

Titan Lacaden? is an 11-year-old quarterback and by all accounts is pretty good. But is the fifth grader good enough to deserve a college football scholarship? Lacaden, who lives in Kapolei, Hawaii, announced this month that University of Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich made a scholarship offer, and Rolovich later confirmed it. Rolovich “said he likes Titan and what he does,” Titan’s father Frank said. Rolovich confirmed the non-binding offer in a Twitter tweet to Florida Atlantic University coach Lane Kiffin, who recently made headlines by offering scholarships to a sixth-grader and a seventh-grader. Rolovich’s tweet said: “Your move @Lane_Kiffin.” Because such offers are non-binding, they are mostly about establishing relationships between coaches and families. Many kids dream of playing college or professional sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a sport you or a friend like to play or watch. Then brainstorm an idea for a movie showing yourself playing this sport at a high level. For added fun, have your movie show what it would be like if you could play at a high level at the age you are now.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. High-Flying Chicken

Big companies often try unusual things to call attention to their products. But no one has ever done what KFC did last week. The fast-food company launched a chicken sandwich to the edge of outer space. Specifically, it loaded its Zinger chicken sandwich onto a high-altitude, solar-powered balloon created by the World View company. With the sandwich aboard, the balloon soared to a height 28.5 miles above the Earth and stayed there for four days. No scientific tests were performed on the sandwich, but World View collected data to help with the planning of future flights. The KFC flight was the first multi-day mission by World View’s solar balloon. KFC is likely to use the space flight of its sandwich in TV or newspaper ads in the future. In the newspaper or online, study ads created by companies to call attention to their products. Then think creatively and come up with an idea for a TV or newspaper ad for KFC based on the flight of the Zinger sandwich in space.

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