Activities & Lesson Plans - 1st & 2nd Grade Newsletter 1/15/10 - Scientists Study Elephant Language

Grade: 1st-2nd
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January 15, 2010 | Grades 1 & 2

In This Issue: An Elephant Dictionary; Cars of the Future

ElephantMy, What Big Ears They Have

You may have heard of elephants that can paint, but have you heard that they can talk? A scientist working in Central Africa for nearly 20 years spends long days observing forest elephants—counting their numbers, monitoring their health and listening to what they have to say. Researchers at Cornell University's Elephant Listening Project are using this information to create an elephant dictionary. Most of what they say cannot be heard by humans, as the pitch is too low. Among other things, the dictionary will help conservationists monitor and protect the population of this threatened species. 

Watch an artistic elephant

Activity Ideas
Language Arts - Punctuation

Discuss with your child the different types of punctuation. Have your child punctuate the following sentences. 

  • You are the best friend ever (!)
  • We've known each other for five years (.)
  • Really? We've known each other for five years (?)

Quizzical Quiz 

1. A question mark is used to: 

a) get information that you need; learn more

b) confuse others

c) show interest in what someone else is saying
d) annoy your big brother
(a, c)


2. An exclamation point is used to:

a) make a sentence look better
b) show excitement or strong emotion 
c) get a reader's attention
d) make a humdrum fact seem more interesting
(b, c)

3. A period indicates:
a) the sentence isn't as important as those ending in question marks or exclamation points
b) the end of a sentence
c) the sentence can be read without any expression at all

The Magic Key
Learning Tips:

Prius 2010A Smaller, Cleaner, Greener Drive

The recession and rising fuel costs are driving the latest trends in the auto world. Hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient cars replaced the gas-guzzling giants of old at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. The new models, including the Tango—a slim electric car where the passenger rides behind the driver—and Toyota's tiny FT-TV (Future Toyota electric vehicle) are quite a departure for Americans who are accustomed to ruling the road. 
See photos from the show 

Activity Ideas
Math - Addition, Subtraction

Explain to your child that auto makers are trying to build cars that are better for the environment. One way is to create cars that need less fuel to get places. This is measured in miles per gallon (mpg), a figure that shows how many miles a car can travel on one gallon of gas. Share the following with your child; help him or her identify the number in each sentence that represents mpg.

  • Honda Insight EX travels 37 miles on one gallon of gas. This means it gets (37 miles per gallon). 
  • Honda Odyssey EX can go 20 miles on one gallon. This means that it gets (20 miles per gallon).
  • Mini Cooper travels 33 miles on one gallon of gas. This means it gets (33 miles per gallon).
  • Toyota Prius IV can go 44 miles on one gallon of gas. This means it gets (44 miles per gallon).

Create a descending list of the cars above, from highest (best) to lowest (worst) mpg. 
  1. Toyota Prius, 44 mpg
  2. Honda Insight EX, 37 mpg
  3. Mini Cooper, 33 mpg
  4. Honda Odyssey, 20 mpg
From this list, ASK:
  • How far can the Prius travel on two gallons of gas? 88 miles (44 mpg + 44 mpg) 
  • How many more miles per gallon of gas can Honda Insight travel than the Honda Odyssey? 17 mpg (37 mpg - 20 mpg)  
  • Calculate the difference between the car with the best mileage and the car with the worst. 24 mpg  (44mpg - 20 mpg) 

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