December 18, 2009  Grades 3 & 4
In This Issue: A New EarthLike Planet; Survey Links Texting and Literacy; The Shape of Your Sandwich
Are Other Earths Out There? Astronomers have discovered a watery world outside of our solar system. Don't pack your bags yet; the planet is too hot for humans—its ocean surface is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is likely shrouded in a dark fog of superheated steam. But its existence gives scientists another reason to believe that they will soon find a planet that could support some kind of life. Known as GJ 1214b, it joins a growing list of planets discovered outside of our solar system.
Learn More: The Journal Nature Summary
Activity Ideas  Radius, Diameter and Circumference: Use the following numbers: Earth has diameter of about 8,000 miles.
 ESTIMATE Earth's circumference using the formula circumference = 3 x diameter: (24,000 miles)
 CALCULATE Earth's radius with formula radius = diameter ÷ 2: (4,000 miles)
 GJ 1214b has a diameter 2.68 times that of Earth. ROUND this decimal to a whole number. (round up to 3)
 ESTIMATE the diameter of GJ 1214b. (8,000 miles x 3 = 24,000 miles)
Learning Tips: Know When to Round Decimals and Radius and Diameter of a Circle
Survey Says: Texting = Reading & Writing :) A recent survey indicates that kids who text, blog or use social networking sites are more apt to be enthusiastic readers and writers offline as well. Researchers from National Literacy Trust concluded that the more forms of communication children use, the stronger their core literacy skills. The Trust doesn't see any problems with the jumbled jargon and misspellings that make up texts, saying that children can distinguish between different writing styles.
Activity Ideas  Writing Narratives: Encourage your child to write in a journal and possibly a blog. Brainstorm a focus for your blog (whether you intend to blog or not).
 OUTLINE your blog: Choose its focus  What topics will you cover? What will be your organizational structure? (multiple or single paragraph; freeflowing or structured; etc.) What is your intended audience? What are your reasons for writing the blog?
 WRITE in a journal as well. Compare the experience of putting pen to paper and blogging: Do you tend to be more formal in blog or journal? Is one more rewarding/fun/fulfilling than the other? How do you think each practice has impacted your writing?
 PRACTICE different writing styles: Personal essay, persuasive essay, opinion piece, letter, review, creative story.
 PRACTICE different points of view.
Resource: National Geographic Kids Book Blog, DogEared Learning Tips: Writing With Focus and Organization Game: Story Starters
What Shape Is Your Sandwich? Think sandwiches are boring? Think again: NPR recently explored the shape of the lunchbox staple with a chef, an architect and other experts to determine how best to optimize the ratio of crustless bread. All agreed that triangles topped rectangles. A food editor stated that the diagonal cut creates the illusion that your sandwich is bigger. An architect said that the diagonal line has a storied history of superiority—consider the Great Pyramids. And as the mathematician explained, it's all in the numbers. Activity Ideas  Find the Perimeter Use the following information to solve these sandwich problems: your bread is square; each side is 4 inches long. Perimeter is the distance around the outside of a figure.  FIND the bread's perimeter. (16 inches) This is the amount of crust on each slice of bread.
 Write the FORMULA to find the perimeter of a square (4 x the length of any side).
 CALCULATE the amount of crust will you eat if you finish the whole sandwich. (16 x 2 = 32 inches)
Activity Idea  Follow Multiplestep Directions Together with your child, find a recipe that you would both like to try. Read the directions out loud. ASK: What is the main ingredient? What ingredients do you need for the recipe? What is the first direction? What is the last direction? What tools do you need for the recipe?
Homework Help: Find Perimeter of Shapes Learning Tips: Follow Directions Arts & Crafts: Read Food Network's Peanut Butter Recipe; watch How to Make a Rudolph RedNosed Sandwich Game of the Week: Horrendous Soup
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