Week 2 Learning Center For Grades 1–4: Daily ELA Learning Activities

Day 1: Word origins

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For thousands of years, people have looked to the stars and wondered what secrets they hold. This week’s activities will take you and your child on a journey through the universe, and we’ll learn some handy space vocabulary along the way. Far out!

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Ask your child what comes to mind when they hear the word Mars.

A red planet? The home of tiny green aliens? A scrumptious candy bar?

2. Have your child write a list of the other planets in our solar system.

  • Look up each name on Dictionary.com and find their origins.
  • Help your child make a chart to record the information.
  • Keep the chart in a safe place. You might use it for another activity!

3. What do the planets and days of the week have in common?

Watch this video find out!

WATCH: Where Did The Days Of The Week Get Their Names?

 

 

Family time activities:

1. Constellation search.

The names of constellations have interesting origins, too!

  • Look up different constellations and research their word origins on Dictionary.com. (Orion, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, and Scorpius are great places to begin!)
  • Visit earthsky.org to learn which constellations should be visible from your area this time of year.
  • On a clear night, try to find a constellation in the sky. What does each constellation look like? Does it look like the object or legend it was named for?

2. Indoor constellations.

If the weather does not cooperate or you live in a place with a lot of light pollution, you can make your own constellations.

  • Find a visual reference for a constellation.
  • Have your child use a toothpick to punch holes into a paper place in the shape of the constellation. Each hole represents one star. The brightest stars should be the biggest holes.
  • Shine a flashlight through the plate toward the ceiling.
  • Turn out the lights and stargaze!

3. Imagine that scientists have discovered a new planet, and they have asked your family to name it!

What would you call this planet, and why?

4. Read a story about one of the mythological figures for whom a planet or constellation is named.

Day 2: Roots and affixes

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

Some scientific and technical words may seem difficult at first, but they often have word parts that give clues about their meanings. Knowing the meanings of common roots and affixes can help us figure out the meanings of longer words.

1. Let’s try it out with the word astronomy.

Ask your child the following questions and allow them to click each link to check their understanding.

  • Astro- is the root, or the main part of the word. What does astro- mean?
  • The word part -nomy is a suffix. What does -nomy mean?
  • Now put the meanings together. What does astronomy mean?
  • Look up the word astronomy to see if your guess is correct!

2. Now go to the Word of the Day entry for astronaut and watch the video “Explorers Wanted.”

Ask your child these questions:

  • Which root do you see in the word astronaut? (HINT: Think about the word astronomy!)
  • What does an astronaut do?
  • Would you like to be an astronaut? Why or why not?

Family time activities:

1. Word part jigsaw.

Help your child understand how word parts work together by creating and playing this matching game!

  • Write the following word parts on index cards: telescope, unmanned, mid-flight, equator, diameter, cosmonaut, scientist.
  • Have your child identify familiar word parts and explain what they mean. (For any that you're unsure about, search dictionary.com for the word or word part.)
  • Guide your child to cut each word in two, between its root and affix.
  • Place the cards face down on the table in a random order.
  • Take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If the word parts form a word, read aloud the word and take the cards out of play.
  • The player with the most pairs wins!

2. Choose one of the word parts and take turns listing other words that use it.

(For example, tele- is part of telephone, telegram, telecommute, teleconference.) Discuss how the word meanings are similar.

3. If there are any words that your child does not recognize, have them look up the definition and record it in a Word Log.

Remind your child to add to their Word Log as they encounter new words in their studies and daily interactions!

Day 3: Idioms

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Ask your child: Have you heard the saying “once in a blue moon”?

  • Then ask, "You probably know that the moon isn’t actually blue. What do you think this saying means?"
  • Explain that “once in a blue moon” is an idiom—an expression or saying that does not have the same meaning as its individual words. Instead, idioms have meanings that people have come to understand over the years.
  • Review this slideshow with your child to learn about different names for our moon.

2. Discuss other idioms about space.

Have your child guess what each idiom means.

3. Guide your child to write a sentence using each idiom.

Then have them replace the idiom with a different word or phrase that means the same thing. Which version do they think is better?

Family time activities:

1. Picture it!

Put your drawing skills to the test by illustrating a common idiom. (It’s not as easy as you’d think!)

  • Have each family member choose an idiom from the list above or another familiar idiom.
  • Fold a sheet of paper in half. On one side, draw a picture of the literal meaning of each idiom. On the other side, draw a picture of what people understand the idiom to mean.
  • Take turns guessing which idiom each person drew!

2. What other idioms do you know?

Start an Idiom List in a notebook or computer document. Every time you hear a new idiom, add it to the list!

Day 4: Capitalization

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

With so many names, places, theories, and procedures, it sometimes seems like science has a mind of its own when it comes to grammar and conventions. Today, we will focus on capitalization.

1. Play along with the following video to brush up on some basic rules of capitalization.

 

 

2. Ask your child to guess whether or not the following words and phrases are capitalized.

Then explain the reason for capitalizing certain words, as noted in parentheses.

  • Earth (proper noun, since it is a specific planet)
  • moon (common noun, since it can refer to Earth’s moon or the moon of another planet)
  • the Sun (often a proper noun when referring to the Sun in our solar system; common noun and lowercase when referring to any other sun)
  • Sally Ride (proper noun since it is the name of a person)
  • meteor (common noun, since it is one of many)
  • planet (common noun, since it is one of many)

Psst! Here is a review of noun types if you need a refresher!

3. Work with your child to write a sentence for each of the words above, using correct capitalization.

Have them circle the capital letters in each sentence. (Remind them that the first word of the sentence should always be capitalized!)

4. Brainstorm a list of other space-related words and phrases, making sure to use correct capitalization.

If you are uncertain of the conventions, search for the word or term on Dictionary.com and note if the headword is capitalized or not. You can also see how it is used in the example sentences.

Family time activities:

1. Simon capitalizes.

This version of the popular children’s game only requires a list of vocabulary words and space to move!

  • Work with your child to compose a list of words and names related to astronomy and space exploration.
  • Designate one adult to be “Simon” and stand a distance away from other family members.
  • Simon states a direction about the capitalization of one of the words from the list. For example: “Simon says to take two steps forward if the word Jupiter is capitalized.”
  • The other players can move forward if the statement is true and begins with “Simon says.” However, if they are incorrect or they moved without hearing “Simon says,” they must take a step backward.
  • The game continues until someone reaches Simon, proving themselves to be an expert on capitalization!

2. Have your child find their favorite book and point out the words that are capitalized.

Discuss why each word is capitalized.

Day 5: Abbreviations and acronyms

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

LOL. Rly? I’ll be there in one sec. We use abbreviations like these every day to make communication more efficient!

1. Ask your child to share words and phrases they often shorten when they talk, text, or write.

2. How are the words scuba, radar, and UNICEF alike?

Have your child click on each link and scroll down to the Origin section of the definition page to find out!

(Answer: They are all acronyms, or words formed from the letters in a series of words. Acronyms are pronounced as words, not single letters.)

3. Scientific language often uses acronyms and abbreviations to shorten complicated words and phrases.

Have your child guess the meaning of each abbreviation below. Then read the definition page for each word to learn more about each term.

Psst! Parents, check out this helpful article on abbreviations: What’s the Difference between Acronyms vs. Abbreviations?

Family time activities:

1. I spy.

Can you make up your own abbreviations and acronyms on the spot? Take turns selecting objects around the room.

Instead of giving descriptive clues, stump your family members by naming the object with an acronym or abbreviation. For example: “I spy with my little eye . . . a ReSo!” (red sofa)

2. Acrostic poems.

What if the letters of our names stood for something else? Write each family member’s first name vertically on a sheet of paper, then think of phrases whose individual words begin with each letter.

For example, Dan could stand for “Dances all night.” Phrases can be accurate or funny!

Day 6: Comparatives and superlatives

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Discuss that an adjective is a word that describes a noun.

Adjectives can describe shape, size, color, and so on.

2. Comparatives and superlatives are special kinds of adjectives used to describe nouns in relation to other nouns.

Read aloud the following article: What Are Comparative Adjectives?

Psst! Parents, here is another article on Comparatives vs. Superlatives to jog your memory from your own school days!

3. Help children create a three-column chart on a sheet of paper.

  • Label the columns: Adjective, Comparative, Superlative.
  • Prompt your child to list their adjectives about the supermoon illustration under Adjective.
  • Then help your child form the comparative and superlative versions of each adjective. (For example: bright, brighter, brightest)
  • Think of other adjectives to add to the chart. Have your child write the comparative and superlative forms for each.

Family time activities:

1. Choose a set of adjectives from the chart created in Self-Guided Activity #3.

Work together to compose sentences for each form. (Hint: Sentences with comparative adjectives often include the word than!)

2. Planet tag.

This is a chance for everyone in the family to show off their knowledge of comparative and superlative adjectives while getting a workout!

  • Assist your child in drawing each planet in the solar system roughly to scale. (Put that chart from Day 1 to good use!) Have them label the drawings.
  • Arrange the drawings in planet order on the floor or ground, with ample space between them.
  • One family member at a time is the clue giver, while the other family members stand at a designated home base.
  • The clue giver asks question using a superlative or comparative word, such as, “Which is the biggest planet in the solar system?” (Jupiter) or “Which planet is closer to the Sun, Venus or Mercury?” (Mercury).
  • The other family members will race to the correct drawing.
  • The first person to reach the correct planet will receive a point and give the next clue.

Day 7: Writing

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Ask your child to write a story in the Thesaurus.com Writing Tool based on one of these prompts:

  • It is far in the future, and humans now live on the moon. What is it like?
  • You find out that the new kid in your neighborhood is actually a Martian. What do you do?
  • How would it feel to ride on a spaceship? Describe what you see, hear, smell, and feel.

For more ideas, check out this page of writing prompts!

2. Have your child read a biography about a famous astronaut then write a timeline of their life and accomplishments.

Encourage them to look up the meaning of any unfamiliar words on Dictionary.com.

3. What is your child’s “favorite” planet?

Have them write and illustrate a brochure listing key facts about it. (Help them with research, as needed.)

Family time activities:

1. And then . . .

In this collaborative story-telling activity, each participant contributes a section that builds on the section before it. The story can follow a traditional plot, or you can encourage family members to get silly. Anything goes!

  • Assign one adult to be the writer. Begin with a simple story starter, such as, “I sat in the pilot’s seat as the shuttle launched into space.”
  • Beginning with the phrase And then, have the next person take over telling the story.
  • Continue the story until one participant says “The End,” or the story comes to a natural conclusion.
  • Have the writer read aloud the whole story!

2. Write out or type the story and illustrate it together.

3. Display your acting skills by turning your story into a play or a movie!

Allow your child to be the director, and use props, sets, and costumes to make the story come to life.


Have you seen our Week 1 activities for elementary students?

We've also released Week 3 for more daily activities. Take a look!