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Article
Hottest/Coldest Places

Students will love learning about life in Dallol, Ethiopia, and Oymyakon, Russia, which have some of the most extreme temperatures on Earth. The story has a special emphasis on compare and contrast.

From the September 2016 Issue
Lexiles: 380L, 550L
Guided Reading Level: P
DRA Level: 38

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Think and Read: Compare and Contrast

As you read, look for how these two extreme places are the same and different.

The Hottest Place on Earth: Dallol, Ethiopia 

Jim McMahon/Mapman™

Dave Stamboulis Travel Photography/Getty Images

Are you ready to visit one of the hottest places on Earth? Here, the broiling sun blazes down every day of the year. Water is hard to find. Burning acid gurgles up from the ground in green-and-yellow pools.

This is Dallol (dah-LOHL), in Ethiopia (ee-thee-OH-pee-uh). Ethiopia is a country in Africa. It’s very difficult to live in Dallol. It can get as hot as 125 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). For most of us, an 85°F day is a hot day.

Dallol has no stores. No schools. No doctors. No farmland. No roads, either. To get to the nearest town, you’d have to ride a camel for three days! So nobody lives in Dallol. Many boys and men travel to Dallol from the closest villages to work. They dig huge chunks of salt from salt mines. They sell the salt to get money for clothes and other things they need. Everybody works long days under the burning sun. When their work is done, they travel by camel back to their villages. These tough workers stick together. There aren’t a lot of people around, so they depend on each other.

Some scientists say that in millions of years, the heat will cause Dallol to break away from Africa.

But for now, the workers of Dallol get by, even in this rough environment (en-VYE-ruhn-ment). Somehow, they’re able to get work done in this super-hot spot! 

Are you ready to visit one of the hottest places on Earth? Here, the hot sun beats down yearround. Water is hard to find. Acid boils up from the ground.

This is Dallol (dah-LOHL), in Ethiopia (ee-thee-OH-pee-uh). Ethiopia is a country in Africa. It’s hard to live in Dallol. It can get as hot as 125 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). For most of us, an 85°F day is a hot day.

Dallol has no stores. No schools. No doctors. No farms. No roads, either. To reach the nearest town, you’d have to ride a camel for three days! So no one lives in Dallol. Boys and men travel here from the closest villages. Why? This is where they work. They dig huge chunks of salt from salt mines. They sell the salt to get money for clothes and other things they need. They work long days in the heat. When their work is done, they ride camels home. These tough workers stick together. They are far from home. So they count on each other.

Some experts say that in millions of years, the heat will cause Dallol to break away from Africa.

But for now, the workers get by in this rough environment. Their work is hard. But they get it done! 

The Coldest Place on Earth: Oymyakon, Russia

Jim McMahon/Mapman™

Amos Chapple/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Want to visit Oymyakon (oy-myuh-KOHN), the coldest town on Earth? Be careful! The cold air will cause the inside of your nose to freeze. It’ll make your eyelashes turn to icicles. Once, the temperature hit 96 degrees below zero. We think it’s cold when it’s 30 degrees above zero!

Oymyakon is in Russia. The ground is covered with soil that is always frozen. If you want to see something cool, toss a pot of boiling water into the air. The water will quickly turn to snow!

Before the 1930s, very few people lived in Oymyakon. Then gold was discovered, so people came to work in Oymyakon’s gold mines. Even though Oymyakon was freezing, people wanted the money they could earn from selling gold. So many of them stayed.

Today, about 500 people live here. There is one food store. It sells bread, milk, horse meat, reindeer meat, and that’s about it. The only school got its first indoor toilet not long ago. There are no movie theaters. And forget about cell phone service!

Oymyakon may be cold, but the people are not. They care about each other. The neighbors watch out for each other. And on the coldest days of winter, they can always look forward to spring. That’s when the temperature jumps up . . . to zero degrees! 

Oymyakon (oy-myuhKOHN) is the world’s coldest town. Watch out! The cold air will freeze the inside of your nose. Your eyelashes will turn to icicles. One day, the air was 96 degrees below zero. We think it’s cold when it’s 30 degrees above zero!

Oymyakon is in Russia. The ground is always frozen. Want to see something cool? Toss a pot of boiling water into the air. The water will turn to snow!

Before the 1930s, almost no one lived in this town. Then gold was discovered here. People came to work in gold mines. They liked the money they earned from gold. So some of them stayed.

Today, about 500 people live here. There is one food store. It sells bread, milk, horse meat, reindeer meat, and not much else. The town’s one school got its first indoor toilet not long ago. There are no movie theaters. And forget about cell phone service!

The town of Oymyakon is cold. But its people are not. They look out for each other. Neighbors help neighbors. And on cold winter days, they can dream of spring. In the spring, the air warms up. It can get all the way up to zero degrees! 

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Answer Key (1)
Can't Miss Teaching Extras
A cool video

If your students were intrigued by the idea of boiling water instantly turning into snow in Oymyakon, you can show them this video!

Reindeer meat?!

Were kids grossed out by the idea of eating reindeer meat? Our colleague, Scope editor Kristin Lewis, recently traveled to Helsinki, Finland, and got to try reindeer meat. She says it was chewy but delicious!

A breathtaking video

To see more of the crazy scenery in Dallol, play a few minutes of this this gorgeous, wordless video. Please note: Starting at the 10-minute mark, there are local men pictured holding guns, so we suggest stopping before then.

Salt mines slideshow

This striking slideshow of salt mines around the world (we bet #19 will be one of their favorites!) includes more images of Dallol.

Map of gold mines

Share this map that reveals every state’s gold history, plus info on whether it offers gold today.

More About the Article

Content-Area Connections

Social studies: world cultures
Science: weather, environment

Key Skills

compare and contrast, text features, vocabulary, close reading, main idea and supporting details, cause and effect, informational writing

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. PREPARING TO READ

Explore Text Features/Set a Purpose for Reading (10 minutes)

  • Point out the opening spread on pages 16-17.
  • Direct students to the labels in the upper left corner that say “Paired Texts” and “One topic, two stories.” Ask students what the one topic is (extreme weather)
  • Looking at the photos on the opener, ask the question in the white circle: Where would you rather live? Have students predict what would be difficult about living in each place.
  • Every story in the magazine has a Think and Read box at the beginning. It gives students a question or an idea to focus on as they read. Call on a volunteer to read the Think and Read box on page 16 for the class.

Preview Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • Project or distribute the first page of our vocabulary activity to preview the terms in bold in the feature.  Complete the “before reading” section as a class or in small groups. Have students complete the second section after they’ve read the article.
  • Highlighted words: acid, salt mines, environment, gold mines
  • Word Study! Ask students which two terms have something in common. (salt mines, gold mines) Ask students what word is also bolded in the Big Read nonfiction feature. (environment)

2. CLOSE READING

Reading and Unpacking the Text

  • First read: Students should read the articles through one time for general comprehension.  
  • Second read: Distribute the close-reading and critical-thinking questions. Preview them as a class.
  • Have students read the story again, as a class or in small groups, pausing to answer the questions.

"The Hottest Place on Earth” Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)

  • Which details tell you why it is hard to live in Dallol? (main idea and supporting details) Dallol is very hot, water is hard to find, and acid comes up from the ground. Also, there are no schools, stores, doctors, or crops.
  • What do men and boys do in Dallol? Why? (key details) They go to Dallol to mine salt. They sell the salt to make money.

"The Coldest Place on Earth” Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)

  • What could happen to your body if you’re outside in Oymyakon? (key details) The inside of your nose could freeze, and your eyelashes could turn to icicles.
  • Why did people go to live in Oymyakon in the 1930s? (cause and effect) They went to live there because gold was discovered, and they wanted to make money from the gold.
  • What are people in Oymyakon like? (key details) They are friendly. They take care of each other

Critical-Thinking Questions (10 minutes)

  • What are two ways in which Dallol and Oymyakon are alike? (compare and contrast) Both places are very hard places to survive in because of extreme temperatures. In both places, the people who live and work there stick together and help each other. Both places have mines where people work.
  • What are two ways in which Dallol and Oymyakon are different? (compare and contrast) Dallol is very hot, and Oymyakon is very cold. Nobody lives in Dallol, and some people live in Oymyakon.

3. SKILL BUILDING

Connecting Texts

Distribute our compare and contrast activity.

Discuss the task in the Think and Write box on page 13. Then have students complete the task in class or as homework.

Differentiate and Customize
For Independent Readers

Preview text features and vocabulary before letting students read on their own. Distribute the close-reading and critical-thinking questions, and have students answer some or all of them as they read.

For Small Groups

 Follow step 1 of the lesson plan: Preparing to Read.

• Put students in small groups to take turns reading the article aloud, paragraph by paragraph. Give them the option to pause and discuss points they find interesting, surprising, or confusing.

• Assign each group two of the close-reading and critical-thinking questions to discuss and answer together

For Struggling Readers

Read the articles aloud as students follow along in their magazines. Pause at the end of each paragraph and ask students to summarize what happened. Send the magazines home for students to read the article again; encourage them to read it aloud with a parent or caregiver.

For Advanced Readers

Have students use the prompt in the Think and Write box to write an essay about whether they would rather live in Dallol or Oymyakon. For an additional challenge, have them research the wettest, driest, or otherwise extreme place on Earth and make a poster about it.