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A Town On the Move



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Physical Science
----Earth Science
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

In order to save one towns economy, half the buildings in town are "on the move."

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students if they have ever heard of a building being moved. Some students might have witnessed such a move. Talk about how it was done. Was it moved on a flatbed truck? Was it taken apart and put back together at a new site? Then ask: What if you learned that your home had to be moved? How do you think that might be done? What kind of planning would be required?

After this conversation, introduce students to this weeks News for You article by asking, What would happen if you learned that half the buildings in your town needed to be moved?

News Words

Write the word Sweden on a board or chart. Do students know what Sweden is? Where it is? Sweden is a country in the northern part of Europe. It is between Finland and Norway, and it borders the Baltic Sea. Have students locate Sweden on a map. Can they locate the city of Kiruna (KEE-ruh-nah) in the map? It is the northernmost city in Sweden.

Discuss the meanings of the other words in the News Word Box on the students printable page: mountainside, collapsing, iron ore (the rocks and minerals from which iron can be extracted to make steel), rebuilt, and northernmost.

Read the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story A Town On the Move.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The municipality of Kiruna is built in the shadow of Kiirunavaara mountain. Town officials there have chosen a new site for the town: at the base of Luossavaara mountain, about 2.5 miles away. The exact location of the new town has not been finalized, pending additional tests on the proposed site.
  • The move of the town will likely be a joint effort by LKAB, the company that owns the mine; the municipality of Kiruna; and the Swedish government.
  • LKAB Kiruna says it would have to shut down the mine if the town council had not agreed to move half of the towns buildings.
  • Kirunas deputy mayor estimates the cost of moving the buildings at about 30 billion Swedish crowns, which is about $4.28 billion. That cost does not include building new roads or rerouting the railroad tracks. Town officials hope to get 2 billion crowns from the Swedish government to build a tunnel for the railway; that way, the railroad tracks will not divide the town.
  • Townspeople seem to be taking the big move in stride. "The people in Kiruna have known since 100 years ago they were living on iron ore," Vice Mayor Hans Swedell told CNN. "They knew that sometime they would have to move."
  • The mine is one of Kirunas largest employers. The operation employs about 1,800 people. The town is also known as "Space City" because many people there are employed in the space industry and space research.
  • Iron ore was first blasted in Kiruna in the late 19th century. The industry did not grow at that time because there was no way to transport the iron ore to a harbor where it could be shipped. The first owner of the LKAB mine site, Hjalmar Lundbohm (1855-1926), settled Kiruna around 1900. A railway was completed in 1902. In 1904, Kirunas population was 2,200. Today, more than 20,000 people live in the town.
  • Lundbohm introduced a tram system that transported workers from their homes to the mines. The trams operated until 1955, when they were replaced by buses.
  • One of the towns most famous landmarks is a church, which was built in 1907. It was built to look like a Laplander's house; Laplanders are the indigenous peoples of the area.
  • Kiruna is Sweden's northernmost municipality and its largest in area. At 7,700 square miles, Kiruna is half as large as the entire country of Switzerland. According to some sources, Kiruna is the second largest town in the world.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • For how long have workers been digging iron ore from the mountains of Kiruna? (for more than 100 years)
  • Why are some buildings in town in danger? (digging for ore has resulted in cracks in the earth that might be weakening some buildings there)
  • How far will some buildings be moved? (about 2-1/2 miles)
  • How much do town leaders think it will cost to move the buildings? (more than $4 billion)
  • How long will it take to move the buildings? (40 to 50 years)
  • Why is the mine so important to Kiruna? (it means jobs and money to the people who live there)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page.

    After discussing that question, you might pose this question to students: What if the buildings in the downtown area of your town (or a town near you with which students are familiar) had to be moved? Which of the buildings would you tear down? Which buildings would you most want to save? You might let students use the think-pair-share strategy to come up with the five buildings you most want to save. (Older students might come up with ten buildings.) If you use the think-pair-share strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and make a list of buildings to save.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to (or cut) ideas generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of buildings to save.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion/debate about the buildings most important to your community.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Math. The deputy mayor of Kiruna says the cost of moving the buildings will be about $4.28 billion. In Sweden, however, the main currency is not dollars. The main currency is the crown (or krona). (See some pictures of Swedish coins and bills.)

  • A crown has a value of about 14 cents (U.S.).
  • A U.S. dollar is worth about 7 crowns. Older students might use the Swedish Currency Converter to determine that $4.28 billion is equivalent to 30 billion crowns (4.28 x 7 = 29.96). Gather local supermarket or drugstore circulars and ask students to figure the equivalent cost of items in crowns. For example, a quart of milk that costs $1.50 (U.S.) would cost 10.5 crowns ($1.50 x 7 crowns = 10.5 crowns).

    Science. In Kiruna, winter nights are very long. Because Kiruna is so far north, the sun seldom shines at that time of year. Use this activity to help explain why winter days in Kiruna are long and dark. Talk about how winter life would be different in a place such as Kiruna.

    Geography. Locate Sweden on a world map and have students answer grade-appropriate questions about its location. The following questions, which cover a wide variety and skills, might serve as examples of questions that could be asked of students in grades 4-up:

  • Is Sweden north or south of the equator? (north)
  • Is Sweden north or south of Denmark. (north)
  • Is Sweden closer to Africa or Australia? (Africa)
  • Which is closer to Sweden -- Iceland or Greenland? (Iceland)
  • If you flew in an airplane from Sweden to the United States, would you be more likely to fly to the east or west? (west)
  • Is Sweden closer to Germany or France? (Germany)
  • Does Sweden border the Norwegian Sea or the Baltic Sea? (the Baltic Sea)
  • Is Sweden closer to the Russia or the United States? (Russia)
  • Is Kiruna closer to 55 or 65 degrees North latitude? (65)
  • In which direction would you travel to get from Kiruna to Poland? (south)


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.2 Physical Science
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.K-4.2 Effective Decision Making
    NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.5-8.2 Effective Decision Making
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-EC.9-12.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.9-12.2 Effective Decision Making
    NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions
    NSS-G.K-12.3 Physical Systems
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society
    NSS-G.K-12.6 Uses of Geography

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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