In 1964, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City discovered that a beautiful bronze horse it had displayed as an antique from Greece was a forgery. Some people thought it should no longer be displayed, since it was a fake. Others thought it should still be displayed because it was so beautiful. How do you feel about it? Give reasons for your answer. Here is a link to a picture of the horse: bronze horse
Martina Navratilova lost a tennis match to Helena Sukova, ending a string of 74 consecutive tournament victories that had lasted for 11 months. Have you or a team you supported ever had a long string of victories? How did you feel when it ended? (If you are a Chicago Cubs fan, how do you think you will feel if they become champions, like the Red Sox and the White Sox?)
The microwave oven was invented in 1945 by British scientist Percy Spencer. Microwave ovens are very fast and useful, but were originally very expensive. Now they are much cheaper. This has happened for many inventions. What expensive inventions that are now new do you expect will become cheaper in time? List 3, and predict how cheap they will become.
Joyce Kilmer, American poet, died fighting in World War I, was born in 1886. His most famous poem is “Trees.”
Trees (For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
This is a very simple poem, but has many deep meanings. What do you think Kilmer wanted people to learn from his poem?
American author Willa Cather was born in 1876. She once wrote, “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” What are some of the things that you learn best in calm, and what are some things you learn best in storm? List three of each.
The last Model A Ford was produced in 1931. The Model A (and Model T before it) had been produced with minor changes for many years. After 1931, Ford changed its models every year. Some people like having new models every year. Others think it is very wasteful. How do you feel about it? Give a reason for your preference.
Noam Chomsky, American linguist, educator, and author, was born in 1928. He once wrote, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” What do you think that means?
Many people complain about mess or litter in public places, but will not pick up any trash they did not drop themselves. As a result, litter from careless people or scattered by accident builds up. What can you suggest to solve this problem?
In 1977, the US banned the use of CFCs, chemicals that damaged the ozone layer. People had to find new chemicals that did the jobs they used CFCs for, including air conditioners. Suppose that they had not found any replacements and air conditioning had disappeared. How would your life be different if there were no air conditioners? Name 5 ways.
In 1660, Margaret Hughes became the first woman to appear on stage in a play in England. Before her, all women’s parts were played by men or boys in disguise. Today, there are very few jobs that have not been done by both men and women. Try to think of as many as you can, and tell whether you think those jobs will always be done by only one sex.
Writer James Thurber was born in 1894. His most famous comic story is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” about a man who imagines himself in various adventures as he goes about his daily life. Have you ever imagined being in an adventure? What kind of adventures would you like to have?
America’s paper money became equal in value to gold coins of the same denomination for the first time in 1878. American paper money contains many interesting images. Look at any paper money you may have and make a list of the things you see. Are any of them symbols? What do they symbolize?
In 1977, the first virus attacked the internet. It forced the net to shut down; fortunately the net at that time was very small. What are three good things about the internet, and three bad things?
James Wayne has taught third grade and every grade from fifth to twelfth during a full-time career of 34 years, either in regular classrooms or in AG or AP classes. He began his writing prompts as a way to help teachers improve writing scores in his district. A native of North Carolina, James is a graduate of Duke University and a Vietnam Veteran, having served with the 101st Airborne Division. He continues to work part time for Onslow County Schools as a coordinator of the Academic Derby, a televised scholastic competition serving elementary, middle, and high schools. James resides in Jacksonville, North Carolina.