1. War Painting
Andres Valencia is just 10 years old, but he already has accomplished many of the things that adult artists dream of. He’s had a one-person show in a New York gallery and sold pieces totaling more than $100,000. In his first auction sale, he sold a single painting for $160,000. He has celebrities like Channing Tatum, Sofia Vergara and Diane Keating among his collectors. And now he has created a painting that is being compared to one of the most famous war paintings ever. In response to Russia’s attack on the neighboring nation of Ukraine, Andres created a bold, abstract painting called “Invasion of Ukraine” to raise money to aid the Ukrainian people. Starting this month, 550 print copies of the painting will be sold for $950 each to raise money for the Klitschko Foundation that provides humanitarian aid in the war-torn European nation. If all the prints are sold, it will raise more than half a million dollars for relief, with 100 percent of the money going to the organization. Andres, who lives in San Diego, California, has been painting since he was 5 years old. His “Ukraine” work has been compared to the anti-war painting “Guernica” by the famous artist Pablo Picasso. “Guernica” (GAIR-nik-ah) was inspired by the bombing of a Spanish town by that name during the Spanish Civil War 85 years ago. “I want people to know that Ukraine won’t give up and they’ll keep fighting,” Andres says of his painting, which can be viewed here. “I want it to be known as the ‘Guernica’ of today.” Art often can be used to express opinions and feelings about events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an event important to you or your community. Use what you read to create an artwork expressing your opinion or feelings about the event. Give your painting a title and share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. A Really Big Gift
Seventh grader Brandon Jackson has everything a football coach could want. At just 12 years old, Brandon is already 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds — a size college and even pro coaches dream about. Yet when Brandon’s season started this fall in the Kansas City Football and Cheer League in the state of Missouri, he couldn’t play. He needed a helmet and none of those available through his youth league were big enough. They weren’t available through local stores or the Internet, either. Now, however, an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs is teaming up with a sporting goods company to get Brandon the helmet he needs, TV station WDAF reports. Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown and Riddell Sports have agreed to get Brandon fitted with a custom helmet — and pay for it. Brown knows something about needing oversized equipment. The fifth-year pro is 6 foot 8 inches tall and weighs 340 pounds. Custom-made helmets can cost anywhere from $900 to $2,000, but Riddell and Brown are happy to pick up the tab. “We just love that a young man like yourself is wanting to play football,” a company spokesman told Brandon. People often make news by doing unusual or generous things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing this. Use what you read to write a thank-you note to the person who helped — as if you were the person who received the help.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Gold Coin Treasure
When people renovate their homes, they hope to improve their value as well as the living space. In the European nation of England, a home renovation proved incredibly valuable — but not in the usual way. When construction workers removed the floor of a kitchen in the home, they found a treasure in gold coins worth nearly $300,000! More than 260 gold coins dating from 1610 to 1727 were found in an earthenware cup buried beneath the floor, CNN News reported. The hoard was one of the biggest discoveries of old coins in England’s history, according to the auction house that will sell them next month. The spending power of the coins in today’s dollars is roughly $116,000, the auction house said, but they are worth much more to collectors. People often make unusual or surprising discoveries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read brainstorm an idea for a creative story that begins with the discovery. Write an outline for your story and give it a title that would make students your age want to read it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Glowing Pumpkins
Fall is harvest season, a time when farmers gather in their last crops. Among the most popular are pumpkins, which are used for fall displays, Halloween decorations and recipes ranging from pumpkin pies to pumpkin muffins to pumpkin flavored drinks and coffees. In the state of Georgia, a farmer is harvesting a new kind of pumpkin, and he’s getting a lot of attention for it. Dusty Smith of Smith’s Farms in the town of Bowersville is harvesting pumpkins that glow in the dark. Smith has achieved the first-of-a-kind pumpkins by coming up with a mix of chemicals that create a glowing effect when soaked up with the water he pours on his pumpkin plants. The pumpkins look normal during daylight, but start to glow when the sun goes down, WYFF TV news reported. The sun “charges up” the pumpkins that have the chemicals, allowing them to glow in the dark. This fall Smith is opening his farm to visitors so they can see his special pumpkins for themselves. Visiting pumpkin farms is a fun activity that families can do together in the fall. In the newspaper or online, find a story or photo involving another fun fall activity. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend inviting him or her to join you for this activity. Be sure to include details on why it would be fun.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking.
5. Bull-Riding Champion
When Parker Hooks was 2 years old, his parents took him to a rodeo for the first time. He loved the bull-riding and announced he wanted to do it. “Of course he couldn’t ride a bull,” his mother recalls. “He was so mad, he wanted to leave the … rodeo.” That wasn’t the end of Parker’s interest in the sport, however. When he got older, he started riding sheep at a local rodeo near his family’s home in Lovington, New Mexico, then moved on to calves and small bulls. This summer, at the age of 9, his dedication paid off big time. He won a world championship for riding at the Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Abilene, Texas. He won his title in the 7-9-year-old category by defeating riders from the nations of Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Thailand, as well as other riders from the United States, the Hobbs News Sun newspaper reported. Riding a calf, he had an exceptional first round that sealed his victory. “I’m super excited,” Parker said. And even though he has just started fourth grade, he knows what he wants to do when he grows up. “A professional bull-rider.” Students as young as elementary school often do unusual or outstanding things in sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a young athlete such as this. Pretend you are a TV reporter and write out five questions you would ask the young athlete about their unusual achievement — and advice they would offer others.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.