Writing Prompts for DecemberBy James Wayne
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?
Emily Dickinson was born in 1830. This poet was very shy, and most of her poems were only published after she died. Here is a poem by Emily Dickinson (punctuation modernized):
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
What do you think she meant by saying that being somebody is dreary?
In 1869, the territorial legislature of Wyoming granted women the right to vote in territorial elections. One of the reasons given was to make the territory more attractive to women settlers. The number of men in the territory outnumbered women by a wide majority, and the leaders were afraid many young men would leave the state looking for wives. The movement to give women the vote then spread to other states. An amendment was added to the Constitution, and women were allowed to vote everywhere in the country in 1920. Why do you think it took 51 years for women to get the vote all over the country?
Nobel-prize wining Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitzyn was born in 1918. He once wrote, “It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.” What do you think he meant by that?
The world’s first, and so far only, supersonic passenger plane was unveiled in 1967. The first Concorde was built in Toulouse, France. Although very fast, it was very noisy (outside) and very expensive to fly, so it never became a commercial success. Can you think of any other inventions that seemed wonderful when they first came out but later failed? What are some reasons some products fail, but others succeed?
In 1792, Ludwig van Beethoven began taking music lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn, another famous classical composer. If you could take lessons from a famous person, who would you choose, and what would you like to learn from them?
Guglielmo Marconi succeeded in broadcasting the first radio signal across the Atlantic Ocean. Marconi was a great genius and worked very hard, but was also bad tempered and hard to work with. Learning to control your temper is very important. What are some things people can do to keep from losing their tempers at others?
The first airplane made entirely of metal, a German Junkers J1, flew for the first time in 1915. The development of light, strong metals made it possible to make bigger airplanes that could fly farther and faster, and carry more cargo. Suppose that no way to make a metal airplane had been found, so that air travel remained expensive, dangerous, and impractical for long distances. How do you think modern life would be changed without inexpensive travel and transport by air? List 4 changes.
In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman becomes the first European to sight the islands of New Zealand. A month before, he had spotted the island now known as Tasmania. He name New Zealand for one of the provinces of Holland, although the Maori people had lived on the islands for many centuries and had their own names. Suppose you were an explorer and discovered a previously unknown island. What would you name it? Why that name?
Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Lincoln, was born in 1818. During the Civil War, she often visited hospitals and wrote letters for injured soldiers. Over the years, many letters written by her have been discovered. Suppose you found a letter written by Mary Lincoln. What would you do with it?
Former Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger said, “Intelligent people are a dime a dozen. But I am proud of having character.” What do you think he meant by that?
In 1884: the first wagon train of settlers reached California. A wagon train could only go around 20 miles per day, so crossing the country in one was a very slow process. Suppose you were going to cross the country on a wagon train. What are five things you would need to do before you started?
In 1503, Nostradamus was born. He wrote down hundreds of short poems about things he predicted would happen, using symbols and metaphors only he understood. Many people have tried to figure out what he meant, and whether his predictions were right. Make three predictions about things you think might happen during your holiday break. When you get back to school after the holidays, see how many turned out to be true.
Happy Birthday, NASCAR! The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was founded in Daytona, FL. One of its chief goals was to make racing safer, and it has pioneered many safety devices used on racing cars and regular cars. Many NASCAR drivers or teams come from North Carolina. What sports star would you like to meet? What would you say to that person?
British King George VI was born in 1895. He reigned from 1936 to 1952. After his death, his daughter became Queen Elizabeth II and is still reigning. George only became king when his older brother abdicated, or resigned the throne. George was quiet and shy, had a bad stutter, and was not all ready to be king, preferring life as a British navy officer, but felt he had to do it because it was his duty. Suppose, like George (or Harry Potter) you discovered that you had inherited an important job you did not want. Would you take the job, or refuse it? Explain your decision.
Writing Prompts for December 15-23