Teachwire Logo
Pearson power maths
Pearson power maths
News

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Grab your free weekly teaching resources for primary courtesy of The Week Junior...

  • Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Join in with Topical Tuesdays and get fascinating news stories with free teaching activities every week.

All of the news is hand-picked from the excellent current affairs magazine for children, The Week Junior, and the creative resources that go with this are written by experienced teachers.

We’ve made it so the activities can be used for 10-minute writing warm ups and for homework, but you’ll find plenty of ways to extend each Topical Tuesday into much bigger projects – should they capture the imagination of your class.

If your class is excited by the current affairs stories in Topical Tuesdays then you can build on this thirst for knowledge with a school subscription to The Week Junior.

Click here to discover the latest offers and to see how children can be inspired by world events.

In the meantime, check back here each week to find the latest free news story and classroom activities to download.

1. Found painting sells for £20m

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 12/11/19

In the latest Topical Tuesday we’re looking at a painting that was found in a French that sold for £20 million.

The painting was created in the 13th century, and became the most expensive medieval painting ever sold.

It was discovered as an elderly woman was preparing to move out of her home in the French town of Compiègne. She said she didn’t know where the painting had come from.

  • Debate whether rich collectors should be allowed to keep artistic masterpieces locked away in private homes where the general public can’t see them
  • Write a funny story about something you’ve painted being found years later and sold for millions
  • Have you been to a gallery or museum? Write a descriptive piece about it and the things you saw
  • Research the five most expensive paintings ever sold, listing the title, artist and price, and writing a brief description of each

Click here to download.


2. Kapow

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 5/11/19

This week, we’re looking at how language evolves, and how and why new words and phrases are added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Updated four times a year, and the October 2019 version includes 203 new words.

This list is dominated by words from the Star Wars universe, including lightsabre and Jedi.

The word kapow (representing the sound of an explosion, gunshot, hard punch or blow, commonly found in comics) also made the list.

Other additions include slang terms, such as sumfin (something), whatevs (whatever), chewy (chewing gum) and chillax (to calm down and relax).

  • Debate whether it’s necessary to evolve the language when we have over 170,000 words already
  • Write a short story that includes the following words: kapow, padawan, ange, nomophobia and summum malum
  • Create your own dictionary definitions for these three imaginary words: breffingle, nopperhast, yoochitrat
  • Investigate and define three English words that originated from each of the following cultures: Anglo Saxon, Norman, Viking and Indian

Click here to download.


3. 50p coins

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 29/10/19

This week’s, the main focus is on the Royal Mint celebrating 50 years since the launch of the 50p coin by revealing the rarest 50p coins ever made.

The first 50p coin was introduced on 14 October 1969. Made in the shape of a heptagon, it was the world’s first seven-sided coin. The initial reaction to it was mixed – one newspaper at the time called it “a monstrous piece of metal”.

The coin was introduced as part of a process called decimalisation. This is when a currency is changed to be based around multiples of 10 or 100.

Students will learn all about this history.

  • Debate whether it’s time to get rid of physical currency for good and become a cashless society
  • Write a persuasive article proposing a famous person or special event that you think should be commemorated on a 50p coin
  • Using ‘Halfway Down’ by AA Milne, rewrite that poem about a 50p piece, as if it is a child’s favourite coin
  • Research five other significant events from 1969, put them in order of importance (in your view) and give a brief, two- or three-sentence explanation of what happened for each

Click here to download.


4. Staying the distance

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 22/10/19

This week’s feature looks at perseverance vs giving up. Its main story is Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s recent gold medal in the heptathlon.

She waited a long time to win a gold medal, and says that her years of disappointment helped her to keep trying and prevented her from giving up.

Other stories include a Russian singer in Los Angeles who reached a new audience when a police officer filmed her busking, and a 17-year-old Syrian who taught himself English by reading the Harry Potter books who has won a scholarship to study in Wales.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Debate whether we should follow Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s example of never quitting, or whether sometimes it’s good to give up. When is the right time, and how do you know?
  • Write a story about a time when you didn’t give up. Describe the emotions you went through.
  • Write a short play script about the possible positive and negative thoughts Katarina might have had, as the proverbial angel and devil on her shoulders
  • Katarina took part in the heptathlon, but in men’s athletics there is an event called the decathlon. Investigate what this is and what’s involved.

Click here to download.


5. Rise of the robots

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 15/10/19

This week’s feature is all about a robot called Atlas. Built by a robotics company in Massachusetts called Boston Dynamics, he is described as being ‘the world’s most dynamic humanoid robot’.

Despite standing at 1.5m tall and weighing 80kg, Atlas is a nimble gymnast, and there are videos to prove it.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Debate whether we should stop trying to make robots and AI smarter at any point. Is there a danger they’ll become smart enough to try to take over?
  • Write instructions for safely performing a forward roll. Imagine your instructions will be converted to computer code to programme a robot to perform the manoeuvre.
  • Imagine you are a robot with feelings. Write a diary entry about the day you were programmed to do a handstand.
  • Investigate how robots are helping humans today, and pick one to write an account about.

Click here to download.


6. Alien life

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 8/10/19

This week’s feature looks at the possibility of alien life, specifically on a planet known as K2-18b.

It’s not a very catchy name, no. But it’s also known as ‘Super-Earth’ as it is twice as large as our planet, and has eight times the mass.

More importantly, scientists at UCL recently found water vapour in its atmosphere, making it the most likely destination for alien lifeforms.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Imagine we had the ability to travel to K2-18b in a very short time. Debate whether or not we should we go there? Is it important for humans to keep exploring or should we just leave other planets alone?
  • Write a short travel review from the perspective of an alien from K2-18b who had visited Earth for a holiday
  • Write a short, humorous poem about an imagined conversation with an alien from K2-18b
  • The article states that water is essential to all life on Earth. What else does all life have in common? List the seven characteristics of living things. For each one, give an example for both a plant and an animal.

Click here to download.


7. Greta Thunberg and climate action

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 1/10/19

This week’s feature looks at the global climate change action that took place on the 21 September, the International Day of Peace.

Students will discover what the aim of the International Day of Peace is, how climate change affects peace, what the UN is doing about climate change and how young people can get involved.

  • Debate the ethics of the recent schools strike led by Greta Thunberg. Is any issue important enough for children to miss out on education, or is this sort of protest better left to adults? Or are children, the future of this world, the best people to protest its destruction?
  • Put together a five-point plan to get world leaders to do something about climate change
  • Create clever protest signs by writing three slogans to go on them
  • Research a recent extreme weather occurrence that forced people to leave their homes and write a summary of the events

Click here to download.


8. Organ donation

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 24/9/19

This feature looks at organ donation and how it can save lives.

Students will learn about what the major organs do in the body, and how problems with them can affect someone’s health. They will also find out about the first ever organ transplant, and how transplants work.

  • Debate issues around organ donation, such as ‘should we refuse to donate to smokers’ and ‘should people who have looked after their body get priority on donation lists?’
  • Imagine you’ve had organ donation surgery and write a thank you letter to your donor
  • Write an imaginary diary entry for the day you’re about to have donation surgery
  • Investigate heart donation surgery, which is the most complex procedure of all the major organ donation surgeries

Click here to download.


9. Amazon Fires

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 17/9/19

This week’s feature looks at the devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest, and the global protests that are taking place to ensure their protection.

Students will learn what caused the fires, how many fires there have been, why this is so important, how the world has reacted and how Brazil has responded.

  • Hold a debate on whether other nations have a say in how these fires are dealt with, or whether it should be up to Brazil alone.
  • Write an imaginary account of the fires from the perspective of an animal living in the rainforest
  • Write a poem using the metaphor of the Amazon rainforest being the lungs of the world
  • Investigate how much oxygen the Amazon rainforest produces, and how this happens

Click here to download.


10. Life Without Electricity

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 10/9/19

In this week’s article students will learn about a power cut that affected 1,000,000 people in England and Wales, the biggest in a decade.

Activities include holding a debate on our reliance on electricity and whether we should be forced to go without electrical appliances for two hours each day, writing instructions on what to do in the event of a power cut, investigating how much power you use by keeping a mini-diary of all your activities that require electricity, and more.

Click here to download.


11. Plastics, Animals and the Environment

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 3/9/19

This instalment introduces children to the effects of plastic bags on animals in the ocean, discussing how traditional plastic bags can stay around for 1,000 years.

It also looks at what alternatives we have for a greener future.

Click here to download.


12. Volcano Island

Topical Tuesdays – Free Weekly News Stories and Teaching Resources from The Week Junior

Date added: 27/8/19

This first instalment introduces children to Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai – an island that sprung from the sea five years ago, and which scientists have just discovered is teeming with life.

How did it get there, and where did the animals come from?

Explore these questions and more in these activities.

Click here to download.



To find out more about The Week Junior and to download its free resources, please go to schools.theweekjunior.co.uk.

Get FREE weekly updates, lesson plans and resources sent to your inbox!