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'Little' Brothers
Share Big Bond



Arts & Humanities
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Grades 2-up

News Content

Two dwarf brothers may be short of stature, but they are big on their bond for one another.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, point out on a world map the locations of Pennsylvania (USA) and South Korea. The two places, on opposite sides of the Earth, come together in this weeks unique News for Kids story.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: dwarf, medical, average, support, bond, and orphan. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Sams aunt and uncle adopted a baby _____ from Yugoslavia. (orphan)
  • The _____ between the two best friends, Molly and Megan, is one that is sure to last a lifetime. (bond)
  • Pauls grandfather needs to have surgery to correct a _____ condition. (medical)
  • After competing on The Biggest Loser, the womans weight was close to _____ for other women her age. (average)
  • Sandras cousins will _____ her by cheering her on when she competes in her first marathon. (support)
  • The movie director needed a stuntman to stand in for the young boy, so he hired an athletic _____ to fill the bill. (dwarf)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Little Brothers Share Big Bond.

Reading 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.

More Facts to Share

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

  • When Will was born, the Grafs wanted to learn more about the challenges he might face, so they started attending meetings of a group called Little People of America (LPA). They felt welcomed by the group. We started to feel that, wow, this is going to be okay, Suzanne Graf told ABC News.
  • Will and Max were both born with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia (a-KON-dro-PLAY-sia), which is the most common form of dwarfism. Today, the boys are students at Avonworth Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, the boys are well-liked by their classmates; they fit in even though they are not as tall as their 5-year-old brother Charlie, who is in kindergarten. Will and Max are active in everything from intramural sports to student council and Boy Scouts. [Watch a video of the boys first day in middle school.]
  • LPA holds a national convention each summer and many regional events throughout the year. Will and Max recently attended an LPA-sponsored dance. The dance was a rare opportunity for them to socialize with others who were born with dwarfism. The weekend events, which also included a day trip to an indoor water park, drew more than 100 LPA members from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
  • The boys older sister, Laura, is average-sized, but she has assumed a large role in supporting her brothers. She even went to the LPA dance with the boys, where she enjoyed dancing (on her knees) with little people.
  • In the United States, the number of dwarfs -- defined by the LPA as full-grown people 4-feet-10-inches and smaller -- is about 300,000.
  • Both brothers have had to deal with some difficult health issues. Max was in a body cast for months after having metal rods placed in his spine to stabilize it. Will had a shunt implanted in the back of his head to help drain spinal fluid -- a common problem for dwarfs. But it hasn't kept him from stepping up to the plate in Little League baseball. [Watch a video report from ABC News.]

Of Special Interest to Teachers
This news story tells about Bonnie Mullinax, a special education teacher in Tennessee, who is dealing with the challenges of dwarfism.

Comprehension Check

Recalling Detail

  • How old are Max and Will Graf? (13 years old)
  • What is an LP? (a name by which many dwarfs prefer to be called; an abbreviation for little person)
  • How did Max come to be part of the Graf family? (The Grafs saw a picture of Max, who was an orphan in South Korea; they adopted him to provide companionship and support for their son, Will.)
  • How many little people, or dwarfs, live in the United States? (about 300,000)

Think About the News

Ask students to read the second paragraph of the news story again. Then read aloud the statement that John Graf, the boys father, said: I think that's what we were hoping -- that the two of them together would be stronger than either one apart. Ask: What do you think Will and Maxs father meant when he said that?

    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy
  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they 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 ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about challenges faced by little people.

Follow-Up Activities

Reading and art appreciating differences. Share with students the book Its Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr. Though written for 4- and 5-year-olds, the book is a fun way to begin a discussion of differences. Students will relate to Parrs simple examples of being different: everything from the silly It's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub to the more serious It's okay to be adopted, which shows a puppy in a kangaroos pouch. After sharing the book, have students decide on an Its okay to statement about themselves. Then have them illustrate that statement in Parrs vivid style. For additional activities, see this activity page from Todd Parrs Web site.

Citizenship appreciating similarities and differences. This activity invites students to form groups based on one or more of the following questions. They will quickly and easily see how they share similarities with a wide range of people.
Sample Questions

  • What did you have for breakfast this morning? Make a group with people who had the same thing for breakfast that you had.
  • What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Make a group with people who have the same favorite flavor that you have.
  • What is your favorite fruit (or vegetable)? Make a group with people who have the same favorite that you have.
  • How many pets (cats, dogs, fish, etc.) do you have? Make a group with people who have the same number of pets that you have.
    This activity is adapted from one of many activities available from the No Name-Calling Week Coalition.


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 questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NPH.K-12.6 Respect for Others
NPH.K-12.7 Understanding Challenges

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

Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World