Recently, the theme has been natural disasters. There was one on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii in 79 A.D., a story about a hurricane in what was probably some part of Mexico, and one about thunderstorms and what to do to be safe during them.
Slowly, the kids in this class have been building a map of the world that shows where there kinds of things take place. And they are slowly getting more and more freaked out about the possibility of some of this stuff happening to them. After plotting the volcano, earthquake, hurricane, and tornado areas - and finding that Korea fit the bill in all cases - I decided to cut the project short. We didn't even get into tsunamis, sinkholes, or avalanches. Those kids were ready to spend the rest of their lives in a bomb shelter as it was.
This, of course, was after I told them what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I wasn't doing it on purpose, but I got over enthusiastic because it seemed to be a subject they were genuinely interested in. Which they are, they just happen to also be terrified of it.
The last day of the unit, I was explaining to them how lighting is five times hotter than the sun (for reals) and how it could kill you, when, of course, it starts thundering and lightning outside like its going out of style. As one, the kids get this look of terror on their little faces and launch themselves away from the windows. On the one hand, I was proud because this was one of the steps to avoiding getting hit by lightning as laid out in the passage we had just read. On the other, it was almost time for them to go home and there was no way any of them would be leaving the building while it was carrying on like Armageddon outside.
To make it worse, we live in a valley so the thunder is about a hundred times as loud as normal thunder - it echoes. I think I mentioned how I thought someone had bombed Seoul the other day because the lightning that woke me up was so loud. Well, I wasn't exaggerating. Each one sounds like a bomb going off.
I had to spend a good twenty minutes going back over the rules with them and telling them that only 10% of people who get struck by lightning actually die (I know, I'm super comforting).