Quick Freshes are our regular Sunday notes on the homeschool week ahead. Pick one or two (or more) of the items below each week and use them to enrich your homeschooling schedule!
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is New Mexico, and our COUNTRIES are the United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪, the United Kingdom 🇬🇧, the United States 🇺🇸, and Uruguay 🇺🇾. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post will be up shortly.)
❡ Did you know…? You can teach a hundred little lessons with our “Quick Freshes” posts each week just by dropping questions into your daily conversations with your students and inviting them to discover more. For example: “Did you know that the United Kingdom (one of our countries of the week) is something of a composite nation made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as well as various overseas territories?” You can find a facts-and-figures outline of the United Kingdom on page 846 in your River Houses almanac (riverhouses.org/books) and on plate 140 in your atlas, with a maps of the country on atlas plates 60–62.
🌔 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is gibbous and waxing, heading toward full on the 27th. Track the moon’s phases each month at timeanddate.com/moon/phases, and dial up this week’s constellations with your River Houses star atlas (riverhouses.org/books).
🗓 TODAY (Sunday, 22 July) — Today is the 203rd day of 2018; there are 162 days remaining in the year. Learn more about different kinds of modern and historical calendars on pages 351–357 in your River Houses almanac (riverhouses.org/books). ⬩ On this day in 1793, the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie (1764–1820) reached the Pacific Ocean, having completed the first transcontinental crossing of North America. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of the American poet and novelist Stephen Vincent Benét (1898–1943).
MONDAY (23 July) — On this day in 1995, one of the brightest comets of the twentieth century, Comet Hale-Bopp, was discovered independently by American astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. It was visible to the naked eye through much of 1996 and 1997, but if you missed it, you’re out of luck, because it won’t be back for another 2500 years. ☄️
TUESDAY (24 July) — Today is the birthday of “The Liberator,” Simón Bolívar (1783–1830), one of the most important figures in the history of Latin America. Bolívar played a central role in establishing the independence of Bolivia (which was named for him), Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Venezuela. ⬩ On this day in 1847, a group of Mormon pioneers under the leadership of Brigham Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and established the settlement that became Salt Lake City, Utah.
WEDNESDAY (25 July) — Today is the birthday of the German medical researcher Paul Langerhans (1847–1888), who discovered the insulin-secreting cell clusters of the pancreas, known today as the islets of Langerhans. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of the English biochemist and crystallographer Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958), who played a key role in the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA.
THURSDAY (26 July) — The great painter of the American West, George Catlin, was born on this day in 1796. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of the polemical Irish playwright and Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950).
FRIDAY (27 July) — The inimitable Bugs Bunny made his screen debut on this day in 1940 in a short animated film called A Wild Hare. Elmer Fudd couldn’t catch him then, and hasn’t to this day. 🐰
SATURDAY (28 July) — Today is the birthday of the great English scientific polymath Robert Hooke (1635–1703). Hooke was one of the pioneers of microscopy and was the first person to apply the world “cell” to the basic structural units of living things. ⬩ One of the most innovative poets of the nineteenth century, Gerard Manley Hopkins, was born on this day in 1844.
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST: “May fair clothes always cover fair hearts.”
❡ Toasts are a fun tradition for your family table. We offer one each week — you can take it up, or make up one of your own (“To North American dinosaurs!”), or invite a different person to come up with one for each meal (“To variety in toasting!”). Our current examples are adapted from two old collections: Marchant’s “Toasts and sentiments” (1888) and the anonymous Social and Convivial Toast-Master (1841). What will you toast this week?
🌎 EVERYTHING FLOWS: The United Kingdom is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the River Thames, one of the most storied rivers in the English-speaking world, which flows through the UK capital city of London. You can chart its course in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read much more about it in the comprehensive Thames River entry in Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames), or perhaps on your next visit to your local library.
❡ Let the river run: Why not do a homeschool study of world rivers over the course of the year? Take the one we select each week (above), or start with the river lists in your almanac (pages 691–692), and make it a project to look them all up in your atlas, or in a handy encyclopedia either online or on a weekly visit to your local library. A whole world of geographical learning awaits you.
What do you have planned for the homeschool week ahead? 😊