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 Idaho, and our COUNTRIES are Switzerland 🇨🇭, Syria 🇸🇾, Taiwan 🇹🇼, and Tajikistan 🇹🇯. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post will be up shortly.)
❡ Little lesson: “Did you know that the alpine nation of Switzerland adopts a policy of ‘armed neutrality’ with respect to all global conflicts, and has not been involved in a foreign war since 1515?” You can find a facts-and-figures outline of Switzerland on page 838 in your River Houses almanac and on plate 140 in your atlas, with a map of the country on atlas plate 69 (riverhouses.org/books).
🌔 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is gibbous and waxing — it will be full on the 28th. 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, 24 June) — Today is the 175th day of 2018; there are 190 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 1497, the explorer John Cabot landed on Newfoundland. He is the first European known to have reached the northeastern shores of North America since the Vikings nearly five centuries earlier. ⬩ On this day in 1938, a large meteor with an estimated weight of 450 metric tons exploded over Chicora, Pennsylvania. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of American essayist and satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914), author of The Devil’s Dictionary (1911). (“Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.”)
MONDAY (25 June) — Today is the birthday of celebrated children’s book illustrator Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969). In his honor, why not pay a virtual visit to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. ⬩ Calendar trivia: the 25th of June in 1987, written as either 25/06/1987 or 06/25/1987, was the last date on which all the digits are different. The next such day will not occur until the 17th of June in 2345 (17/06/2345 or 06/17/2345).
TUESDAY (26 June) — Today is the birthday of French astronomer Charles Messier (1730–1817), whose catalog of nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies systematically described some of the most beautiful objects visible with a small telescope. His numerical designations for these “Messier Objects” are still in common use today: “M1” is the Crab Nebula, “M20” is the Trifid Nebula, “M31” is the Andromeda Galaxy, and so on. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of American writer and Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973).
WEDNESDAY (27 June) — Today is the birthday of famed children’s entertainer Bob Keeshan (1927–2004), “Captain Kangaroo.” ⬩ Something mysterious will be happening this week on remote Baker Island in the Pacific Ocean. Visit www.baker2018.net to find out what it is.
THURSDAY (28 June) — The great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens was born on this day in 1577. ⬩ Today is the birthday of the English clergyman John Wesley (1703–1791), one of the founders of Methodism. ⬩ On this day in 1919, World War I came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
FRIDAY (29 June) — Today is the birthday of the famed French poet, pilot, and children’s writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944), author of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince, 1943).
SATURDAY (30 June) — On this day in 1908, the largest asteroid impact event in recorded history resulted in a massive explosion over eastern Siberia. The so-called Tunguska Event destroyed hundreds of square miles of forest and released energy equivalent to three to five million tons of TNT. ⬩ In recognition of the Tunguska Event, the United Nations has declared June 30th of each year to be International Asteroid Day (asteroidday.org).
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST: “May we esteem merit wherever we find it.”
❡ 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: Tajikistan is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Panj River, which forms much of the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. You can chart its course in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read much more about it in the comprehensive Panj River entry in Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panj_River) or 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? 😊