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!
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🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Nebraska, and our COUNTRIES are Saint Kitts and Nevis 🇰🇳, Saint Lucia 🇱🇨, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 🇻🇨, and Samoa 🇼🇸. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post will be up shortly.)
❡ Little lesson: “Did you know that the tiny island nation of Saint Lucia, with a population of barely more than 150,000, has produced two Nobel Prize winners?” You can find a facts-and-figures outline of Saint Lucia on page 829 in your River Houses almanac and on plate 138 in your atlas, with a map of the country (look close!) on atlas plate 49 (riverhouses.org/books).
🌘 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is a waning crescent, a very good time for stargazing! (The moon will be new, and the night sky darkest, on the 15th.) 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, 13 May) — Today is the 133rd day of 2018; there are 232 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). ⬩ It’s Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all friends of the River Houses and to all mothers everywhere! ⬩ On this day in 1861, the astronomer John Tebbutt of Windsor, Australia, discovered C/1861 J1, better known as the Great Comet of 1861.
Monday (14 May) — On this day in 1787, delegates from the several states convened in Philadelphia to draft a new federal Constitution for the United States to replace the original Articles of Confederation. ⬩ On this day in 1973, the United States’ first space station, Skylab, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Tuesday (15 May) — Today is the birthday (well, actually the date of baptism) of the great Italian Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). ⬩ Today is also the birthday of American writer L. Frank Baum (1856–1919), the creator of the Wizard of Oz. ⬩ On this day in 1928, the Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in a silent short called “Plane Crazy.”
Wednesday (16 May) — Today is the birthday of American educator Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804–1894), who established the first public kindergarten in the United States.
Thursday (17 May) — Today is the birthday of the English physician Edward Jenner (1749–1823), developer of the smallpox vaccine, one of the greatest discoveries in the history of medicine. ⬩ The first Kentucky Derby was run on this day in 1875. (The winning horse was named Aristides.) ⬩ On this day in 1902, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, one of the most remarkable objects the ancient world ever produced.
Friday (18 May) — Today is the birthday of Mathew Brady (1822–1896), the famous photographer of the American Civil War. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of Italian-American screenwriter and director Frank Capra (1897–1991), producer of such film classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
Saturday (19 May) — On this day in 1780, smoke from major forest fires in Canada drifted south across the northeastern states, blotting out the sun and leading many to fear that the end of the world was at hand. Candles had to be lit at noon and frogs began croaking as if it were nightfall on New England’s famous “Dark Day.” ⬩ Arctic Explorer Sir John Franklin set out from Greenhithe, England, on this day in 1845, hoping to discover and chart the Northwest Passage. Franklin and his ships were never heard from again. The Franklin expedition’s disappearance was one of the great nautical mysteries of the nineteenth century.
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST, for all the spring birders out there: “To the joys of the chase.”
❡ 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: Our countries-of-the-week all happen to be island countries this week and so they have no major rivers, but being volcanic and mountainous they do have many beautiful waterfalls. Our Weekly World “River” will therefore be the Sopoaga Falls on the island of Upolu in the Pacific Ocean nation of Samoa. You can locate Samoa in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books) and you can read a collection of visitors’ accounts of the Sopoaga Falls on the travel website TripAdvisor.com (tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g312867-d2655354-Reviews-Sopoaga_Falls-Upolu.html).
❡ 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? Tell us in the comments! 😊