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! Print your own River Houses calendar for the year at riverhouses.org/calendars.
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Louisiana, and our COUNTRIES are Guinea 🇬🇳, Guinea-Bissau 🇬🇼, Guyana 🇬🇾, and Haiti 🇭🇹. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post for the week went up just a few minutes ago.)
🌘 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is a waning crescent — an increasingly good time for stargazing! Track the moon’s phases each month at timeanddate.com, and dial up this week’s constellations with your River Houses star atlas (riverhouses.org/books).
🗓 TODAY (Sunday, 30 December) — Today is the 364th day of 2018; there is only one day 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). ⬩ Today is the birthday of the Indian-English author and Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).
TUESDAY (1 January 2019!) — HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉 The Julian Calendar came into effect on this day in the year 45 BC. It was the principal calendar system used in the Western world for more than 1500 years (before it was largely replaced by the Gregorian Calendar). ⬩ Today is the birthday of Betsy Ross (1752–1836), who, tradition says, sewed the first American flag. 🇺🇸 Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for first week of January is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s frosty “Snow-Storm.” Print your own River Houses poetry calendar at riverhouses.org/calendars and follow along with us throughout the year.
WEDNESDAY (2 January) — On this day in 1860, French mathematician and astronomer Urbain Le Verrier announced the discovery of Vulcan, a planet orbiting the sun inside the orbit of Mercury. No subsequent research has been able to confirm the existence of this planet. ⬩ Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps not, today is also the birthday of the great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920–1992).
THURSDAY (3 January) — Today is the birthday of the great Roman writer and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC). ⬩ It’s also the birthday of English writer J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
SATURDAY (5 January) — Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas and the end of our Holiday Music Month, and you know what song we’ll be going out with. 🍐 🌳
SUNDAY (6 January) — Today is the birthday of the American poet Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST, for the New Year, is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but as Abraham Lincoln famously said, you can’t always believe what you read on the Internet. Nevertheless, whatever it’s source, it’s a fine sentiment and a fine toast as the calendar changes: “May you always be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and may each New Year find you a better man.”
❡ Toasts can be a fun educational 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 set of toasts are mostly taken from an old anthology called The Pic-Nic, a Collection of Recitations, and Comic Songs, Toasts, Sentiments, &c. (London, 1816). What will you toast this week?
🌎 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Guinea-Bissau in western Africa is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Cacheu River, one of the longest rivers of Guinea-Bissau. You can chart its course in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read more about it in the Cacheu River entry in Wikipedia 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 691–693), 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 your homeschool this week and in the grand new year? 😊