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 Tennessee, and our COUNTRIES are Gabon 🇬🇦, The Gambia 🇬🇲, Georgia 🇬🇪, and Germany 🇩🇪. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post went up just a few minutes ago.)
🌔 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is gibbous and waxing, heading toward full on the 23rd. Track the moon’s phases at timeanddate.com, and dial up this week’s constellations with your River Houses star atlas (riverhouses.org/books).
🗓 TODAY (Sunday, 16 December) — Today is the 350th day of 2018; there are 15 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 Beethoven’s birthday! (Well, probably.) ⬩ It’s also the birthday of the English novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817). ⬩ And Comet 46P/Wirtanen, the closest-approaching comet of 2018, may be bright enough to see with the naked eye this evening.
MONDAY (17 December) — Monday is the birthday of the American poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). ⬩ And on this day in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful heavier-than-air flight in their prototype airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and the rest is aviation history. ✈︎
TUESDAY (18 December) — The premiere performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s much-loved seasonal classic “The Nutcracker” took place on this day in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
WEDNESDAY (19 December) — “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The first of a series of pamphlets by Thomas Paine called “The American Crisis” was published on this this day in 1776 in Philadelphia. ⬩ And today is the birthday of the pioneering African-American historian Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950).
THURSDAY (20 December) — Today is the birthday of the American physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff (1901–1967), known for making people’s hair stand on end. ⬩ The storied Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” premiered on this day in 1946 in New York City. ⬩ And this is the last full day of fall.
FRIDAY (21 December) — Today is the December solstice, the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere). ⬩ On this day in 1620, the Mayflower Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts (and they maybe stepped on Plymouth Rock, or maybe didn’t). ⬩ And on this day in 1913, the first modern crossword puzzle was published in the New York World newspaper.
SATURDAY (22 December) — Today is the birthday of the Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924). ⬩ And our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the last week of December will be a double feature: “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore (for Christmas Eve) and “Ring Out, Wild Bells!” by Alfred Tennyson (for New Year’s Eve). Print out your own River Houses poetry calendar at riverhouses.org/calendars and follow along with us throughout the year.
SUNDAY (23 December) — On this day in 1783, George Washington resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army and surrendered his sword to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland. ⬩ And today is the birthday of Joseph Smith (1805–1844), the founder of the Mormon Church.
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST: “May the hinges of friendship never rust, nor the wings of love lose a feather.”
❡ 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 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: The Gambia is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Gambia River, which is the principal geographical feature of that country. You can chart the Gambia River’s course in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read more about it in the comprehensive Gambia 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 691–692), 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 your homeschool this week? 😊
❡ Lively springs: This is one of our regular “Quick Freshes” posts looking at the homeschool week ahead. Add your name to our River Houses mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get these weekly messages delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. You can also print your own River Houses calendars of educational events (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us. 🗓