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Quick Freshes are our regular Sunday notes on the homeschool week ahead. Pick one or two of the items below each week and use them to enrich your homeschooling schedule! Add your name to our free weekly mailing list to get these posts delivered right to your mailbox, and visit our River Houses calendar page (riverhouses.org/calendars) to print your own homeschool calendars and planners for the entire year.
🇺🇸 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 for the week went up just a few minutes ago.)
🌘 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is a waning crescent — a good time for stargazing! (And comet watching!) You can explore the night sky and the features of the moon in your recommended backyard astronomy guide and your homeschool world atlas, and you can learn a host of stellar and lunar facts on pages 342–357 in your almanac (riverhouses.org/books). Browse through our many astronomy posts for even more!
🗓 TODAY, Sunday (19 July 2020) — Today is the 201st day of 2020; there are 165 days remaining in this leap year. Learn more about different kinds of modern and historical calendars on pages 350–356 in your River Houses almanac (riverhouses.org/books). 📚 The first national convention on women’s rights, the two-day Seneca Falls Convention, opened on this day in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. ♀️
Monday (20 July 2020) — Today is the birthday of the Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), the father of modern genetics. 🌼 And on this day in 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module set down on the Sea of Tranquility and American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings ever to walk on the moon (while command module pilot Michael Collins continued to orbit overhead). 👨🚀👨🚀👨🚀 🌎 🚀 🌕
Tuesday (21 July 2020) — The American novelist and Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway was born on this day in 1899. 🖋 And the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth, −128.6 ºF (−89.2 ºC), was measured on this day in 1983 at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica. ❄️
Wednesday (22 July 2020) — On this day in 1793, the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie (1764–1820) reached the Pacific Ocean near present-day Bella Coola, British Columbia, having completed the first transcontinental crossing of North America. 🇨🇦 Our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Cultural Sites of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. 🇦🇪 And our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the fourth week of the month is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ intricate masterpiece “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” for Hopkins’ upcoming birthday and the halcyon days of summer. 🔔 Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us throughout the year. 🖋
Thursday (23 July 2020) — Speaking of comets: on this day in 1995, what would become one of the brightest comets of the twentieth century was discovered independently by American astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. Comet Hale–Bopp 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. ☄️
Friday (24 July 2020) — 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. 🏞 And on this day in 1969, the Apollo 11 capsule carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. 🌕 🚀 🌏 👨🚀👨🚀👨🚀 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the brilliant Cardinals and their allies. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (25 July 2020) — 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. 👩🔬
Sunday (26 July 2020) — 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). 🎭
🥂 OUR TOAST THIS WEEK, from Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” is one of our traditional annual offerings in honor of the first men to walk on the moon, July 20th, 1969: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
❡ 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!”). What will you toast this week? 🥂
🌍 🇦🇪 EVERYTHING FLOWS: The United Arab Emirates in the Middle East is one of our countries-of-the-week, and it does not have any permanent rivers. Like many desert regions, however, it has intermittent streams, some quite large, that flow during the rainy season — a type of stream that is called a wash in the southwestern U.S. and a wadi in the Middle East. Our Weekly World River, therefore, is not a river but a wadi: Wadi Wurayah, an important ecological area in the northeastern U.A.E. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read more about it in the Wadi Wurayah 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? 😊
❡ 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. 🗓