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. Add your name to our free mailing list to get posts like these delivered right to your mailbox each week. Visit our River Houses calendar page to print your own homeschool calendars and planners for the entire year.
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Wyoming, and our COUNTRIES are Tanzania 🇹🇿, Thailand 🇹🇭, Timor-Leste (East Timor) 🇹🇱, and Togo 🇹🇬. (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! 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 371–386 in your almanac. Browse through our many astronomy posts for even more.
🗓 TODAY, Sunday (4 July 2021) — HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! 🎆 Today is the 185th day of 2021; there are 180 days remaining in this common year. Learn more about different kinds of modern and historical calendars on pages 387–393 in your River Houses almanac. 📚 On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. 🇺🇸 And on this day in 1802, the United States Military Academy opened at West Point, New York. ⚔️ The great American novelist and short-story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on this day in 1804. 🖋 On this day in 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died in Virginia and John Adams died in Massachusetts. 🇺🇸 And on this day in 1872, Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. ⛰
Monday (5 July 2021) — One of the most famous books in the history of science, Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), was published in London on this day in 1687. 📖 And somewhat less sublime: the canned luncheon meat SPAM was first introduced to the American market on this day in 1937! 🍴
Tuesday (6 July 2021) — In one of the great setbacks of the early phase of the American Revolution, British General John Burgoyne forced American troops to abandon Fort Ticonderoga on the New York–Vermont border on this day in 1777. ⚔️ And since this is the first Tuesday of the month, today we’ll invite you to browse a new Dewey Decimal class with your students on your next visit to your local library. This month: the Historical and Geographical 900s. 📚
Wednesday (7 July 2021) — Today is the birthday of the great Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860–1911). 🎼 And on this day in 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri. It was the greatest thing since, um, sliced bread! 🍞 And our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. 🇹🇿
Thursday (8 July 2021) — Today is the birthday of American businessman and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937), founder of the Standard Oil Company and one of the richest men in the world in his day. 💰 It’s also the birthday of the great English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941), who rediscovered the ancient Minoan civilization. 🐬 Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the second week of July is Phillis Wheatley’s “Liberty and Peace,” for the new American republic that was born on the Fourth of July. 🇺🇸 Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar and follow along with us throughout the year. 🖋
Friday (9 July 2021) — On this day in 1755, a British-American force under the command of General Edward Braddock was defeated and almost destroyed as they fought to capture Fort Duquesne (modern-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) from its French and Indian defenders. We remember “Braddock’s Defeat” today mainly because of an effective rear-guard defense that saved many lives — a defense led by a 23-year-old colonial colonel named George Washington. ⚔️ Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the Emberizid Sparrows, familiar birds although you may not recognize them by their technical name. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (10 July 2021) — The highest temperature ever recorded on earth, 134ºF (57ºC), was reached on this day in 1913 in Death Valley, California. 🌡 Today is the birthday of the French-Swiss theologian and religious reformer John Calvin (1509–1564), one of the key figures of the Protestant Reformation. ✝️ And on this day in 1962, the world’s first communications satellite, Telstar, was launched into earth orbit from Cape Canaveral in Florida. 🛰 And since this is the second Saturday of the month, we’ll introduce you to another one of the Great Stars of the northern hemisphere night sky. This month: Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Boötes the Herdsman. 🌟
Sunday (11 July 2021) — On this day in 1804, Aaron Burr, Vice President of the United States, mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury, in a pistol duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton died the next day. ⚔️ Today is also the birthday of the English physician and home education advocate Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825), whose family editions of Shakespeare, lightly expurgated so they would be suitable for reading aloud to women and children, gave us the English word “bowdlerize.” 🎭 And on this day in 1960, Harper Lee’s popular American novel To Kill a Mockingbird was first published. 📖
🥂 🇺🇸 THIS WEEK’S TOAST, from Franklin P. Adams (1881–1960), is another one of our traditional offerings for Independence Day: “Here’s to the Fourth and our country forever.”
❡ 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 unpredictability in toasting!”). What will you toast this week? 🥂
🌏 🇹🇱 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Timor-Leste (East Timor) in southeastern Asia is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is Timor-Leste’s Northern Laclo River. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Northern Laclo River entry in Wikipedia or perhaps on your next visit to your local library.
❡ Daughters of Ocean: 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 699–701), 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 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 and follow along with us. 🗓