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.
🦋 The International Monarch Monitoring Blitz is underway this week! Count Monarch butterflies for fun and profit! (Well, maybe not profit. But for fun and science!) Take a look and see if it’s a project you and your young naturalists would like to join.
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is New Mexico, and our COUNTRIES are United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪, United Kingdom 🇬🇧, 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 gibbous and waning — a good time for moon 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 371–386 in your almanac. Browse through our many astronomy posts for even more.
🗓 TODAY, Sunday (25 July 2021) — Today is the 206th day of 2021; there are 159 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. 📚 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. 👩🔬
Monday (26 July 2021) — The great painter of the American West, George Catlin, was born on this day in 1796. 🎨 And the most well known of the many attempts to create a universal language for all mankind got underway on this day in 1887 with the publication of Unua Libro, the First Book setting forth the proposed international language of Esperanto. 🗣
Tuesday (27 July 2021) — The inimitable Bugs Bunny made his screen debut on this day in 1940 in a short animated film called A Wild Hare. Elmer Fudd couldn’t catch him then, and hasn’t to this day. 🐰
Wednesday (28 July 2021) — Today is the birthday of the great English polymath Robert Hooke (1635–1703), one of the pioneers of microscopy and the first person to apply the world “cell” to the basic structural unit of living things. 🔬 And one of the most innovative poets of the nineteenth century, Gerard Manley Hopkins, was born on this day in 1844. 🖋 Our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Taos Pueblo in our very own United States! 🇺🇸
Thursday (29 July 2021) — The seven-mile-long Cape Cod Canal first opened on this day in 1914, significantly reducing sailing time between Boston and New York (and markedly increasing safety). 🚢
Friday (30 July 2021) — Today is the birthday of the great (and largely homeschooled) English writer Emily Bronte (1818–1848), author of Wuthering Heights. 🖋 It’s also the birthday of the American engineer and industrialist Henry Ford (1863–1947). 🚗 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the familiar and diverse Blackbird family. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (31 July 2021) — On this day in 1964 the Ranger 7 probe transmitted the first close-up images of the moon taken by an American spacecraft, just minutes before it was intentionally crash-landed on the lunar surface. 🚀 🌕
Sunday (1 August 2021) — Today is the birthday of Maria Mitchell (1818–1889), the discoverer of “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” and the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer. ☄️ Today is also the birthday of the great American writer Herman Melville (1819–1891), author of Bartleby the Scrivener, Moby-Dick, and many other works. 🐳 In Melville’s honor, our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the first week of August, and also our weekly toast, is the perfect little toast-poem “To the Master of the Meteor,” appearing below. 🍻 Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar and follow along with us throughout the year. 🖋
🍻 ⚓️ OUR TOAST THIS WEEK and our weekly poem for the first week of August are one and the same, for Herman Melville’s birthday: the ringing toast-poem “To the Master of the Meteor.” The Meteor was a sailing ship, and the master (captain) of the Meteor was Herman’s brother Thomas Melville:
Lonesome on earth’s loneliest deep,
Sailor! who dost thy vigil keep —
Off the Cape of Storms dost musing sweep
Over monstrous waves that curl and comb;
Of thee we think when here from brink
We blow the mead in bubbling foam.
Of thee we think, in a ring we link;
To the shearer of ocean’s fleece we drink,
And the Meteor rolling home.
❡ 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: The United Arab Emirates in the Middle East is one of our countries-of-the-week, but as a desert country it has no permanent rivers. It does however has seasonal streams called wadis, so our Weekly World “River” is Wadi Siji, which begins near the northern UAE city of Sharjah. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Wadi Siji 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. 🗓