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.
🌞🌏🌕 A PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE will be visible this Thursday–Friday night (18–19 November) over all of North America. This is a partial eclipse, not total, but if the skies are clear in your neighborhood it will certainly be worth going out with your young astronomers to take a look. Check the eclipse page at timeanddate.com to find the exact timing for your specific location. And if you can’t make it outside, try the timeanddate.com eclipse livestream!
🌠 THE ANNUAL LEONID METEOR SHOWER will peak (probably) on Wednesday and Thursday nights this week (17–18 November), and may spread over into the nights before and after as well. Unfortunately, because this year’s dates are so close to the full moon, viewing will probably not be very good, but it will still be worth taking a look. (The fact that astronomical viewing is poor when the moon is bright is a basic observational lesson for your students in itself.) The Leonids are debris from Comet Tempel–Tuttle, which visits the inner Solar System every 33 years. For a great little lesson on meteor showers, turn to pages 130–133 in your backyard astronomy guide. ☄️
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is New York, and our COUNTRIES are Costa Rica 🇨🇷, Cote d’Ivoire 🇨🇮, Croatia 🇭🇷, and Cuba 🇨🇺. (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 waxing — 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 (14 November 2021) — Today is the 318th day of 2021; there are 47 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 Charles Lyell (1797–1875), the father of modern geology. ⚒ It’s also the birthday of German composer and pianist Fanny Mendelssohn (1805–1847). 🎹 The great French Impressionist painter Claude Monet was born on this day in 1840. 🎨 And today is the birthday of American composer and conductor Aaron Copland (1900–1990). 🎵
Monday (15 November 2021) — On this day in 1777, after many months of debate, the Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation and sent them to the states for ratification. 🇺🇸 The cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., was laid on this day in 1939 by President Franklin Roosevelt. 🏛 And our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the third week of November is A.E. Housman’s “Stars, I have seen them fall,” for the annual Leonid meteor shower. Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar and follow along with us throughout the year. 🌠
Tuesday (16 November 2021) — The movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first in the series, was released on this day in 2001. It earned just shy of $1 billion worldwide at the box office. 🧙
Wednesday (17 November 2021) — Today is the birthday of German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius (1790–1868), inventor (or discoverer?) of the strip that bears his name. 🥓 And our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia. 🇭🇷
Thursday (18 November 2021) — Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church in the world, was consecrated on this day in 1626. 🇻🇦 And today is the birthday of the great American musician Johnny Mercer (1909–1976), lyricist of “Moon River” and many other standards. 🎼
Friday (19 November 2021) — Seven score and eighteen years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. American school children often memorized it once upon a time. Why not read it aloud in your homeschool today — you’ll find the text on page 519 of your almanac. 🇺🇸 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the diverse Sandpipers (Part I). Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅 And since there’s a full moon today we’ll have a report on student research opportunities from the River Houses Lunar Society. 🌕
Saturday (20 November 2021) — On this day in 1820, an 80-ton sperm whale struck and sank the whaleship Essex about 2000 miles off the west coast of South America. The destruction of the Essex would become one of the inspirations for Herman Melville’s great novel Moby-Dick (1851), and it would be later dramatized in the 2015 film In the Heart of the Sea. 🐳 Today is also the birthday of the American astronomer and cosmologist Edwin Hubble (1889–1953), who vastly enlarged our understanding of the universe. 🔭
Sunday (21 November 2021) — On this day in 1905, a technical paper titled “Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content?” was published in the German science journal Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics). The author was a 26-year-old patent clerk named Albert Einstein and the paper established that E = mc². ⚛️️
🥂 🇺🇸 OUR WEEKLY TOAST is for the 158th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address: “May government of the people, by the people, for the people, never perish from the earth.”
❡ 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 in your homeschool this week? 🥂
🌍 🇨🇮 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Côte d’Ivoire in southwestern Africa is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Nzi River, a tributary of that country’s longest river, the Bandama. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read (a little) more about it in the Nzi River entry in Wikipedia or perhaps on your next visit to your local library.
❡ Children 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. 🗓