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 Minnesota, and our COUNTRIES are the Netherlands 🇳🇱, New Zealand 🇳🇿, Nicaragua 🇳🇮, and Niger 🇳🇪. (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 new — that’s the best time of the month for dark-sky 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 (11 April 2021) — Today is the 101st day of 2021; there are 265 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 strange and wonderful eighteenth-century poet Christopher Smart (1722–1771). 🐈 It’s also the birthday of American educator and statesman Edward Everett (1794–1865), one of the most celebrated orators of his day, who in 1863 had the misfortune of speaking for the two hours before Abraham Lincoln delivered the two-minute Gettysburg Address. 🇺🇸
Monday (12 April 2021) — On this day in 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, touching off the American Civil War. (For a quick review of the Civil War, turn to page 314 in your River Houses history encyclopedia.) ⚔️ And on this day in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934–1968) became the first human being ever to orbit the earth. (You can find him also in your history encyclopedia, on page 578.) 👨🚀
Tuesday (13 April 2021) — Today is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. 🇺🇸 And the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on this day in 1943 by President Franklin Roosevelt, on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth. 🏛
Wednesday (14 April 2021) — Today is the birthday of the great cartographer Abraham Ortelius (1527–1598), who produced history’s first atlas of the world. 🌐 And on this day in 1986, more than 90 people were tragically killed when the heaviest hailstones ever recorded (more than two pounds each) fell on the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh. ⛈ Our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Defense Line of Amsterdam in the Netherlands 🇳🇱.
Thursday (15 April 2021) — Today is the midpoint of Leo Term and thus one of the four cross-quarter days of the River Houses year. How are things going? 🦁 Today is also the birthday of the great Renaissance painter and polymath Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). 🎨 And on this day in 1912, the passenger liner R.M.S. Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, two hours after striking an iceberg. More than 1500 passengers and crew died in the accident. 🚢 Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the third week of April is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” for the beginning of the American Revolution. 👨🌾 Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar and follow along with us throughout the year. 🖋
Friday (16 April 2021) — On this day in the year 73, the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada fell to the Roman army after several months of siege. ✡️ And on this day in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after being arrested for protesting segregation in Alabama. 🖋 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the little Nuthatches, Creepers, and Wrens. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (17 April 2021) — On this day in 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485–1528) became the first European to sail into what is now New York harbor. 🗽 Today is also the birthday of the American novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder (1897–1975). 🖋
Sunday (18 April 2021) — On the evening of this day in 1775, Paul Revere and a network of alarm riders fanned out from Boston to warn the surrounding countryside that British troops were marching overnight to seize the colonists’ stores of arms and ammunition in the nearby town of Concord. Join us today for a special reading of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous American poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” 🏇 Also, on this day in 1906, a major earthquake and fire destroyed much of San Francisco, California. 🔥 And, today is World Heritage Day! 🏛
🥂 🇺🇸 OUR WEEKLY TOAST is one of our traditional offerings, for the beginning of the American Revolution in April 1775: “May truth and liberty prevail throughout the world.”
❡ 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: Niger is west-central Africa is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is (naturally enough) the Niger River, one of the principal rivers of western Africa. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Niger 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. 🌍
AND DON’T FORGET: Friday the 13th comes on a Tuesday this month! 🙀
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. 🗓