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 HOLIDAY MUSIC MONTH is approaching its close. For the past four weeks we have been sharing an assortment of seasonal favorites — classical and modern, sacred and secular, serious and silly — along with a collection of easy educational notes to help you teach little musical lessons all along the way. Our grand finale will be on the Twelfth Day of Christmas (January 5th), and I bet you can guess what it will be. 🍐🌳
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Louisiana, and our COUNTRIES are Guatemala 🇬🇹, Guinea 🇬🇳, Guinea-Bissau 🇬🇼, and Guyana 🇬🇾. (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 (3 January 2021) — Today is the 3rd day of 2021; there are 362 days remaining in this common year. Learn more about different kinds of modern and historical calendars on pages 387–393 in your (brand new 2021!) River Houses almanac. 📚 Today is the birthday of the great Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.). 🏛 It’s also the birthday of English writer J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 🌋
Monday (4 January 2021) — Today is the birthday of French educator Louis Braille (1809–1852), the inventor of the famous tactile writing system for the blind. ⠗⠓ It’s also the birthday of the original James Bond. 🐦
Tuesday (5 January 2021) — Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas and tonight is Twelfth Night, and that means it’s the end of our Holiday Music Month — and you know what song we’ll be going out with. 🍐🌳 😊 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 Social 300s. 📚
Wednesday (6 January 2021) — Today is the birthday of the American poet Carl Sandburg (1878–1967). 🖋 And our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Guinea. 🇬🇳
Thursday (7 January 2021) — On this day in 1610, Galileo Galilei first reported that he had discovered several previously unknown moons orbiting the planet Jupiter — we now call them the Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa. You can see them from your backyard with almost any small telescope. 🔭 Today is also the birthday of the African-American writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960). 🖋
Friday (8 January 2021) — Today is the birthday of two great British scientists: the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the principle of natural selection, and the physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking (1942–2018). 🦋 🌌 And in another sphere of human accomplishment, today is also the birthday of Elvis Presley (1935–1977)! 🎸 Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for second week of January is Gail Mazur’s “Ice,” for homeschool dads and all wintertime learners. ⛸ And our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the Storks, Frigatebirds, Boobies, Gannets, Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (9 January 2021) — On this day in 1923, Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva made the first successful flight in an autogyro (the ancestor of the modern helicopter). 🚁 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: Capella, the brightest star in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. 🌟
Sunday (10 January 2021) — On this day in the year 49 B.C., Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river and approached the city of Rome with his army, touching off a civil war that led to the destruction of the Roman Republic and the eventual formation of the Roman Empire. ⚔️ For an illustrated overview of the life and times of Julius Caesar and his outsized impact on the Western world, see pages 108–109 in your homeschool history encyclopedia. 📚
🥂 OUR WEEKLY TOAST: “To long life, pure love, and boundless liberty.”
❡ 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!”). Our current set of toasts are mostly taken from an old collection that appeared in Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette (London, ca. 1870). What will you toast this week? 🥂
🌎 🇬🇾 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Guyana in northern South America is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Essequibo River, Guyana’s longest river. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Essequibo 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, this month, and this wonderful new year? 😊
❡ 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. 🗓