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 LUNAR ECLIPSE will take place in the early morning hours of Wednesday this week (26 May). Its area of maximum visibility will be in the Pacific Ocean, alas, but if you’re in the southwestern United States you should be able to see a good part of it. (Other areas of North America will have poorer views.) You can find all the details on the helpful timeanddate.com eclipse pages.
🗓 🦁 This is the last full week of LEO TERM, our spring term in the River Houses. Hercules Term, our summer term, begins on Tuesday the first of June.
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Colorado, and our COUNTRIES are Samoa 🇼🇸, San Marino 🇸🇲, São Tomé and Príncipe 🇸🇹, and Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦. (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 (23 May 2021) — Today is the 143rd day of 2021; there are 222 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 great Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), who devised the system of species nomenclature that is still in use today in the biological sciences by all of us members of Homo sapiens. 🐟 🐢 🐳 🐒 🐝 🐪 🐞 🐌 🦋 🦉
Monday (24 May 2021) — Today is the birthday of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819–1901), who gave her name to an entire historical era. You can read more about Victoria and the Victorians on page 348 in your homeschool history encyclopedia. 👑 And on this day in 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse sent the message “What hath God wrought!” from the U.S. Capitol building to his assistant in Baltimore, thirty-five miles away, instantly, thereby inaugurating the first commercial telegraph line between two U.S. cities. ⚡️
Tuesday (25 May 2021) — Today is the birthday of the great American poet, essayist, and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882). 🖋 And on this day in 1977, the first Star Wars movie was released! 🚀
Wednesday (26 May 2021) — It’s National Paper Airplane Day! ✈️ Our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will explore the Rock Art of the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia. 🇸🇦 And, there’s a full moon tonight, so that means we’ll have a report on student research opportunities from the River Houses Lunar Society. 🌕
Thursday (27 May 2021) — Today is the birthday of the American poet and songwriter Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (“Mine eyes have seen the glory”). 🌅 🍇 🎺 ⚡️ ⚔️
Friday (28 May 2021) — A solar eclipse occurred on this day in the year 585 B.C. during the Battle of the Halys River in central Anatolia, leading to a truce. The exact date of that eclipse is one of the key reference points from which other dates in ancient Near Eastern history are calculated. 🌏 🌑 🌞 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the Indigobirds, Weavers, Estrildid Finches, and Old World Sparrows. Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (29 May 2021) — On this day in 1453, the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman armies of Sultan Mehmed II after a 53-day siege, bringing to an end the ancient Byzantine Empire that had survived for more than a thousand years. You can explore more on pages 198, 206, and 246 in your homeschool history encyclopedia ⚔️ And speaking of eclipses, another solar eclipse, occurring on this day in 1919, allowed Sir Arthur Eddington to confirm Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. 🌏 🌑 🌞 And on this day in 1953, mountaineers Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay became the first climbers ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest. 🏔
Sunday (30 May 2021) — The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on this day in the year 1922. 🏛 Today is also the birthday of the great voice actor Mel Blanc (1908–1989), “the man of a thousand voices,” who gave us Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, and even the Tasmanian Devil. 🐰
🥂 OUR WEEKLY TOAST is for the bloom of spring: “To love, liberty, and length of blissful days.”
❡ 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!”). Many of our current toasts are taken from an old collection that appeared in Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette (London, ca. 1870). What will you toast this week? 🥂
🌍 🇸🇦 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Saudi Arabia in the Middle East is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is Wadi Al-Batin on the border between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia is quite a large country, but it is almost entirely desert and has no permanent rivers. What it has are wadis — dry river beds and valleys that fill with water temporarily during rainy periods. (In the American southwest they would be called washes.) You can find the location of Wadi Al-Batin in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Wadi Al-Batin 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. 🗓