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.
🗓 🗡 ORION TERM, our winter term in the River Houses, begins this Wednesday! (And that means this is going to be a busy posting week!)
🎵 🎄 🎅 DECEMBER is also Holiday Music Month in the River Houses, and throughout the month we’ll be sharing an assortment of seasonal favorites — classical and modern, sacred and secular, serious and silly — along with a collection of easy educational notes that will help you teach little musical lessons all along the way. Watch for them starting Wednesday!
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Rhode Island, and our COUNTRIES are Dominica 🇩🇲, the Dominican Republic 🇩🇴, Ecuador 🇪🇨, and Egypt 🇪🇬. (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 a waning crescent — a good time for 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 (28 November 2021) — Today is the 332nd day of 2021; there are 33 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 (probably) the birthday of the Puritan preacher and sometime prisoner John Bunyan (1628–1688), author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, the second most widely printed book in history (after the Bible). 🚶 Today is also the birthday of the great English mystical poet William Blake (1757–1827). 🐯 On this day in 1972, the first successful arcade video game, Pong, was released. (Does anyone remember arcade games?) 🏓 And, the annual Jewish festival of Hanukkah, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C., begins tonight at sundown. 🕎
Monday (29 November 2021) — Today is the birthday of the American novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), author of Little Women and Little Men. 👧 👦
Tuesday (30 November 2021) — Today is the birthday of another American novelist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain (1835–1910). 🐸 It’s also the birthday of British statesman and Nobel laureate Winston Churchill (1874–1965). 🇬🇧 And on this day in 1954, a meteorite smashed through the roof of a house in Sylacauga, Alabama, and struck a woman named Ann Hodges, who was taking a nap. The Sylacauga meteorite, as it is now called, is the only known meteorite in the Western Hemisphere ever to have struck a person. (Hodges was bruised, but sustained no permanent injuries.) 🌠 🤕
Wednesday (1 December 2021) — Today is the first day of ORION TERM, our winter term in the River Houses, named for the Great Hunter of the Heavens. 🗡 And December in the River Houses is Holiday Music Month! Keep your eyes and ears open for many musical delights throughout the month. 🎵 🎄 🎅 On this day in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913–2005) was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, an event that led to the Montgomery bus boycott and the growth of the American civil rights movement. 🚌 Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for the first week of December is “R.L.S.,” a gem-like homage to Robert Louis Stevenson written by A.E. Housman (1859–1936), for all homeschool hunters, literary and celestial. Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar and follow along with us throughout the year. 🗡 And our Wednesday tour of World Heritage Sites this week will take you to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. 🇪🇨
Thursday (2 December 2021) — The Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest Jewish synagogue building in the United States, was dedicated on this day in 1763. 🕍
Friday (3 December 2021) — Today is the birthday of Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828), the famous portrait-painter of early America. 🎨 It’s also the birthday of Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad (1857–1924), author of The Heart of Darkness and other staples of English literature courses worldwide. 🖋 Our Friday Bird Families post this week will introduce you to the maritime Skuas, Jaegers, Auks, Murres, and Puffins! Print your own River Houses Calendar of American Birds and follow the flyways with us throughout the year. 🦅
Saturday (4 December 2021) — Today is the birthday of Scottish historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), one of the most prominent writers of the Victorian era. 🖋 And since this is the first Saturday of the month, we’ll post our regular monthly preview today of some of the astronomical events you and your students can watch for over the next few weeks. 🔭
Sunday (5 December 2021) — On this day in 1775, in one of the great engineering feats of the American Revolution, Henry Knox began transporting sixty tons of artillery captured from the British at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain all the way to Boston, a wagon journey of 300 miles through snow-filled forests and over frozen swamps and rivers. ⚔️ Today is also the birthday of the American journalist and political theorist Rose Wilder Lane (1886–1968). 🇺🇸 And it’s also the birthday of the great German physicist and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976), the father of quantum mechanics. ⚛️
🥂 🗡 OUR TOAST THIS WEEK is our traditional offering for the beginning of Orion Term and for the Great Hunter of the Heavens. The host says: “Not the laurel, but the race.” And the guests respond: “Not the quarry, but the chase.”
❡ 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: Ecuador in western South America is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the Mache River, which flows into the Cojimies Estuary on Ecuador’s northwest coast. You can find its location in your recommended homeschool atlas, and you can read more about it in the Mache 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. 🗓