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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! Print your own River Houses calendar for the year at riverhouses.org/calendars.
✦ This is the first full week of ORION TERM in the River Houses (riverhouses.org/blog/2018-orion-term).
🇺🇸 OUR STATE-OF-THE-WEEK is Vermont, and our COUNTRIES are El Salvador 🇸🇻, Equatorial Guinea 🇬🇶, Eritrea 🇪🇷, and Estonia 🇪🇪. (Our separate Sunday States & Countries post went up just a few minutes ago.)
🌘 THE MOON at the beginning of this week is a waning crescent — a good time for stargazing! Track the moon’s phases each month at timeanddate.com, and dial up this week’s constellations with your River Houses star atlas (riverhouses.org/books).
🗓 TODAY (Sunday, 2 December) — Today is the 336th day of 2018; there are 29 days remaining in the year. Learn more about different kinds of modern and historical calendars on pages 351–357 in your River Houses almanac (riverhouses.org/books). ⬩ The Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest Jewish synagogue building in the United States, was dedicated on this day in 1763. ⬩ 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 (3 December) — 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.
TUESDAY (4 December) — Since this is the first Tuesday of the month, we’ll invite you today to browse a new Dewey Decimal class with your students on your next visit to your local library. This month: Class 200 (Religion).
WEDNESDAY (5 December) — 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 journey of 300 miles through snow-filled forests and over frozen swamps and rivers. ⬩ Today is also the birthday of the great German physicist and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976), the father of quantum mechanics.
THURSDAY (6 December) — Today is the birthday of the great American songwriter Ira Gershwin (1896–1983). ⬩ Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated by President Harry Truman on this day in 1947.
FRIDAY (7 December) — On this day in 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. ⬩ And on this day in 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing the United States into World War II. ⬩ Since this is the first Friday of the month, we’ll also post our regular monthly preview today of some of the astronomical events you and your homeschool students can be on the lookout for over the next few weeks.
SATURDAY (8 December) — On this day in 1660, a female actor (her identity is disputed) appeared on the English stage for the first time, playing the role of Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello. ⬩ Our homeschool poem-of-the-week for second week of December is Emily Dickinson’s “He ate and drank the precious words,” in honor of Dickinson’s upcoming birthday on the 10th. Print your own River Houses poetry calendar at riverhouses.org/calendars and follow along with us throughout the year.
SUNDAY (9 December) — Today is the birthday of the great English poet and political revolutionary John Milton (1608–1674), one of the towering figures in the history of the English language. ⬩ And on this day in 1965, the much-loved special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” with music by Vince Guaraldi, premiered on CBS television.
🥂 YOUR WEEKLY TOAST: “May those who fall by misfortune be lifted up by the hand of friendship.”
❡ Toasts are a fun 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 variety in toasting!”). Our current set of toasts are mostly taken from an old anthology called The Pic-Nic, a Collection of Recitations, and Comic Songs, Toasts, Sentiments, &c. (London, 1816). What will you toast this week?
🌎 EVERYTHING FLOWS: Estonia is one of our countries-of-the-week, so our Weekly World River is the beautiful Pärnu River, one of Estonia’s longest rivers. You can chart its course in your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books), and you can read more about it in the Pärnu River entry in Wikipedia or perhaps on your next visit to your local library.
❡ Let the river run: 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 691–692), 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? 😊