Below is a sample week from May 10 – 16
1774: Louis XVI ascends to the throne of France
This young monarch of France during the American (and later, French) Revolution came out on the short end of the historical stick, and is known as vain, ineffectual, out-of-touch, and representative of the abuses and excesses of the aristocracy. But what is the truth of his character and life? Today is a great day to go a little deeper and consider where you stand on the question. Knowing more about France’s uprising against aristocracy and tyrrany might inform our approach to modern issues.
- “LET THEM EAT CAKE!” What did she really say? (Or: did she actually even say that?)
- And where do the French stand on aristocracy today? (Does this apply to you and me at all?)
- Where is the French nobility now?
- And what about poor Marie Antoinette..? (an apologist tells the rest of her story)
This Week in History helps you “Inspire, not Require.”
Also on this date in history:
1869: The Transcontinental Railroad
On this date in history, the final spike was driven in the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah. In 1830 there were only 22 miles of railroad track in the U.S. By 1860 there were more than 60,000 miles.
During the Great Depression in the early 20th Century, millions of youth and young adults could be found “riding the rails” as a way of life, looking for work and sustenance.
The railroad is a source of fascination, nostalgia and curiosity, from miniatures and models to construct or play with to the art and folk music that center on it, etc.
Perhaps your exploration today (and going forward) might include some themes and projects that start from considering rail travel.
PBS did a FABULOUS series on the railroads, and each of the following pages has wonderful links and resources:
- The Transcontinental Railroad (An American Experience, PBS)
- America’s Lost Trains: Streamliners
- Riding the Rails
- “The Iron Road” (PBS Series on the railroad)
- The National Railway Museum
- Powerpoints for kids on Steam Engines, Transcontinental Railroad, etc.
- Union Pacific Railroad History
- Railroad history with maps
Ideas for Activities or Discussion:
- Have you ever ridden on a rail car of any kind? (trolley, amusement park ride, etc.)
- Have you ever been on a passenger train?
- Have you ever heard or read stories that romanticize travel by train, or the railroad in general?
- What difference did the Transcontinental Railroad make in terms of commerce, migration, expansion of the United States’ geographical dominance, population demography, the establishment of social order on the frontier, etc.?
- Where did immigrants come from to work on the railroad and related communities?
- What is the railroad used for today around the world? In the U.S.?
- Why do you suppose it is so different in various areas around the world?
- Where can you find underground rail systems? Overhead rail systems?
- What other areas of learning can you branch off to when studying the railroad?
One of my mom’s favorite songs/voices:
What’s the story behind this song?
A great story from American Folk History:
This Week in History develops cultural literacy.
Also worth looking into, born today:
1898: Ariel Durant
1899: Fred Astaire
With Ginger Rogers:
Bizarre May Holiday: Clean up your room day.
1858: Minnesota became the thirty-second state of the United States of America.
Pink and White Lady’s-Slipper
- Minnesota Children’s Museum: Resources for Learning through Play
- M Is for Minnesota, Butler
- The Legend of Minnesota (Legend Series),Wargin
- Minnesota (From Sea to Shining Sea), Hasday
- MidContinental Railway Museum
- Minnesota Word Search
- Minnesota Vocabulary
- Minnesota Crossword Puzzle
- Minnesota Challenge
- Minnesota Alphabet Activity
- Minnesota Draw and Write
- Minnesota Bird & Flower Coloring Page
- Minnesota Capitol Coloring Page
- Minnesota Map
Activities for Writing or Discussion:
- What was the Great Hinckley Fire?
- What affects did the railroad have on North America? (Consider the nation as a whole, the large and small cities, the economy, the family, the government, the landscape, the flora & fauna.) Was the impact purely positivity, or were there negative results? What, if any, were the negative results?
- How does a train steam engine work? (Explain terms such as heat engine, external & internal combustion, boilers, pistons, valves)
- Experiment with steam power.
This Week in History develops research skills.
Minnesota Fun Facts Quiz
1. What famous phrase (“___ Cow!”) was born at a Minnesota baseball game?
2. What Minnesota building is the size of 78 football fields?
3. St. Paul’s original name was ___. (refers to an animal’s body part that you wouldn’t want to eat!)
4. Minnesota has 90,000 miles of ___.
5. Minnesota is home of what famous inventions? (One springs, one pops, one glides, and one rolls!)
6. Minnesota’s Hormel Company introduced which famous food product?
7. In what direction do Minnesota’s waters flow? (North, South, East or West?)
8. What famous children’s author lived on Plum Creek?
9. Why is the “Kensington Rune stone” of such historical importance?
1812: Birthdate of Edward Lear
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer.
But a few think him pleasant enough.
His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.
He has two ears, and two eyes and ten fingers,
Leastways if you reckon two thumbs,
Long ago he was one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs…
The above stanzas are from Edward Lear’s “How Pleasant To Know Mr. Lear!,” a witty ditty he wrote about himself.
Lear, the man whose name is synonymous with limericks, was born in London, the youngest of 21 children. Early in life he became an artist, painting birds and illustrating the works of naturalists.
At 21, he published a large collection of colored drawings of birds. While doing similar work for the Earl of Derby, he lived at the earl’s home where he became popular with the children of the family because of the absurd poems and drawings he created for them. These became the nucleus of his Book of Nonsense (1846). Later Lear moved to Italy, where he continued to write and illustrate books, mainly about his travels.
This Week in History brings you and your students Face to Face with Greatness.
The study of Lear’s works could could take all week! Here is an illustration he did of a limerick:
But don’t forget–he was a naturalist who illustrated animals:
He was also a world traveler who illustrated the places he visited:
- The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear (Faber Children’s Classics), Lear
- Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense: With Lear’s Original Illustrations
- “A” Was Once an Apple Pie, Lear/MacDonald
Lear’s Life and Artwork:
Lear was such an extraordinarily sensitive and gifted soul, I strongly urge you to study his life.
But just for today, try your hand at his most notable art: limerick! A limerick consists of five lines. Lines one, two and five rhyme with each other, with usually 8-10 beats. Lines three and four typically (but not necessarily) rhyme with each other, with usually 4-5 beats.
Here’s one by me:
There once was a Mrs. DeMille
Who lived in a house on a hill.
She wrote all the day
In a TJEd way;
And I think she is writing there still.
Now, go to it! Limerick away! I’d love to feature your stuff–send it to me by clicking here.
This Week in History exposes your child to new ideas and areas of learning.
Also on this date in history:
1820: Birthdate of Florence Nightingale
“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words;
they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”
Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, was named for Florence, Italy, where she was born. She was one of the greatest women of England’s Victorian Age.
During the Crimean War, (1854), British soldiers referred to her as “The Lady with the Lamp” because of her constant devotion–night and day–to aiding the wounded.
Within five months of her arrival in the Balkans, the military death rate fell from 40 percent to about 2 percent. When the war ended in 1856, she returned to England. Though quite ill, she continued to work on improving the nursing profession through writing and lecturing. Shortly before her death in 1910, King Edward VII presented her with the Order of Merit; she was the first woman to be so honored.
- Heart and Soul: The Story of Florence Nightingale, Gorrell
- Teaching Activities and Resources (Love of Learning)
This Week in History helps you mentor your students in the classics.
An interesting thing about Florence Nightingale is that she had obtained an education that was normally reserved for the men in her time. And for those who think they don’t need math to excel in their life’s mission, read the following two articles and consider what it might have meant for Florence and those she served if she had not known how to think mathematically.
She was able to measure her results and persuasively make her case to contributors and regulators in ways that made a difference in terms of suffering and recovery from illness.
Henry Wadworth Longfellow wrote the following poem, entitled “Saint Filomena”, about Florence Nightingale:
Whene’er a noble deed is wrought,
Whene’er is spoken a noble thought,
Our hearts, in glad surprise,
To higher levels rise.
The tidal wave of deeper souls
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares
Out of all meaner cares.
Honour to those whose words or deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs,
And by their overflow
Raise us from what is low!
Thus thought I, as by night I read
Of the great army of the dead,
The trenches cold and damp,
The starved and frozen camp, -
The wounded from the battle-plain,
In dreary hospitals of pain,
The cheerless corridors,
The cold and stony floors.
Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And flit from room to room.
And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss
Her shadow, as it falls
Upon the darkening walls.
As if a door in heaven should be
Opened and then closed suddenly,
The vision came and went,
The light shone and was spent.
On England’s annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,
That light its rays shall cast
From portals of the past.
A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Nor even shall be wanting here
The palm, the lily, and the spear,
The symbols that of yore
Saint Filomena bore.
- Florence Nightingale Wordsearch
- Florence Nightingale Word Scramble
- Florence Nightingale Crossword Puzzle
- Florence Nightingale Study Sheet
- Florence Nightingale Worksheet
- Florence Nightingale Test
Source: Garden of Praise
And for the little girls of your family, make a Florence Nightingale Paper Doll.
And here’s a twist on the theme of nightingale.
This week in history instigates discussions and projects that expand your child’s wisdom, understanding and application of the things she learns.
Make some history!
A couple of times a month (whenever there is a light day when I don’t find much that really interests me to highlight for a “Today in History” article), we will take a little break to make some history of our own. There are lots of ideas here–choose a few for today, and when another “Make Some History” day rolls around, you can try some more…
Resources and Activities:
1. Get some old magazines from a thrift store, or some current ones from a grocery or book store, and create a montage, collage or scrapbook depicting interesting events, people or issues from the time. You can use headlines, images, quotes, personal commentary or illustration, etc. to create the effect you want.
2. Prepare an oral or written report on your piece.
3. Choose a person or time in history and dress, eat, speak and do as would have been typical of that time. Record your impressions in a journal.
4. Choose a family or community member and make an audio recording of their stories. Provide them with a copy to give to loved ones. (See the printables below to download a form you can use to help prompt questions for this interview!)
5. Contact a local historical society, museum, university or chamber of commerce to find out about historical sites, stories and founding of your community.
6. Check your state historical registry for sites of interest in your area. Visit them and make a record of your experience in photos, writings or in some other way.
7. Create a journal using a binder, composition notebook or diary. Decide on a dedicated purpose for the journal, such as:
- Record favorite quotes from literature.
- Keep a record of the time and content of your studies.
- Write down inspiration you receive, your response to it, and the consequences of your actions.
- Keep a record of your dreams.
- Write down 3, 5, 10 or 15 stories from your life. Start with the ones you consider most important, then progress to earliest memories, moving toward the present time.
- There are forms in the printables to help with this project as well!
8. Write an essay or blog using the following ideas as possible guidelines:
- Draw attention to issues, people or events that you think are deserving of greater consideration or notoriety.
- Analyze a current situation, leader, or issue based on a historical outcome.
- Draw an analogy from literature to a current situation, person or issue.
Consider who is your audience, and how to build rapport and influence.
- Do they share your core beliefs?
- Do they use a different vocabulary than you?
- Do they hold passionate views about issues to which you are contrary, indifferent or ignorant (environment, civil liberties, victims’ rights, religion, health practices, war, guns, etc.)?
- If so, do you need to do preparatory work to better build rapport?
- What forum is the best to deliver your message?
- Should you use humor?
- Should you use sarcasm?
- Should you cite scholarly works?
- Should you use stories?
- Should you speak from your own experience?
- Should you use professional objectivity?
- What tone, style and level of technical precision would be most effective?
9. Using stories from a family or community member, or a person or event from history, create a coloring book. Remember to use simple, bold lines to facilitate the coloring project.
10. Create a word find activity using events in history.
11. Play 20 questions about a book, person, event, etc.
12. Create a card game of pairs that matches dates with faces, or events with names, etc. This card game can be used for Go Fish, Old Maid, and with some standard deck-style numbering, for just about any other card game.
13. Make a cross word puzzle using key words and clues from today’s news, a family story or a historical event.
More fun with history…! (Lots of great printables in this section)
Create your own personal history:
Become a historian!
- All About You
- Food for Thought
- Edible Memories
- Record an Oral History
- Fun with Primary Sources
- Fun with Secondary Sources
- Investigating an Artifact
Ideas for activities or discussion:
- Where do your ancestors come from?
- What language did they speak before English?
- Do you have any family names that are passed down?
- What does your name mean?
- Do you have any long-standing family traditions or beliefs?
- Do you know where those traditions began?
- What traditions has your family purposely left behind?
- What are you doing to preserve your history for others that follow?
Do you have other great ideas on how to make history? Tell me about them! Comment below.
1686: Birthdate of Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit
As the temperature is changing outside, it is the perfect day to learn about the thermometer and its use. In 1714 Fahrenheit, a German physicist, invented the type of thermometer used today.
- What is the difference between the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales?
- Which countries use the Fahrenheit scale?
- Why do you think that is?
- When was the Celsius scale invented?
- Watch a weather forecast on TV. How many times is the word “Fahrenheit” used?
- What is the formula for converting a temperature from the Fahrenheit scale to the Celsius scale?
- What is the formula for Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion?
- Online converter
- Online Biography
- Try this! How to make a thermometer
- How good a judge of heat are your hands?
- Other experiments with heat
Experiments with temperature:
Also on this date in history:
1948: Israel became an independent nation.
On this date, Israel was founded as a homeland for jews around the world who wanted a refuge from persecution.
- Find Israel on a world map and compare with the United States of America. (Students may be amazed to discover that Israel is just about the size of New Jersey.)
- Israeli Flag Coloring Page
- The Hebrew language is the only known instance where a language became “dead” and was later “resurrected.”
- Learn the Hebrew Alphabet and simple vocabulary with these printables (click on the character for options)
- Hebrew Alphabet Penmanship Guide (block style)
- Israel has two official languages. Besides Hebrew, Arabic is also recognized.
- Israel Fast Facts links
This Week in History saves you time and frustration, and builds your mentoring confidence.
- What are the colors of the Israeli flag?
- What do the symbols on the Israeli flag represent?
- What was the official date of the establishment of the modern state of Israel?
- Signs on a street in Israel will commonly be in two languages, and often in three. What are they?
- What are some common greetings in Israel?
- Israel has two large lakes and a main river. What are their names?
- What is unique about the larger lake?
- The state of Utah has a similar aquatic configuration. What are the names of these lakes and river?
- What is unique about the larger lake there?
- How many countries does Israel border?
- What are they?
For answers to this quiz, click here.
This Week in History helps you make connections between the subject areas–from music to math, from geography to world religions, from hobbies to science projects, and more.
1856: Birthdate of L. Frank Baum
Frank L. Baum had such success with his book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) that he followed it with 13 other books about Oz.
Today is a great day to read aloud from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
Resources and Ideas for Discussion:
- History (did you know Baum was homeschooled?)
- Baum’s works online (including short stories)
- Get some used lady’s pumps from a thrifts store and cover them with craft glue and red glitter–Ruby Slippers!
- Make a rainbow with paints, crayons, glue-on beads/buttons/food-coloring-pasta, ribbon, fabric, bits of nature collected from a walk; use your imagination!
- What makes a rainbow?
- Coloring Page
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Books of Wonder), Baum
- The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz
- The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
- The Wiz (30th Anniversary Edition w/ Bonus CD; Michael Jackson, Diana Ross)
- “Somewhere over the Rainbow” with Judy Garland
Check YouTube for clips from the other versions.
- How do they compare to the book, and to each other?
- Can you think of other stories that have been done and re-done in different ways?
- What makes this story such a classic?
Did you know that “Baum” means “tree” in German?
- Why do you think Frank’s family had such a name?
- Does your family name have a meaning?
- Where does it come from?
- What is the “Fibonacci Sequence”?
- Can you think of other examples of this pattern in nature, in space, in biology, etc.?
- Learn more about the Fibonacci Sequence >> (WONDERFUL pdf download)
This Week in History brings the Phases of Learning into focus.
1930: Ellen Church became the world’s first flight attendant
Ellen Church, a registered nurse, became the world’s first flight attendant on a Boeing 80A trimotor light from San Francisco to Cheyenne, Wyoming. She and seven other registered nurses were hired by United Airlines. Coincidentally, May 14, 1908 was the date that the first passenger, Charles W. Furnas, flew in an airplane. He rode with Wilbur Wright on a flight that lasted 28.6 seconds.
Resources and Ideas:
- Have you ever ridden in an airplane?
- Why do you think United Airlines hired registered nurses for their flight attendants?
- What sort of training is required of flight attendants?
- Career Facts on flight attendants
This Week in History motivates you and your students to greater excellence.
1965: SpaghettiOs were born!
SpaghettiOs was the creation of Donald Goerke “the Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs.” Goerke, a marketing manager of Campbell Soup Co, introduced SpaghettiOs after a year-long internal study of the appropriate shape for a kid-friendly spaghetti. Rejected shapes included cowboys, Indians, spacemen, stars, and sports shapes.
SpaghettiOs were introduced nationally without test marketing— with television advertising using tag line “The neat new spaghetti you can eat with a spoon” and the jingle “Uh-Oh! SpaghettiOs”, sung by pop singer Jimmie Rodger.
- About marketing to children
- Tips for parents on educating children of marketing ploys
- Fundamentals of Branding (an essay)
Ideas for Writing or Discussion:
- What does branding mean?
- Why is music such an effective medium of advertising?
- What role do visual images play in advertising?
- Are your choices largely influenced by advertising? Is this good or bad?
- Consider the motives of the advertisers (economic, altruistic, devious, political, security)
- Have you ever advertised something? Was your method effective?
- Consider this statistic and discuss the potential impact:”Over the past two decades, the degree to which marketers have scaled up efforts to reach children is staggering. In 1983, they spent $100 million on television advertising to kids. Today, they pour roughly 150 times that amount into a variety of mediums that seek to infiltrate every corner of children’s worlds.”
- Look through your home and make a list of every method of advertising that you can find. Were you surprised?
- Does your family rely on marketing for income?
- Have you ever run a home business?
- Consider this book: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Why subscribe to This Week in History?
it makes learning fun
it provides correlated resources for co-ops, classrooms and family learning
it cultivates cultural literacy
it helps fill in the gaps
it harmonizes with Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Trivium/Quadrivium, IEW, eclectic, classical, TJEd, and so on.