Postal service between Boston and New York was started in 1673. The monthly service was the first of its kind in the colonies. Prior to that, some people boarding ships would act as couriers for packages and letters. Over land, people would ask ministers or merchants to transport important packages. Sometimes letters would move from tavern to tavern. There was no guarantee a letter would reach its recipient. The Postal Road followed Native American trails and ultimately became the major thoroughfares for the region. Mile posts were set up along the road. Children could participate in a wide variety of outstanding activities at: http://postalmuseum.si.edu/activities/index.html.
World’s biggest cheese was made in Wisconsin in 1964. Using 170,000 quarts of milk from 16,000 cows, the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation made a block of cheddar cheese 14 ½ feet by 6 ½ feet by 5 ½ feet. It weighed 34,591 pounds. The cheese was driven from Wisconsin to New York to be part of the World’s Fair. The cheese was later eaten. Children could sample some cheddar and other types of cheeses.
National Pie Day is celebrated through tastings and competitions. Children could celebrate the day by first listing all the types of pies that they can think of (flavors of fruit pies, cream pies, pot pies, pizza pies). Then they could make a simple “pie” by filling a pie pan with chunky applesauce and covering with a mixture of 1 stick melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup uncooked oatmeal, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. The “pie” can be baked or microwaved.
American Library Association will announce its Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott Medals and Honor Books. Children could discuss what books should receive the awards. They could learn more at: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2016/12/thousands-view-ala-youth-media-awards-results-live.
National Handwriting Day stresses the importance of legibility. The day honors John Hancock’s birthday. John Hancock clearly and prominently signed the Declaration of Independence. Idea: Children could write, using their best penmanship, a thank you note to someone. Children can choose from some creative ideas for the day at: http://www.crayola.com/calendar.aspx?page=5&count=2
Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical doctor’s degree in the United States in 1849. Children could learn more about Blackwell at: https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/elizabeth-blackwell/. They could also interview an expert to find out how someone becomes a doctor.
Amendment Twenty-Four of the Constitution was adopted in 1964. It eliminated poll taxes and other taxes designed to prevent people from voting. Children can learn more about the background of the amendment at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_polltax_1.html
John Hancock (born Braintree, Massachusetts, 1737; died Quincy, Massachusetts, October 8, 1793) was an American patriot. He deliberately made his signature on the Declaration of Independence very prominent. His political activities irritated the British, and they started the famous march to Concord. After the war, he served as governor of Massachusetts for a number of years. Children could learn more at: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/hancock.html. Idea: Show the children a copy of the Declaration of Independence and his famous signature. Have a signature writing event where they try to copy his style. Jean Fritz wrote Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? Children would enjoy reading the book.
Joseph Hewes (born Kingston, New Jersey, 1730; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 10, 1779) signed the Declaration of Independence. He represented North Carolina. The son of Quakers, he started his career as an apprentice to a merchant. Soon he moved to North Carolina and became a very successful merchant using many ships. At first he opposed a break with England, but he changed his mind. He worked tirelessly to establish a navy for the colonies. However, he died before the Revolutionary War ended. Children could learn more at: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/hewes.html.
Edouard Manet (born Paris, France, 1832; died Paris, France, April 30, 1883) was an impressionist painter. Born into a wealthy family, he counted Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Pissarro as friends. His brother married the painter Berthe Morisot. His paintings shocked the art community at the time. Children could visit a website at: http://www.manetedouard.org/
Gold was discovered in California in 1848 by John Sutter and John Marshall. They were building a sawmill when they noticed flakes of gold in the water. Most of the forty-niners rushed to the Mother Lode country, part of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Over 90,000 people had reached California by 1849, and the population topped 220,000 by 1852. The rush had declined by 1854, and most prospectors turned to other jobs. Idea: Children could find out how mine claims are made legal and how assays prove metal content of ore. Children could learn more at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/reform/jb_reform_gold_1.html. Children would really enjoy reading Sid Fleischman’s excellent historical fiction book By the Great Horn Spoon!
Voyager 2 sailed past Uranus in 1986. It discovered 11 new moons and 2 new rings. Voyager 2 collected data on one of the moons, Miranda. Miranda, named after a character in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is gouged by deep craters and sharp cliffs. Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977, and it still sends back data about deep space! Idea: Children could find out how newly discovered objects in space are named. Children can experience a wide variety of space activities at: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/kids/