Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated by children in Central and Northern Europe. Dutch children fill their shoes with hay the night before. Treats can be found in shoes the next day.
Finland celebrates Independence Day. It became free from Russia in 1917. For centuries Sweden and Russia have fought over Finland. Russia took over the country in 1809. According to the CIA World Factbook, Finland is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. Today Helsinki is the northernmost capital of any country in Europe. More than five million people live in Finland, and most live in a small coastal plain. Over three-fourths of the land is covered with forests. It exports timber and wood pulp.
Washington Monument was completed in 1884. The monument’s cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848, and building began. However, lack of funding and the Civil War stopped work. Then President Ulysses Grant started construction again. It was completed on this day in 1884 and dedicated in 1885. Children can learn more at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/gilded/jb_gilded_monument_1.html.
Everglades National Park was founded in 1947. The park contains over 1,500,000 acres of land. It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. The park provides an amazing array of photos, audio programs, and videos. Children could visit the park’s website at: http://www.nps.gov/ever. They could use a Venn diagram to show the differences between alligators (left) and crocodiles (right).
Delaware became the first state of the United States by ratifying the Constitution in 1787. The state was named after Thomas West, Lord De La Ware. The Dutch arrived in 1631. The Swedes followed in 1638 and established the first permanent settlement, Wilmington, in the colony. Dover is the capital of this smallest but one state. Its nicknames are the First State and the Diamond State. The ladybug is Delaware’s official state insect. Children could visit an Internet site at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/es/de/es_de_subj.html. They could research why Delaware is called the Diamond State. Are diamonds mined there?
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. President Roosevelt called the day “a date that will live in infamy.” The Japanese airplanes attacked early in the morning. They destroyed almost the entire Pacific Fleet and approximately two hundred airplanes. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the hour-long attack. This event brought about America’s entrance into World War II. Children can learn more about the bombing of Pearl Harbor at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/wwii/jb_wwii_pearlhar_1.html
Apollo 17 was launched into space in 1972. Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt landed on the moon December 11, 1972. They used the Lunar Roving Vehicle on their three moon walks. Other studies included photography, and one photo, The Blue Marble, is especially famous. The astronauts returned to earth December 19th. The mission was the last manned trip to the moon. Children can visit NASA’s site for junior scientists at: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/
United States declared war against Japan and thus entered World War II in 1941. The declaration of war was a reaction to the December 7th bombing of Pearl Harbor. Approximately 16 million people fought in the war or served as support for the military. Over 400,000 people died in action. Almost everyone who remained in America supported the war effort through rationing, buying war bonds, sending packages overseas, and collecting metals that could be used for military purposes. World War II ended in 1945. Children could understand more about the war by reading World War II Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes by David C. King and Cheryl Kirk Noll.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics expired in 1991. Many portions of the Soviet Union broke away and formed their own countries. These countries included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Children could visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/europe/2001/collapse_of_ussr/maps/default.stm. There they could view the USSR map and today’s Russia and other countries map. They could also click on a country to learn more information.
SpaceX Corporation successfully launched Falcon 9 and its Dragon Capsule in 2010. The Dragon Capsule parachuted back to earth about three hours after liftoff. SpaceX became the first privately held company to venture into the space program.