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).
Dave Brubeck (born Concord, California, 1920; died Norwalk, Connecticut, December 5, 2012) was a jazz musician. Children can view a great website devoted to him and listen to his music at: http://www.davebrubeck.com/live/
Ira Gershwin (born New York, New York, 1896; died Beverly Hills, California, August 17, 1983) was a lyricist. He often worked with his brother, George. His Broadway hits include Funny Face. Children can visit a wonderful website and listen to his lyrics at: http://www.gershwin.com/
Alfred Eisenstaedt (born Dirschau, Prussia, 1898; died Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, August 23, 1955) was a famous photojournalist. He was known for his photographs published by Life magazine. One of his most popular photographs was of a soldier kissing a nurse to celebrate the end of World War II. Children can view that photograph and many others at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjq1iKVr2Es
John Reynolds Gardiner (born Los Angeles, California, 1944; died Anaheim, California, March 4, 2006) was a children’s author. One of his most famous books is Stone Fox. Over four million copies of the book have been sold. Children can learn more about Gardiner at: http://www.johnreynoldsgardiner.com/
Alfred Joyce Kilmer (born New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1886; died in battle near Ourcy, France, July 30, 1918) was a poet. One of his most famous poems is “Trees,” published in 1913. Idea: The children could read “Trees” at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/12744. Children can read his works at: http://www.gutenberg.org/
Cornelia Meigs (born Rock Island, Illinois, 1884; died Havre de Grace, Maryland, September 10, 1973) wrote over 30 books for children as well as screenplays and books for adults. The Windy Hill received a 1922 Newbery Honor Award. Clearing Weather won a 1929 Newbery Honor Award. Swift Rivers obtained a 1933 Newbery Honor Award. Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of “Little Women” received the Newbery Medal in 1934. Children can read The Windy Hill at: http://www.gutenberg.org/. Children can learn more at: http://www.bookologymagazine.com/resources/authors-emeritus/meigs-cornelia/.
Elizabeth Yates (born Buffalo, New York, 1905; died Concord, New Hampshire, July 29, 2001) was a children’s author, publishing at least 25 books. In 1944 she received a Newbery Honor Award for Mountain Born, and in 1951 her Amos Fortune, Free Man was awarded the Newbery Medal. In 1955 Rainbow Round the World received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Children can learn more at: http://www.bookologymagazine.com/resources/authors-emeritus/yates-elizabeth/
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/
Willa Cather (born Winchester, Virginia, 1873; died New York, New York, April 24, 1947) is an author. One of her most famous works, published in 1913, is O Pioneers! She won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. You can read many of her works at: http://www.gutenberg.org/
Harry Chapin (born Greenwich Village, New York, 1942; died in an automobile crash, Long Island, New York, July 1981) was a folk singer and composer. Idea: Harry Chapin received the Special Congressional Medal of Honor for his concerns about world hunger. See if you can find recordings of his work. Play them. See if students would like to collect canned food for one of the nearby food banks.
Richard Warren Sears (born Stewartville, Minnesota, 1863; died Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 28, 1914) was working as a railroad station agent. He then began to sell watches via the mail. He formed a partnership with Alvah C. Roebuck, who repaired the watches. They created Sears, Roebuck and Company. At first it was strictly a mail order company. However, later they opened their first retail store. Sears and Roebuck formed a team. Children could list other famous teams (for example, Laurel and Hardy, or peanut butter and jelly).
John Tunis (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1889; died Essex, Connecticut, February 4, 1975) was a writer and sportscaster. He was also the author of at least 24 sports books, including The Kid from Tomkinville. Children can learn more at: http://www.bookologymagazine.com/resources/authors-emeritus/tunis-john-roberts/
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.