Johannes Gutenberg used movable type for the first time in 1451. Prior to his invention, monks and copyists copied books by hand. Therefore, books were rare and expensive. He cast his type from sand molds and adapted woodcut presses to hold his type. Gutenberg is most remembered for his 42-line Bibles, called such because each page was 42 lines long. About 40 such Bibles remain and are extremely valuable. Children could learn more at: Gutenberg.
Pony Express had its first run in 1860. Prior to the Pony Express, a letter took three weeks to make its way across country. William Guin and William Russell started the Pony Express to speed up the delivery of mail. They hired 80 riders, bought 400 horses, and established 190 stations. The riders, mostly teenagers, had to be light weight and in excellent shape. They rode day and night and in all kinds of weather. They also faced hostile Indians at times. A letter carried via the Pony Express left St. Joseph, Missouri and arrived in Sacramento, California (1,966 miles) in ten days. The Pony Express ended in October 26, 1861, two days after the telegraph started. Children could write “journals” as if they were the actual riders. They could describe their “adventures.” Children could also learn more at: Pony Express.
First cell phone call was made in 1973. Martin Cooper, a Motorola executive, used the DynaTAC, which was called the “Brick.” The phone was 8 inches by 1.5 inches by 4 inches. It weighed 2.5 pounds. Children can listen to Martin Cooper explain the event at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMbGrakUHc4
Sandra Boynton (born Orange, New Jersey, 1953) has written and illustrated at least 50 books, most of them for young children. Her books include Amazing Cows and Happy Birthday, Little Pookie. Children can visit her very clever website at: Sandra Boynton.
John Burroughs (born Roxbury, New York, 1837; died Kingsville, Ohio, March 29, 1921) was a writer and naturalist. He wrote at least 32 books over 50 years on such topics as Ways of Nature and The Breath of Life. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Jane Goodall (born London, England, 1934) is an anthropologist. She studied the behavior of wild chimpanzees for a number of years. Idea: Have students read about her observation techniques, choose a pet or a wild animal, and make observations similar to Goodall’s technique. Children could also read Me…Jane, a biography written by Patrick McDonnell.
Edward Everett Hale (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1822; died Boston, Massachusetts, June 10, 1909) was a clergyman and a writer. He is most famous for his story, “The Man Without a Country.” He also served as chaplain of the United States Senate from 1903 until he died. Children can read some of his work, including “The Man Without a Country,” at: Project Gutenberg.
Washington Irving (born New York, New York, 1783; died Tarrytown, New York, November 28, 1859) may have been one of the first great American writers and historians. His writings include The Sketch Book (containing “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Tales of a Traveller, The Life of Washington, and The Alhambra. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg. They can also learn more at: Washington Irving.