Groundhog Day delights children. If a groundhog pops out of his burrow and sees his shadow, then winter will last another six weeks. Idea: Gather statistics as to whether or not the event really predicts the arrival of spring. Children can try some great Groundhog Day activities at: Groundhog Day.. Children could also read Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons.
George Walton died in Augusta, Georgia, on February 2, 1804. He was born near Farmville, Virginia, 1741, but his exact birth date is unknown. Representing Georgia, he signed the Declaration of Independence. He fought for his state militia during the Revolutionary War and was caught by the British in late 1778. He was imprisoned until September 1779, when he was exchanged for a British officer. After the war, he served as Georgia’s governor, a United States senator, and the chief justice of Georgia’s highest court. Children could learn more at: George Walton.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, ending the war between Mexico and the United States. In return for fifteen million dollars from the United States, Mexico gave up the land that became California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Texas also became part of the United States. Children can learn more at: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Pura Belpré (born Cidra, Puerto Rico, 1899; died New York, New York, July 1, 1982) was a librarian and writer. She preserved and shared works by Latino writers. One of her most famous works was Juan Bobo and the Queen’s Necklace: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale. The American Library Association and REFORMA established the Pura Belpré Award in her honor. The award recognizes Latino writers and illustrations. Children can learn more by reading the Children’s Book Award Handbook by Diana F. Marks. Children could also read Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar. The book received the 2020 Pura Belpré Author Honor Award.
Rebecca Caudill (born Cumberland, Kentucky, 1899; died Urbana, Illinois, October 2, 1985) wrote more than 20 books for children. Her book Tree of Freedom was a 1950 Newbery Honor Book. She also wrote A Pocketful of Cricket. The illustrator, Evaline Ness, received a 1965 Caldecott Honor Award for her illustrations. The state of Illinois, where she lived for many years, created the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award in her honor. Every year the school children of Illinois vote for their favorite new book. Children could learn more about her at: Rebecca Caudill.
Jascha Heifitz (born Vilna, Lithuania, 1901; died Los Angeles, California, December 10, 1987) was a violin virtuoso. He started to play at age three and was performing at age six. At age thirteen he played in Berlin and found international fame. During the Russian Revolution he escaped to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1925. He recorded many great pieces and arrangements. Because of his technical skills, he was often the first person to play new pieces by present-day composers.
James Joyce (born Dublin, Ireland, 1882; died Zurich, Switzerland, January 13, 1941) was a writer. One of his most famous works is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Older children can read some of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Lin Oliver (born Los Angeles, California, 1947) is a television producer and author of at least 50 children’s books. She co-writes the Hank Zipzer books with Henry Winkler. Children can learn more at: Lin Oliver.
Judith Viorst (born Newark, New Jersey, 1931) writes for both children and adults. She is also known for her poetry. One of her books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Another of her books is The Tenth Good Thing about Barney.
Paper money was used for the first time in 1690 in the colony of Massachusetts. Idea: Children could debate the pros and cons of using paper money as opposed to coins. They can visit the Bureau of Printing and Engraving site: Paper Money.
Challenger STS-41-B lifted off into space in 1984. The crew included Robert Gibson, Vance Brand, Ronald McNair, Robert Stewart, and Bruce McCandless. Stewart and McCandless became the first people to move freely in space without tethers. They were able to move about by using backpack jets.
Discovery STS-63 lifted off into space in 1995. On this mission Eileen Collins was the first woman pilot of a space shuttle. Discovery docked with the Russian space station Mir. Children can learn more about her at: Eileen Collins.
Children can examine all the missions at: STS Missions.
Horace Greeley (born Amherst, New Hampshire, 1811; died New York, New York, November 29, 1872) was a journalist and an anti-slavery advocate prior to the Civil War. He started the New York Herald, and he encouraged settlement of the west. He is known for his statement, “Go west, young man.” Older children can read some of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Walt Morey (born Hoquiam, Washington, 1907; died Wilsonville, Oregon, January 12, 1992) wrote fourteen books for children. Many of his books centered around conflicts/relationships between people and animals. He also wrote survival stories. Two of his most famous works are Gentle Ben and Kavik the Wolf Dog.
Felix Mendelssohn (born Hamburg, Germany, 1809; died Leipzig, Germany, November 4, 1847) was a pianist and a classical composer. He was playing in concerts by age nine and was performing his own compositions by age eleven. One of his most famous pieces of music is the Wedding March.
James Michener (born New York, New York, 1907; died Austin, Texas, October 16, 1997) was a novelist. His book of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific, published in 1947, was the basis for the musical, South Pacific. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948. Other works are Hawaii and Texas. Children could visit the Michener Museum website that provides a virtual field trip regarding his life at: James Michener.
Joan Lowery Nixon (born Los Angeles, California, 1927; died Houston, Texas, June 28, 2003) wrote 102 books for children. One of her most well known works is the series A Family Apart, published in 1987. Children can learn more at: Joan Lowery Nixon.
Norman Rockwell (born New York, New York, 1894; died Stockbridge, Massachusetts, November 8, 1978) was an artist. He is probably most famous for his illustrations for the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Idea: Students could view some of his works. They could list the works’ qualities that endeared him to so many other people. Children can view some of his works and enjoy a timeline of Rockwell’s life at: http://www.nrm.org/.
Gertrude Stein (born Allegheny, Pennsylvania, 1874; died Paris, France, July 29, 1946) was a writer and a friend to many avant-garde artists, including Pablo Picasso. She is famous for her saying, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Older children can read some of her work at: Project Gutenberg.
Sri Lanka celebrates Independence Day. The United Kingdom relinquished control of the island in 1948. The country, located southeast of India, exports tea, coconuts, and rubber. According to The CIA World Factbook, Sri Lanka is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia. Colombo is the capital. Over 21 million people live in this country that has a tropical monsoon climate. Idea: Children could open up coconuts and enjoy the milk. They could toast the coconut flesh and enjoy it. Older children could learn more at: Sri Lanka.
Confederate States of America came into being in 1861. Representatives from seven states (Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia) met in Montgomery, Alabama, to start the formation of the Confederacy.
Barbara Shook Hazen (born Dayton, Ohio, 1930) has written about 80 books for children. Her books include Katie’s Wish and The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark. Children can visit her website at: Barbara Shook Hazen.
Russell Hoban (born Lansdale, Pennsylvania, 1925; died London, England, December 13, 2011) was an author and an artist. He wrote over 60 books for children and over 15 books for adults. He also wrote poetry and plays. One of his books is Bedtime for Frances. Children could learn more at: Russell Hoban.
Charles A. Lindbergh (born Detroit, Michigan, 1902; died Kipahula, Maui, Hawaii, August 27, 1974) was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He made the trip May 20-21, 1927. Called “Lucky Lindy,” he immediately became a hero. Children can read more about him at: Charles Lindbergh.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko (born Lithuania, 1746; died Solothurn, Switzerland, October 15, 1817) is often called the “Hero of Two Wars” because he fought for freedom in both America and Poland. He came to America in 1776 and presented himself to the Continental Congress. He had excellent engineering skills and built fortifications near Saratoga, West Point, and other locations. After the war, he received the rank of brigadier general. In 1784 he returned to Poland and became embroiled in a fight for freedom there. While his side won for a time, ultimately he was imprisoned. Children can visit a website at: Kosciuszko.
Rosa Louise Parks (born Tuskegee, Alabama, 1913; died Detroit, Michigan, October 24, 2005) was a civil rights leader. She refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested on December 1, 1955. Children can learn more at: Rosa Parks.