Thanksgiving Day was celebrated nationally for the first time in 1789. President Washington issued a proclamation declaring that the day should be one of prayer and thanksgiving. Children could research what the first Thanksgiving meal was. How does it compare to what they eat on the holiday today? In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. In 1941 Congress passed a resolution changing Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November. Children can read about “The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings” at: Two Thanksgivings.
Alice in Wonderland was published in 1865. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote the book under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The book spawned plays, ballets, movies, cartoons, and comic books. Children can read various versions of the book at: Project Gutenberg.
Sojourner Truth died in 1883 in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was born a slave in Alster County, New York, possibly in the year 1797. She became a free woman after the New York Emancipation Act of 1827. She became an itinerant preacher, speaking for the cause of abolition. She became famous for her speaking, and she met Abraham Lincoln in the White House in 1864. After the Civil War, she campaigned for women’s rights. Idea: Children could read portions of the book Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman? by Patricia McKissack. They could read a transcript of her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at: Sojourner Truth.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was created from Custer Battlefield National Monument in 1991. A monument to the Native Americans who fought at Custer’s Last Stand was also approved. Children can visit the National Park Service website, which provides some great photos, at: http://www.nps.gov/libi.
NASA’s DART was launched in 2021. It intentionally smashed into Dimorphos on September 26, 2022. DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) was developed to test whether a craft could deflect the path of near-Earth objects. Dimorphos, a minor planet moon of the asteroid Didymos, was seven million miles away from Earth, so it provided a scientific opportunity to judge the effectiveness of DART. Astronomers, training multiple telescopes on the impact, are trying to judge the impact on the orbit of Dimorphos. Children can learn more at: DART.
Doris Gates (born Mountain View, California, 1901; died Carmel, California, September 3, 1987) wrote books for children. She received a Newbery Honor Award for Blue Willow in 1941. Her works also include The Cat and Mrs. Cary and The Elderberry Bush. Children can learn more at: Doris Gates.
Bat Masterson (born Henryville, Quebec, Canada, 1853; died New York, New York, October 25, 1921) was a gambler and a lawman of the Old West.
Laurence Pringle (born Rochester, New York, 1935) has written at least 100 books, mostly about nature, for children. His works include Owls! Strange and Wonderful and Scorpions! Children can visit his website at: Laurence Pringle.
Charles Schulz (born Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1922; died Santa Rosa, California, February 12, 2000) was a cartoonist and the creator of Peanuts. Students could read and discuss some of the Peanuts cartoons. They could try to draw their own cartoons. Children can learn more at: http://schulzmuseum.org/.
Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day parade in 1924 in Manhattan. Store employees wore costumes, and live zoo animals from the Central Park Zoo were part of the festivities. Floats and professional bands were also in the parade. Balloons were introduced in 1928, and zoo animals no longer took part. The parade gained in popularity, but it was suspended from 1941 to 1944 because the World War II effort required the rubber and helium from the balloons. Television coverage began in 1948. Today high school and college marching bands, along with excerpts of Broadway shows and movies, accompany the floats and balloons.
Williamsburg, Virginia, began restoration processes in 1926. Colonial Williamsburg, along with Jamestown and Yorktown, form the Historic Triangle. About four million people visit the region each year. Colonial Williamsburg has a great website for children at: Williamsburg.
Hubble Space Telescope discovered first example of atmosphere around an exoplanet in 2001. Hubble spotted a hydrogen atmosphere around the exoplanet with the unofficial name of Osiris. The exoplanet’s official name is HD 209458b, and it is a “hot Jupiter” body, because its atmosphere temperature is 2150 degrees Fahrenheit. Located in the constellation Pegasus, it is 150 light years away from us. It is 220 times the mass of the earth. Children could learn more at: Osiris.
Anders Celsius (born Uppsala, Sweden, 1701; died Uppsala, Sweden, April 25, 1744) was an astronomer. However, he is most famous for his Celsius temperature scale. In the Celsius (centigrade) Scale, water freezes at zero degres, and water boils at one hundred degrees. Children could compare and contrast the Fahrenheit Scale with the Celsius Scale. They could also research where these scales are used.
Kevin Henkes (born Racine, Wisconsin, 1960) is a children’s author and illustrator. One of his books is Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. His Circle Dogs received the 1999 Charlotte Zolotow Award: Highly Commended. Henkes received a 2004 Caldecott Honor Award for Owen. Kitten’s First Full Moon was awarded the 2005 Caldecott Medal, and Olive’s Ocean received a 2004 Newbery Honor Award. He earned a 2014 Newbery Honor Award for The Year of Billy Miller. He received a 2016 Caldecott Honor Award for Waiting. Notice that Henkes has received both Caldecott and Newbery Awards – what an accomplishment! His amazing website is absolutely loaded with activities: Kevin Henkes.
Robert R. Livingston (born New York, New York, 1746; died Clermont, New York, February 26, 1813) was a patriot, a member of the Continental Congress, and a diplomat. Representing New York, he was one of the Committee of Five, the representatives who drafted the Declaration of Independence. A fervent believer in independence, he was recalled to New York and did not sign the Declaration. He delivered the presidential oath to George Washington at the inauguration in 1789. He was Minister to France from 1801 to 1804 and therefore he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. Children could learn more at: Robert R. Livingston.
Katherine Milhous (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1894; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 5, 1977) was a writer and an illustrator. She wrote and/or illustrated over fifteen books. One of her books, The Egg Tree, received the 1951 Caldecott Medal.
Bill Nye (born Washington, DC, 1955) is an educator, writer, scientist, and TV personality. He hosted “Bill Nye the Science Guy” on television from 1993 to 1998. He continues to be active in the combined fields of science and education. Children could spend days at his amazing website: Bill Nye.