Robinson Crusoe Day is the anniversary of Alexander Selkirk’s rescue from the island Juan Fernandez in 1709. He landed on the island off the coast of Chile in 1704 after disagreeing with the captain. His exploits may have inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Children can read Robinson Crusoe at: Project Gutenberg.
Supreme Court opened its first session in 1790. In that year the capital was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Supreme Court met in what is now Independence Hall. When the capital moved to Washington, DC, no Supreme Court building existed. The Court met in various parts of the Capitol Building and even met in a private home during the War of 1812. Until 1935 the Supreme Court continued to meet in various places. The Supreme Court Building opened in 1935. Children can learn more about the Supreme Court at: Supreme Court.
Julia Ward Howe published “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a poem in The Atlantic Monthly in 1862. The poem was a result of a visit she made to a Union army camp during the Civil War. Soldiers had asked her to create the lyrics of a “fighting song” to match a melody that already existed. She awoke one dawn and the words began to form the verses. She got up and wrote down the poem immediately. Children can read the lyrics and view a photograph of Julia Ward Howe at: Lyrics. Children can listen to the song at: Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar began operations in 1949. Named after George Ellery Hale, the 200-inch reflecting telescope was the largest of its kind. Located near San Diego, California, the telescope is still in use. Children can view a webcam at the telescope’s site at: Hale Telescope.
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 visit the Punxsutawney Phil website for some great games, activities, and even a cookie recipe 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.
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.
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 Eileen Collins at: Eileen Collins.
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 on 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.