May Day is celebrated throughout the world. Spring festivities occur in many parts of America. Maypole dancing is somewhat popular in Europe, especially in England. However, the Puritans felt the celebration was pagan, and they refused to allow the custom to grow in the United States.
Marshall Islands celebrate Constitution Day. Composed of 1,156 islands, the country is about the size of Washington, DC. Located half-way between Hawaii and Australia, the Marshall Islands depend on coconut products and deep-sea mining to support the economy. About 70,000 people live on the islands, and 31,000 people live in the capital, Majuro.
Save the Rhino Day: At least five species of rhinoceros exist; all are endangered. People kill them for their horns. However, the horns are nothing but chunks of keratin, the material found in hair and nails. A rhino can grow to a length of fourteen feet and weigh as much as four tons. These animals are shortsighted but have keen senses of smelling and hearing. All rhinos are herbivores but will attack people if they feel especially threatened. Ancestors of present-day rhinos date back to the prehistoric times. Their thick skins act as armor to protect them from enemies. Idea: Cut lengths of paper 14 feet long, the length of a rhino. Have children draw rhinos on the paper. Fill the paper with rhino facts students have gleaned from research.
Supernova was observed in 1006 by Chinese and Egyptian astronomers. Called today SN1006, the supernova was very bright for about three months, then dimmer, and then brighter again.
First wagon train left Independence, Missouri, for California in 1841. The wagon train reached its destination November 4, 1841. Most wagon trains left in the spring, because it took four or five months to reach their destination. The trains did not want to be isolated in the mountains during winter. The trains, perhaps as much as one hundred wagons long, traveled about fifteen to twenty miles a day. The wagons were called prairie schooners because their white tops looked like billowing sails. Idea: Children could view copies of Russell Freedman’s Children of the Wild West.
Chicago began constructing the first skyscraper in 1884. It rose to a height of ten stories! The Home Insurance Company of New York owned the steel-framed building. It was finished by the fall of 1885, but two more floors were added at a later date. It was razed in 1931 so that another building could be built.
Empire State Building was dedicated in 1931. For quite a long time it was the tallest building in the world. However, other buildings are now taller than it. Children can learn more at: Empire State Building.
Hudson’s Bay Company was organized in 1670. Originally a fur trading business, at one point it owned 15% of all North American land. The company still exists, but it sells clothing instead of furs.
William Herschel located the first binary star, Xi Ursae Majoris, in 1780. Later astronomers found that each of the two stars has another star orbiting around it! Researchers today believe that about a third of the stars in the Milky Way are binary.
Diane Crump in 1970 became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Since 1970 four other women have been jockeys in the Kentucky Derby. Children can read a short biography of Crump at: Diane Crump.
Poland celebrates Swieto Trzeciego Majo (Constitution Day). Its first constitution was ratified in 1794. This European country, according to the CIA World Factbook, is slightly smaller than New Mexico. The climate ranges from cold and snowy in winter to cool and rainy in the summer. About 38 million people live in Poland, and the country exports machinery and manufactured goods. Wycinanki, paper cutting, is a Polish folk art. Children could learn how to produce the folk art at: http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/mwycinanki.html.