Common Sense was published by Thomas Paine in 1776. He first published the 48-page pamphlet anonymously because what he was propounding was treason against England. Some experts believe this small pamphlet was one of the major influences regarding America’s Revolutionary War. At least a half million copies were sold, and the proceeds were donated to George Washington and the Continental Army. Idea: Paine’s words are very stirring. Older children would enjoy reading and discussing some of the passages. The pamphlet can be found at: Project Gutenberg.
League of Nations was formed in 1920. Over 50 countries worked together to try to end war. Permanent nations included France, Italy, Japan, and Great Britain. Later Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics became permanent members. However, the United States was not a member. The League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946, but it became the basis for the United Nations.
United Nations General Assembly held its first meeting in 1946 in London, England. Founded by 51 countries, the United Nations today is comprised of 193 countries. The four goals are:
• To keep peace between countries
• To develop friendly relationships between countries
• To help the world’s poor through medical and educational programs
• To be a catalyst so that progress can be made
Today the General Assembly meets in New York City. Other branches of the United Nations are located in Geneva, Switzerland, and Vienna, Austria. Children could learn more at: United Nations.
Project Diana was conducted in 1946 by the Army Signal Corps. The group sent radio signals to the moon and recorded the reflected signals (about 468,000 miles to the moon and back). The signals took 2.5 seconds to return to earth. Today called EME (Earth – Moon – Earth), the program started the space program because it was the first time humans sent something beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Project Diana was named after the Roman goddess Diana, the goddess of the hunt and of the moon. Children can watch a short video of the process at: Project Diana.
Ethan Allen (born Litchfield, Connecticut, 1738; died Burlington, Vermont, February 12, 1789) was a hero of the American Revolution and the leader of the “Green Mountain Boys.” Children can visit: Ethan Allen. Children could also read Ethan Allen: Green Mountain Rebel by Brenda Haugen and Andrew Santella.
Remy Charlip (born Brooklyn, New York, 1929; died San Francisco, California, August 14, 2012) was an artist, choreographer, and writer and illustrator of children’s books. One of his books is Fortunately. He illustrated books by other writers, including Margaret Wise Brown and Jane Yolen.
Thomas Mifflin (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1744; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 20, 1800) represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention. During the Revolutionary War, Mifflin served as George Washington’s aide-de-camp and then the army’s quartermaster. After the war, he served as Pennsylvania’s governor and then he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Robinson Jeffers (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1887; died Carmel, California, January 20, 1962) was a poet and a playwright. Many of his works concern the environment. Children can read some of his work at: Robinson Jeffers.
Bill Toomey (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1939) is a decathlon champion. He won the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics. Idea: Children could create their own class decathlon, possibly a combination of mental and athletic events.