National Pretzel Day is today! In 2003 then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell proclaimed March 26 to be National Pretzel Day because the snack is an important source of revenue to the state. According to one source, Philadelphians eat twelve times the national average for pretzels!
Tanzania celebrates Union Day, a national holiday. In 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar united into one country, Tanzania. According to the CIA World Factbook, Tanzania is about twice the size of California. Bordering the Indian Ocean, the country experiences a tropical climate. Mount Kilimanjaro brings tourists and mountain climbers to the country. It counts on mining gold, diamonds, and iron ore. About 48 million people live in the country, and Dar Es Salaam is the capital.
Richter Scale Day honors the birth of Charles Francis Richter. Born in 1900 near Hamilton, Ohio, Richter developed the scale named after him that measures earthquake magnitude. He died in Pasadena, California, on September 30, 1985. Idea: The Richter Scale registers from one to nine, with nine being the highest. However, each number is ten times stronger than the one before it. For example, an earthquake measuring five is ten times stronger than one measuring four. Students could calculate how much stronger an earthquake of nine is compared to an earthquake of one. They could also make a chart of famous earthquakes and their number on the Richter Scale. Children could learn more at: Earthquakes.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened in 1993. Older children can learn more at: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/exhibit/.
John James Audubon (born Haiti, 1785; died New York, New York, January 27, 1851) was an ornithologist and artist. One of his most famous works is The Birds of America, sketches of 1065 birds. The National Audubon Society, a conservation group, was named in honor of him. Children can learn more at: Audubon.
Patricia Reilly Giff (born Brooklyn, New York, 1935) is a children’s author. She is known for her Polk Street School series. She has received two Newbery Honor Awards: Lily’s Crossing in 1998 and Pictures of Hollis Woods in 2003.
Marilyn Nelson (born Cleveland, Ohio, 1946) writes books for children and poetry. She also translates the works of others. Her books include Carver, a Life of Poems and Beautiful Ballerina. Children can learn more at: http://marilyn-nelson.com/.
Frederick Law Olmsted (born Hartford, Connecticut, 1822; died Waverly, Massachusetts, August 28, 1903) designed Central Park and other parks. He was also commissioner of Yosemite National Park.
I(eoh) M(ing) Pei (born Guangzhou, China, 1917) is a prominent architect. He came to the United States in 1935 and studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. After becoming an American citizen in 1954, he started his own firm. Some of his designs include the John Hancock Tower, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, and the famous pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Paris.
Netherlands celebrate King’s Day, a national holiday. King Willem-Alexander became the country’s monarch on April 30, 2013. The country celebrates his birthday on April 27. This European country bordering the North Sea is, according to the CIA World Factbook, about the size of New Jersey. The Dutch experience cool summers and mild winters. Almost 17 million people live there, and farmers grow grains, sugar beets, and potatoes. Amsterdam is the capital.
Togo celebrates Independence Day. It became free from France in 1960. This long, thin country (slightly smaller than West Virginia) is located on the southern coast of West Africa. The climate is tropical in the south and semiarid in the north. Togo exports cotton, cocoa, and coffee. About 7.1 million people reside in Togo. Lome, located on the coast, is the capital.
Sierra Leone celebrates Independence Day. In 1961 it broke away from the British government. Located on the western coast of Africa, this small country (about the size of South Carolina) has many diamond deposits. Its climate has a tropical, rainy season from May to December and a dry season from December to April. About 5.6 million people live there. Freetown is the capital.
South Africa celebrates Freedom Day when in 1994 general elections were held for the first time. Apartheid began to be a thing of the past. According to the CIA World Factbook, South Africa is about twice the size of Texas. The country has a mostly semiarid climate except along the tropical coast. About 48.6 million people live in the country. Agricultural products include corn, wheat, and sugarcane. The country exports diamonds, gold, and platinum. Pretoria is the capital.
Thor Heyerdahl set sail on the Kon-Tiki in 1947. He left Peru on a hand-made raft and arrived in Polynesia over one hundred days later. He proved that ancient mariners could have made long sea voyages to establish new colonies.
Ludwig Bemelmans (born Meran, Austria, 1898; died New York, New York, October 1, 1962) was an author and illustrator. He came to the United States in 1914 and found work as a busboy. Later he wrote books for an adult audience. However, he is most known for his children’s books, including the six Madeline books and all the further adventures of the little girl. In total he published about 46 books. His grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano, has written five more Madeline books. Children could learn more at: Bemelmans.
John Burningham (born Farnham, United Kingdom, 1936; died London, United Kingdom, January 4 , 2019) wrote and illustrated books for children. Two of his books received the Kate Greenaway Medal. Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers earned the 1963 medal, and Mr. Grumpy’s Outing received the 1970 medal. He wrote There’s Going to Be a New Baby in 2011, and his wife Helen Oxenbury illustrated the book.
Ulysses Simpson Grant (born Point Pleasant, Ohio, 1822; died Mt. McGregor, New York, July 23, 1885) was the eighteenth president (1869-1877) of the United States. Children could visit a website at: Grant. Idea: Grant was a famous Civil War general. Lee surrendered to him at Appomattox, Virginia, to end the war. Children could find out which other presidents were also military leaders. They could then decide whether a military leader made a good president.
Coretta Scott King (born Marion, Alabama, 1927; died Rosarito Beach, Mexico, January 30, 2006) was a speaker and writer. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., she continued the work of the civil rights movement. Children could read Coretta Scott King by Stephanie Sammertino McPherson. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor the finest African American children’s book writers and illustrators. Children could learn more at: http://www.ala.org/emiert/cskbookawards. They could also read the chapter devoted to Coretta Scott King and the Coretta Scott King Awards in Children’s Book Award Handbook by Diana F. Marks.
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (born Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1791; died New York, New York, April 2, 1872) was an inventor and an artist. He invented Morse code, and his first transmission, made on May 24, 1844, was, “What hath God wrought?” Idea: Children could learn about Morse code and send messages to each other. Children can learn more about Morse Code at: https://www.nsa.gov/kids/games/gameMorse.swf.
Nancy Shaw (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1946) writes books for children. Her works include the Sheep series and Elena’s Story. Children can visit her site at: Nancy Shaw.
Maryland became the seventh state in the United States by ratifying the Constitution in 1788. Maryland ranks 42nd in size and 19th in population. Annapolis is the state capital, and the state’s nicknames include Old Line State and Free State. It is famous for crab cakes and its Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Children could visit a website at: Maryland. They could find out how Maryland, Baltimore, and Annapolis got their names.