Martin Luther King Day is a national holiday. The holiday is the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King, Junior’s birthday is January 15, 1929. He was assassinated in 1968. A holiday in his honor was first proposed in 1968. It became law in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the document. It was first observed January 20, 1986. Some states fought the idea, and it was first observed in all 50 states in 2000. Lately people have proposed that the day become a day of service and not just a holiday. Some organizations paint/repair community buildings. Others improve parks and highways. Others work with charity groups. Children could learn more about the Martin Luther King Day of Service at: http://mlkday.gov/.
James Cook discovered Hawaiian Islands in 1778. He called the islands the Sandwich Islands to honor John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich and one of Cook’s sponsors. Remember that on January 17, 1773, James Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle – Busy man!
An airplane landed for the first time on a ship, the USS Pennsylvania, in 1911. Eugene B. Ely, the pilot, landed his Curtiss pusher on a platform built on the ship, located in San Francisco Bay. A tailhook system, designed by Hugh Robinson, successfully slowed and stopped the plane.
Polar bear was put on display in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1733. Idea: Children could discuss why this would be a very big event for that time period. Carnivores, polar bears are becoming rare. Today scientists estimate 20,000 to 25,000 polar bear exist. Experts believe that by 2050 that number will be cut in half. Children can learn more about polar bears and see some great photos at: Polar Bear. Interesting coincidence – Raymond Briggs, born on January 18th, wrote a book in 1994 about a polar bear called The Bear. It was made into a short animated video.
Raymond Briggs (born Wimbledon, England, 1934) writes and illustrates books for children. He has twice received the Kate Greenaway Medal, once in 1966 for The Mother Goose Treasury and once in 1973 for Father Christmas. One of his most famous works is the wordless book The Snowman.
A(lan) A(lexander) Milne (born London, England, 1882; died Hartfield, England, January 31, 1956) was an author. He is best remembered for his Winnie the Pooh stories. Idea: Have a Winnie the Pooh day. Children could bring in their stuffed creatures, and they could share some of his writing. Children can read some of his works at: Project Gutenberg. However, the Winnie the Pooh books are not there. Children could learn more at: Milne.
Peter Roget (born London, England, 1779; died West Malvern, England, September 12, 1869) composed Roget’s Thesaurus. His book premiered in 1852. The word thesaurus comes from Latin and Greek roots meaning treasury. Children could view an online thesaurus at: http://thesaurus.com/. Idea: Children could learn how to use a thesaurus. Each could create a page of a thesaurus regarding a certain word. Consider using colors and action verbs.
Alan Schroeder (born Alameda, California, 1961) writes books for children. His books include Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman and Satchmo’s Blues.
Daniel Webster (born Salisbury, New Hampshire, 1782; died Marshfield, Massachusetts, October 24, 1852) was a politician and a speaker. Younger children might want to read Daniel Webster: Liberty and Union, Now and Forever by Bonnie Carmen Harvey. Older children might want to read The Devil and Daniel Webster, by Stephen Vincent Benet. Webster was a United States senator, member of the House of Representatives (representing two states at different times), and secretary of state (under Millard Fillmore, William Henry Harrison, and John Tyler). He ran for president, and he argued cases before the Supreme Court – busy man!