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. Children can learn more at: Marshall Islands.
Save the Rhino Day is today. 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 smell 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. Children can learn more about supernovas in general at: Supernovas.
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 learn more at: Wagon Trains. They could also read 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.
Calamity Jane (born Martha Jane Canary in Princeton, Missouri, 1852; died Terry, South Dakota, August 1, 1903) was a well-known frontier woman, scout, and story teller. Children can read her autobiography, Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane, at Calamity Jane.
Scott Carpenter (born Boulder, Colorado, 1925; died Denver, Colorado, October 10, 2013) was one of the seven original US astronauts. He was launched into space on May 24, 1962. The fourth American to travel in space, he circled the earth three times. Aboard Aurora 7, he conducted five experiments in the five-hour voyage. He was the first astronaut to eat solid food in space. Children could learn more at: Scott Carpenter.
Ingrid Law (born New York State, 1970) writes books for children. Savvy received a 2009 Newbery Honor Award, and many children like Scumble as well. Children can learn more at: Ingrid Law.
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. Children can learn about binary stars at: Binary Stars.
Diane Crump in 1970 became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Her horse did not win the race, but she is credited with winning at least 228 races. Five other women (Patti Cooksey, Andrea Seefeldt, Julie Krone, Rosemary Homeister, and Rosie Napravnik) have been jockeys in the Kentucky Derby. Children can read a short biography of Crump at: Diane Crump.