Latvia celebrates Independence Day, the day in 1918 when the country declared its freedom from Soviet Russia. Slightly larger than the state of West Virginia, Latvia borders the Baltic Sea. Its neighbors include Lithuania and Estonia. Over two million people live in Latvia, and Riga is the capital. Older children could learn more about Latvia at: Latvia.
Oman celebrates a national holiday, honoring the birthday of Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Sultan of Oman. Located on the southeastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman exports a great deal of petroleum. Other natural resources are copper, limestone, and marble. According to the CIA World Factbook, Oman is a bit smaller than Kansas. Muscat is the capital. Older children could learn more at: Oman.
William Tell shot the famous apple from his son’s head in 1307. According to legend, Tell, an excellent Swiss marksman, had angered the local leader. The leader arrested Tell but said that if the latter could shoot an apple off the top of his son’s head, he could go free. Tell was successful, but a series of further adventures occurred before he and his son were really free. Children could read several versions of this story at: Project Gutenberg. Children could also have an accuracy contest, but not with arrows and apples and heads. They could aim paper airplanes at a target.
Antarctica was discovered by Captain Nathaniel Palmer and his crew in 1820. Only 22 years old at the time, the American was sailing on his sloop Hero and looking for seal rookeries. Antarctica is about the size of the United States and Mexico combined, and no countries can lay claim to the continent. Children can visit a great website at: Antarctica.
United States and Canada established uniform time zones in 1883. Prior to 1883 towns and particularly railroads established their own time standards. Therefore, travel between communities could be very confusing. Today the continental United States has four time zones. Alaska and Hawaii each add another time zone. Children could check out: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ and create some good math problems with the data.
Teddy bear was created in 1902. The Washington Evening Post published cartoons of Teddy Roosevelt not shooting a bear cub. Morris Michton, a Bronx toy maker, seized the opportunity and developed the stuffed animal. Children can read the whole story at: Teddy Bear.
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (born Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France, 1787; died near Paris, France, July 10, 1851) invented the first useful method of photography, the daguerreotype.
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (born London, England, 1836; died May 29, 1911) was half of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan creative forces. Children could listen to some of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, possibly The Pirates of Penzance. They could read the operettas at: Project Gutenberg.
Alan Shepard (born East Derry, New Hampshire, 1923; died Monterey, California, July 21, 1998) was an astronaut and the first United States citizen to travel in space. In addition, he commanded Apollo 14 and spent 33 hours on the moon. Children could learn more at: Alan Shepard.