Jan 012024
Mummer's Day Parade courtesy of Carol Highsmith

Mummers Parade courtesy of Carol Highsmith

New Year’s Day is celebrated around the world.

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sponsors a Mummers Parade.
  • In Armenia mothers knead bread dough, adding good luck into the bread.
  • In the Bahamas they have Junkanoo parades.
  • In Denmark people throw old dishes at their friends’ doors.
  • Koreans wear new clothes.
  • In Spain and Mexico, people eat twelve grapes, one for each stroke of the midnight clock.
  • In Bulgaria children take decorated tree branches to other people’s homes. At each house the children bless the home and its occupants. The homeowners give the children sweets or money, and the children visit the next home.
Jan 012024
Immigrant Inspection at Ellis Island

Immigrant Inspection at Ellis Island

Ellis Island opened its doors in 1892. Over twenty million people entered the country through Ellis Island. It closed in 1954, becoming a national park in 1956. The island opened again as a museum in 1990. Idea: Children could find out if any of their relatives had ever come through Ellis Island. They could record interesting stories. Students would enjoy reading Letters from Rifka, by Karen Hesse. They could also visit the national park site to see some great photos and hear wonderful oral histories at: http://www.nps.gov/elis/index.htm.

Jan 012024

Czechoslovakia officially became two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in 1992.

Flag of Cuba

Flag of Cuba

Cuba celebrates Liberation Day. On January 1, 1899, Spain lost control of Cuba. For a time it was under United States rule. It became a country with a republican government until Fidel Castro overthrew the rulers on January 1, 1959. According to the CIA World Factbook, Cuba is slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. Located in the tropical Caribbean region, Cuba can experience both hurricanes and drought. About 11 million people live on the island, and the country exports sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, and coffee. Havana is the capital. Childre could learn more at: Cuba.

Flag of Haiti

Flag of Haiti

Haiti celebrates Independence Day. It was a Spanish colony from 1492 until 1697. Then it became a French colony until 1804 when it gained its freedom. According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. Like Cuba, Haiti is located in the Caribbean. It can experience hurricanes, earthquakes, and drought. Over 9 million people live in Haiti, and Port-au-Prince is the capital. The country, again according to the CIA World Factbook, is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Idea: Haiti is part of an island. Children could locate Haiti on a map and discuss its neighbor. Children could learn more at: Haiti.


Flag of Sudan

Sudan celebrates Independence Day. It has been a free nation since 1956 when Egypt and the United Kingdom gave up control. Sudan is about a fifth of the size of the United States. Located south of Egypt, the country lies in a desert region. Over 26 million people live in the country, and most of these people live along the Nile River. Khartoum is the capital. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan broke away and formed its country. Children could learn more at: Sudan.

Jan 012024

J. Edgar Hoover (born Washington, DC, 1895; died Washington, DC, May 2, 1972) was the director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972.

Thomas L. Jennings (born New York, New York, 1791; died New York, New York, February 13, 1856) was an inventor and businessman. He patented “dry scouring of clothes” in 1821. He became the first African American to receive a patent. He received Patent Number 3306X. Unfortunately his patent was lost in a fire, but experts believe the dry scouring was a form of dry cleaning. His process made him a successful businessman, and he spent much of his profits on the abolition movement.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1735; died Boston, Massachusetts, May 10, 1818) became famous for warning the people of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, that the British were arriving for military purposes. In addition to being a patriot, Revere was a distinguished silversmith and metalworker. He also made tools for fine purposes, such as surgical instruments. Idea: Children could read Jean Fritz’s And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Children could also read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s very famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” at: Paul Revere.

Betsy Ross (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1752; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 30, 1836) may have made the first American flag. Her grandson, in 1870, first proposed that Washington came to her with specifications for the flag. There is little evidence to show she did make the first flag, but no one has found facts that someone else sewed the first flag. Children could read Betsy Ross (Profiles in American History) by Susan Sales Harkins and William H. Harkins. Idea: Children could look at a copy of our first flag. They could research the significance of the red, white, and blue colors and the stars and stripes.

J. D. Salinger (born Jerome David Salinger in New York, New York, 1919; died Cornish, New Hampshire, January 27, 2010) was an author. One of his most famous books is Catcher in the Rye.

Melissa Sweet (born Wycoff, New Jersey, 1956) writes and illustrates books for children. She has earned two Caldecott Honor Awards: in 2009 for A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams and in 2015 for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. Both books were written by Jen Bryant. Children can learn more at: Melissa Sweet.

“Mad” Anthony Wayne (born Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, 1745; died Fort Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, December 15, 1796) was a hero during the Revolutionary War and continued to serve in the army after the war.

Jan 022024
Click for detailed Georgia Flag

Georgia State Flag

Georgia became the fourth state in the United States by ratifying the Constitution in 1788. Although one of Georgia’s nicknames is The Peach State, the crops of peanuts and tobacco each bring in more revenue than peaches. Cotton, which was a very important source of revenue 100 years ago, now generates a little more than one percent of the state’s income. Atlanta is the state capital. Georgia ranks 24th in area and eighth in population. Children can visit an Internet site at: Georgia. Idea: Children could make and enjoy a simple peach cobbler.

Jan 022024

Albert Bierstadt’s Painting of Niagara Falls

Canada and the United States began a joint project in 1929 to protect Niagara Falls. Three waterfalls, Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and the American Falls, lie on the Niagara River. The river empties Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. Hydroelectric power and tourism result from the Falls. Erosion has been slowed down by the efforts of Canada and the United States. Children can learn more about Niagara Falls at: Niagara Falls.

Jan 022024

Isaac Asimov (born Petrovichi, Russia, 1920; died New York, New York, April 6, 1992) wrote or edited more than 500 books. He was best known for his science fiction, but he also wrote about history and the world in general. One of his most well-known books is I, Robot. Idea: Children could find out how science fiction differs from other types of fiction. Then they could read a portion of a work by Isaac Asimov. Children and young adults can learn more at: Isaac Asimov.

Nathaniel Bacon (born Suffolk, England, 1647; died Virginia Colony, October 26, 1676) led Bacon’s Rebellion. The Virginia colonists were angry with the governor, Sir William Berkeley. They felt he was not properly protecting them from Native Americans. Nathaniel Bacon organized a group of people, and on September 19, 1676, they burned Jamestown in protest. Berkeley fled to a nearby ship. Bacon died unexpectedly of a fever, and the rebellion fell apart.

Crosby Bonsall (born Long Island, New York, 1921; died Boston, Massachusetts, January 10, 1995) wrote and illustrated more than 40 books for children. Her books include The Case of the Dumb Bells. Children could learn more about her at: Crosby Bonsall.

Helen Herron Taft

Helen Herron Taft (born Cincinnati, Ohio, 1861; died Washington, DC, May 22, 1943) was America’s First Lady from March 4, 1909 to March 4, 1913. She was the wife of William Howard Taft, twenty-seventh President of the United States. Nicknamed “Nellie,” she and her husband lived in the Philippines, Japan, Cuba, Panama, and Italy before he became president. Perhaps she is best known as the First Lady who oversaw the planting of the Japanese cherry trees along Independence Avenue. After Taft left the White House, he became a Supreme Court Justice, so she became the wife of a Supreme Court Justice. Children could visit a website at: Helen Herron Taft. Idea: Children could trace her travels on a map.