Calendar of the Season
Jacob Grimm was one of the Grimm brothers who collected and wrote fairy tales in Germany in the 1800s. These stories including Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Rapunzel and many other stories have been translated into 160 languages. Today would be a great day to read one of these stories. School age children might want to act out the story themselves or do a simple puppet show of the story. View some of their stories here. Grimm's stories can be frightening to very young children - they are not happy tales!
JRR Tolkien, the author of Lord of the Rings was born on this day in 1892. In honor of his birthday older school age children may enjoy reading (or being read) The Hobbit or perhaps they could watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies. The Cirth alphabet used in the book appears here. Children might enjoy making up their own messages using this alphabet.
In 1896 Wilhelm Roentgen of Austria discovered the type of radiation that became known as X-rays. Older school age children can do an art activity based on Australian aboriginal art that has an x-ray appearance to it. Visit www.enchantedlearning.com for more information.
January is National Soup Month. Read "Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown and "George and Martha" by James Marshall and try cooking your own:
Split Pea Soup
- 2 cups green split peas
- 7 cups water
- 3 cups beef broth (canned or add bouillon cubes to water)
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 medium onion
Rinse the split peas under cold water. Place the drained peas, water and broth to a saucepan. Break the celery into 3 or 4 large pieces and add to the pot. Peel and trim the onion and then place the whole onion into the pot. Heat the soup to a boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. When the soup is done, remove the celery and onion and throw them away.
The UN officially opened in 1951. It is made up of 191 countries from around the world. It was created after the Second World War - as a way of bringing people together and to avoid war. The United Nations logo shows the world held in the 'olive branches of peace'. The United Nations had a special meeting of children from many countries. Older children might find it interesting to read their stories and views on what is happening in the world.
Native to South America, the first pineapples were planted in Hawaii on this day in 1813. Now 10% of the world's pineapples are grown in Hawaii where it first became a commercial crop. It is also widely grown in Central America and Asia. Kids will love this delicious and healthy recipe:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/3 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (about 2 medium)
- 1 1/4 cups carrots, finely shredded
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 (8 ounces) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
- 2/3 cup cooking oil
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients and mix together. Enjoy!
Born in 1875 in Germany, Schweitzer studied music, science and religion. He won the Nobel Peace Prize and is probably best remembered for bringing modern health care to Africa in the early 1900s. Here are two quotes from Schweitzer to think about and discuss with the children. How can these quotes inspire you to act?
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."
– Albert Schweitzer
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15 but he is honored on the third Monday of the month with a federal holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. was an important leader of the civil rights movement here in America during the 1950s and 60s. The holiday was created as a day to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples and as a time to remember the message of change through nonviolence. For more information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. see http://www.holidays.net/mlk.
Born in 1706 Ben Franklin was an inventor, a statesman, a musician and a scientist who lived much of his life in Philadelphia. Learn more about Ben Franklin and his activities. There are science experiments for school age (10 years or older) to try. Younger children might enjoy the book Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin as told by his Good Mouse Amos - look for it in the library!
Animals handle cold winter weather in different ways. Some, such as birds, butterflies and whales, migrate to warmer climates. Some animals like deer, fox and moose, grow thicker fur coats so they can stay warm during the winter. However many animals hibernate during the coldest weather – they spend the warmer months of the year eating and storing as much body fat as they can and then live off this extra weight as they sleep in the winter. Bats, some mice, frogs and many squirrels sleep all winter. Others, including chipmunks and raccoons wake up once in a while to eat and then they go back to sleep. Have fun learning about the art of hibernation with your children during this cold time of the year.
At the library!
Look for books about animals in winter.
- The Story of Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend by John Steptoe
- Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming
- When Will It Be Spring? By Catherine Walters
- The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting
- Bearymore by Don Freeman
- Bernard Bear’s Amazing Adventure by Hans de Beer
- Wake Me in Spring by James Preller
- Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky
- Chipmunk Song by Joanne Ryder
Watch for animals in your neighborhood. Are there more or less than in the warmer weather?
Play "hibernation" - pretend to be one of the animals you have researched. Curl up and "sleep" and then wake up HUNGRY for snack time!
The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival, more commonly known in the West as Chinese New Year. The most spectacular event of the Chinese New Year festivities is the Lion Dance. If there is a Chinatown in a city nearby you can visit and watch the "lion" dancing through the streets. Be prepared for lots of firecrackers! Although celebrations of the Chinese New Year may vary, the underlying message is one of peace and happiness for family members and friends. Visit http://chinesenewyear2012.net/ for your fortune and more information about this celebration.
Pies are popular on holidays or any day and are easy to make if you buy a prepared crust in the freezer or dairy section of the grocery store. Try these favorite recipes with the children:
- 1 can pumpkin (or 2 cups mashed cooked fresh pumpkin)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 slightly beaten eggs
- 1 cup evaporated milk
Mix together first 6 ingredients. Then add eggs and milk and mix thoroughly. Batter is very thin. Pour into pie shell. Bake 450 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Peel, core and slice 6 apples into thin pieces. Toss sliced apples gently with:
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pile apples into pie shell. Blend 3/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup flour with 1/3-cup butter until crumbly. Spread over apples. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
On this day in 1848 a nugget of gold was found at Sutter's Mill in California. News spread over the next few months and 100,000 people went to California to make their fortune. This "rush" was very important to the growth of California. Visit http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/ to learn more about this part of American history.
People across New South Wales join together in celebration of what it means to be Australian. Australia is unique because it is an island country that is also a continent. You can learn more about Australia by visiting the "for kids" section of http://www.nationalgeographic.com/downunder/. You'll find directions to make a Boomerang and fun facts about kangaroos and koalas.
Children don’t often have the chance to listen to classical music. You can download Mozart from the web. This music may be calming and delightful at nap time, mealtime or to inspire drawing on paper with crayons or markers.
Do a puzzle or make one of your own. Find a fun picture in a magazine and glue it to lightweight cardboard. Cut into shapes. If your children are small make it just a few easy shapes. To make your own word or math puzzles with the children visit http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/ or older children might enjoy doing the puzzles found on line at http://www.greylabyrinth.com/index.htm.
On this day in 1928 Scotch tape was sold for the first time. You can use double-sided tape to make an easy and attractive vase or pencil holder. Here’s how:
You need a small container (Choose a clean, smooth sided glass jar or bottle. A small can would be safer for younger children.), double-sided tape, a ball of heavy string, yarn or cord, and glue.
- First, wrap the container in double-sided tape to cover the whole outside. It may be easiest to do this with short strips of tape that touch or overlap slightly.
- Then, secure the end of the cord where it will be covered and wind it around and around in tight rows to completely cover the container. Secure the very end of the cord with a few drops of glue.
A wide mouth container is a good holder for pens and pencils. A smaller opening is good for flowers.