15th February

St Louis, Missouri, established 1764 – so make ice cream in cones…

Too cold? Try ice cream cone cakes:

… or make iced tea:


… drink 7 Up or make a 7-Up cake:

… watch the Judy Garland movie Meet Me in St Louis:

1971 Decimal Day (Britain changes its money to the decimal system) – so empty your wallet and play shop with real money. There are online games here.

2001 first draft of the complete human genome published in Nature – this blog has some great DNA activities:

Galileo born 1564 – so build a telescope, or visit your local observatory, or do his Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment and drop a heavy and a light object out of a window to see which lands first (hopefully they land at the same time!)

Charles Lewis Tiffany born 1812, founder of Tiffany’s – so make newspaper jewellery;

1874 Sir Earnest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer, born – so go exploring!

Serbia National Day:

Neolithic humans were settled in Serbia 8,500 years ago.

In the Iron Age the Thracians, Dacians and Illyrians developed there, and the Ancient Greeks expanded into south Serbia in the 4th century B.C.

A Celtic tribe of Scordisi invaded, then the Roman Empire in the 2nd century B.C.

17 Roman emperors were born in Serbia, including Constantine the Great.

When the Roman Empire was divided, Serbia remained in the Byzantine Empire.

In the 8th century the Principality of Serbia was ruled by the Vlastimirović Dynasty and adopted Christianity.

The Byzantine Empire annexed it, then it devolved into a Vojislavljević dynasty in Duklja, and the Vukanović dynasty in Rascia called the Serbian Grand Principality.

These two halves were united in 1142, and Stefan Nemanja assumed the throne.

His son, Rastko created the Serbian Church and wrote the world’s oldest known constitution.

Dušan the Mighty doubled the size of Serbia by taking land from Byzantium and becoming Emperor of Serbs and Greeks.

But by 1455 Serbia was completely conquered by the Ottoman and Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empires.

In the 18th century the word ‘vampire’ began to spread – the most widely used Serbian word in the world. The picture shows a sign in Serbia directing tourists to a mill haunted by a vampire.

In the Russo-Turkish War Serbia tried to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire, and it did, briefly, before the Great Powers decided it was now owned by Austria-Hungary. Ho-hum.

In 1912 the two Balkan Wars defeated the Ottoman Empire and increased Serbia’s land by 80%.

In 1914 Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and kicked off WWI.

At the end of the war, King Peter I of Serbia became King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. His son renamed the country Yugoslavia (meaning ‘southern Slavs’), but the Croats eventually became independent again.

In WWII Yugoslavia tried to stay neutral but the Axis powers (the bad guys) invaded, and 90% of Serbia’s Jews were killed.

Yugoslavia was also having a civil war, royalists against communists; 70,000 Serbs were killed in this inner war alone. The communists won.

In 1989 Slobodan Milošević came to power and Yugoslavia broke up, with only Serbia and Montenegro staying in. But ethnic Serbs living in Bosnia and Croatia were cross about not being part of Yugoslavia anymore, so wars broke out.

Serbia supported the ethnic Serbs until the UN imposed sanctions on them and so Serbia’s economy crashed.

In 1990 they were finally allowed democracy, although Milošević didn’t actually concede defeat in elections until 2000 (after NATO bombed Serbia to stop all the fighting in Kosovo).

When he fell, the UN lifted its sanctions and Milošević was sent off to a war crimes court, but died of a heart attack before any judgement.

In 2006 Montenegro separated from Serbia, and in 2008 Kosovo decided it was independent too. Serbia said nope.

Serbia is currently waiting to join the EU.

Serbia is the world’s second-largest plum exporter (after China) and the plum is its national fruit. Try making plum dumplings.

Listen to Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac’s music, Željko Joksimović or Boban Marković, or watch a kolo dance.

A special part of Serbian culture is the Slava, when Serbians celebrate their family’s patron saint’s day with Slava bread, red wine, and a bowl of boiled wheat.

Other events today that might inspire your play:

  • Afghanistan Liberation Day (Soviet withdrawal, 1989) – see 19th August,
  • John Frum Day (Vanuatu) – see 5th March.
  • Canada’s Flag Day – see 1st July.
  • Susan B. Anthony Day (US) (women’s rights/suffrage activist)

14th February

Valentine’s Day:

We made Valentine’s Day cinnamon bread:

  • melt 75g butter into 250ml milk;
  • pour into a mixture of 400g flour, pinch salt, 3-4g dried yeast and 50g sugar.
  • Knead for 10 mins.
  • The filling is 35g warmed butter, 1tbsp cinnamon and 35g brown sugar.
  • Roll out bread dough and spread filling over it.
  • Roll up from the two long edges and then pinch the middle to make a heart shape.
  • Cut into thick slices and leave to prove in a warm place for 20 mins, then bake at 200^C for 8 mins.

You can also make a bow and arrow out of twigs outside….

or out of cue-tips:

Make Valentine’s Day cards, etc. using quills:

or toilet rolls…

Try these love potions:

Make treats like cupcakes:

Here’s how to make them heart-shaped:

Or cookies:

Not in the mood for Valentine’s Day? Other events to inspire your play:

  • 2005 Youtube launched
  • 1819 Christopher Sholes born, inventor of the typewriter – try these typing games.
  • 1859 Oregon State founded.
  • 1912 Arizona State founded – famous for desert and cacti, and the Grand Canyon

13th February


First day of Lupercalia – partly in honour of Lupa, who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, this ancient Roman festival basically involved sacrificing some goats, and then running around naked whipping people whilst laughing maniacally. Nobody has this much fun anymore.

It was also the start of Parentalia in Rome, a nine-day festival of giving offerings to the family tomb. Maybe make a family tree to find out about your ancestors.

World Radio Day – so record a radio show!

12th February

Vasant or Basant Panchami (2016): A Sikh/Hindu festival celebrating the start of spring and the Holi season. Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, while Sikhs sing Basant Raga. In Punjab there is the Basant Festival of Kites. Go here for more info.

1809 Charles Darwin born – Darwin Day. There is a Darwin game here and other activities here.

1809 Abraham Lincoln born – Lincoln Day and 1914 first stone laid for the Lincoln Memorial. List of activities here, or…

Build a log cabin:

Or make a Mount Rushmore out of Playdough:

Other events that might inspire your play today:

11th February

1942 Glen Miller’s ‘Chatanooga Choo-Choo’ first to receive a gold record for selling more than a million copies

US Inventor’s Day

Japan National Foundation Day:

Japanese call Japan Nippon, which means ‘sun-origin’ so it’s also called Land of the Rising Sun.


Japan is actually made up of 6,852 islands!

First evidence of humans was 30,000 years ago. Buddhism came over in the 3rd century.

From about 1200 A.D. a ruling warrior class of samurais emerged, called shoguns. Everyone was very fighty, and there was a century of civil wars called the Sengoku period.

In the 16th century the Portuguese reached Japan for the first time. From 1590 Japan was united into one nation.

From 1603 codes of conduct were issued for the samurai classes to try and stop them from doing things like killing someone just for an insult, as they had been doing until now.

From 1639 Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world to try and stay united. This is called the Edo period.

In 1854 the American Navy arrived and made the Emperor agree to trade with them. The Japanese people were cross about this, and it led to the Boshin War, with the shogun resigning and Japan was then ruled by the Emperor Meiji.

Japan became an industrialised world-power and kept invading nearby countries to expand its power. The Emperor Taisho was a bit elderly so they introduced a democracy so that parliament could rule.

In WWI Japan was one of the Allies, but when it invaded Manchuria we all thought that was a bit much, so Japan left the League of Nations and by WWII Japan had flipped and was on the Nazis’ side. They agreed not to fight with Russia, but they invaded China a lot, with the Nanking massacre a particular low point.

They invaded French Indochina to stop France from supplying arms to China, so America stopped sending oil to Japan, so Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and brought the US into WWII.

Russia gave up its treaty not to fight Japan and took Manchuria; meanwhile, America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered.

The Allies put all the Japanese colonists back in Japan and prosecuted war criminals. Since then Japan has gone all liberal and democratic, and even has a bit in its constitution where it renounced the right to declare war. Imagine if everyone did that.

In 2011 the biggest recorded earthquake in Japan, triggering a tsunami which partly destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Make an origami kimono or an origami crane.

Have a go at sumo wrestling, jujitsu, judo or karate.

Do karaoke!

Here is a list of Japanese games.

Make real sushi or playdough sushi.

10th February

Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck. Malta has the most holidays in Europe. This one celebrates St Paul’s shipwreck (did you guess that already?) on Malta in 50 A.D. – so play Shipwreck.

Fenkil Day (Eritrea commemorates Battle of Fenkil, a victory in its quest for independence) – see 24th May

9th February

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras: (2016) ‘shrove’ comes from ‘shrive’, meaning confess. In Spanish/Italian/Latino countries, it’s the time for Carnival, like the one in Rio de Janeiro or the Venetian masquerade – so make a mask.


Make pancakes (we like cheese and leek or aubergine and ricotta for savory), or Portugeuese doughnuts called malasadas

The Swedes eat Semla:

A lot of countries have a Carnival on this day, with New Orleans in America celebrating in purple, green and gold:

1895 volleyball invented (originally called Mintonette)