20th January

1885 L.A. Thompson patents the rollercoaster – so build a rollercoaster for a marble run or toy cars. This one looks great:


1930 Buzz Aldrin born, so maybe build a rocket ship and have a picnic on the moon (moon-cheese sandwiches in circular-cut bread with moon pies)…

… play with moon sand

You could also make a teabag rocket,


rocket snow globes,



kitchen roll rockets,


balloon rockets,

rocket lollies,

paper cup rockets,

cake pop rockets,

rocket ship sandwiches

…  the list is endless.


Þorrablót (2016) – Iceland’s pagan midwinter festival. http://icecook.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/orrablt-or-thorrablot-icelandic.html

19th January

Verdi’s The Troubadour/Il Trovatore premiers 1853

NASA sends the New Horizons probe to Pluto 2006 – so learn about Pluto

James Watt born 1736 – I thought he invented the watt but it was named after him; he actually invented a way of making steam engines more efficient, so maybe learn about steam engines

Edgar Allan Poe born 1809 – try this video?

Cezanne born 1839

Timkat (Ethiopia) – They celebrate Epiphany as well as Jesus’s baptism. They also wrap a model of the Ark of the Covenant (the chest in which were the stone tablets with the 10 commandments on) in cloth and carry it in a procession. Learn about the Ark of the Covenant and the 10 Commandments.

18th January

1882 A.A. Milne born – so read Winnie the Pooh

1884 Arthur Ransome born, author of Swallows and Amazons

1778 James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands and names them the Sandwich Islands, I kid you not. See 11th June.

1788 Britain sends its first lot of convicts to Australia

1886 modern field hockey is founded with the Hockey Association – we use spatulas for hockey sticks

1997 Boerge Ousland of Norway is the first person to cross the Antarctic alone

2005 the Airbus is unveiled in France – we love this Lego Airbus.

Tunisia Revolution Day – see 25th June.

17th January

1912 Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole only to find the Norwegians had beaten him to it. On the way home he and his team will die of extreme cold and exhaustion.

Popeye first appears in comic 1929.

1706 Benjamin Franklin born, inventor of the lightning rod, the glass armonica (so try playing on glasses), cooling by evaporation and the idea of paying it forward, being nice to people so they are in a better mood to be nice to others, and many more firsts and ideas.

Minorca’s National Day

Celebrating the day Alfonso III (King of Aragon, Spain) conquered Minorca while it was being ruled by Arabs and sold the Muslims into slavery if they didn’t convert to Christianity.

During the 16th century Turks invaded and settled, and in the 18th century Britain repeatedly invaded until Spain booted us out once and for all in 1802.

Make carquinyolis (like biscotti), pastissets (flower-shaped cookies), flao (a sweet cheese pasty), panellets (almondy sweets served on All Saints’ Day), stuffed aubergine (Minorcans even have aubergine for dessert).

Patras Carnival

Begins in Greece, where they all dress up and go on a treasure hunt. So do a treasure hunt. In January in the UK, holly berries, willow tree buds (fluffy and white like rabbit paws), hazel catkins, viburnum flowers, winter jasmine flowers are all lovely treasure to find on a morning walk. Here’s a treasure chest to make yourself at Dollshouse Miniature Printables.

Congo National Heroes Day – see 30th June

16th January

Earnest Shackleton finds the magnetic south pole 1909

We made a compass out of a needle, a cork, a magnet and a bowl of water (try making three compasses to check they all point the same way), then we set up a tent and spread a white bedsheet over the sofa to make a snowy mountain – then Baby was happy climbing up it for 20 minutes looking for penguins.

We also watched this video of seals eating penguins if your kid has the stomach for it and talked about how you would reach the South Pole (we decided: plane).




Dian Fossey’s birthday (1932; Gorillas in the Mist).

15th January

Makar Sankranti (2017)

This is a Hindu harvest festival in India, and also marks the first day of spring.

The British Museum first opened (1759) – so visit a local  museum

Coca Cola (or the Pemberton Medicine Company) first incorporated 1889 – try baking a cola cake

The rules of basketball first published by its inventor James Naismith 1892 – play basketball;

The first Superbowl is played 1967 so play American football; you just need a cycle helmet, black marks under your eyes and socks for shoulder pads and some basic understanding of the rules (Superbowl party ideas here)

Martin Luther King, Jr born 1929

Korean Alphabet Day – so write your name in Korean

John Chilembwe Day (Malawi – see 6th July)

14th January

1886 Hugh Lofting born, author of Dr Doolittle

Orthodox New Year

Gujurat/Jaipur Kite Festival – so go fly a kite!

Pongal is a celebration of the end of the harvest in South India – if the weather is nice out, why not make a Pongal Kolam pattern in flour (rice flour for authenticity) outside your house to show your happiness. The birds and ants will eat the pattern and it will represent your inviting life into your house and living in harmony with all creatures.

Eat sweet pongal, a kind of rice pudding – this is my favourite bit of the festival. Traditionally it is cooked at sunrise,  and the moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Pongalo Pongal!”, throw in some freshly harvested rice grains in the pot and blow a conch shell. Amazing.