19th February

1472 Nicholas Copernicus born – so learn about the solar system:

We made an orrery!


As you can see, it’s made from a nail pushed through the hole in a cake stand.

A tealight represents the sun and the planets are in order on craft wire. They can move around the ‘sun’ as they are hooked into the grooves on the nail.

The planets are made from Fimo and rest on buttons so they don’t slide down the wire.

I think the best thing is that the planets can be taken off, so you can remind your little one of the order of the planets.

We watched this song on repeat while we were making it.

Make planets out of Playdough (which can be cooked hard) or Fimo and make jewellery … or make solar system cake pops:

I also like this solar system fruit and yoghurt snack:

I love this way of showing orbits by tying a kid to a weight so they see how they are pulled around it at Our Montessori Home:


I also love ‘What if the other planets were as close as the Moon?”


1819 South Shetland Islands discovered in Antarctica

1878 Eddison patents the phonograph


Turkmenistan National Flag Day


In the 8th century Turkic-speaking Oghuz tribes from Mongolia came to the area that is now Turkmenistan. In the 10th century they accepted Islam under the rule of the Seljuk Empire, which covered Iran, Turkmenistan and later Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey.

In the 12th century Turkmen tribes overthrew the Seljuk Empire. In the next century, an influx of Mongols drove the Turkmen south. They remained as nomadic, independent tribes, but were eventually kind of controlled by Uzbek khanates (chiefs/kings).

In the late 19th century Russia took over the Uzbek khanates and in 1881, at the Battle of Geok Tepe, Russia annexed the whole of Turkmenistan.

The Turkmens rebelled against Russian conscription in WWI, and joined Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uzbeks in the Basmachi Rebellion against Soviet rule in the 1920s. Nevertheless Turkmenistan and part of Kazakhstan became the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, and agricultural reforms destroyed the Turkmen nomadic lifestyle.

In 1991 when Soviet Russa collapsed, Turkmenistan gained independence and the communist leader Saparmurad Niyazov decided he would be president for life.


He did things like, close all hospitals and libraries outside the capital. In 1995 he declared Turkmenistan permanently neutral, meaning they will never take sides in someone else’s war, which I think might be wonderful.

Niyazov died in 2006, and his deputy won the elections, which was made entirely of the ‘Democratic Party’s candidates.

There’s a 60% unemployment rate but although Niyazov made Turkmenistan one of the top 10 most censored countries in the world, it is also the world’s fourth largest exporter of gas and he does spent the money on renovating the cities, and gives everyone 120 free litres of petrol a month, as well as free/subsidised electricity, water, gas and salt. It’s also the world’s 9th largest producer of cotton. But it doesn’t do much else.


Turkmenistan is where the famous Door to Hell is, a gas field with an enormous crater that appeared in 1971 when the ground beneath a drilling rig collapsed. The Soviet engineers decided to burn off the gas coming out of the hole in case it was poisonous. It was supposed to burn out after a few weeks. It’s still burning.


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