1st February

1709 Alexander Selkirk is rescued from a desert island and inspires Robinson Crusoe (age 14+ but try a graphic novel)

1893 Edison finishes building the Black Maria movie studio, so make your own film studio. Give a kid a camera and help them make a play with their toys.

First day of Quebec Winter Carnival, with sledging, ice castles, ice canoeing, etc.

It’s the first day of National Bird Feeding Month – see 5th Jan for ideas.

Malaysia Federal Territory Day:

The first Malaysians were Negritos, a Southeast Asian people found to be the people most genetically different from Africans.

Trade and settlers came from India and China, bringing Hinduism and Buddhism.

In the 2nd century the north was the kingdom of Langkasuka; in the 7th-13th centuries the south was the sea-ruling Srivijara empire.

Islam came from the 14th century, and in the 16th an independent Malacca state was ruled by a former prince of the Srivijara.

In 1511 Malacca was conquered by Portugal, then the Dutch. In 1786 the British East India Co. was given Penang, then we gradually took the rest with gentlemen’s agreements where the British ‘advised’ the rulers, who had to follow the advice because of treaties.

In WWII Japan invaded, and afterwards Malaysia wanted to be independent, so the rulers were restored under British protection. Chinese rebels, supported by the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla attacks to oust the Brits.

In 1963 it became federal states. In 1969 Malays murdered thousands of Chinese in race riots, so the Prime Minister changed the economy so it favoured the Malays so they wouldn’t feel so resentful. Of course, now the other races feel resentful.

Malaysia means the home of orangutans – learn about them!

31st January

1930 Scotch tape released – make tape sculptures

or take silly photos:

1797 Franz Schubert born, who I think is most famous for his Unfinished Symphony

Nauru Independence Day – see 17th May.

29th January

1835 Susan Coolidge born, author of What Katy Did

1861 Kansas becomes a state – watch Wizard of Oz

1886 Karl Benz patents the first petrol-powered car

1936 the Baseball Hall of Fame opens –  so play baseball

1963 the Football Hall of Fame opens – play American football

Gibraltar Constitution Day – see 10th September.

Victoria Cross instituted 1856 – talk about bravery.

28th January

Chinese New Year’s Day (2017) – Year of the Rooster

Make these Chinese lanterns,

make fortune cookies, or a fire-breathing dragon

or an eggbox dragon. Find out why the Chinese name their years after animals, and make Playdo animals for each family member using this chart. Try Chinese New Year yoga! This page also has good resources.

This year is the year of the monkey. We love this book by Anthony Browne.


Losar (2017 Tibet New Year, also Nepal and Bhutan). This year is the Female Fire Rooster. Yep, yep. This page has lots of ideas on how to join in with their celebrations.

1958 Lego patented

Obviously you can build anything! So ask your kid what they want to build. But here are some other ideas:


Consider a trip to Legoland!


1912 Jackson Pollock bornthis blog had a LOT of fun with it.

26th January

Australia Day

Australia comes from the Latin australis, ‘southern’.

The first humans arrived here 48,000 years ago; when the Dutch came over in the 17th century (and called it New Holland), the natives were hunter-gatherer aborigines who believed in Dreamtime, when totemic spirits created the land.

James Cook claimed New South Wales for Britain in 1770. After losing our American colonies, the ‘First Fleet’ arrived to create a penal colony. Britain sent prisoners there until 1848.

The government took aboriginal children away from their parents to protect them from… um, their own culture, leading to the Stolen Generations. It was not until 1992 that aborigines were recognised as actually having any right to the land.

From the 1850s there was a gold rush.

Australia fought with Britain in WWI and WWII, but during this last Britain lost the fight against Japan and so Australia found a new ally in America.

They are not governed by Britain but in 1999 voted to keep our Queen.

This day is the anniversary of the first British settlement in 1788.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef…


marsupials like koalas, kangaroos and wombats, monotremes like the platypus and echidna, as well as emus and kookaburras. Learn the kookaburra song! Have a letter ‘k’ day with koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras. Tell Dreamtime stories or try some Aboriginal rock art.

Here are some more activities:

Here are some Australian songsAustralian bird signs, a COOKIE map of Australia (you could also do this with playdough), make ANZAC biscuits, Lamingtons, even a digeridoo!….And here’s 10 more great Aussie activities.

Other events that might inspire your play:

India Republic Day (independent from Britain 1950) – see 15th August

Bikaner Camel Festival

Uganda Liberation Day – see 9th October

Duarte’s Birthday (Dominican Republic) – see 27th February

Michigan (founded 1837): That song. Henry Ford’s car factory. Detroit. 8 Mile Road and Eminem.