16th July

1969 Apollo 11 launches, to put first astronauts on moon.

Build a cardboard rocket (or just pretend a tent or sofa den is the rocket)

Learn about the moon phases with Oreo cookies:

Make moon sand:


Washington D.C. founded 1790: famous for the capital, where the President lives in the White House

16th April

Easter Sunday (2017) – so do some Easter egg science! And have an Easter egg hunt. I also like this Easter egg sound-matching game and using the recycling box to make an egg launch/drop.

And… do an Easter egg hunt:

Decorate your eggs!


I sadly love these bunny napkins:

Definitely make an Easter tree:

Have an egg and spoon race or an egg rolling race.

Make an Easter bonnet:

Make Easter bread:

and Easter nests (with peeps):

1178 BC Odysseus/Ulysses returns from the Trojan War

1889 Charlie Chaplin born

José de Diego Day, father of the Puerto Rican independence movement

World Voice Day

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).

16th December

1770 Ludwig van Beethoven born famous for his 9 symphonies (First in C Major; 2nd in D Major; 3rd in E flat major; 4th in B flat major; 5th in C minor – probably most famous; 6th in F major – also famous; 7th in A major8th in F major; 9th in D minor) and Fuer Elise.

Las Posadas (the lodgings – a Spanish/South American 9-day celebration of Mary and Joseph looking for an inn)

Bahrain National Day (independence from UK, 1971)


Bahrain was the home of the Bronze-Age Dilmun civilisation, linking Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, thought of as a holy land by the Sumerians.

It became part of the Persian Empire under the Achmaenids, and was an important pearl trading centre for ancient Greece, who called it Tylos.

Bahrain was one of the first nations to convert to Islam, in 628 A.D., after the prophet Mohammed threatened to invade.

In 899 A.D. the Qarmatians invaded, then nipped over to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, stole the Black Stone (a cornerstone of the Kaaba building in the centre of the Grand Mosque, which is said to have fallen from heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build their first altar). Later they returned it, having broken it into seven pieces. Nice one.

Then, you know, a whole bunch of other Arab tribes fought over it until the Portugueuse took over in 1521, but Abbas I of Persia kicked them out 80 years later.

Then Arab tribes fought over it again until Britain made it a protectorate, taking over completely in 1892. The Bahrainians revolted but when they settled down Bahrain become a trading hub.

In 1927 the Shah of Iran demanded power over Bahrain but didn’t get it. Bahrain fought for the Allies in WWII but afterwards began to resent British rule, and for some reason the Jews, who mainly fled.

In 1971 Bahrain gained independence. In 2001 the Emir granted elections and women’s votes, and released political prisoners. Bahrain has fought against the Taliban but opposed the war in Iraq and offered Saddam Hussein asylum. Shia Muslims got involved in the Arab Spring since 2011, protesting against the (minority) Sunni rule.

It is the most prolific publisher in the Arab world, publishing 132 books per 700,000 people (the rest of the Arab world publishes about 7 books per million people).

Victory Day (Bijoy Dibosh) (Bangladesh and India celebrate victory against Pakistan in 1971 – see more on 7th November)

Kazakhstan Independence Day (from USSR, 1991) – see 30th August

S. Africa Day of Reconciliation

16th November

1992 discovery of the Hoxne Hoard. Can you dig for treasure? If you have a budding archaeologist on your hands, a kids’ metal detector might be fun.

Estonia’s Day of Declaration of Sovereignty (do not let your children find out about the Estonian sport of kiiking)

Humans have lived in Estonia for at least 11,000 years. The Romans called the natives the Aesti tribe, which might be who Estonia is named after. In the Viking Age the Estonians were known as Oesilian pirates.

Denmark got annoyed by the Estonian Viking raids, and took it over with the help of Germany in 1207 in the Livonian Crusade, to eradicate Paganism and make it a Christian country. The capital, Tallinn, is said to mean Taani Linna – ‘Danish town’ in Estonian.

In 1343 the Estonian natives tried to rise against the Danish and German rulers, so the king sold it to the Teutonic Order, a Germanic crusader state for 19,000 Koeln marks. There was a series of wars fighting over control of various bits of Estonia, so that by the 1620s the Estonian population was reduced to about 140,000 people.

In 1629 Estonia came under Swedish rule, and the Swedish king gave the peasants better rights. The Protestant Reformation arrived a bit before (1520s), literacy improved and under Swedish rule they gained a university and a printing press. The Estonians call this period the ‘Good Old Swedish Time’.

In 1721 Sweden lost Estonia to Russia. Serfdom was abolished and education became more widely available. The first national epic, Kalevipoeg, was published in 1862.

After WWI Estonia declared its independence, but the Bolsheviks (Lenin’s Russian Communists) fought them about it for 14 months.

In WWII Russia installed lots of military bases for ‘mutual defence’ and then easily took it over. Russia still claims it did not invade Estonia and that it gave Russia rule voluntarily. Then, fearing Germany would take it, destroyed as much of it as possible. Maybe a quarter of the population died at this time, and less than 30% of conscripted men survived.

Germany then ‘helped’ Estonia kick out the Russians – then Germany took it over. Then Russia took it back again in 1944. Tens of thousands of people were deported and not allowed back until the 1960s, after Stalin’s death. Half a million immigrants from other parts of Russia came to help with the military and industry.

In 1989 they had a Singing Revolution, and more than 2 million people formed a human chain through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


On 16 November 1988 Estonia declared itself independent. Russia recognised its independence in 1991, and the last units of the Russian army left in 1994. Estonia joined the EU in 2004.

Skype was invented in Estonia.

Iceland’s Language Day, so maybe learn a bit of Icelandic and learn about volcanoes and geysers

Oklahoma founded (1907): Oklahoma was given to the Native Americans…then the whites moved in anyway. State Capitol building, the Grapes of Wrath.

16th September

Mexico Independence Day (Grito de Dolores)

Between 1800 and 300 B.C. complex pre-Colombian Mesoamerican, or Aztec, cultures began here, most famously the Mayans. Write your name in Mayan hieroglyphs here! Or try a Mayan maths game.

The Teotihuacán started building those famous pyramids. The Aztec empire was wide-ranging, and rulers were left to their own devices so long as they paid tribute to the Aztec emperor. They also really liked sacrificing people to the gods, and in battle even avoided killing their enemies so they could sacrifice them later.


In 1519 Hernan Cortès arrived from Spain to conquer the Aztec empire.

Hernan Cortes

They killed 3 million Aztecs accidentally with smallpox, maybe even 15 million (half the population), making them a bit easier to conquer. It became part of the Spanish empire in 1521, called New Spain. The 700,000 Spanish settlers married natives, and most Mexicans are mestizos descended from them. Mexico had the first primary school, university and printing press in the Americas.

On 16 September 1810 the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the cry/grito for independence in the town of Dolores.

In 1821 Spain finally recognised Mexico’s independence, after the criollo army sent by the Spanish viceroy joined forced with the revolutionaries!

In 1838 a French pastry cook living in Mexico complained to the French king that his shop had been looted by Mexican officers. France demanded 600,000 pesos (partly because Mexico had already defaulted on millions of dollars in loans). The president didn’t pay, so France blockaded its ports, bombarded a fortress and seized the city of Veracruz. Wow. Oh yeah, and they captured the whole Mexican navy. So Mexico had to declare war on France. Britain got involved and eventually Mexico agreed to pay the bloomin 600,000 pesos. This whole thing is called the Pastry War. Brill.

In 1831 the dictator-general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna approved a new consitution that nobody was happy with and sparked a civil war. Part of Mexico left and became Texas in the United States.

The 1846-8 Mexican-American War then fought over where Texas’s border should be  –  Mexico lost half of its territory, including what is now New Mexico. There were a load of other wars too, including the Caste War of Yucatan where the Mayans revolted against the European settlers.

In the 1860s Napoleon III invaded and installed the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian as Emperor of the Second Mexican Empire. He was executed for his troubles in 1867.

Then there was a bunch of revolutions and general civil war until 1929 when Plutarco Elías Calles founded the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to unite all the revolutionary factions and promised everyone equality through socialism.

He nationalised the oil industry, and was generally oppressive towards Catholics and protestors. The party only fell from power in 2000.

Mexico is home to about 12% of the world’s biodiversity, with the most number of reptiles and the second highest number of mammals in the world.

Native food includes chocolate, vanilla, corn, tomatoes and chillies. Make tacos or salad or fajitas.

It is the largest silver producer in the world. Mexican art includes Diego Rivera’s murals

and Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.

Mexican music is played by mariachi bands and the dance is the jarabe.

Cornish miners brought English football over there and it’s now their national sport.

Papua New Guinea Independence Day (from Australia, 1975)

Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s least explored countries – and one of the most diverse, listing 848 official languages. Only 18% of people live in rural areas.

Humans first arrived here around 45,000 years ago. Traders from Southeast Asia arrived 5,000 years ago to trade in birds of paradise plumes. The people there practised headhunting and cannibalism. A Spanish explorer going past in 1545 called it New Guinea as the people there reminded him of African Guineans.

In 1884 Germany took the north as German New Guinea, and the Brits took the south. In 1904 we gave our half to Australia for administration, and in WWI Australia captured the northern half from the Germans.

Japan invaded in WWII and around 216,000 US, Australian and Japanese soldiers died fighting over it.

It gained independence from Australia in 1945. It is still part of the British Commonwealth.

Seashells were a currency in some areas until 1933, and the practice lives on in some ways – to get married a groom must collect a set number of golden-edged clam shells.

It’s had a couple of hiccups – 20,000 people died in an uprising from 1988-1997 to allow Bougainville federal autonomy within Papua New Guinea. They also had an anti-Chinese riot in 2009, protesting against the Chinese ownership of a number of companies.

Papua New Guinea is famous for tree-kangaroos, Asaro mudmen, that bird of paradise dance, and birds of paradise headdresses.

Ozone Day – try this video.

Malaysia Day (formed 1973) – see 31st August

Oktoberfest (2016)