16th June

South Africa’s Youth Day: This commemorates the start of the Soweto riots of 1976, sparked by government edict to only teach in Afrikaans in black schools. The deeply moving picture of Hector Pieterson being carried by a student while his sister runs alongside helped bring the brutalities of the Apartheid regime to the attention of the world. He was shot and killed when South Africans opened fire on protesting students. He was 13. With older children, this may be good opportunity to discuss the tragic history of the Apartheid and to discuss your child’s views on race.

Bloomsday: On which the events in Jame Joyce’s novel Ulysses are reenacted in Dublin. Perhaps you could reenact some events from your child’s favourite book; maybe even perform them to a visiting relative.

Sussex Day: (St Richard’s Day)

16th March

Latvian Legion Day (a controversial celebration as the Legion, although it claims to have only fought against Soviet occupation, is associated with the Nazis’ side) – see 18th November.

St Urho’s Day (Finnish Americans) – this figure seems to have appeared in 1950s Minnesota, and chased the grasshoppers away from Finland’s grape crop. See http://www.sainturho.com/

Book Smugglers Day (Lithuania) – the book smugglers sneaked in Latin-alphabet books after Soviet Russia had banned them, allowing only Cyrillic alphabet books.

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 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