31st October

Hallowe’en

  • Go apple-bobbing
  • Carve a pumpkin or a turnip
  • Tell a ghost story
  • Wear fancy dress
  • If you have a deceased loved one you wish to remember, you could leave out soul cakes or Spanish Huesos de Santo (saints’ bones) and a drink at a place for them on the table when you eat.

Huesos de Santos

  • Do fancy dress trick-or-treating
  • Do divination games, like baking a barmbrack with different symbolic items in it to predict the year ahead for those who eat it.
  • Have a Halloween disco…we like Michael Jackon’s ‘Thriller’; Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’; ‘Ghostbusters Theme’; the Monster Mash; the ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show; Rockwell’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’; The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’; ‘I Put A Spell on You’; ‘Zombie Nation’….etc.
  • We also like to make a haunted house out of Lego and playdough.
  • haunted house
  • Littler ones can carve playdough pumpkins.
  • pumpkin
  • Make slime!
  • Other Hallowe’en food includes: a pumpkin sicking up dip; pretzel and cheese string broomsticks; mini toffee apples; and these banana/satsuma monsters!

In Cornwall it’s called Allantide and children have apples under their pillows to dream of the future or for good luck.

The Scots used to peel an apple in one long strip and throw it over their shoulder to see the first letter of their future love’s name.

Also today:

1941 – Mount Rushmore completed

2000 – Expedition 1 launched to the International Space Station. Before the International Space Station, we had the Mir space station ran by Russia. We’ve had humans continuously orbiting the earth since 1986! You can find out when to see it in orbit here, and you can see its view here. See a quite long video tour of its insides here. This kindergarten has a wonderful space play area.

Germany Day of Reformation – see 3rd October

Nevada (founded 1864): Las Vegas, Hoover Dam

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25th October

1881 Pablo Picasso born – we love this book.

Grenada Thanksgiving gives thanks for when their Communist government was overthrown and their Prime Minister murdered, and the US (and Jamaica) came and bombed them. Then they got a democratic government and it’s that they’re being grateful for on this day. Grenada is known as the spice isle, and is especially famous for nutmeg, so maybe try making nutmeg ice-cream or nutmeg pancakes. Here is an alcohol-free Grenada punch for kids! Older kids might like to do a blindfold test and see how many of the spices in the spice cupboard they can recognise.

Also today:

  • Lithuania Constitution Day – see 11th March
  • Day of the Basque Country
  • Taiwan Retrocession Day (Japan handing back to China in 1945) – see 10th October
  • Kazakhstan Republic Day – see 30th August

24th October

United Nations Day, Maldives Hajj Day

Zambia Independence Day: Originally inhabited by Khoisan people, then by Bantus, Zambia became the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (named after Cecil Rhodes who had acquired the mineral rights to the land) in the 18th century. On 24 October 1964 it declared independence and renamed itself Zambia after its Zambezi river. It was then a one-party state until 1991, when the price of its main export, copper, fell drastically and it found itself with one of the highest foreign debts in the world. The average life expectancy is still only 43 years.

It has the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls – can you make a waterfall, in the shower or in the garden? Pretend to go on an African safari. We got in a washing basket, took along a plastic camera and made some cardboard binoculars, and hid stuffed and imaginary animals all round the living room. Then we ‘drove’ round the safari and saw elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, crocodiless, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, antelopes, etc.

Wild About Gardens week starts: http://www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/

22nd October

1797 first recorded parachute jump (invented by André-Jacques Garnerin)

1811 Franz Liszt born – his top 4 most famous songs are Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, La Campanella, Liebestraume No. 3, and Un Sospiro.

Sun Festival Abu Simbel (Egypt)

World Energy Day – how many ways of making electricity can you think of?

20th October

1720 Carribean pirate Calico Jack captured by Royal Navy; his flag was the Jolly Roger with the skull and two crossed swords – have a pirate day!

1632 Sir Christopher Wren born

Kenyatta Day/ Mashujaa Day/ Heroes’ Day (Kenya)

Guatemala Revolution Day:

Guatemala was the home to the fascinating ancient Mayan civilisation until around 900 A.D., when they were killed off by drought. The Spanish came in in 1519. The capital city moved around a lot, and was finally moved from Antigua to the Ermita Valley after an earthquake in 1773.

In 1821 Guatemala declared its independence from Spain. They then had a bunch of revolutions and civil wars, accidentally got caught up in the Cold War on America’s side. In 1996 (!!) the civil wars finally ended and history has embarrassed America in showing their support of the Guatemalan government’s genocide of all those dangerous possible socialists, like students and farmers.

We learnt about hurricanes, because Guatemala is kind of in a hurricane basin, by creating ‘hurricanes’ by stirring a pint glass of water very fast, and spinning ourselves in to hurricanes too, and watching some clips of how they are formed on Youtube. You could also learn about the Mayans or draw the iconic cross in Antigua.

18th October

1851 Moby Dick first published – if, like me, you have no intention of ever reading the real thing, why not try the graphic novel version with your kids?

1922 BBC founded

1967 Soviet Venera reaches Venus and measures its atmosphere – here’s a short video about Venus.

Alaska Day (1867 US bought Alaska for $7.2 million), so make a Baked Alaska, or learn about the aurora borealis or watch sled dog races.

Azerbaijan Independence Day (from USSR)

Azerbaijan (see on Google maps) was originally inhabited by Caucasian Albanians, and then was settled by Scythians and Iranians before becoming part of Alexander the Great’s empire. Later it became a Persian vassal state, and the king officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century, but then the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate took over.

At the beginning of the 11th century Turkic Oghuz tribes took over, and their languages became Azerbaijani. It then became a vassal state of the Timur Empire which occupied most of Central Asia. Then Iranian dynasties took over, as well as a lot of khanates.

Russia came in in 1812, and after a couple of wars with Iran, took Azerbaijan. Russia collapsed after WWI, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia became the Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic.

The republic dissolved too and Azerbaijan gained independence as the first modern parliamentary republic.

But slightly less than two years later Soviet Russia invaded because it needed Azerbaijan’s oil. Azerbaijan’s oil really helped Russia during WWII.

On 18th October 1991 Azerbaijan became independent from Russia again.

(…to be continued)