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Photo of the four massive heads sculpted into Mount Rushmore look out under a blue sky.

Photo Credit: Andrew_Carter786 from Flickr

Every third Monday in the month of February is a federally observed holiday known to many as President’s Day. This day was created in memory and honor of the very first president of the United States, George Washington. His birthday is actually on February 22nd.

The History of President’s Day

This national holiday came about as a result of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968. The bill created three separate holidays to be celebrated nationally each year on Mondays, allowing federal employees an extra day off work and a three-day weekend for each. These are Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day (every last Monday in the month of May), and Veterans Day (every fourth Monday in October).

The bill also attempted to change the name of “Washington’s Birthday” to Presidents Day. However, this portion of the bill was not accepted. Therefore, the day most of us know as Presidents Day is still legally called “Washington’s Birthday.”

The term “Presidents Day” was brought about as a marketing campaign for many businesses nationwide and the idea caught on quickly. It is used by retail stores, car dealerships, various other industries as a way to draw customers in with discounts and sales.

The term Presidents Day also sticks well due to the fact that President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also in the month of February, on the 12th. His birthday and George Washington’s were, in fact, celebrated separately as individual holidays up until 1971 when President Richard Nixon gave an executive order that all presidents’ birthdays should be celebrated on one day. This meant Lincoln’s birthday would no longer be celebrated individually nationwide and only Washington’s Birthday would be a holiday.

How to Celebrate President’s Day

Washington's Mount Vernon Mansion

Photo Credit: Troy from Flickr

While this is a federal holiday, each state remains in control of the which holidays they will choose to observe or not observe. For example, before 1971, when Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated on its own, many southern states chose to not observe this day as a result of the civil war. Instead, they memorialized a day for Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate State of America during that war.

Most states now choose to honor President’s Day with local government and schools being closed for the day. In states that do not observe the day with school closings, most teachers still recognize the importance of the day and dedicate a lesson, discussion, or class activity to our presidents and the great things they accomplished for the nation.

To celebrate the day for yourself, check out a book about the life and events of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or another president of the United States. There are also many movies or documentaries created on these great men.

You could also choose to take a road trip to one of their homes, such as Lincoln’s childhood home in Illinois or Washington’s estate in Virginia. A trip to such historical places will teach you a lot about the life and times of the some of our early and greatest leaders.

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martin-luther-king-jr-day

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture by Flickr

The third Monday of every January in the United States is Martin Luther King Jr Day. This year it falls on the 21st of January. The day is meant to celebrate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout most of his adult life, he fought for the rights and equality of African Americans in the U.S. His methods for freedom and peace throughout the nation consisted of peaceful protests and the service of his communities. He has often been compared to Gandhi, as they both had a profound impact on their people and the struggle to gain equality and freedom.

History of Martin Luther King Jr Day

This national holiday was officially created by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. It marks the day and a memorial of the life and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1968. However, it was not until 2000 that it became a nationally recognized holiday and celebrated in every state. This is due to the fact that many of the struggles and issues that Martin Luther King Jr. sought to destroy were still very much in play at the time of his assassination and nearly twenty years later when the holiday was created.

Movements are being made to make the day an official federal holiday, requiring that government offices would be closed to celebrate the day. However, because Martin Luther King Jr. never held an official public office, as is the usual requirement for such a day, many would say that this shouldn’t be allowed.

How to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day

martin luther king jr

Photo Credit: The Library of Congress by Flickr

As we are honoring a man who served his community and helped his fellow man at every turn and in so many different ways, we think that continuing his legacy is the best way to celebrate him and his life. Find ways that you and your children can serve your local community and neighborhood. There are many events held monthly, weekly, and even daily that facilitate change our nation for the better, making it a place where everyone is equal and peace abounds.

Many communities hold parades and festivals in honor of this man who lived for others. Attend one and learn more about how he made dreams a reality. Visit a museum and see first hand what he accomplished. Or you could simply read one of the hundreds of books written on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. No matter your station, background, lineage, or even the place where you live, we all deserve freedom and a chance to live out our dreams. Today is the day to celebrate and honor that.

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Kid Inventors’ Day

Every January 17th we have the opportunity to celebrate the children in our lives and the accomplishments they have and will make. This includes inventions and extraordinary innovations. Children, unlike adults, have a unique ability to look at the world differently. They do not understand many aspects of life and the difficulty it holds.

Some would believe this makes them ineligible for such tasks. On the contrary, the fact that they are not bogged down by life’s complexities and hardships most often allows them to create without limitations or boundaries. They are able to see solutions on a different level than most adults.

There are many things we use on a daily basis that were, in fact, created by children or teenagers, such as the trampoline, popsicles, ear muffs.

The History of Kid Inventors’ Day

One of the first known child inventors was Benjamin Franklin. Most of us are familiar with his creations of all sorts of useful items such as bifocals, the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, and the glass harmonica just to name a few. However, he started inventing when he was just a child. At age 12 he created the first swim flippers. It for this reason that we celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day on his birthday, January 17th.

History continues to prove that children can and do invent some very impressive and helpful things. Some are born from mere accidents, such as the popsicle, while others take several years to create and are much more complex. One of the most extensive creations of a child is the language of the blind, yes, Braille. It was created by a French child in Paris named Louis Braille after he was involved in a serious accident that took his sight from him.

American Sign Language also has a great contribution made by a child. Ryan Patterson, a teenager, invented special gloves with sensors to translate hand motions of ASL into written words for children and adults alike with various disabilities.

Kid Inventors’ Day

Photo Credit: Internet Archive Book Images by Flickr

How to Celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day

This day is proof that children of any age are living, breathing inventors with extraordinary minds. Never take those precious thoughts for granted, even if they seem a little unsophisticated and silly to you. after all, these children are our future. Today is a day for no limits, to believe the impossible. Sometimes that is what it takes to makes dreams and inventions of the future come to life.

Take a child to a museum, a park, or even the kitchen. Create an environment where they can learn about inventions from the past and experience inspiration. It can come from just about anywhere, from simple crafts and games to large airplanes and spaceships. No matter what you do, make sure to encourage their dreams, even if seems outrageous and impossible. You never know when the next Benjamin Franklin could be sitting in your living room.

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Ice Skaters

Photo Credit: Henry Hemming from Flickr

Winter can be a trying time for school-age children and parents alike. The weather is colder and there just doesn’t seem to be as many fun options for time or energy to be spent. We often find ourselves stuck in the same routines, and to be honest, they are boring. The winter blues are knocking on the door and so is cold and flu season. But don’t despair. There are ways to keep both away with these fun and healthy tips for your home and family besides just remembering to wash your hands.

Healthy breakfast

Breakfast has long been known as the most important meal of the day. And for kids in school, it's even more essential. However, just as important as eating is what they are eating. Sugar filled pop-tarts and cocoa puffs will not sustain them until lunchtime and are sure to create the wrong kind of energy need for their demanding day.

Instead, whip up some eggs or, for days when you are running a little late, make sure to have some hardboiled ones in the fridge already. Yogurt topped with fruit, or on the side, is another great source of vitamins and proteins. Add some whole grains or cottage cheese and they are good to go for a full day of learning.

Exercise

Just because its colder outside doesn’t mean your child has an excuse to sit in front of a screen for long hours. Exercise is still a crucial part of their health and well-being. Not only does it keep them physically healthy but, according to many studies, has a very positive outlook on their emotional well-being and brain development.

Don’t be afraid to let your little ones enjoy the cold air outdoors. Spending time in nature, as long as they are bundled up, helps to prevent sleep deprivation, allows them to de-stress, and keeps up their immune system. A quick pre-dinner walk, ice skating, sledding, or a short trip to the park are all fun and safe outdoor activities for kiddos who need a little natural daylight and exercise.

Change up the lunches

School Children Lunch Box

Photo Credit: Melissa from Flickr

At this point in the school year, it's common to find that your child is only eating about half of their lunches each day at school. This is most likely just because they are bored with their choices. If this is the case in your home, it may be time to switch some things up a bit. Instead of the normal PB&J, try some crackers with ham and cheese. Add in some healthy fruits and veggies and maybe a small treat for a well-rounded meal.

Kids also seem to love compartmentalized meals. This allows them to create their own sandwiches from choices you send or instead of being overwhelmed by one or two large objects, they are presented with five or six smaller items such as carrots, celery, yogurt, and even a cookie.

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Trivial Pursuit

Photo Credit: Letica Ayuso from Flickr

You know all that seemingly useless information in your head that never gets used or you think no one else cares about? Today is the day to finally use it. January 4th is Trivia Day. They may be silly insignificant facts, little-known oddities, or just random information but on Trivia day they can be used to impress your family and friends and possibly even cause a few laughs.

The History of Trivia Day

The history of Trivia Day begins with a few missing pieces to a scrabble board game. In Montreal, Canada in 1979, friends Scott Abbott and Chris Haney were getting frustrated with their scrabble game that had some missing pieces. However, it did not stop them from having a bit of fun.

These two fellows decided to create a new game with the pieces they had. The game became an instantaneous hit and its popularity is spread worldwide. The game is Trivial Pursuit and it is thought to have sparked a seemingly endless fascination with odd or little-known facts on a wide variety of topics.

Since that day, many more trivia inspired games have been dreamed up and made their way into homes throughout the world. This day was created to remember that day and the efforts of the two men determined to have some fun. It’s also a day to make use of that random information in your head that usually has no specific purpose.

Trivial Pursuit Game

Photo Credit: Paolo Soro from Flickr

How to Celebrate Trivia Day

Trivia Day is best spent playing trivia games with your favorite comrades and family. There are a great number of trivia games to choose from in this day and age. Some are comprised of large boards, many pieces, and quite a few complex rules, whiles others are much simpler and can be played on a computer or smartphone. The subjects these tidbits of knowledge come from span every concept imaginable from the shoes on your feet to the stars in the sky. If you can think of it, there is a question about it.

However, don’t assume that prior knowledge of these subjects is required. Half of the fun is not knowing and learning tons of new information and trivia along the way. These are games young kids and adults alike can really get into. And if you don’t have any trivia games at home or the place you will be spending most of today, try making up your own. Continue the legacy of this day by having some fun and using all that knowledge in your head to make the world a happier place.

Here are a few random trivia facts to get you in the mood:

  • On Venus, it snows metal.
  • Spain means “the land of rabbits.”
  • Only female mosquitoes bite.
  • Saudi Arabia has no rivers.
  • The only Caribbean island with a railroad is Cuba.

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Students in Class Room

Photo Credit : NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Students love getting a break from school. Winter break is no exception. It’s great to have a few weeks off to play with friends and watch TV. However, when it’s time to go back, that few weeks can make it hard for kids to transition back into a structured learning environment. Here are a few tips for a successful transition back to school after a break.

Go to Bed on Time

One of the perks of a break is that children often get to stay up a little later than they usually would at night. There’s nothing wrong with giving your children a little extra fun time before bed. However, in order to get them back in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, and waking up ready to learn, you can have them go to bed and wake up at their regular time for the last few days of their break. This way, the first day back at school isn’t the first day that they’re struggling to wake up early again. By getting them back in the groove for a few days beforehand, they’ll have an easier time managing the school day and coursework and classmates and all the other things that come with being back at school.

Replenish School Supplies

One way to help get students excited to go back (and help their teachers in the process) is to make sure your students have everything they need to participate in class. Do your children need new folders or notebooks? How about their pencils, pens, and art supplies? Are they running out of the tissues or paper towels they use in class? You can inquire with your child’s teacher(s) about what they might need. Then you and your student can go school shopping together. By bringing this beginning-of-the-year ritual into the middle of the year, you help create an atmosphere of excitement and expectation for your students.

Catch Up on Schoolwork

Breaks are important. But they’re also an opportunity to catch up on work that we may have fallen behind on. Are there any classes or concepts that your student could use some extra help with? The winter break is a great time to get a little extra practice. If your child is struggling to keep up with reading in class, you can incorporate holiday reading practice into your winter break. This helps to keep the season festive while also making it productive. If your child’s teacher sent home any optional practice work, encourage them to take a few minutes every day to work on the skills they need to improve. They can also use their schoolbooks to review and do practice work. It’s not necessary to do schoolwork during a break, but it can be a good way to stay sharp for the return to class.

Finally, in the days before school starts, talk to your child about their goals for the next semester. What do they plan to accomplish? What are the things they want to improve? Are there clubs or activities they want to join? By helping your child to think about going back to school as an opportunity, you prepare them to make the most of the return to the classroom.

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Homemade Gifts for Teachers

Many children want to give their teacher a gift for the holidays. While this is a great idea and one that should be encouraged, a “World’s Best Teacher” mug or glass is not always the best choice. Just about every teacher will tell you that they already have several of these. So, what should you give them to show your appreciation for all their hard work? The options may be a little closer to the heart for most.

Gift cards

Starbucks Gift Card

It's hard to go wrong with a gift card. These can be purchased at local grocery stores for just about dollar amount imaginable. And getting one from their favorite stores, coffee shops, or teacher supply outlets will go a long way to show that you care.

Homemade gifts and cards

We have found that many teachers love to receive anything homemade or crafted by their students. Your child’s artwork, a handwritten card, or a crafted Christmas ornament with your child’s name and the year on it are items that teachers can keep year after year to remember their students and all the lives they have touched along the way.

School supplies for all

Another great idea is to get them much-needed school supplies. Many teachers pay for classroom materials like lined paper, pencils, sticky notes, pens, erasers, and much more themselves. So, gifts of this nature are often much needed and will always be appreciated. If you don’t know what to get exactly a gift card to bookstores and teacher supply stores is a great place to start.

Donations in their name

For schools or teachers who aren’t in need of such items for their classrooms, they often suggest giving donations in their name instead. Find out what causes your teacher supports or cares about and donate either time, money, or specific items to that cause using your teacher’s name. This will show your teacher that you care and are willing to help others who may be less fortunate and also gives that teacher an opportunity to be a part of that giving.

Thank you letters or notes

Sometimes the simplest of gifts can be the most precious. The job of a teacher can often be a thankless one that is taken for granted. Writing a letter or short note can be just the thing to brighten their day and make all their hard work this year worth it. A heartfelt “thank you” can say much more even the most expensive gift.

Ask just about any experienced teacher what their favorite gifts over the years have been and they will tell you about ones that came from the heart. The ones that really mean something are ones that were well thought out, painstakingly constructed by little hands, and given out of honor and a heart of appreciation, not from obligation. This year, instead of another coffee mug, give your teacher something that matters a little more.

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Wright Flyer Aircraft model

On this day, December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took their first or maiden flight in an aircraft they had designed together. And while it is unknown if this was the first actual flight ever made in history, it was done in the first ever patented aircraft, the Wright Flyer. The brothers went on to make further inventions and additions to aviation technology, leading the way for all future aviators.

History of Wright Brothers’ Day

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the one responsible for creating this codified holiday. As such, it is commemorated each year and marked on government calendars but is not classified an actual government holiday. President Eisenhower declared on September 24, 1959, that December 17th should forevermore be celebrated, honoring the experiments of the Wright brothers and all others who have contributed to aviation history and technology.

How to Celebrate Wright Brothers’ Day

Wright Brother’s inventions

Since that time, every U. S. President has made an annual proclamation, honoring the Wright brothers and their endeavors in flight as well as inviting all Americans to do the same. Furthermore, Washington D. C. holds the Wright Brothers Dinner each year where the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy is awarded

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where that maiden flight was taken also celebrates the day with similar festivities, as does Dayton, Ohio, the brothers’ hometown. Many schools are known are to hold special activities that focus on aviation and its history, some even take field trips to the closest aviation museums. Other institutions or programs hold various luncheons and dinners to honor these pioneers of flight.

Individually, many decide to celebrate in their own way by going to museums that focus on aviation, going to the airport, attending air shows, taking a flight, or even taking flight lessons. It may seem to you that this old looking plane the Wright brothers flew wasn’t all that great, especially compared to what airplanes and crafts that are flown nowadays. However, you have to remember that at the time, there was nothing else like this. This was the cutting edge of technology, a dream of the future at the time.

Can you imagine what aviation would look like today if these two brothers hadn’t created the Wright Flyer and made that flight? While their craft is not the only kind that was manufactured, nor were they the only ones experimenting with such technology, their efforts led the way for inventions and aviation leaders all over the globe. This day is meant to remember and honor those efforts, understanding that actions and discoveries made today will someday be a part of history.

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Christmas card day

Sending festive Christmas cards of season’s greeting is an age-old tradition amongst millions of families worldwide. We make a list and check it twice, ensuring that no one is forgotten or left out. Whether it’s the classic jingles of Christmas past or modern electronically sent messages, we want to make sure they receive it before Christmas Day.

History of Christmas Card Day

However, this unofficial holiday is not celebrated on this day just make sure you get your cards out to the mailbox on time. On December 9, 1843, Sir Henry Cole of England designed the first commercial Christmas Card. It showed a family raising a toast together. It was produced by J. C. Horsley, who went on to produce many more of Cole and other’s holiday cards. From there, a lithograph firm, Prang and Mayer, started creating and selling Christmas cards by the masses. By 1880, they were producing over five million cards a year.

Many of those first cards are now collector’s items and are sold for thousands of dollars at auctions. The British Museum houses Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection of them. Today, Christmas cards are made in millions of designs and themes. Some are more traditional and include the popular “Merry Christmas” messages with an image of jolly old Saint Nicolas. While others may steer in a more religious direction, quoting bible verses or blessings with wise men standing around a holy child in a manger. Still others, for those who may not celebrate Christmas, are sent wishing season’s greetings and best wishes for a new year.

How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day

Happy Holiday Card

Whatever your preference, today is the day to remember your Christmas card list and work on getting them out to your loved ones. It's always nice to be able to make handmade cards if you have the time. Grab your glue stick, markers, and glitter and get to creating. This can be an amazingly fun activity for your children as well. Maybe start a family tradition of making cards.

If you aren’t that crafty or don’t feel you have the time, there are always pre-made cards to send and even e-cards. These are sent electronically and take hardly any time at all. Plus, you don’t have to worry about missing the mailman or not making it to its recipient on time. However, nothing beats the real thing and this day is the perfect time to get those cards ready and in the mail before the last day of mail service arrives.

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