November 18
3 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

On November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse made his movie debut in Steamboat Willie, one of the earliest animated cartoons. This seven-minute film, directed by Walt Disney, was the first to combine animation technology with synchronized sound. From this short film, based on a cartoon drawing, Disney created one of the largest media empires in the world.

Steamboat Willie was one of the earliest animated cartoons, a medium that grew from comic strips and Sunday funnies into a multimillion-dollar business. Invite your students to experiment with cartoon and comic strip drawings by collaborating to create a short, humorous story, with at least one main character that performs an action. When students have completed the short sequence, have them use the Comic Creator or this online tool to make a flipbook.

Students choose one background and repeat it multiple times as they draw their characters' actions from one frame to the next. When they've completed each sequence of drawings, they print out the pages, cut the frames, and staple them together to create a flipbook. By stapling all the pages together in one corner or along one side, students are able to flip the pages of the book quickly, simulating animation. Students can also use the Flipbook Tool to create their product. Allow students to share their flipbooks with their classmates. Teams can also experiment with adding vocals in the background to synchronize with the images.

Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature.

This page features a short clip of the 1928 cartoon that launched Mickey's career.

This website offers something for students of all ages. Students will enjoy film clips, interviews with Walt Disney, a comprehensive biography of his life, photographs with audio for kids, and special exhibits.

This site offers extensive information for teachers about animation history, animation techniques, and teaching animation in the classroom.

This Library of Congress site includes 21 animated films and 2 fragments, which were produced from 1900 to 1921. Compare the animation in these early films to that in Steamboat Willie as well as that in current cartoons. Be sure to preview the films for their appropriateness for your students.

August 26
5 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

Proposed on June 4, 1919, it took more than a year for the 48 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, which became law when the Secretary of State announced the completion of the ratification process on August 26, 1920, officially giving women in the U.S. the right to vote.


Six months before the 19th Amendment established women's right to vote in the United States, the League of Women Voters was founded to help women become responsible voters. Today, the League of Women Voters works toward helping American citizens be active, involved participants in the political system—from voting to campaigning to taking a position on current issues.

Invite a representative from the local chapter of the League to talk to your students about voting rights and what they can do to be active in politics, even if they are not old enough to vote yet. Use the ReadWriteThink lessons Vote For Me! Developing, Writing, and Evaluating Persuasive Speeches and Voting! What's It All About? to explore voting with younger students.


The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote in 1920.

Compare voting rights in the United States to voting rights around the world. Students may be shocked to find that in some countries women are still not permitted to vote!


In addition to historical documents related to the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, this Library of Congress site includes texts, photos, political cartoons, and lesson plans.


This PBS website on civil rights includes a special feature for kids on "Women and the Vote."


This website offers information about Women's Rights National Historical Park, which is located in Seneca Falls, the home of many important sites in the history of women's rights in the U.S.


December 07
9 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

In 1941, the United States forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were taken by surprise when Japanese warplanes began to drop bombs on the city and naval base. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians were killed during the raid, and the Navy suffered the loss of a great number of ships and other military hardware. This event marked the American entrance into World War II.


On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy" in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, many Americans were called upon to act as heroes. Countless Americans gave their lives in defense of our country and its citizens in Pearl Harbor. Similarly, the surprise attacks on America on September 11, 2001, called for heroic acts of selflessness from ordinary citizens, as well as firemen, police, military personnel, and other government workers. Ask students to compare these two events using the interactive Venn Diagram. How are they alike? How are they different?

How did each event change American citizens' perspectives on war and the need for war? How did the two different Presidents of the United States react? What was different about the media coverage?

The class could be divided into groups to brainstorm various aspects of this discussion and then report back to the class as a whole.


Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in 1941.

This resource from the National Archives includes the typed first draft of President Roosevelt's War Address to Congress with his handwritten edits. An audio excerpt of the speech is also available.


This page by the Naval Historical Center features a historic overview of the Pearl Harbor raid and its aftermath.


This Teacher Tool Kit contains a variety of primary and secondary sources that can be used to supplement your curriculum instruction and offer the most direct explanation of the events surrounding the attack on December 7, 1941.


This page from the Library of Congress includes a copy of the U.S.S. Ranger's Naval dispatch from Commander in Chief Pacific announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


November 11
3 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

Today, the United States honors those soldiers who have fought for their country in military service. Across America, ceremonies are held to commemorate the efforts of our armed forces past and present, and to remind us of both the strength and the compassion of our country.

Have students write biographical poems about a soldier by completing each of the following lines of the poem. This classroom activity is adapted from a lesson plan by Nancy Haugen of Arizona.

  • Line 1: Soldier
  • Line 2: Four words describing what a soldier is expected to do (teachers can specify that the words be adjectives, gerunds, etc.)
  • Line 3: Who feels . . .
  • Line 4: Who needs . . .
  • Line 5: Who fears . . .
  • Line 6: Who loves . . .
  • Line 7: Who thinks . . .
  • Line 8: Who believes . . .
  • Line 9: Synonym for "soldier"
Veterans Day is celebrated in the United States today.

This project, from the Library of Congress's American Folklife Center, is a collection of interviews and documentary materials highlighting veterans' experiences over much of the 20th century.

This page, from the Department of Veteran Affairs, provides links to resources on the history of the holiday, photographs of past celebrations in our nation's capital, and other media used to promote the holiday.

This site provides information about the VFW's programs and activities around the country. The VFW's stated mission is to "honor the dead by helping the living."

Students can use these resources to research veterans and discuss the concept of patriotism.

May 03
7 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

In 1971, National Public Radio (NPR) began the first commercial-free, live radio broadcasts. Financed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and listener contributions, NPR offers news, music, and other programs free to the public through more than 860 public radio stations. More than 26 million listeners tune in to over 130 hours of original NPR programming each week, including programs produced by local stations and other radio networks.

National Public Radio's commercial-free programming is largely financed by listener contributions. By not relying on advertising revenues, NPR and other public radio stations are able to produce programs that differ from those of commercial radio stations.

List some of the programs offered by a local NPR station (e.g., Fresh Air, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, or Living on Earth). Ask students to make some predictions about the content of each program based upon the program's title. Divide students into groups and instruct each group to listen to one of these programs once or more during the course of a week and report on its contents to the class. Discussions that might follow such reporting could include questions such as:

  • What did you learn as a result of listening to this show?
  • Is this a program that might be of interest to someone your age? Why or why not?
  • How might this program be different if it aired on a commercial radio station?
National Public Radio began broadcasting in 1971.

On the NPR website, students can listen to archived broadcasts of NPR programs. There are links to NPR programming such as Car Talk and Latino USA, as well as an audio search feature that enables listeners to search for a story that they have heard on the radio.

This collaboration between NPR and the National Geographic Society produces and broadcasts stories on the natural world and threatened environments, diverse cultures, adventure, and exploration and discovery.

This companion website to NPR's Radio Diaries includes archived audio files and transcripts. The site features information on how students can create their own radio diaries.

This page from the NPR site offers stories about education topics from a variety of NPR shows.

December 03
K - 6
Historical Figure & Event

On this day in 1967, Dr. Christian N. Bernard performed the first human heart transplant. He also developed a new design for artificial heart valves.

Chances are, every student in your class will know someone who has had heart problems. After discussing the causes of heart disease, talk about the role that diet and exercise can play in maintaining a healthy heart. Ask your students to go online and find healthy dessert recipes that do not involve cooking or to bring in magazines from home that include recipes for healthy desserts. You can also provide access to kid-friendly cookbooks, such as the Kids' Cookbook: All Recipes Made by Real Kids in Real Kitchens! (American Heart Association, 1993). After sharing their recipes, have students vote on which dessert will be made in class. Before eating the dessert, take your students on a brisk walk outdoors. If it's a rainy day, do some indoor aerobics to their favorite music.

Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first human heart transplant.

The Franklin Institute Online provides an interactive, multimedia learning experience about the heart. Visitors can hear the sound of a heart murmur, see photographs of the human heart, watch an echocardiography and open-heart surgery video, and learn how to monitor their hearts' health!


On this website developed by NOVA Online, visitors have the opportunity to perform a virtual heart transplant. After the operation, students will have a pretty good idea of how surgeons perform heart transplants.


Research has shown that heart disease begins in childhood. Parents, teachers, and students will benefit from the information on this website.


The American Heart Association offers dozens of lesson plans, activities, and other resources for teaching about heart health.


This lesson plan from ScienceNetlinks has students examine changes in diet and lifestyle from prehistoric to modern times and how these differences have spurred the development (and better treatment) of heart disease.


May 16
5 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with over 6,000 members, has given awards for the best in film. The first ceremony, with 250 people in attendance, took place during a banquet held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Tickets cost $10 and the entire ceremony is said to have taken less than an hour-a far cry from the four-hour, star-studded extravaganzas of today.

Students love to watch and talk about movies. With persuasion, they can even be convinced to write about movies. For younger and middle-grade students, you can ask them to make lists of their favorite and their least favorite movies. Looking over these lists, students can then brainstorm qualities that make a film good or bad. Examples might include acting, special effects, and humor. Ask them to rank these qualities from the most to least important and then to explain why the top three are the most important elements to look at in a film.

Next, have students apply these criteria to a film they have seen by writing a movie review that makes their critical stance clear. Older students can take this activity one step further by comparing their review to that of another critic. After reading through one or more reviews, students should write an answer to one of the critics, defending their own reviews and critical stance.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929.

The official website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this site includes lists of the current year's nominees and winners. There is also information on previous years' ceremonies.

In 1998, the American Film Institute announced their list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, and this updated version was created ten years later. This list can be compared to a list of past Oscar winners.

The British equivalent to the website, the BAFTA website includes information on categories, nominees, and winners.

This page from Lincoln City Libraries features a list of past winners of the Best Picture Oscar which are based upon novels, plays, and short stories.

August 13
3 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

Gutenburg invented the printing press, but William Caxton was the first person to use a printing press to print books in English. Caxton printed over 100 different titles, including every work in English literature available at the time.


Have your students consider how the printing press affects their world by completing a printing inventory. Ask students to spend a day writing down everything they use that has been printed, such as books, pamphlets, even cereal boxes. The next day, compare the lists and develop a "super" list of all the printed materials that you and your students interact with. Once the list is complete, invite students to discuss the impact that printing has on their lives and to project the changes that may occur as computers enable people to share information digitally rather than in print.


The first English printer, William Caxton, was born on this day in 1422.

This site features a Free Activities page where students can learn about bookmaking in different cultures and find instructions to help them make their own books. The site also provides pages for teachers and families.


The BBC offers a brief biography of Caxton and links to related resources.


One of Caxton's most famous publications is his editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. This site includes video images of the rare books as well as historical information about Caxton and printing.


October 01
1 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

National Bullying Prevention Month was created by PACER in 2006 with a one-week event which has now evolved into a month-long effort that encourages everyone to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement.  Efforts are focused on encouraging both personal and community responsibility to prevent bullying. During this month, communities are urged to address the problem of bullying through media campaigns, classroom activities, workshops, and other special events.


Promote school-wide awareness of bullying issues by sponsoring a poster contest. First, complete one of the lessons below and review information learned about bullying and the roles of bystanders and victims. Divide the class into three groups, and have each group create a poster representing the role of the bully, the victim, or bystanders to educate other classes about bullying issues. Then, advertise a poster-making contest to other classes, asking students to create posters that illustrate ways each student in the school can help stop bullying and make the school environment safer.

  • Invite entrants to use any medium they wish to create their posters, including pencil, crayon, paint, or even an interactive medium such as the ReadWriteThink Printing Press (flyer format).

  • Ask other classroom teachers, the school counselor, and the art teacher to help in judging the posters. Be sure to communicate your judging criteria as part of the contest.

Include a reproduction of the winning poster in the school newsletter or website, or feature the poster in the library, cafeteria, or main office.


Get ready for National Bullying Prevention Month! provides resources for adults and children looking to stop bullying and educate others about bullying issues. Look for comics, a kids' poll, parent articles, and more.

This resource, from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, offers fun games, webisodes, and other resources designed to teach children about bullying prevention.

This site provides information about bullying and offers tips for preventing bullying and providing help both to victims and to students who engage in bullying behavior.

The Meet Kelly Bear website provides this teacher's guide with strategies for teaching about bullying.

The goals of this site/center are to engage and educate communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources.

In support of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is providing resources for families, teens, educators, clinicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement personnel on how to recognize, deal with, and prevent bullying.

March 09
7 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

When Barbie was released in 1959, she immediately stepped into controversy. The idea of a doll with an adult woman's features was brand-new. The market, though, was eager for a doll with lots of clothes, including bridal gowns and swimsuits. But by the 1970s, people began wondering why she did not have a business suit or a doctor's scrubs, and in more recent years, whether the body image she presents is healthy to young girls' self-esteem. Sales continue to grow, and so does the debate.

While Barbie's collection of accessories has changed over the years, her figure has remained relatively unchanged-despite questions about its effect on the self-esteem of the children who play with the doll. Take this opportunity to explore body image and advertising:

  • Have students bring in pictures from the magazines that they typically read. Students should bring pictures of both male and female subjects.
  • Post these pictures around the room and have students walk around with a two-columned chart with headings Male and Female which they will use to record words and phrases that describe what they see in the pictures. Students should then share their lists with the class.
  • Ask students to write about how gender is represented in the advertisements they see. Is this typical of how men or women appear in movies, on TV, etc.? Which celebrities most exemplify these characteristics?
  • After sharing responses in a think-pair-share arrangement, have students explain whether these gender representations are accurate in real life. Ask students to consider the effect that these representations can have on people's self-esteem.
  • Conclude by discussing why advertisers portray males and females in this way. What is the goal and purpose of advertising?
The Barbie doll was unveiled in 1959.

This History Channel article provides information about the origin and evolution of this famous doll.

PBS offers information about the inventor of Barbie.

BBC News shares Barbie's measurements and shows how a woman would look with Barbie's proportions. offers this poem by Denise Duhamel that compares Barbie to Buddha. Students will enjoy the sarcastic tone of this piece.