Share a historic event each day with your students. This is a great bell-ringer! Post on Smartboard or write on white board and discuss with your students to develop background knowledge. If you are searching for a way to develop reading skills, check out the differentiated passages (with comprehension questions) at the bottom of the page–each based on one of these events. Each event includes a suggested free resource for teachers to help in extending your lesson.
Free online resources for each of these topics: Suez Canal, Arbor Day, Apollo 13, Jonas Salk, Thomas Jefferson, John Muir, Gallaudet, and the Cold War
April 9–Suez Canal
The Suez Canal in Egypt is cleared and opens to shipping on April 9, 1957.
A lesson plan for grades 4-6 from crayons.com has students use modeling clay to create canal locks. Students then extend the lesson and investigate why the Suez Canal which connects the Mediterranean and Red Sea does not incorporate locks.
April 10–Arbor Day
The first first Arbor Day is celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872.
Students select a line from a famous Transcendentalists that will form the basis for an Arbor Day celebration speech. They then write and present their speech using the quote. A step-by-step lesson plan for high school students may be found here.
April 11–Apollo 13
Apollo 13 is launched on April 11, 1970.
NASA has a flight journal series. Click here to find journal coverage of Apollo 13 from the launch to splashdown. The journal is divided into sections. Reading the actual words of the astronauts and NASA officials is an extremely powerful exercise for students.
April 12–Jonas Salk
April 12, 1955, the polio vaccine was released for distribution in the US.
A comic book story of the development of the polio vaccine is available from PBS. Students will enjoy the graphic story giving background on the polio vaccine.
April 13–Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1826.
Scholastic.com has an online lesson called “Thomas Jefferson and Monticello: An Introduction to Writing Historical Fiction. After researching about the life of Jefferson, middle schoolers write a story which is set in Monticello during his lifetime. The two day lesson includes a graphic organizer and websites for students to use to complete the project.
April 14–John Muir
Philosopher John Muir weds Louisa Wanda Stentzel on April 14, 1880.
The Sierra Club website has links to a variety of resources on John Muir. This includes two links (part 1 and part2) of the video “John Muir: A Glorious Journey” which talks about the life of Muir and his contributions to the national parks.
April 15 Gallaudet
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet co-founded the first school of the deaf in North America on April 15, 1817.
Students can explore information about Gallaudet University, deaf culture, and related issues at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center website. A video of approx 40 minutes, “America’s Founders: Friends of the Deaf” gives students information about how deaf students are educated in the US. The video includes sign language.
April 16 Cold War
April 16, 1947, Bernard Baruch warned, “Let us not be deceived—we are today in the midst of a Cold War.”
Bomb shelters were intended to protect citizens from fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. Click here for 30 photos of bomb shelters to share with your students.