All posts by Katie Sindt

Social Studies Enrichment #25: Winter Solstice

What is the Winter Solstice?

According to the Winter Solstice lasts for just one moment. It occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. This usually happens around December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere or June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, during the solstice the sun will be at its southernmost point in the sky. The higher in latitude you are, the more you’ll notice that the solstice has the shortest day and longest night of the year.

In ancient cultures around the globe, the winter solstice was marked with ceremonies and celebrations. For example, in the days of the Inca Empire the winter solstice was honored with Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun. It involved a ceremony in which an Inca priest would “tie” the sun to a column stone in a symbolic effort to keep it from escaping.

Halfway around the world, indigenous people in Finland, Sweden, and Norway participated in the Beiwe Festival. On the winter solstice, worshippers honored the goddess Beiwe by sacrificing white female animals and covering their doorposts with butter for Beiwe to eat on her travels.

Want to learn about how some other cultures celebrate the Winter Solstice? Check out this post from! Click on the picture below to access the article.  When you’re done with the article, comment below with how you’d like to celebrate the Winter Solstice, which occurs this year on December 21st!

Social Studies Enrichment #24: Thanksgiving – The Origin of an American Holiday

As a nation, we’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving this week! Ever wonder how Thanksgiving became a national holiday?

In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, as the first nationwide “Day of Public Thanksgiving”. In the years that followed, however, the holiday often changed days of the week and even months of the year.

In the mid-19th century, author Sarah Josepha Buell Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the final Thursday of November should be set aside by all states – both North and South – as a day of Thanksgiving.

But this year, it’s the second-to-last Thursday in November.  Why did it change?

The last Thursday of November was the standard for about 80 years. In the 1930s, though, store owners began to complain when Novembers with five Thursdays rolled around. They claimed that celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November in these months didn’t leave enough time for Christmas shopping.

FInally, on December 26th, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress that officially changed Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the 4th Thursday in November.

Above, we mentioned that Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was an author. Just what did she write that you could recite from memory right now?

Click on the film below to find out how Thanksgiving became a national holiday and to find out the answer to that question.

After watching, comment below with the answer and with what you’re most thankful for.



Social Studies Enrichment #23: Do Other Countries Celebrate Halloween?


Halloween is right around the corner and many elementary schools around the United States are planning class parties around this fall holiday.

I wonder – do other countries celebrate Halloween?

What do I do when I wonder something? I head over to Wonderopolis to see if there’s an answer for my wonder.

Click on the Wonderopolis icon above to find out if other countries celebrate Halloween!

In the comments below, post what you learned and what you scored on the quiz!

What else is coming up? The Geography Bee!  Time to practice!

Click on the World Map link to print off a copy of the world map. Label the countries you learned about in the Wonderopolis activity!

Happy Halloween!!


Social Studies Enrichment #22: On This Day In HISTORY!

September 20th: On this day in history, a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan set off on the 1st successful circumnavigation of the earth, proving that yes, it is in fact, round.

The voyage took almost three years and claimed 18 out of the original 270 sailors’ lives along the way, including Magellan himself.

Watch the video below to learn all about this famous voyage and respond in the comments section with the fact that you liked the most.

Social Studies Enrichment #21: Rotterdam’s Picturesque Floating Park Is Built Entirely From Recycled Plastic Waste

Problems with plastic in our oceans are increasing. With an estimated 100,000 marine animals being choked, suffocated, or injured by plastic every year, the danger posed by the trillions of pieces of polymer floating in our oceans is well-known.  Go to this link to read an article about how one city is dealing with that problem in a unique way.

After you’ve read, or listened to, that article, go to this link to find out about “22 Facts About Plastic Pollution (And 10 Things We Can Do About It).

In the comments below, please respond with a way YOU can help guard against plastic pollution!