Today Florence Nightingale was born. Let’s remember her with thanks. It takes guts and determination to keep going in the face of adversity and she faced that in spades. Despite her well-to-do upbringing, she wasn’t taken seriously at first when she first made plans to go to the Crimean battle front. But she persisted and the rest is history. It seems like a jolly story nowadays, but it must have taken a lot of energy, courage and grim tenacity to make it happen. Happy birthday, Florence. We haven’t forgotten you!
Painting outside in the rain, the wind and the sun doesn’t seem like a bold creative move. But back in Claude Monet’s day, it was. He broke the mould of serious, sensible, historical painting and heavily stylised portraits and brought a fresh excitement into the stuffy art world. And like most pioneers, no-one thought it was much good at first. But now Monet’s works sell for tens of millions of dollars!
Okay. He’s generally regarded as one of the biggest names in science. Wrote ‘On The Origin Of The Species’. Yes, we know. (By the way I bet you didn’t know he also wrote ‘The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Actions of Worms’ – definitely a bestseller.) But I like the fact that he wasn’t JUST one of the most influential figures in human history, he was also a bloke who got seasick, like the rest of us. And he was on The Beagle for 5 years! Get the lowdown on his seasickness and the other slightly more important things about him with our great little movie for kids.
May is a month when you really feel spring is here. Even if it’s raining. The birds know it, the flowers are up to speed and the days are getting longer. All the warm days are ahead of us. Maybe that’s why in his play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Will Shakespeare wrote that May is the major love month. So feel the love! And if you don’t already know a lot about our greatest playwright, check out our fun movie whether you’re 7 or 100 and nail his life story in 10 minutes!
Saturday – just the day for lying around (ok, lying around AFTER football, shopping, homework or housework, emptying the dishwasher, taking the dog to the vet). But for children, it can sometimes turn into open-ended screen time. So how about supercharging the screen time by throwing in a couple of covertly educational videos? Less of the skateboarding dogs on YouTube and a bit more of the Charles Darwin life story, or exactly where did Captain Cook go on HMS Endeavour, or what made Caravaggio such a great artist. Sweetie, it’s just 10 minutes! Then of course you can show me the video of the rabbit being eaten by a python.
Leonardo da Vinci died today in 1519. They don’t come around very often, people like him. Artist? Scientist? Inventor? Maths brainbox? That relentlessly curious mind meant that he wanted to know about everything. It’s worth remembering that he was barred from going to school as a child because his parents weren’t married (big no no back then) and so he never learnt the ‘accepted’ way to think. Instead he just thought for himself – and with what great results! As he put it “Learning never exhausts the mind.”
I don’t know if Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus had obsessive-compusive disorder but he certainly knew how to keep things well-organised and super tidy. Today in 1753 he published Species Plantarum which marked the birth of plant taxonomy, a boring name for a brilliant way of organising plantlife, always using two Latin names (for the genus and the species, like Homo Sapiens). Brainboxes and scientists refer to this as binomial nomenclature And now you’ve read this, you can too!