Thursday, February 2, 2023

A Groundhog Day Look at Light and Shadow

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 



Happy Groundhog Day! 

I don't think most people go around wishing each other a Happy Groundhog Day, and I've never seen a greeting card for this day. It's not a statutory holiday or a religious day, and other than checking whether Punxsutawney Phil (or your local rodent celebrity) is predicting an early or late spring, there's nothing special to do to celebrate. Right? Where did this strange little tradition of Groundhog Day come from anyway?



Although Groundhog Day has been shown on calendars for as far back as I can remember, and has been a part of folklore for centuries, it's probably fair to say general recognition of the date increased greatly thanks to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. The movie drew attention to Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania, and the Groundhog Day ceremony there, but that wasn't an invention of the filmmakers. Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney is a real place, and Punxsutawney Phil has been the weather forecaster there since 1887. That's when a local newspaper gave the nickname Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to a group who had made a tradition of hunting groundhogs on February 2nd each year. February 2nd is Candlemas (more about that in a moment), and the tradition of watching for groundhogs or other hibernating animals on this date goes back centuries in Europe. Germans who came to American in the 1800s brought this tradition with them, and since groundhogs were common, that's the animal that earned the distinction.

Did you miss Punxsutawney Phil's prediction this morning? You can see it here: GoErie - Groundhog Day 2023

What's special about February 2nd?

The beginning of February is about the halfway mark between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In an agrarian culture, it's really helpful to know when to expect the weather to warm up enough to start planting, and having enough sunlight to clearly see a shadow is a reminder of brighter and warmer days to come. But a clear and cloudless sky during winter usually means it's cold because the clouds aren't insulating and holding the warmth near the earth. Thus the weather superstition. Some ancient cultures had a mid-season celebration around the beginning of February, and this was a time to start planting crops.

But why February 2nd, in particular? It is forty days after the date for Christmas, when Christians recognize the birth of Christ. According to the Mosaic Law, a woman was to offer a purification sacrifice forty days after giving birth, and the Gospel of Luke records that Mary and Joseph obeyed this law and brought the baby Jesus to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. So February 2nd became recognized as the Feast of the Presentation. As Europe was becoming Christianized, it was a handy thing when pre-Christian religious festivals or cultural traditions (such as looking for animals coming out of hibernation as an indicator of the weather) could be replaced or marked by a Christian festival, and that's exactly what happened in this case. The Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas, as it became known, was also the day to check whether the hedgehogs or badgers were coming out of their winter dens.


What is Candlemas?



The Feast of the Presentation is the feast day marking Mary's ritual purification and the dedication of Jesus at the temple. You can read about in the Bible, in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. The feast day was recognized as far back as the fourth century. The name Candlemas (Candle Mass) came later on, from the ceremony of blessing the candles on this day. The candles to be used in the church were blessed, and the people were invited to bring their own candles to be blessed for use in prayer at home. A candlelight procession is part of this celebration.

In many Catholic and Christian communities today, Candlemas represents a day of "purification, renewal, and hope." And all those candles are a fitting reminder that Jesus is the light of the world and God's light given to all nations.

"For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelations to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." ~Luke 2:30-32 

Moreover, it is a much-needed reminder during the remaining dark, long days of winter that, no matter how grave things may be, "the light sines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5).  ~Carolyn Pirtle¹

We celebrate Christmas and Christ's coming with so much joy and lots of candles and twinkling lights, but a bit over a month later, when all those decorations have been put away and it's still cold winter, it's probably a good time to be reminded of the light!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." ~John 8:12


Candlemas Traditions

I found that one country, Liechtenstein, recognizes Candlemas as a national holiday! Traditionally, all the candles in the house should be lit, and, by the way, the nativity scenes from Christmas shouldn't be put away until Candlemas.

In Germany, where the Groundhog Day association originated, Candlemas was also associated with payment deadlines, the end of the "servant's year", and the beginning of the "farmer's year". 

In France and Belgium, it may be called "Le Chandeleur" and it's traditional to eat crepes. Apparently this goes back to an early pope that ordered pancakes be distributed to pilgrims, and the shape and color are supposed to remind people of the sun. 

(Now, if it were up to me, I'd have pancakes for dinner. But I didn't think my husband would be excited about that, so instead we will try this recipe for Savory Crepes tonight.) 


In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, it's celebrated as Candelaria. One custom is that the person who found the bean inside the Kings Cake on Epiphany is supposed to bring food to the feast on Candelaria. The family meal features tamales, so often the person who found the bean is responsible to make the tamales. 

Did you check your local groundhog forecast today? Whether we see signs of spring or a longer winter today, take heart in the knowledge that Jesus is still the Light of the World, and that to be in HIS shadow is to be kept safe.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
~Psalm 91:1~


This post will be linked at Encouraging Hearts and Home.




¹ Pirtle, Carolyn. "What is Candlemas and how to observe it"; McGrath Institute for Church Life. University of Notre Dame. Jan. 30, 2019


 ©2006-2023 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

High School Writing Tip Sheets - Conflict and Tension in Fiction

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from HS Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 



For the past few years I have been teaching high school writing in our homeschool tutorial co-op. Having seen several groups of students through the courses, I've noticed some issues and questions coming up regularly. I hope these Tip Sheets will be helpful to my students, their parents, and perhaps to other students and parent/teachers as well.

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This week's tips are regarding conflict in fiction writing. Every story needs at least one character, and it needs at least one conflict. If there's no conflict, there's no story, it's just a character sketch or a descriptive essay.

In order to have a story, there must be conflict. That sounds harsh, but conflict doesn't have to be an armed rebellion, gang warfare, or even a prolonged screaming match. Conflict simply means your character is facing some kind of difficulty or opposition on his way to reaching his goals. 


Storytelling is an act of cruelty. We are cruel to our characters because to be kind is to invite boredom. ~Chuck Wendig

The conflict serves a couple of purposes in the story. It highlights the good qualities in the lead character, and offers the character a chance to learn or grow. Seeing the obstacles the lead faces can make readers even more empathetic towards him or her. Those roadblocks that temporarily thwart the character also offer an opportunity for the character to reevaluate the goals. And of course, the conflict creates tension and suspense and moves the story along.


Conflicts can arise in several different ways. Obviously the lead may struggle with another character (an antagonist), but he may also come up against society or a culture, against nature, against technology, or against God or some type of higher power. In some stories, the major conflict is an internal one - the lead struggles within himself. And no matter what the conflict is, most characters experience some kind of internal struggle along the way as they make decisions or respond. The conflict should have an effect on the character or the reader may feel that the conflict isn't important.

Meaningful stories have lots and lots of conflict. If we avoid conflict, our stories won't be meaningful. ~Donald Miller

You can't tell a good story without conflict - the story can't be beautiful or meaningful. We're taught to run from conflict, and it's robbing us of some really good stories. ~Donald Miller


As you write, decide who your character is, what he wants, what he fears, and who he wants to be. And then design a conflict perfect for that character. Fear is a powerful motivator, and using something the character fears is a great way to introduce conflict and build tension. Other often-used ways to get the conflict going in the story include putting the character somewhere they don't want to be; bring a new character to town or send your lead out of town; or disrupt a routine. Anything that puts the lead off balance or in some kind of danger.



The conflict should arise early enough in the story that the reader will want to know the answer to the Major Dramatic Question. That's the question that the plot to the story is built around. It's the question that must be answered by the end of the story. Will Westley and Buttercup find true love? Will Dorothy get back to Kansas? Will John McClane save the hostages?

Storytelling explores the problem with people. Stories without conflict are bad stories that no one repeats. Conflict describes the reality of human life and interaction with others. The resolution of the conflict in which everyone lives happily ever after reflects the human yearning for hope. ~Harry Lee Poe


Tension builds in the story when the reader sees a sense of urgency or intensity. It's related to the conflict and can be low-key like in a sweet coming-of-age story or heart-pounding like in an action adventure story. Tension builds when there's a risk to the lead character, or a risk if he fails. So the risk to the hero in a spy thriller might be obvious, but there's also a risk in that coming-of-age story even though the action may be minimal. Perhaps it's a risk that the best friend will not forgive the mistake made by the lead and their relationship will never be the same. Tension also builds when there's a time limit of some kind, or there's jeopardy. Jeopardy is when the reader or audience sees or sense the danger to the lead even though the lead does not.



If you are working on writing a short story or a scene, make sure you have some conflict to drive the story. Decide what your story's Major Dramatic Question is, what your character wants and what he fears, and then throw suitable obstacles in the way.

Good stories are driven by conflict, tension, and high stakes. ~William Landay

Stories are based in conflict, and when the conflict is resolved the story ends. That's because for the most part happiness is amorphous, wordless, and largely uninteresting. ~Ann Patchett

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For more about creating characters in fiction, see: High School Writing Tip Sheets - Creating Characters in Fiction.



Some of this article is based on information in the wonderful textbook Writing Fiction [In High School] from Writing with Sharon Watson. This textbook is the one I've taught from in the co-op for several years, and I highly recommend it.




A previous version of this article was published on Homeschool Coffee Break in January 2022.

Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to HS Coffee Break by email 

 ©2006-2023 HS Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



Sunday, January 22, 2023

Chinese New Year - The Year of the Rabbit

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from HS Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 

Chinese New Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Happy New Year!

I'm not going to pretend I know very much about China, the Chinese culture, or Chinese New Year celebrations, because anything I do know has been gleaned from little bits of research over the years. Years ago, when my kids were young, there were several years when we took the opportunity of Chinese New Year to focus a bit on the celebration, learn a bit about it, and have a bit of fun with it ourselves.

Unlike our western (or Gregorian) calendar, the traditional Chinese calendar is based on a lunisolar year. That means the dates are based on both the phase of the moon and the time of the solar year. So the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. In 2023, the Year of the Rabbit begins on January 22nd. The Spring Festival celebration last for sixteen days, although only the first seven days are part of the public holidays in China and several other countries. The festivities end with the Lantern Festival on February 5th. During the days of New Years celebrations, people display traditional decorations, and get together with family. In fact, this is the favored time for family reunions, and it's very important to visit grandparents and other elders. Shopping, fireworks, and visiting tourist destinations are also part of the festivities.

Countries that also recognize the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival include: Vietnam, Thailand, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and others. Chinese and Asian communities all over the world celebrate as well, so urban Chinatowns in major cities will be busy and popular places this week!

Preparations begin about a month in advance, as people start buying presents, getting decorations ready, and planning meals. On New Years Eve, it's time to clean the whole house, sweeping away bad luck along with the dust and cobwebs, I suppose. 

One of the traditional ways of decorating is to display paper cuttings in windows. These folk art "window flowers" are on display throughout the year, but especially during the Spring Festival. Templates of simplified Chinese papercuts can be found online, and you can create some of your own. We've done it a few times in the past, and it was an activity in a co-op class many years ago.

From my post: Virtual Refrigerator - Chinese Paper-Cutting 

Chinese Paper-Cutting on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - #VirtualFridge #art

If you've ever cut out paper snowflakes to decorate during the winter, you've got a bit of experience with something very similar to Chinese paper-cutting. Paper as we know it was a creation of a Chinese court official in about 100AD. At first paper was expensive so only the wealthiest or royal Chinese people could afford it for crafting paper cuttings. As paper became more affordable, all classes of society participated and paper cutting became an important folk art. Today, at festival times, cut paper designs are sold and are given as gifts and greetings. Traditional designs feature animals (often pandas, dragons, or tigers), birds, or flowers. For the Chinese New Year, the animal sign for the year is a popular choice. The traditional color of paper used is red because it represents good luck and success.

Chinese Paper-Cutting on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - #VirtualFridge #art



Chinese Paper-Cutting on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - #VirtualFridge #art


Another type of decoration is calligraphy on red paper. "Fu" which means "happiness and good fortune" is very popular. These can be displayed on walls, doors, or windows. Similar designs are sometimes added to the paper lanterns used in the Lantern Festival. Lanterns can be basic shapes or more elaborate, like lotuses or even dragons. People might write poetry or wishes on the lanterns before releasing them, hoping that their wishes will come true in the new year.

Chinese New Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


 During family visits, Chinese grandparents and elders give younger relatives gifts of money in red envelopes. Red because it's a lucky color! Long ago, Chinese currency was in the form of coins with a hole in the middle. They could be strung on a red cord as a gift. Eventually that tradition changed to red paper or red envelopes to hold paper money. Nowadays, digital red pockets are quite popular. 

So with all the red and gold decorations and symbols, golden colored fruits are popular during the Spring Festival. Favorites include kumquats, tangerines, mandarin oranges, and peaches. Also the Chinese character for tangerine looks similar to the character for luck! Traditionally, dumplings should be eaten at every meal during the Spring Festival, especially in the northern part of China. In the south, spring rolls are more popular. Other symbolic foods eaten on New Years or during the festival are fish and noodles. 

This isn't specifically related to the Chinese New Year, but it's a favorite piece of Chinese-inspired art, and it does feature red and gold - Virtual Refrigerator - Chinese Horse.


Chinese Horse on the Virtual Refrigerator art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Chinese Horse by KAT, April 2017

If you want to try creating this Chinese Horse for yourself (or maybe a simpler Chinese Dragon or more advanced Chinese Lion print), the full instructions are available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com along with the entire collection of lessons from ArtAchieve - Achieving Art Success with ArtAchieve. We were able to use the ArtAchieve lessons at a few different points during our homeschool years, and we really liked them! They are inspired by folk art from all over the world, and range from very simple for young children or beginner artists to more complex projects for teens or artists with more experience. All projects are designed to be completed with simple art supplies you likely already have or are easy and relatively inexpensive to acquire.


And yes, there's a pricing special at SchoolhouseTeachers.com right now. Use the code FRESHSTART23 to pay only $90 for nine months of homeschool curriculum. Your SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership gives you access to all 400+ courses in all subject areas and for all grade levels, plus lots of other resources too! 


The paper-cutting crafts (and lots of other ideas) came from the book Geography Through Art which was a favorite in our homeschool. It's a combination of cultural geography information and art projects inspired by different cultures and folk art from around the world. (See my post My Favorite Geography Resource for more details.)

 

Check out the Chinese New Year website for lots more about this celebration and its history and traditions. Or visit OfficeHolidays.com for information about the celebration in China, South Korea, and other countries.

Chinese New Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

A previous version of this article was published on Homeschool Coffee Break in February 2019.

 Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to HS Coffee Break by email 

 ©2006-2023 HS Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

High School Writing Tip Sheets - Writing Dialogue

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from HS Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 

High School Writing Tip Sheets - Writing Dialogue - A brief tutorial on how to punctuate dialogue correctly and use it wisely in a story.


For the past few years I have been teaching high school writing in our homeschool tutorial co-op. Having seen several groups of students through the courses, I've noticed some issues and questions coming up regularly. I hope these Tip Sheets will be helpful to my students, their parents, and perhaps to other students and parent/teachers as well.

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A good story usually needs dialogue of some kind, but writing good dialogue presents some challenges for students. Just figuring out the mechanics and punctuation of dialogue is mystifying and confusing for most students! And then getting it to sound natural and be useful within the story on top of that - well, that's another big challenge! 

First, let's tackle the punctuation and structure. Although there are alternatives to standard punctuation and speaker tags, students should know how to write in the conventional style. I told my students that they could structure dialogue in creative ways, but it should be purposefully done, not done because they didn't know how to do it the correct way. 

New Speaker = New Paragraph

When a new character starts speaking, they get their own paragraph. This also includes a narrative action or indirect dialogue that takes the place of quoted dialogue. So if Character One says something and Character Two responds with a gesture (narrative action) instead of words, that response is a new paragraph. Or if you write that "Character Two told him she would follow the rules" - that's indirect dialogue and a new paragraph. If  the dialogue begins at the end or in the middle of a paragraph, don't separate the speaker tag from the words spoken. There are exceptions, because rules generally have exceptions, but that's a simple guideline to work from. Here's an example:



Punctuation for Dialogue

The part of a sentence that tells you who said something is called a speaker tag (or an attribution, in non-fiction writing). The actual words a character says go inside quotation marks, and so do the end marks to the sentences the character says. When the speaker tag follows a sentence of dialogue that would otherwise end with a period, use a comma instead. 


Speaker tags can come before the quoted dialogue, or can interrupt a sentence of quoted dialogue. If the speaker tag comes first, use a comma after the tag. If the quote is interrupted by the tag, use a comma in the quoted dialogue, even if you would not use one otherwise. When putting a speaker tag in the middle of a quoted sentence, try to place it where there would be a natural pause in speaking.


In dialogue, make sure that your attributives do not awkwardly interrupt a spoken sentence. Place them where the breath would come naturally in speech - that is, where the speaker would pause for emphasis, or take a breath. The best test for locating an attributive is to speak the sentence aloud. ~E.B. White
Once you establish which characters are participating in the dialogue, you do not need to use a speaker tag in every line. Leaving out speaker tags during a quick back-and-forth exchange between characters moves the pace along, which is helpful if it's an argument or a scene with urgency or tension. This generally works when only two characters are speaking. Don't go too many lines without inserting a tag or readers may feel they are losing track of who is speaking.

Visit Writing With Sharon Watson for a tutorial and printable worksheet for punctuation in dialogue. The Author Learning Center shares 8 Essential Rules for Punctuating Dialogue. And here's an article from Grammarly on Quotation Marks and Dialogue.



Use Dialogue to Move the Story

Dialogue must serve a purpose in the context of the story. It should either move the story forward somehow, or it should reveal something about the characters to the reader. Readers should be able to discern character's traits, feelings, and reactions through what they say and how they say it. It's best to let the words the characters speak indicate what they are feeling rather than put it into the verbs or adverbs in the speaker tags. There are definitely situations in which you'll want to specify that a character whispered or nagged or shrieked instead of just said something, but those should be the exception. 
Don't go overboard in avoiding "said." Basically, "said" is the default for dialogue, and a good thing, too; it's an invisible word that doesn't draw attention to itself. ~Diana Gabaldon
Similarly, specifying that the character said something "worriedly" or "jokingly" is less effective than having the character's words or narrative actions indicate their manner. Narrative actions are the actions characters do while speaking or instead of speaking and they are strong indicators of mood and emotion. A character that is slamming cupboard doors and drawers while saying, "I guess we'll have leftovers tonight," is in a different frame of mind than the one saying the same words while collapsing into a chair weeping. The reactions expressed in dialogue should make sense for the situation and the character. 

Characters should speak in character. In other words, an energetic preschooler will have a different vocabulary and voice than a distinguished elderly professor. Generally, the dialogue should flow naturally. It should sound like something that kind of person would actually say, and the kind of conversation that might actually take place. For example, in the real world, we seldom address a person by name every time we talk to them. We save the use of their name for when we need to single them out or get their attention somehow. So it may not ring true if the John and Mary in your story have a private conversation in which they keep saying each other's names.

Keep in mind that the natural dialogue in a story is not like a transcript of every word spoken in real life though. Only record the dialogue that advances the story in some way. When a detective character walks into a crowded party looking for information, he'll likely speak with many of the characters, but only the dialogue with the one character that provides a useful clue would be recorded in the story. Small talk is seldom part of a story's dialogue, but only those conversations that add to the conflict or build tension. If you include snippets of small talk or seemingly unrelated dialogue, the reader will expect that something in that exchange is important to the story. If it's not, don't include that dialogue! Characters may not have the luxury of lots of time to think about their response and what to say, but as the author, you do! Choose their words carefully!
Dialogue is the illusion of real conversation. Writers streamline their dialogue and make it do something in the story: reveal character, move the plot, and show argument, tension, and deceit. ~Sharon Watson
To create tension, dialogue needs to be stretched out. That is, characters should not be immediately responsive. ~Sol Stein
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For more about creating characters in fiction, see: High School Writing Tip Sheets - Creating Characters in Fiction.


Some of this article is based on information in the wonderful textbook Writing Fiction [In High School] from Writing with Sharon Watson. This textbook is the one I've taught from in the co-op for several years, and I highly recommend it.




A previous version of this article was published on Homeschool Coffee Break in December 2021.

 Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to HS Coffee Break by email 

 ©2006-2023 HS Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



Monday, January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from HS Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 


Today the USA is observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is also designated as a National Day of Service in order to encourage people to volunteer in ways that improve their communities. I've collected some resources to share a bit of history and background to this national holiday.

Who Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

King was born on January 15, 1929, and was named Michael Jr. after his father. But his father visited Germany and was so impressed by the Protestant leader Martin Luther that he changed his own name to Martin Luther King. Michael Jr. later followed suit and became Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1954, King was the minister of Dexter Ave. Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and in 1956 he led the black boycott of segregated bus lines in the city. (After Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.) King was already serving on a committee looking into challenging the Jim Crow laws, but was initially reluctant to lead the boycott. He agreed when other ministers pointed out that being a relative newcomer to the area, he might have more freedom to speak out against the injustice. The boycott lasted over a year, but eventually was successful when Montgomery desegregated the bus service. 

King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to lead the fight for civil rights through his philosophy of nonviolent resistance. That resistance led to thirty arrests during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1963 he gained worldwide attention during protests in Birmingham, Alabama, and for the March on Washington he organized. More than 200,000 people participated in the March, and it was where he delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. 

Did you know? That iconic speech originally was not intended to include that four-word phrase by which we know it today! King met with trusted advisors the day before the event to work out details of his speech. The draft and outline had already been written and King wanted input from the advisors because he knew how important this speech would be. The three hours of planned speeches from leaders of the March would be broadcast by the major TV networks, and King wanted to deliver something that would have maximum impact. At that meeting, it was suggested that he not use the 'dream' language that had been the theme of many of his previous speeches, since it might be considered cliche or trite by that time. But once King had started speaking, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted for him to "tell them about the dream" and that is what he did, abandoning the script from that point and delivering a message so powerful that it is still moving and powerful today. That event, that speech, and the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. were influential in the federal government finally taking actions to address racial inequality. In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient at 35 years old, and the third black man to receive it.

You can visit Biography.com to learn more about that background: Martin Luther King Jr's Famous Speech Almost Didn't Have the Phrase 'I Have A Dream'. This video from History.com summarizes that background if you'd prefer to watch and listen:



Here is video of the speech, edited a little, but still powerful: 


And among the documents available at the National Archives website, you can read the full text of Dr. King's speech in a pdf: "I Have A Dream" speech.

Martin Luther King, Jr. continued to work for civil rights, and went on to criticize the Vietnam War and work to address poverty. While in Memphis, Tennessee, in support of striking workers, he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968.

Just four days later, the first legislation to establish a holiday in his honor was introduced. Over time, various states adopted MLK Jr. Day, beginning with a state holiday in Illinois in 1973. In 1983, a national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established, to be observed on the Third Monday of every January, beginning in 1986.

This video from OfficeHolidays.com gives a brief overview of who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was and how MLK Day came to be observed in the USA:


Want to learn more about American holidays, including MLK Jr. Day? SchoolhouseTeachers.com has this resource page for Holidays and Celebrations and also this course geared to fourth- through eighth-graders: History of Holidays in America.

history of holidays in USA

Middle School students may also be interested in the Civil Rights Movement course


If you're not already a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, and would like to use these resources and over 400 other courses for students at all grade levels, take advantage of the sale pricing at the site now until January 31, 2023. SchoolhouseTeachers.com can help you plan for a successful and enriching year. Make sure your students are on track by checking out the Scope and Sequence resources; get access to over 400 courses, World Book Online, Total College Access, and RightNow Media; and get help with record-keeping, report cards, transcripts and more with Applecore. There are resources to benefit the whole family, and for supplementing and enriching education or as your full homeschool curriculum all in one place. Pay only $90 today and lock in the next nine months of homeschool curriculum. Use code: FRESHSTART23 at checkout to gain access to all these homeschooling essentials.


Sources for this article: www.OfficeHolidays.com, History.com, and Biography.com


 Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to HS Coffee Break by email 

 ©2006-2023 HS Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.




Thursday, January 12, 2023

Moving Updates

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from HS Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 


By now you might know that we recently moved from Maryland to Ohio and I've been working on getting my place here to look and feel like home. And this post does have an update about that project. But it's also about another project that I just started, and that is a new blog. 

A little background about this blog might be helpful as I explain what I'm doing. Years ago, I started a homeschool blog after a few online homeschool friends had done the same, and it was mostly a little record of how we spent our days. I thought maybe those friends and some of my family might be interested and that's about it. That blog had changed platforms a couple times before I settled here with the title Homeschool Coffee Break, and started reviewing homeschool curriculum and products for The Homeschool Review Crew. That gig helped grow the blog audience well past what I had originally expected as well! I also started a separate blog called Just A Second where I put my personal book reviews and other bookish things.

Fast forward a few years, and my youngest child was nearing graduation, and I had to give up reviewing curriculum. I realized that her graduation would also mean my retirement from my homeschool mom career. I've written about this whole process here quite a bit, and for a couple of years I continued writing homeschool content here, as I was still teaching at a homeschool co-op after she graduated. The direction and focus of this blog was changing though, obviously. I've been wondering for at least a year what I was going to do with a blog created for a homeschool niche audience now that I was no longer homeschooling. This winter, I seriously entertained the idea that maybe I should create a new personal blog and just keep this one here as sort of a resource for homeschooling interests, but only add new material occasionally. Our move to a new state in November brought a lot of changes my way, including leaving my teaching position at the co-op. And so, over the holidays, I was reminded of my idea to move my blogs, and I finally did it this week!

A couple of days ago, I put on the coffeepot and invited friends to join me for A Fresh Cup of Coffee.



I wish I'd launched the new coffee break spot right at the first of the year, but my plan was still too nebulous at that point. Even now I'm still figuring it out, and it will be a bit of a gradual process, not unlike my move into a new home. When we first moved in, it was obvious where some things would go and what we'd need to buy. As we got settled and start acquiring new furniture, I changed my mind about a few things and reorganized other things. I suspect I'll do some of the same with the blog move. I know what's moving from this room to the other, but I'm sure I'll adjust things a little as we get settled.

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Or I guess I should say, STAYING here at Homeschool Coffee Break! This will still be my hub for all things homeschool, and I do plan on updating information here and on adding new content related to home education. Material like the High School Writing Tip Sheets series. Some new and some updated and renewed content from earlier in my blogging.

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Most of my new content will be at A Fresh Cup of Coffee! That will include the following link-ups and features:

Scripture and a Snapshot weekly on Saturdays.


Five Minute Friday weekly on Fridays.



The "Currently" link-up on the first Wednesday of each month, and the Share Four Somethings link-up on the last Saturday of each month. Both of these are hosted at Overflowing With Thankfulness.
The More Than Just A Mom link-up hosted by these bloggers on the second Monday of each month. (I just published my first article for this earlier this week, and it is on both blogs)


And I often share individual articles in other link-ups such as Inspire Me Monday hosted by Anita Ojeda, Let's Have Coffee hosted by Joanne Viola: Days and Thoughts, and others. The 2023 version of the Write 28 Days challenge is coming soon, for example, and I plan to participate on A Fresh Cup of Coffee.

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My Just A Second book blog will continue as usual, except that the Scripture and a Snapshot weekly link-up I've been hosting there will be moving to A Fresh Cup of Coffee. The two blogs will co-host for a few weeks to give others a chance to switch.


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I did not forget about an update on moving into the new house. Here are some photos of the progress - we started out about six weeks ago with this:



And now the dining room and living room look more like this:



I have pictures to put on the walls, but can't decide where they go until I get another loveseat or chair and a side table, and decide where those things go.


I finally have a new dresser in the bedroom, but haven't filled it yet, so the closet is still slightly chaotic (sorry - no photo of that!).


And the spare bedroom/office went from this:


to this:


So things are coming along!

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I hope you'll continue to enjoy your virtual coffee breaks with me here, or at A Fresh Cup of Coffee. Thank you especially to those of my readers that have stuck with me through the last few years of adjustments!


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