January 2015: Holiday History & Craft

Happy New Year! And welcome to our first Holiday History & Craft. (This article and craft is designed for younger children and is written accordingly). Did you or your mom get a new calendar for the new year? I did…I’m lucky; one of my brothers always gives me a new calendar book for Christmas. But I realized I need a wall-hanging calendar for my office cubical where I volunteer. So I thought it would be fun to make a calendar – then I started wondering where calendars came from. What’s their history?


Did you know most societies and civilizations throughout history (even way back in Abraham’s time) had some form of calendar? Calendars count days and group them into periods, usually called months. A Lunar calendar groups days based on the lunar phases (this refers to the time between full moon); there are about 12 lunar phases in a year. There is also the Solar calendar which groups days based on seasons; the ancient Persians (the civilization where Queen Esther lived) developed this time of calendar. The Julian Calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC (about 46 years before Jesus was born). It divided years into 365 and a 1/4 days. How do you have 1/4 day? That’s why we have a leap year every 4 years. In that fourth year there is an extra day in the month of February. Pretty cool, huh?

Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar with 365.25 days

Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar with 365.25 days

The most used calendar today is the Gregorian Calendar which was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. It is very, very similar to the Julian Calendar, but has a few technical refinements. Most countries and cultures have adopted this calendar style, but a few continue to use other calendar forms unique to their religion or society.


Let’s make a calendar! (Suggestion: first, ask your mom or dad if it’s okay – this might get a little messy and you might need their help)

What You’ll Need:

Calendar Pages (can be made on a personal clip art program or searched for on-line)

Extra Paper


Something sticky (glue stick, rubber cement, double sided tape)

Pens, pencils, markers, or other drawing/writing devices

Old magazines or other art materials (stamps, drawing materials, stickers, etc. etc. etc.)

Stapler Supplies for January 2014 Holiday Craft Organize your calendar pages; stack them in order, so January is on the top. Lay a blank sheet of paper over the January calendar page (trim to size if necessary). Next you’ll need to decide how you’re going to decorate your calendar. If you are a wonderful artist you might enjoy drawing pictures. Stamping is fun or stickers are super easy. However, I decided it was time to use some magazine that had been around since 2009. I cut some pretty pictures that I like out of the magazines and got to work! January Craft 2014 Fold back the blank page covering January and decorate the part now above the January calendar page. Try to choose something wintery if you can. (If the page needs to dry, set it aside).

Now pick up the January page and lay it above February (make sure it is laying correctly). Decorate February’s page. Continue turning and decorating the pages. Let them dry if you’re using glue.

Remember you don’t have to use magazines. Be creative. Personalize your calendar with things you like and most of all, have fun! If you want, you can decorate around the magazine pictures with handwritten quotes or fun designs.

Now carefully gather your calendar pages. Check one last time to make sure they are in the correct order! Make sure they are laying together neatly and, with mom or dad’s help, staple the top of the calendar pages together.

Now you’ve got a personal calendar! If want to leave a comment below, I’ll enjoy reading about your project.

Exciting New Year


It’s 2015! I’m launching a couple new features here on Gazette665.

#1. The History Learning Center Students and Teachers have been asking for booklists and resources. Well, your wishes are about to come true. I’ve complied lists of my favorite books (history and fiction) from all eras of American History and it is available for FREE! My goal is to provide helpful resources for students, teachers, and folks who (like me) just love history or a good story.

#2. Holiday History & Craft This feature is geared toward younger folks and hence these posts will take a slightly different tone in writing style. Parents (grandparents, siblings, anyone) do kids ever ask you: why do we celebrate this holiday? Answers are coming to your inbox (if you’ve signed up for blog post emails). Read a short history of some of the most popular holidays throughout the year. Look for a post and craft idea each month. Holiday Crafts will be shared on the first Monday of each month.

#3. Gazette665 on Facebook Yep, I finally bit the bullet. You can follow Gazette665 and all the Historical Information and Inspiration on Facebook. Come on over and LIKE it today!

#4. Gazette665 on Pinterest After hearing about this network, I decided to jump in and share photos I like, inspiration for stories, and other fun stuff. Come take a look at the “boards” of our favorite things! Find some historical inspiration.

Wow…Four new features! Yes, yes, yes! Gazette665 is growing and this is going to be an exciting year. Find more Historical Information and Inspiration at your fingertips when you need it.

Gazette665 is only a click away from helping you with research, trivia questions, or argument winning. 😉 And, as always, drop a comment or send a request if you have thoughts, concerns, or requests.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Next Friday starts our first history series of the year “To Cross The Alps: The Leadership of Hannibal” – see you then (or sooner on Facebook)

3 Days ‘Til Moorpark 2014

This video was filmed at a Civil War Re-enactment in Pennsylvania…  If you’re on the west coast of the US and thinking “I would’ve loved to go, but couldn’t make it to Pennsylvania”, fear not.

MOORPARK CIVIL WAR RE-ENACTMENT 2014 starts in 3 days and is the largest Civil War event west of the Mississippi River. Here’s a link with lots of information. (And remember: the event’s at a new location this year, so check for the new address.)

“McGuire Home, Winchester, Virginia,” Civil War Living History Group is attending this event. (Yeah, I need to go finish ironing about 15 yards of calico skirts…). We have some new display items and will be packing a Christmas box for the McGuire men who are with the Confederate military…can you guess some of the practical items we’ve accumulated? (I’ll post some photos of the display and event next week, in case you’re not attending).

Check out the new Living History pages. And if you’re attending this event or another Civil War re-enactment you may find this page (and the Student Questions) helpful!

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Oh, by the way, the video clip is supposed to portray the Battle of Fairfield (July 3, 1863). Captain Hugh McGuire of the 11th Virginia Cavalry fought there.


Photos from Tom’s Farm Civil War Re-enactment 2014

Last Saturday I spent a busy day at Tom’s Farm Civil War Re-enactment. From 10am to 6pm I asked research questions, talked with friends, made new acquaintances, and absorbed the military setting. This is where the daydreams for new stories and historical projects begin.

I thought I’d share a couple of the best photos from the event. Enjoy! (You can click on one of the photos to see them all in larger format and as a slideshow).

Mark your calendars – Moorpark Civil War Re-enactment (the largest one west of the Mississippi River) is the second weekend of November! Expect to see a few more posts about this event as it draws nearer…

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Leave a comment if you have a favorite photo – I’d appreciate it! Back to the Shenandoah Valley on Friday… What was General Sheridan’s surprise early on the morning of October 19, 1864?

History of Helicopters

Today I’m teaching a short class on the History of the Helicopter: 400 BC to Modern Era at a Youth Aviation Club meeting. The group meets about twice a month and encourages young folks to learn about flying and how to make their dreams of soaring and zooming a reality.

Sikosky Helicopter, 1940s

Sikosky Helicopter, 1940s

I love aviation history! It’s kind of my history hobby to enjoy reading about and seeing old aircraft. (Check my June field trip for some fun airplane photos). So I enjoyed doing the research to put together a presentation for the club and even found some topics that would be great “long” research projects sometime in the future.

Anyway, here’s a few of the facts that I’ll be presenting:

  • The Chinese used a very basic form of a helicopter  in 400 BC as children’s toys.
  • Leonardo da Vinci actually drew plans for a “helicopter” type flying machine.  The problem: since his design was based around the principle of a screw, the entire aircraft was going to spin…like an amusement park ride. Yikes!
  • During the Age of the Enlightenment (1700’s) Christian de Launoy  built a basic model using turkey feathers as rotor blades and demonstrated it in the French Academy of Sciences
  • 1861: the word “helicopter” is used for the first time and steam powered models try to fly (unsuccessfully)
  • 1870: coaxial helicopter toys are built for children (Wilbur and Orville Wright played with one)
  • Thomas Edison tries to invent a vertical flying machine with an internal combustion engine (unsuccessfully)
  • 1907: man flies in a helicopter about two feet off the ground!
  • Not used in WWI
  • In the 1920’s and 1930 the principles of vertical flight begin to be understood and flying models improve
  • Not practical for use during WWII, but a few models were used for medical evacuations in remote areas
  • Igor Sikosky builds successful helicopters in the United States.  The aircraft is adopted for the military and civilian usages
  • 1951: the first turbine powered helicopter is developed
  • Helicopters were used extensively in the Korean and Vietnam War
  • Helicopters are still used today in varied jobs; with continued improvements they will probably remain part of the aviation world for a long time.

There you have it – a very brief synopsis of the presentation and some new aviation/historical facts to educate (or annoy) your friends.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. See you on Friday for the last post on the American War for Independence! And here’s the Nathanael Green and Benjamin Lincoln biographies, in case you missed the last couple weeks.


“Tea & Mystery in Winchester, Virginia” 2014

I had a fantastic weekend…here’s a bonus post!

Friday, August 1 and Saturday, August 2, were the dates of “Tea & Mystery in Winchester, Virginia.”  Hosted by The McGuire Home Civil War Living History Group, this event delighted guests with a full tea menu, a historical mystery play, and open-forum for Civil War related questions.  The event was in Southern California so guests did not have to purchase airline tickets to get to Virginia.  (Here’s more info about Living History, The McGuire Family, or Up-Coming Events, if you’d like it…)

Displays of historical reproduction items contributed to the unique “tea room” setting.  Each display represented a story of the McGuire Family or an account of War in Winchester.

Each table was named after a specific house or location in Winchester.  Guests learned about the location and the people associated with it during the introduction to the mystery play.

I’m sharing some photos and photo journaling here to show the event.  (If you want to see the photos in a larger format, click on one and it should link into a gallery for easy viewing).  The article concludes after the pictures, so scroll down.

Mystery Play: the entertainment was produced with the goal of helping guests understand the hardship and uncertainty of living in war-time Winchester.  The actual plot of the play was completely fictional, but real places, characters, and accounts were featured.  When writing the play, the author tried to produce something that would entertain the audience, introduce them to a little history, and hopefully, inspire them to learn more.

I had a wonderful time planning this event and I think it was quite successful.  I loved the guests’ enthusiasm and how they kept telling us “this is what makes history come alive.”

Proceeds from this event will be used to travel to Civil War re-enactments and produce more educational resources.  A large portion will be donated to Civil War Trust to help preserve General Lee’s Headquarters at Gettysburg and Port Republic Battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley.

If you attended this event, thanks so much for joining us!  I’d appreciate it if you leave a comment and we’ll hope to see you again soon – maybe at an upcoming event

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. See you on Friday for Part 2 of Demystifying WWI…  Here’s Part 1, if you missed it.