History of Buffalo Bill Cody for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you live in America in the 1800s, a time before cars, the Internet and TV. You are riding in a wagon pulled by your family’s best two horses. Your mom and dad are up front and you and your siblings are in the back. You look around and see many other families also riding towards the main event. When the wagon stops you climb out and hurry to a stand where your father buys tickets and hands you one. You give your ticket to attendant then rush into the large arena and climb up the stairs to what you think is the best seat with the best view. You smell popcorn and your mother hands you a bag with a smile. You take a bite and wait in anticipation for the show to begin. 

Suddenly a gun fires and you hear the thunder of hooves as a stampede of horses fill the arena. Dust clouds fill the air. Indians whoop and holler. Army men shoot their guns and flash their swords. Soon a battle begins. But this isn’t a real battle, it’s just a show, and the crowd watches in amazement as the showmen act out a battle from American history. An soldier cries out and falls off his horses. An Indian charges and waves his tomahawk. The smell of gunpowder fills the air. Soon the dust and the smoke settles. The battle is finished. The audience cheers wildly. 

Suddenly a lone man rides into the arena, waving his hat. From his leather coat, long hair and mustache, you instantly recognize the rider as the greatest showman of the Wild West — Buffalo Bill Cody. You wave your hat and cheer too. The show has just begun and you can’t wait to see what comes next.

Bill Cody was born in 1847 on a farm outside Le Claire, Iowa to Isaac and Mary Ann Cody. When Bill was young slavery was still happening in some parts of the country. Bill’s father, Isaac, was very much against it.  Many people didn’t like Bill’s family for this reason. One day when his father was speaking out against slavery someone hurt him very badly. After this Isaac had to move away to avoid his enemies. Later, the same group planned to catch Isaac and hurt him again. When Bill heard what they were going to do to his father, he jumped on his horse and rode 30 miles to warn him before they came. 

Not long afterward Bill’s father became very sick and soon passed away. This left Bill to help take care of his family when he was only 11 years old. His first job was with a wagon company. He rode his horse up and down the train of wagons and delivered messages to help them keep in touch with each other. 

When Bill was 14 years old gold was discovered in California and many Americans hurried there in hopes to mine gold and become rich. This was called a Gold Rush. Bill left on his horse for California, but along the way he found a job delivering mail from one place to another. Because there were no telephones, mail by horse was the only way people could talk to each other.

A few years later, Bill joined the Army’s 3rd Cavalry, which was fighting the Native Indians in what was called the Plains Wars. Bill was the Chief of the Scouts. His job was to ride ahead and see if they were going to be attacked. He fought in sixteen battles with the army.

While the army was on the trail they needed food, so one of Bill’s jobs was to hunt buffalo. Buffalo are huge, wild, hairy animals with horns that roamed the plains during the Wild West. At this time there were hundreds and thousands of buffalo and Bill became a very skilled hunter of them. Once, another hunter with the same name as Bill challenged him to see who could hunt the most buffalo within 8 hours. Whoever won would keep the name “Buffalo Bill.” The race was on. Bill took off on his horse and raced around the massive herd of buffalo, aiming his long rifle, and firing, picking them off one at a time. He kicked his horse faster and faster, aiming and firing, aiming and firing, buffalos dropping at every shot. When the time was up, someone rode around and counted the buffalo. Bill had killed more beasts than the other man and won the name “Buffalo Bill.”

Often people came from the East Coast or other parts of the world to visit the Wild West and hunt the famous buffalo. Buffalo Bill started taking these visitors on trips to explore the West and hunt. Some of the people who went with Bill wrote about him in the newspapers and someone even made him a character in a book. Soon many people knew about this famous hunter of the American West.

A few years later Buffalo Bill joined a traveling show called The Scouts of the Prairie. Together with the other actors he would act out famous battles for audiences. These shows were very popular and often they performed to sold out crowds. Everyone was excited to see the famous Buffalo Bill Cody and gun fighters such as “Wild Bill” Hickok. 

Before long, Bill had the idea to start his own show and called it Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. He and his crew dressed in colorful costumes and acted out battles with guns and horses while a live band played music. Many of the acts included horses and their riders from all across the world from Spanish Cowboys to Turks, Arabs, and Mongols from Asia. The American Indian war hero Sitting Bull was in the show along with famous women sharp shooters such as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. People came from all across the country to be entertained by Buffalo Bill and his talented performers. 

Later Buffalo Bill’s West West show took a ship across the ocean to Europe, where they performed before such royalty as the Queen of England and the Kings of France and Germany. They also performed nearby the Chicago’s Worlds Fair and were a huge hit.  

Buffalo Bill used the money from his world famous show to found his own town in Wyoming and called it Cody. There he bought land and built a beautiful hotel and brought in cattle for a very large ranch. He designed Cody so people from all over could visit the countryside and pretend to be cowboys, go on horseback rides, and hunt animals in the woods. These activities were some of his great loves and he wanted to share them with others.

Even though Bill fought against Indians early in his life, he later had great respect for them and their simple way of life. He knew the reason many of them attacked settlers was because they had been treated poorly in the first place. He felt bad for what had been done to them, that they had been driven from their lands by the new Americans. He believed they should be treated with respect and hired many of them to work for his show and paid the same as everyone else.

Bill spent much of his time in nature, so he came to have great respect for the land and animals of the American West. He later did what he could to help preserve these beautiful places. This is called conservationism. Americans like he and Teddy Roosevelt believed that much of the land should be kept safe, so it can be enjoyed by everyone. This is why we have National Parks today.

Today spend a moment thinking about what it would have been like to start taking care of your family like Bill did at a young age. It was hard and probably scary at times, but Bill learned new skills such as hunting and horseback riding. When you face challenges remember that sticking with things until you get better is the only way to learn and grow. So be sure to face hard things with courage and keep on trying. 

Like Buffalo Bill you can use your imagination to come up with new ideas to entertain others. Spend some time thinking of an act or show you could perform and share it with a family member or a friend. If you can make someone else smile or laugh, that is a very good thing. 

Also, spend a little more time outside. There is much to appreciate outdoors, even if it is your backyard. Take the time to look at the sky and clouds and the trees and the listen to the birds in them. There is much to be enjoyed in the natural world around you if you take the time to notice it. 

History of Mahatma Gandhi for Kids

Have you heard ever heard of a country called India? India is between China and the Middle East and much of it is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. India is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and for many years was one of the richest countries in the world. Over one billion people live in India. It has more people than any other country in the world, second only to China. 

In the 1800s the British Empire ruled many countries of the world including America. During the American Revolution the Patriots fought off the British King and his soldiers and became their own free country. At the time of our story the British Empire was still in control of India. This is the story of how India came to be free and the man who helped make it happen.

In 1869 in the city of Porbander, India a boy named Mahandas Ghandi was born in a small home to a simple family. The Ghandis were good people. The father was a leader in the city and his mother was a very religious woman. She taught her children to pray and read scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Vegas, and some texts from the Bible and Quaran. The Ghandis were Hindu, so they didn’t drinking wine or eat meat. Ghandi’s mother also taught the family to fast — which means going without food for a certain period of time. She believed it gave them strength and self control. 

When Mahandas was little he was very playful and sometimes liked to cause trouble. Often he would chase down dogs and twist their ears. He also loved to listen to classic Indian stories, such as the stories of Shravan and Harischandra, which were epic tales about virtue and adventure. These stories taught good principles and helped Mahandas want to be a good person.

At age nine Mahandas started school and there learned math, history, language and geography. He was just an okay student and pretty shy and had trouble speaking. This made him very nervous when he had to speak in front of his class, but he did like books and learning.

At this time in India people got married very young. Mahandas was 13 when he married a girl named Kasturba. When Kasturba was 17 they had their first baby, but sadly she didn’t live very long. This same year Mahandas also lost his father, so it was a very hard time for him. But later Mahandas and Kasturba had four more children, so it made them happy to be parents.

Next Ghandi decided to travel to London, the capital of the British Empire, to go to college to become a lawyer. A lawyer is someone who helps others work with the law, the rules that keep a country in order. Ghandi’s parents were worried while he was there he wouldn’t live his religion, that he would eat meat and drink alcohol and do other things they didn’t approve of. But when he left he promised them he would stay faithful no matter what. And Ghandi did live up to his word, he stayed strong in his Hindu religion while he was away from home. This is called commitment and dedication to something you believe in.

Ghandi learned a lot about the English people while he was in London. He had always been shy and at first school was difficult, but instead of giving up he joined a group that taught him how to speak louder and more clearly and with lots of practice he became a very good speaker.

After finishing college, Ghandi got a job working for a shipping company in South Africa. At this time the British Empire also ruled South Africa. In South Africa Ghandi was treated badly by the English because he was from India. Once when he was on a train they didn’t let him sit with other people. They picked him up and threw him off the train. Ghandi was so upset by this he refused to leave the train station until they let him on the next train. This is called a protest. Finally, they let Ghandi back on the train. Many times Ghandi was treated badly because he was from India. He started to think England shouldn’t be in control of India anymore. 

When Ghandi moved back to India and he was determined to do everything he could to make India a free country. He began speaking and writing about what the India people needed to do to become free. But Ghandi was a peaceful person and didn’t believe in hurting others to become free. Instead they would peacefully protest and use civil disobedience — which means finding other ways to make your point other than violence. 

One thing England did to control India was tax the things they bought, this meant charging extra for food and clothes and keeping the money. So instead of buying clothes and salt from England, Ghandi decided to make his own clothes and salt. He learned how to make his own clothes and started wearing them. Thousands of other India people started doing the same. This made the British upset, because they were losing money. To make his own salt, Ghandi began a journey to the ocean. He walked over 200 miles to make salt in the ocean. People all over India followed him and did the same. All across the world people saw what Ghandi and the India people were doing and sympathized with them. Ghandi was put in jail many times for his actions. He would go without eating until they would set him free. What Ghandi was doing was very difficult, but he was sacrificing his owns desires for the country and people he loved.

Sometimes the Indian people wanted to use guns and weapons to fight the British leaders, but Ghandi continually taught that this was the wrong way. He used scriptures of many different religions to show that peace was a better way. When his people did start to fight Ghandi would go without eating for many days until they stopped. The people often stopped because they loved Ghandi and didn’t want him to be hungry.

Eventually, England let India become free. The amazing part of this story is that it came about without a big war and lots of people dying. This was truly a miracle and Ghandi showed the world that freedom can come about through peaceful ways. The Indian people and Ghandi celebrated. They were so happy to be in control of their own country. The time after this was very challenging as they figured out how to be on their own, but it gave them a chance to make their own choices and be a free people.

Not long after India became free Ghandi passed away, but his mission was complete and the Indian people and people all across the world will remember him as someone who loved his people and gave his life for them.

In life it’s easy to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. Its natural for us to want to take care of ourselves, which is important to some degree. But giving of ourselves to help others is also very important. It’s important to share and to think about what makes others happy. Spend some time thinking about what makes others happy and then do something about it. Next time you have a treat think about how happy it will make others to taste it, too. If you are playing with a toy, think about how your brother or sister or friend might enjoy playing with it. 

Ghandi believed in being peaceful. Next time someone wants to fight with you or argue, think about a more peaceful way you can deal with the problem. You never know, in the end someone who you think is an enemy might become a friend.

Nancy Wake Story for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are a soldier flying in a plane high above the ocean. Outside you hear the plane’s propellers turning and strong winds rushing past the windows. It is the middle of the night and down below the ocean is dark and cold. Sitting around you are other soldiers, men and women with dark clothes and large backpacks. They look nervous and you feel nervous too. You check your gun and tighten a parachute which is also on your back. 

The year is 1944 and you are in the middle of World War 2. Nazi Germany has invaded France. France’s allies England and the United States and other countries are working to help France and many other countries be free again. If the battle can be won in France there might be a chance to beat the Nazis and make the world a safe place again. You look around at the other soldiers, but remember you and the others here are no ordinary soldiers. You are part of England’s Special Operations Executive, commandos which are a combination of a soldier and a spy. You have trained many months to be a commando and it’s finally your chance to help the people of France. 

“Everyone ready?” a voice calls from the back of the plane. You look out the window and see that you are above land now. This is France. You and the other soldiers stand up and walk toward the back of the plane. In the front you see one of the most famous commandos — a woman named Nancy Wake. The back doors to the plane open. You watch as Nancy walks to the back of the plane and jumps out into the cold night. Soon you jump out, too, and are are falling down, down toward the ground.  At the right moment you pull your parachute and are yanked up into the sky. You look across the French countryside and float downward until your boots hit the ground and you roll, then hurriedly wrap up your parachute. 

Nancy Wake and the other commandos are running low across a grassy field to the cover of trees. Someone whispers that a German patrol is nearby. You quietly hurry on until you are hidden deep in the woods. Everyone huddles together and pulls out their backpacks. You see that Nancy is safe and are glad to have such a brave woman leading your team. You know with her help you can accomplish your dangerous and very important mission. 

Nancy Wake was born in Wellington, New Zealand. A couple years later her family moved to Australia. There she went to school until the age of 16 when she left home and found a job as a nurse. Working as a nurse, she was able to save some money and with the help of an aunt, was bought a plane ticket to New York City. There she learned how to become a journalist. A journalist is someone who writes stories for the newspaper. To Nancy being a journalist was an adventure. She loved to travel and learn about new people and places. One of the places she visited was Austria. While she was in Austria a powerful leader named Adolf Hitler had become very powerful. Hitler’s country of Germany was nearby Austria. In Austria Hitler’s followers, the Nazis, were hurting people they did not like, such as the Jews. When Nancy saw how horribly the Nazis treated these people, she realized Hitler was very dangerous.

Nancy moved to Paris, France one of her favorite places in the world. She loved the city and the people and eventually married a Frenchman named Henri Edmond Fiocca. While Nancy was living in France, Hitler’s army invaded the country. Hitler wanted to control France, but Nancy did everything to try and stop him. She joined a group called The Resistance. She helped soldiers escape France and sent secret messages to help The Resistance. Nancy was very careful, so for a long time the Nazis didn’t know she was a spy. She was very sneaky and for this reason the Nazis called her “The White Mouse.” Her job was very dangerous, but Nancy knew that fighting against the invaders was the right thing to do, so she did it anyway. The Nazis wanted to catch Nancy so badly that they offered 5 million French dollars to anyone who would turn her in. 

Soon it was too dangerous for Nancy to stay in France, so she snuck out of the country, hiding in the back of a coal truck, just before the Nazis caught her. From France she went to Spain and then to England, which was a country safe from the Nazis. Nancy could have lived a safe life in England far from her enemies, but she knew she needed to keep fighting to keep the world free. In England Nancy joined England’s spy group called the Special Operations Executive. There Nancy trained to be a soldier and a spy, also known as a commando. She learned to shoot a gun, use a radio, and be sneaky, which she was already pretty good at. But Nancy worked very hard and tried to be very cheerful. When other soldiers were sad she made funny jokes and cheered them up. The other soldiers like to be around Nancy. 

Once Nancy and the other soldiers were trained, a plane flew them across the ocean to France where they jumped out and parachuted down to the ground. Many Nazis were in France so they were careful and spent much of the time in hiding. There Nancy and the other soldiers helped The Resistance. They gave them guns and other supplies, blew up bridges, recruited more people to the Resistance. Once they even attacked a Nazi base. Nancy and the other commandos weren’t afraid to complete dangerous missions to help free the people of France.

To keep in touch with England the commandos used radio and special codes. One night the codes were destroyed by the enemy and the next closest radio station was very far away. Many would have given up, but Nancy decided she could ride a bike to the other radio. So she jumped on her bike and rode almost 200 miles. She had to pass many Nazis along the way, so it was a very dangerous journey, but Nancy was brave and believed in her cause. After delivering the message to be sent, Nancy got back on her bike and rode all the way back to her team.

While Nancy and the other commandos were helping The Resistance, the Allied Armies fought Hitler’s army on the battlefield until chasing them out of France. Nancy was excited to see France free again and proud to have been one of many to make it happen. 

After the war Nancy received many medals for her bravery. Later she wrote a book about her life and adventures during the war and called it “The White Mouse.” Nancy moved into a hotel in France where the owners and others helped take care of her, because of all she had done to help their country. Nancy Wake’s bravery inspired many women and men for years to come. 

Like Nancy, you can do things even when you’re not sure how they’ll turn out. Sometimes we only want to do the things we know about — this is called staying inside our comfort zone. But it’s also good for us to get outside of our comfort zone and try new things like Nancy did. We can stand up for what we believe even when it might be scary. If you see someone picking on someone else, you can tell them this is wrong and stand up for them. You might wonder if you can be as brave as Nancy, but remember she was once a child just like you. 

History of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots for Kids

Imagine you live in old Scotland.  The year is 1550.  You are an 5 year old child, but you are already a queen.  You walk through your castle, which is an old stone building, wearing a long dress to keep warm because the stone castle is cold in the winter.  You follow your mother, who takes care of you and helps teach you how to act like a royal.  She tells you how to act so that others will respect you as a leader.  You know in your heart that you will be an adult one day and then you will be fully in charge.  But for now, you listen to your mother and follow what she tells you about your duties.  You are also scared because there is a tense feeling in the air.  You are worried for your safety, as is your mom.  You are Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was also known as Mary Stuart.  She was born in the mid-1500s and was the daughter of the king of Scotland, who died just days after she was born. 

When Mary was born, the time period in Europe was known as the “Middle Ages” or “Medieval Times”.  It was a time when people did not know a lot about science and many people were very religious.  It was also a time when there was a lot of fighting amongst different people to be kings or rulers of different countries and about the role that religion should play in people’s lives.  

Mary was born in December 1542 at a palace in West Lothian, Scotland.  Her father was King James the 5th of Scotland and her mother’s name was Mary of Guise.  Baby Mary was only six days old when her father died, making her the new queen of Scotland. You may have heard of a king that lived around this time, King Henry the 8th.  He was a relative of Mary Stuart.  In fact he was her great uncle.  

Because Mary was only a baby when she became queen of Scotland, her great-uncle, Henry the 8th, said that he would act as ruler in her place until Mary was old enough to take on the role. At the time, Henry the 8th was the king of England.  This made people suspicious that King Henry the 8th just wanted to take over power as leader of Scotland too.  At the time, England and Scotland were two separate countries with two separate leaders. 

One of the people who did not want to see King Henry the 8th in control of Scotland even temporarily, or for a short period of time, was Mary’s mother. Instead she said that she would act as ruler in baby Mary’s place until she was old enough to lead the country herself. 

The rejection of King Henry the 8th as ruler made him angry.  He tried in a different way to gain control of Scotland by requesting that baby Mary be betrothed to his son, Prince Edward of England. Betrothed means to promise that two young people will get married to each other when they are older.  This was something that was often done in the old days before people married for love.  It was often done as an attempt to try to connect rich families to each other. 

Unfortunately for King Henry the 8th, many Scottish people did not want Prince Edward of England to be able to marry baby Mary when she grew up.  They were worried about the power that this would give England over their country, Scotland.  They were also worried about what that would mean for their main religion, Catholicism, since Prince Edward and his family had split from the Catholic Church and were now Protestants.

King Henry the 8th was very angry about the rejection of his son as the future husband of baby Mary.  So he ordered that his English army attack Scotland.

To protect little Mary from these attacks and possible death, Mary was sent to living France with the royal family.   

Mary was 5 years old when she went to live with the French royal family, including the French King named Henry the 2nd and his wife, Catherine de Medicis. 

Mary grew up in a very luxurious palace, which means that it was fancy and had everything that a child of the time could want.  Instead of being betrothed to Prince Edward of England, Mary’s family instead decided to promise, or betroth, her to the French Prince, Francis the 2nd, who was also a young child like her when she first came to live in France.  Mary and Francis grew up as friends in the French palace. 

Mary had a great childhood.  She loved living in the palace and learned to speak French.  When Mary was 16 years old, in 1558, she and Prince Francis got married. One year later, Prince Francis became king when his father died.  His new title was King Francis the 2nd of France.  This made Mary both the queen of Scotland and France’s queen consort, or wife of the king. 

Mary also had a strong claim to the English throne, meaning that many believed that she was the real queen of England.  However, Mary never officially became queen of England.  In November 1558, her cousin Elizabeth the 1st was crowned the queen of England.  She was always concerned about Mary and the fact that some people thought she was the real queen of England. 

Unfortunately this role didn’t last long. Francis developed an ear infection about a year after he became king and because they don’t have the medicine they do today, he passed away. This left Mary as a widow at only 18 years old as well. 

After Francis’s death, Mary decided to return to Scotland.  She was now fully an adult and it felt safer for her to return and live in her home country.  However, things were different in Scotland since she had last lived there.  During the time she was away, her mom had become very close with a man named John Knox.  He had become powerful by using their friendship to gain power in the Scottish royal family.  And he had a lot of influence, or control over others. 

One of the things that John Knox had done was convinced her mom to change the official religion of Scotland from Catholicism to Protestantism. But Mary had grown up in France where she was raised as a Catholic.  Mary decided to be a ruler that created a feeling of religious tolerance in Scotland.  This means that she told her people that they should all try to accept each others’ differences and live together in peace even though they had different religions.

In 1565, when Mary was 23, she married again, this time to Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley [her cousin].  Some people were mad about their marriage, including Mary’s cousin Elizabeth Tudor. Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry the 8th and she was the acting queen of England.

Not long after they got married for the second time, her husband started to become obsessed with power.  Mary became pregnant with her first child and was happy to know she would have a baby soon.  However, she became worried about her husband’s ruthless behaviour.  Ruthless means brutal and mean. 

But Mary tried to carry on, believing he would be the man that she hoped he was.  Henry started to get meaner to people who were in his way or against him.  Marydecided that she no longer wanted to be married to Henry.  But she was pregnant and soon she gave birth to her first son, named James, who later became James the 4th of Scotland and James the 1st of England.

Shortly after baby James was born, Henry and his friends went out on a hunting trip to the fields outside of Edinburgh, a large city and capital of Scotland.  While he was out on the trip, there was a mysterious explosion that struck, killing Henry.  After the explosion was investigated, people thought that the explosion was caused by a person.  Some suspected that it may have been done on Mary’s orders or by her and her friend James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell.  But no one ever really knew for sure. 

Only three months later, Mary got married again.  This time, her husband turned out to be James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell.  Many people were angry about their marriage.  They thought that James Hepburn was only interested in becoming king.  

They were also mad at Mary for getting married again so quickly.  And people started to suspect that maybe she was involved in her second husband, Henry’s, death.  As a result of people’s anger and suspicion, or distrust, James Hepburn, Mary’s third husband went into exile.  This meant that he was banished from the castle and country and not allowed to live there anymore, so he went to live in a hidden place.

The people told Mary that they know longer wanted her to be queen of Scotland.  She decided to step down and instead, her baby son James became king.  He was barely one year old.

Mary was arrested shortly after this as well and she was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. Less than one year later, Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle. She escaped to England, where she asked her cousin, queen Elizabeth for her help and protection.  Instead of helping her, however, queen Elizabeth was still threatened by queen Mary.  She had Mary arrested and put into captivity for the next 18 years.  Captivity means that he was imprisoned and couldn’t leave the castle.

Mary was imprisoned, but she wasn’t in a jail cell.  Instead she lived inside the castle area and had an okay life, although she could never leave. Elizabeth tried to treat her cousin somewhat well, even though she wouldn’t let her go.  

In 1586, when queen Mary was 43 years old, she started writing letters with someone who said they would help Mary escape. The same person was plotting to kill Elizabeth, the Queen of England. The letters were found and Mary was brought to trial and was found guilty of plotting against the queen which was a major crime.  She was sentenced to death for what she had done. After she passed away, Mary’s son James became King James in 1587.  

Even now, hundreds of years after Mary died, many people continue to be very interested in her life.  There are many movies made about her.  While her real name is Mary Stuart, she is usually known as Mary, Queen of Scots.  

We can learn a lot from Mary’s life, including resilience, duty and tolerance.  And we can also learn a lot from this period of time, both good and bad.  For example, we can admire the things that Mary did, becoming queen at a very young age and learning to become a strong ruler.  And persisting through three marriages and the anger of people, as well as imprisonment for 18 years. 

We can also see that the way that people fought for power back then caused problems.  People used violence and hurt each other to get what they wanted.  We can feel lucky that our society has progressed since then and that we have learned to be more peaceful.

The George Lucas and the Making of Star Wars for Kids

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Well, not really that long ago, and on our same planet, actually, a boy named George Lucas was born in California. George was like many other boys in his day. He liked comic books and rock music and TV shows which were a very new thing in his time. His favorite TV shows were adventure stories with daring heroes who did extraordinary things. These heroes had names such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. In order to buy his favorite things, George did chores around the house to earn a weekly allowance. One of his chores was mowing the lawn. The only problem was the family lawn mower was old, so it could be a very difficult chore. But George had the idea to save up his weekly money and buy a new lawnmower, so the job would be easier! This is called an investment, saving money toward something that will help you later.

In high school George loved cars. When he was 16 his dad bought him a car, but made sure it was a slow car, because he knew George liked to drive too fast. But George wouldn’t let that stop him from driving fast. He hung around car mechanics and garages and learned how to tinker with car engines, until he figured out how to make his little car drive faster. 

One of George’s favorite things to do was to drive around town in his car with his friends. He also liked to race other boys in his car. He enjoyed this so much that someday he wanted to be a race car driver. But one day when George was driving home he was driving very fast and very dangerous. Suddenly his car flipped over and rolled three times. George’s seat belt broke and he was thrown out of the car, just before his car smashed into a tree. An ambulance rushed George to the hospital. He was so hurt they didn’t know if he would survive. But miraculously he lived and after a couple months in the hospital, George got better. George decided being a race car driver wasn’t the best idea, so began looking for a new passion.

At school George started doing photography, which means taking pictures. He also decided to take classes to learn about filmmaking. A filmmaker is someone who makes movies. George made short movies and people really liked them. He had an eye for making movies look good and coming up with interesting ideas. His first big movie was about teenagers racing cars. It was called American Graffiti and to George’s surprise it won many awards and made him a lot of money. 

With all of the money from this movie he started to work on his next movie. He remembered all of the TV shows he loved growing up about adventures and space, and thought it would be fun to make a movie like that. His friends told him he should do a more serious movie, but with all of the sad things going on in the world like the Vietnam War, George wanted to do a more positive and fun movie. 

So George started to think up names of his heroes and the places they lived. He imagined distant planets and adventures for his heroes. He dreamed up space battles where ships flew through space and shot lasers at each other. He invented strange aliens and other creatures and made notes about their names and personalities. He would call his movie The Star Wars. 

After George wrote down all of the ideas, he needed to find a movie company who would pay for the movie. Many of the big companies thought it wasn’t a good idea. They thought The Star Wars was silly and no one would watch it. But George kept trying until he found a movie company called 20th Century Fox that liked his idea and would give him the money to make The Star Wars. 

Next George Lucas and his friends went to work improving his story. It took them many months of trying new characters and stories. Sometimes George got very bored with the work. Many times he had to go to different friends or his helpful wife to get new ideas. After a lot of work and patience he finally had a finished story for Star Wars. It would be about a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker who would meet an old Jedi named Obi Wan Kenobi. Together they would find a smuggler named Han Solo, who would help them return the missing droid R2D2 to its owner Princess Leia and rescue her from the evil Darth Vader.

Once the story was approved, George and his team found people to play the parts of their main characters, called actors. He also had a team of artists to turn his ideas into drawings so they could begin to make real costumes and ships and other props for the movie. When filming the spaceships nothing had been done like this before, so they had to be very creative and invent new ways to film the space battles to make them look real. 

George and his crew had to travel to deserts and other places across the world to film all of the places for their movie. Unexpected challenges with filming, with the crew and with 20th Century Fox didn’t leave George enough to make the movie, so he had to be creative and find ways to do things for less. By the time the movie was done, George wasn’t sure if anyone would like it.  

Finally, Star Wars was in theaters and audiences got to watch it for the first time. At the beginning when the music and the first space ship appeared on the screen everyone cheered. At the end of the movie the audience clapped and cheered and didn’t stop. They loved it! They were so amazed at what they saw. Nothing like Star Wars had ever been done before! People went back and saw it over and over. Many stood in line for hours just to see it again. George knew he had made a great movie, but had no idea how much people would love it. It became a box office hit, broke many records, and was the most popular movie for many years all over the world. 

All of George’s and his teams hard work and creativity finally paid off. They went on to make two more Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Both movies were also very popular. 

A few years later George dreamed up a new hero, an archeologist who went on adventures. He named after his own dog, Indiana, and Indiana Jones was born. George made this movie with his friend Steven Spielberg and it was also a huge success.

More recently, Disney bought the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for four billion dollars. George said he would give half of the money to people in need. Much of it will go to helping schools. 

George Lucas wasn’t afraid to try new things and use his imagination and creativity to come up with new ideas. Often our creative ideas can lead to new and exciting things. If you ever have an idea be sure to write it down, make your own story, or draw a picture of it. George’s ideas sparked the imagination of millions, and got many young people interested in space and making their own movies. 

Watching movies is a helpful way to relax our brains and open them up to new ideas. Spend some time thinking about what you might do to be creative, because you never know what your own ideas will lead to!

History of Benjamin Franklin for Kids

Have you heard of a Founding Father before? A Founding Father is someone who helped start the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father. Some have also called him the First American, because he had so many of the traits that would become known as American, such as hard work and independence. Independence is when you do something for yourself. 

Ben Franklin was born in Boston Massachusetts to a very large family. He had 17 brothers and sisters! His family didn’t have very much money so he only went to school for 2 years. But he did spend a lot of time reading on his own. He also learned to write and enjoyed doing it.

When he was young he worked for his older brother who was a printer. A printer would print newspapers and books for other people. Printing was important, because it was the best way to share an idea at that time. Printers would use little metal letters and build entire pages of words and sentences, then use black ink to make copies of the metal letters. Because Ben was working for his older brother he was called an “apprentice.” An apprentice is someone who is learning to become a master at a certain skill like printing. 

While Ben was working as a printer he also liked to write for the newspaper. He would use a fake name Silence Dogood to write in the newspaper. He pretended to be an old lady and wrote funny jokes. Many people in the town thought this was very funny and didn’t know it was Ben writing the jokes. 

After a few years Ben left his brother’s shop and started working for a new printer. His job was to set the metal letters in the big printing machine. He was also a clerk, a shopkeeper and a bookkeeper. He liked to stay busy and to learn all he could while he was working.

Around this time, when he was 20 years old, Ben formed a group including other Americans who also liked to read. Books cost a lot of money to buy, and there were no libraries, so Ben and his friends started their own library. They shared the books they read and met together to talk about what they read. Later in his life Ben would help start some of the first libraries in America because he knew reading and learning were so important.

After working for other printers for many years, Ben started his own printing shop. He wrote about his own ideas and used parts of the paper to talk about good morals. Morals are the things that are good to do in life — like being honest, being kind, not stealing and working hard. Ben made lists of what he wanted to do better each day then at the end of the day checked the boxes on what he did good at and made note of what he needed to do better. He believed improving each day was very important.

Ben was very interested in science and invention. He studied electricity. At the time no one had electricity, which means they had no lights or electronics like we do today. Ben saw lightning during a storm and guessed that it must be electricity. Sometimes when lightning hit tall buildings it started fires. Ben had the idea to put a metal pole on the top of buildings, so when the lightning struck the pole it would go into the ground instead of start fires. This invention was called a lightning rod. Many people think that Ben used a kite to discover lightning was electricity, but he really just wrote about the idea and someone else tried it.

Ben also invented a certain type of eye glasses called bifocals, which allowed someone to see differently depending on the part of the glasses they were looking through.

Ben also liked to play chess. He also created the first Fire Department and helped start some of the first universities in the United States.

Because of his newspapers and his inventions and other achievements Ben Franklin became very well known in America and across the ocean in Europe. When many Americans disagreed with England about taxes, Ben was on the side of the Americans who wanted change. He wrote about his ideas and even helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was a paper they wrote to tell England they wanted to be their own country and to be free.

A war began between America and England, so Ben took a ship across the ocean to ask for France’s help. The French people loved Ben Franklin. He liked to wear a fur hat and talk about science and his inventions. They thought he was interesting and fun to talk to. France ended up helping America fight and later win the war against England. 

In his new country, Ben helped put together the first Constitution. The Constitution was a list of laws to help the country stay together and work well. To the end of his life Ben did all he could to help make America a strong country. 

Earlier we talked about some of the morals, good things we should do, that Ben wrote about in his paper. Ben wasn’t a perfect person, like all of us, but he wanted to do good things. 

He wrote about temperance. Temperance is not doing too much of something such as eating. We need good food for our bodies, but too much of it isn’t always a good thing. We can usually tell by how our stomachs feel when we are eating.

He also taught about silence. Sometimes it’s good to speak up, but other times it’s better to listen and think about what we should say. If we don’t think before we speak, we often say things we don’t really mean.

Order means to think about what we are doing and have a plan. We shouldn’t spend all our time doing the same thing, but giving the right amount of time to each good thing.

Frugality means to be careful with the money that you have. It’s easy to want to spend all of your money, but it’s better to spend money on what you need and to save some. It’s ok to spend some of your money on fun things, but not all of it.

Industry means to stay busy doing useful things. Each day we can make a plan of what we want to do and then get to work. Having fun is good in its own time, but we should also spend time learning, helping others, and getting chores and other things done.

Justice means treating others well and doing our best to make things fair.

Cleanliness means we should take care of our bodies by keeping them cleaning, bathing each day, and brushing our teeth.

Like Ben, we can do our best to live by these teachings each day. You could even keep track of your goals like Ben did in his journals and checklists. You can also read and learn and come up with new ideas that will help other people like Ben’s lightning rod. You can also be courageous and stand up for good things like Ben did during the Revolution. 

The Keri Strug Story for Kids

Have you ever heard of the Olympic Games? The Olympics is a huge sporting event that happens once every two years, where countries from all over the world come together in one place to compete. It starts off with a big parade and is an exciting time for everyone in the world. A young girl named Kerri Strugg was one of the Olympians who competed in the games.

Kerri was born in Tucson, Arizona and started taking gymnastic classes when she was only 3 years old. She went to gymnastic practice very often and worked very hard at improving her skills. It wasn’t always easy, but she loved gymnastics and wanted to be very good at it. She loved swinging on the bars and doing cartwheels and flips on the mats. And by the time she was 8, Kerri was competing against other gymnasts. Soon after this she started practicing very seriously with a special coach so she could go on to the great Olympics games. Her family even decided to move so she could practice with the best coach. It probably wasn’t easy moving schools, having to make new friends, but she was determined to reach her goal.

When Kerri was only 14 she went to her first Olympics in Barcelona Spain. She was the youngest girl on the team and got to fly far across the ocean with the rest of her team. At the Olympics they worked very hard and did their best and ended up winning a Bronze Medal — which is a very great award, but it is 3rd place. More than anything she wanted to win a Gold Medal. But for many years the Gold Medal in gymnastics was won by the Russian and Romanian teams, who were very good.

In between Olympics, Kerri continued to practice every day. She continued to learn more and build stronger muscles and improve until she could be the best gymnast she could be. There were times she fell and got hurt and it was hard to get back up, but she had a goal in mind and kept going. One time she was swinging around a bar and hit another bar and it hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It took a long time for her to train her body so she could compete again, but nothing stopped Kerri. 

Around this time her coach from the first Olympics, Bela Karolyi, started to work with her again. She continued to do well in other competitions, preparing for the Olympics. But finally the Summer Olympic Games came again. This time it was in Atlanta Georgia, and Kerri joined her team of other gymnasts who became known as the Magnificent Seven. When Kerri got to the Olympics, she saw the Russian gymnasts and remembered how good they were. They always seemed to win and Kerri and her friends wanted the Gold Medal so badly. 

When the games began, the Russian gymnasts were doing very well. They had also trained very hard and also wanted the Gold Medal. For many days the Russians were receiving higher scores and Kerri and her team wondered if they could win. On the last day it was Kerri’s turn and she ran as fast as she could across the mat, did a cartwheel, then a back-handspring and flipped several times and landed on the mat, but her feet didn’t land right and she heard a “snap!” Then she fell and her ankle hurt very badly. She wanted to cry, but held it in and limped off the mat. 

By this time the score was very close and she would have to do a flip one more time if she wanted her team to win the Gold Medal. But her foot hurt and she didn’t know if she could do it.

“You can do it!” her coach, Bela said to her. “You can do it.” Everyone was cheering her on. They believed she could do it again, even though she was in so much pain.

When it was her turn, Kerri took a deep breath, tried to forget the pain in her foot, and started at the beginning of the mat. She wanted to win so much. She knew she could do it. She heard the crowds cheering. She started running even though her foot hurt. She did another cartwheel and back hand spring and many flips. When she came down on the mat she landed with both feet! It was amazing! The crowd cheered wildly! She had done it! With her hurt ankle she had done the flip and landed on both feet! The judges gave her a very good score.

But this was all she could give and after raising her arms to the crowd and the judges, she fell down. Her coaches ran to her side, because they could see she was hurt. She was taken to the hospital so they could bandage her leg.

On the final day of the Olympics Kerri was carried out to the crowd by her coach, Bela, with her bandaged leg, and there she and her team listened to the Star Spangled Banner, America’s song as they received Gold Medals. After all of their practice and hard work their dreams had come true! 

This was Kerri’s last Olympic Games, but as she got older she went on to do other good things that weren’t in the news, but still important. She became an ice skater and also finished college. Kerri then went on to teach elementary school in California and later got married and became a mom to two kids. 

Like Kerri, when we have goals we can work toward them. Every day we may need to do something to make them happen. We can dream and dream, but in order for those dreams to become true we have to do something about them, even if they are small. What you do doesn’t always have to be in the news or make you famous, but if it’s improving yourself or helping others around you, that is what is most important.

History of the Navy SEALs for Kids

In the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, the United States military began to train special soldiers who could move about secretly in small teams and complete special missions. This was the beginning of the Navy SEALs. 

Any man or woman who wants to become a Navy must first join the Navy. Then they must pass tests to be sure they are ready for BUD/S training. BUD/S Training is a very difficult camp where leaders decide who is ready to be a Navy SEAL. There they run through wet sand with all their clothes on, crawl through deep mud, and carry heavy rubber boats. They do lots of situps and pushups and plenty of running. Most days they get very little sleep and have to swim far out in the ocean, and hold their breath underwater for a very long time. Not only do their bodies have to be strong, but their minds as well. They have to be able to keep going and going even when their body and mind want to give up. People who want to become Navy SEALs spend many years training before they even go to BUD/S Training. Because it is so hard many aren’t able to finish. This doesn’t mean they are weak, it is just a very great challenge to become a Navy SEAL.

At the end of boot camp, SEALs start other training, such as learning how to scuba dive under the water and how to parachute out of very high airplanes. They also learn how to shoot guns and set off bombs. The word SEAL is the words “sea”, “air”, and “land” all together. This means a SEAL needs to be able to move across sea, air and land to accomplish their special missions.

SEAL training can last up to a year, but even when they are done they keep practicing and practicing. A Navy SEAL is never fully done learning and improving.

At the end of their first training, the trainees are given a gold badge that has an eagle on it, which they can pin to their Navy uniform. It is a very exciting day, because they have worked so hard and so long to reach their goal.

Once a Navy SEAL completes their training they are assigned to a team. That team may live anywhere in the world, because their mission may take place anywhere in the world; and they need to be close and ready when they are needed. 

When a mission takes place the Navy SEALs may arrive there by airplane, where they parachute down, or it might be by boat or helicopter or even by submarine if they are scuba swimming to their mission. They wear camouflage clothes depending on where the missions is, since it may be in the desert or the jungle or in a city.

The Navy SEALs have assisted in many wars in the past and are active today in places like the Middle East. Their mission might be to capture an enemy or to rescue someone who has been kidnapped. SEALs are very fast and skilled at what they do and can get in and out of places very fast. During one mission their job was to stop modern day pirates who had captured a big ship and its crew. For another mission they rescued soldiers who had been captured by the enemy.

Often Navy SEALs have to sacrifice their own lives when they go on these dangerous missions. In 2005 during the Afghanistan War, a 4-man team of SEALs landed by helicopter in an enemy area. Their job was to capture a dangerous Taliban leader. The members of this team were Lieutenant Michael Murphy and Petty Officers Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz and Matt Axelson. 

While sneaking through enemy territory, the team ran into a boy and his father herding goats. The team decided to let them live and after they let them go, the father alerted the enemy and soon the team was being attacked Marcus from all sides. The SEALs fought for a very long time and tried to survive, but soon only Marcus Luttrell was left alive. 

Marcus was strong and kept fighting and running until he was taken in by a friendly villager who lived nearby. Sometimes it’s not easy to know who is a friend or enemy in war, but this family took care of Marcus until a Navy helicopter came and took him away. After arriving home, Marcus wrote a book about the battle of him and his team and called it “Lone Survivor.” 

Navy SEALs are in many ways ordinary people who want to make a change in the world and serve their country. Their job is never easy, but they practice long and hard to be very good at what they do. 

Spend some time thinking about what you can do to improve yourself like a Navy SEAL. You don’t have to become a Navy SEAL to make yourself strong or become better at something. It might just be playing outside instead of watching TV, or riding your bike, or swimming, or doing something kind for someone else. You can have the spirit of a Navy SEAL, which is to accomplish great things even when they take time, hard work and practice.  

History of the Transcontinental Railroad for Kids

Do you know what a train is? You may have seen one when your car was stopped and you had to wait to watch it pass. Or maybe you’ve even taken a ride on a train. Trains are extremely important because they move goods and people from one place to another and can do it very quickly. Railroads are one of the most important parts of American History, because the country is very big and they helped connect the East and the West.

Many years ago it took a very long time to travel from the East to the West. Most people had to take a boat all the way around the continent, a journey which took months to complete. Travellers could also take a wagon across the dangerous wilderness and tall mountains to get from one side of the country to another. Either way, it was a very difficult journey and kept the country separated in many ways. 

But in the 1800s gold was discovered in the West and many Americans moved there to try and strike it rich. But one major problem was how long it took to get to the gold. One man, Asa Whitney, believed a railroad could be built right through the the middle of the country. Many doubted this could be done, but Asa made a plan and went to the government with his idea, but at first no progress was made.

Later, an American named Theodore Judah decided to find a way to build a railroad across the country. He was a surveyor. A surveyor is someone who looks at the land with special tools and finds ways to build roads and buildings on it. Theodore had many good ideas about how the railroad could be built. He had to learn much about math and other sciences in order to design maps that could be used to make a path for the railroad. 

Eventually two big companies, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad caught the vision of the railroad and decided to make it happen. They would call it the Transcontinental Railroad. Soon afterward one company started in California and the other started in Nebraska with a plan to meet in the middle. 

Building the railroad across the United Stated was a dangerous task and extremely difficult at times. They had to build tall bridges across wide rivers. To go through mountains they had to dig deep holes, then place gun powder in them and blow them up to create even deeper holes that went all the way through the mountain. Many smart engineers worked on creating a path for the 2000 miles of track that were being laid. Railroad tracks were laid by pounding spikes into railroad ties. All of this work was done by hand, by pounding each spike in with a hammer. This was very difficult work and many workers didn’t survive the hard labor. Americans of all different races and colors helped build the railroad. One group that did much of the work were Chinese immigrants. An immigrant is someone who comes from another country. Chinese immigrants worked long and hard for very little pay to help complete the monumental task. 

In 1869 after eight years of work the two companies met in the middle at Promontory Point, Utah. They threw a big party to celebrate the completion of the railroad. A gold spike had been prepared as the last spike in the railroad. President of the Central Pacific Railroad, Governor Stanford gave a speech then lifted a hammer to pound the last spike into the ground. But he swung and missed! The crowd burst out laughing. “He missed it!” They said. He swung again and hit the gold spike in. Everyone cheered! 

News of the finished railroad was sent by telegram to both parts of the country. When it reached New York and California they fired off cannons to show their excitement. It was truly an exciting time for the United States of America! A trip across the country that had taken many months now only took 10 days! The new Transcontinental Railroad was truly an engineer miracle of hard work and smart minds all working together to accomplish a common task.

The History of Sacajawea

A long time ago, in the 1800s, the United States was still a young country. At this time much of the wilderness hadn’t been explored by the new Americans yet. This land was inhabited by Indians and many animals and nature was still fresh and dangerous and wild. The new Americans were curious about this land and wanted to know what plants and animals were there. Most importantly they wanted to know how to best travel from the East Coast to the West Coast. 

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson bought this land from France in what was known as the Louisiana Purchase. Next, he asked one of his captains, Meriwether Lewis, to discover this new land and make a record of what was there. It would be a dangerous mission, but Lewis was brave and bold and loved discovering new places. Captain Lewis asked his friend Lieutenant William Clark to go with him. So they gathered their team and their supplies, climbed into a boat, and headed down the river to discover the uncharted American wilderness.

A few years before this a little Indian girl was born far across the country near the Rocky Mountains. Her parents named her Sacajawea. Her people were called the Shoshone and they lived among the trees and wild animals, and learned how to live off the land and hunt like many other Indian families. Sacajawea felt safe in this place and loved her family.

When Sacajawea was 12 years old her tribe was attacked by another tribe. A frightening battle took place and afterward Sacajawea and many other girls were kidnapped by their enemies. As she was lifted onto their horse and carried away she didn’t know if she’d ever see her family again. This was a very scary time for Sacajawea.

A few years later Sacajawea was sold to a trapper named Charbonneau and later became his wife. A trapper is someone who traps animals and lives off selling their fur and meat. 

As Captain Lewis and Clark were exploring the wilderness they needed someone who was familiar with the land and the language, so when they met Charbonneau and Sacajawea they knew she would be a perfect fit. 

Not long after they Sacajawea joined Lewis and Clark, she gave birth to a baby boy who she named him Jean Baptiste, but Lewis and Clark liked to call him “Little Pompy.” For the rest of the journey she would travel with her baby boy tied to her back. 

The journey down the river was often very dangerous. One day when they were riding through rough water, the boat suddenly collapsed and everyone and their things dropped into the water. After everyone swam to shore, Lewis realized their precious journals were missing. These journals were very important because they were a record of everything they had seen and done. Knowing this, Sacajawea bravely dove into the water and swam deep down until she found the journal on the bottom of the river. Lewis was so relieved when Sacajawea swam back to the shore with his journals.

Sacajawea was helpful because she knew the plants and animals of this wild land. She would cook up roots for them to eat and show them the way when they were lost. She was also a peaceful ambassador to the other Indians. An ambassador is someone who tries to help two different groups of people talk to each other and make peace. Sacajawea knew the Indian languages and kept Lewis and Clark and their crew safe.

Far along in their journey, they met some Indians and asked them if they could trade horses. At first the Indians would not trade. Suddenly Sacajawea recognized them, they were Shoshones, the tribe she had been kidnapped from so long ago! And to her surprise the chief was her brother. She was so happy to see her friends and family again. After celebrating with her tribe, she helped Lewis and Clark trade some of their things for horses, and although she was sad to leave her family, they were on their way again. She had a new family and a new mission to complete.

Finally, after many days crossing rivers and forests and mountains the team reached the Pacific Ocean, the end of their journey. With the help of Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark had traveled over 3700 miles! Along the way they had learned new things about the land and plants and animals and made maps that would help pioneers and other Americans journey across the country. 

Like Sacajawea, you can be helpful to others and be brave even when you’re not sure about how your journey will go. Also, you can be strong even when sad or difficult things happen to you. It’s okay to feel sad, but always remember that after you’ve let all your feelings out, you can stand back up, continue on, and learn something new. No matter what happens there is always hope and good things will come when you keep moving forward!