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!

The Sylvester Stallone “Rocky Story” for Kids

On July 6, 1946 a boy named Sylvester was born. When it was time for his mother to give birth Sylvester’s body was not coming out easily. In order for him to survive they used special tools, which although they saved his life, caused part of his lip and face not to work right. Because of this he always had a funny smile and even talked funny. 

Sylvester grew up in the big city of New York. Growing up wasn’t easy there. His parents didn’t get along and they had to move many times. At one point he had to live with different families until he was able to move back with his father. With all of this going on in his life, Sylvester had a tough time in school and didn’t always do very well. 

But Sylvester loved going to the movies. He in the theater and stared up at the gigantic screen as larger than life heroes did amazing things. He saw how strong and fast and courageous they were and wanted to be just like them. The problem was Sylvester realized he didn’t look like those heroes. He was short and small and got teased for his smile. But this didn’t stop Sylvester. He began to exercise and do pushups and run, and do anything to shape himself into the heroes he saw in the movies. 

As Sylvester got older his love of movies made him want to become an actor, so he went to a school for actors. He tried his very best there until it was time to be done and look for a job. But finding an acting  job isn’t easy. Sylvester did all kinds of odd jobs on the side. He even cleaned lion cages at the zoo! But most of the time he didn’t have any money and it was very hard to get by. So he could pay for food, Sylvester had to sell his favorite dog. He was very sad about this. But Sylvester was determined to become an actor so he sacrificed things for it.

One day Sylvester saw a boxing match on TV. The boxers were Muhammed Ali and Chuck Wepner. Even though Chuck was getting beat up pretty badly, he kept standing up and fighting back. Sylvester had an idea, so he rushed home and started writing. He wrote all night and all day until the story was done. Next, he took his story to the movie companies and they loved the boxer story. They said they would pay him $125,000 for the story. Sylvester said he would sell it, but on one condition — that he would also be the star in the movie. The directors laughed at this. They thought Sylvester looked a little funny and talked funny. They kept offering Sylvester more money for the story, but he demanded that he be the star. He was persistent and believed in himself. 

Finally, the movie directors said he could be the star, but they didn’t pay him as much for the story. But Sylvester didn’t care because he believed he could be the star. And one of the first things he did with the money was bought his old dog back! 

When the movie was finished it was about a small boxer named Rocky who nobody knew. But the boxer exercised and practiced and worked very hard until in a big boxing match he beat one of the best boxers in the world! People loved the movie named Rocky! It even won many awards and became one of the most popular movies of all time. Sylvester went from being an unknown actor to starring in many big movies. He always worked hard playing his parts, and exercised and stayed strong and fast. Most of the time he wanted to do his own stunts, even though it was dangerous. Today Sylvester Stallone is known as one of the greatest action movie stars of all time. 

Later in his life Sylvester tried to do good things with the money he earned from his movies. They held an auction to sell the boxing gloves and other items from his Rocky movie and made $3 million dollars which they gave to those in need.

Remember that becoming good at something requires a lot of practice and persistence. Persistence is when you keep trying and trying even when things aren’t working out. Sylvester had a dream and stuck with it even when it wasn’t working out. Sometimes dreams take time and courage and patience. Like the boxer Rocky we can keep getting back up and trying even when difficult things in life knock us down.

History of the Pony Express for Kids

Can you imagine living in a time when were no cell phones, no email and no other electronic way to talk to others living far away? For a very long time that is how everyone lived. Instead of making phone calls they wrote letters, and often it took many days for them to arrive. Imagine if you had something very important to tell someone, but they wouldn’t find out until weeks later! 

In the United States, during the the 1800s, the days of pioneers and cowboys, there lived a creative business man named William Russell. William Russell had a genius idea. He thought of a way to send letters across the country very fast. To do this he used horses and riders who rode as fast as they could from one stop to another. From the state of Missouri to California, across thousands of miles they built many stations. At each station a new horse and a new rider waited.  There, as a soon as a rider arrived, the new rider grabbed the mail and rode as fast as they could to the next station. Instead of letters taking a very long time, they moved across the country is just 10 days. That was very fast! Russell called his new company The Pony Express.

Russells riders need to be fast and also very brave. The journey from Missouri to California was often very dangerous. They could be attacked by wild animals or bandits who wanted to take the mail. The posters looking for riders said: “Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.”   Even though the job was dangerous, many brave, young riders volunteered to help.

One of these riders was Bill Cody. Bill was only 15 at the time he started riding for The Pony Express. During one of his trips from Wyoming, he was riding his horse when suddenly an entire gang of Indians burst out of the trees and started chasing him on their horses. Bill looked back in fear as they raised their guns and started firing at him. Bullets whizzed past his head, as he ducked and spurred the horse as hard as he could. The horse moved faster and faster as the natives fired again and again. Bill thought for sure he was done for, but he cried out to the horse and kicked and rode faster, lying flat against the horse’s back. Soon, the natives disappeared behind him and he rode and rode until reaching the next station. Later Bill picked up the nickname “Buffalo” Bill Cody and became famous for his show that toured all across America.

Another famous Pony Express ride was Bob Haslam, who became known as “Pony” Bob. Bob was born in England and came across the ocean to America when he was just a boy. His family moved to Salt Lake City and there he worked on a ranch and as a messenger. He was known for being brave and loyal and always got the job done. Loyal is when someone can trust you because you always do what you say you are going to do. 

When Bob was 20 he joined the Pony Express. Like Bill Cody, he rode at a time when Native Americans were very dangerous in the area. During one ride he got to the station only to find that Indians were on the warpath and he could not stop. So even though he and his horse were very tired he kept on riding. Bob persevered. Perseverance is when you keep doing something even though you are tired and want to give up. Bob kept riding until he reached the next station, only to find that it was under attack as well! Bob did not know what to do. He and his horse were tired and hungry. He knew he had to get the job done and deliver the mail, so he continued riding! Once he reached the next station he handed his mail off and rested for 9 hours. But Bob wasn’t done yet. He picked up the next bag of mail, hopped on his horse, and rode back the other direction. His 380-mile trip was the longest Pony Express ride in history. From then on he was known as “Pony” Bob and remembered for his amazing ride. 

Later, when Pony Bob grew old and passed away the newspaper printed “‘Pony Bob’ Haslam, Who Knew No Fear, Dies in Chicago — a man once famous throughout the United States for his courage, endurance and skill.”

Although the Pony Express was an amazing venture, it only lasted a year and a half. The telegraph was invented a few years later. The telegraph was very long wire that its designers stretched all the way across the country. The wire was used to send messages across it at lightning speeds. Because of this the Pony Express was no longer needed. But riders like “Pony” Bob, “Buffalo” Bill, and others will always be remembered for their strength, bravery and perseverance.

History of Abraham Lincoln for Kids

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky to parents who were very poor at the time. They lived in the middle of the woods in a very small log cabin his father built. The woods were full of wild animals and no one else lived nearby. Every night Abe and his family slept on a hard dirt floor. When Abe was old enough to work he and his father, Thomas, ate a small breakfast, picked up their axes, and ventured off into the thick woods to chop down trees to make the land flat for farming. It was very hard work and they worked all day long. Abe became very strong chopping wood. He also began to grow very tall for his age. He grew so much that his pants became too small and because his parents were poor they couldn’t afford to buy him new ones. Some people thought he looked funny because he was so tall and skinny, but they liked Abe because he was kind and funny. 

In Abe’s town there wasn’t a school, so most days he just worked. For a short time a teacher lived a few miles away so Abraham did learn a little, but just enough to read and write. Once Abe learned to read it became his favorite thing to do. He only had a couple books, but he spent any free time he had reading. When he learned something new he repeated the words over and over until he knew them by memory. He also wrote new words down. This helped him remember the words so he could use them later. 

After Abe and his father cleared the land of trees, they began farming. Most days he’d take a book out to the field and read in between planting. His mother, Nancy, read to him and his sister. She knew learning was very important and taught Abe this from a young age. Abe loved his mother very much.

When Abe was only nine his mother became sick and died. He and his family were very sad. Not long after this, his father left him and his sister for nine months while he went to find a new wife. Can you imagine being left alone for that long? Somehow Abraham survived, finding help from caring neighbors. Eventually, his father returned with their new mother. When Abe saw on the road he ran and hugged her, even though he didn’t know her. He was just happy to have a mother again. 

Sarah turned out to be a very good mother to Abe. She found him new books and was kind to him. Abe’s father Thomas was hard on him. He was also known to be a very good storyteller. This was a talent Abe picked up and was known for later in his life.

Once Abraham was old enough to be on his own, he left home and started working for himself. He knew that by working hard, he could improve his life. He had a job moving goods down the river, then later worked in a store. Once while working in the store, someone paid the wrong amount of money. That night Abe walked very far to return the money. This is where he got his nickname “Honest Abe.” Honesty means telling the truth. 

One day in town Abe went to the courthouse and saw a lawyer arguing a case. A lawyer is someone who understands the law and often helps defends others when they need something. When Abe heard the lawyer speaking, he decided being a lawyer was what he wanted to do. Without going to a big school, Abraham read and studied and repeated words on his own until he knew everything he needed to to become a lawyer. This took lots of time and practice but soon he became very smart and understood the law. He passed all the tests he needed and before long became a lawyer. He traveled from town to town on his horse helping others.

While working as a lawyer, Abe became interested in politics. Politics involves law and government and voting in new leaders. Abe wanted to become a leader so he could shape and change the country for the better. His first job in the state government was the House of Representatives. Later, he was part of the U.S. House of Representatives. There he helped pass laws to build railroads and support banks so the state could grow and improve.

At the same time slavery was a tragic problem in United States. Slavery is when someone is forced to work without any pay. Many Americans had slaves that they treated very poorly and made them work very hard. Abe knew slavery was horrible and was against slavery it spreading to the new states in America. He argued this against another leader named Stephen A. Douglas. These arguments became very intense at times, because Americans were very upset about slavery, either being for it or against it. 

At this time Abe ran for President of the United States. Many Americans in the South were against Abe being president, because they wanted to keep slavery. Also, many Americans thought Abe could never win because he was just a farm boy from the woods who didn’t have very much money or schooling. But Abe cared about helping the country and to everyone’s surprise he won and became the President of the United States! The people who loved Abe were very excited that such a caring man had become  their new president.

But Southerners who wanted to keep slavery were angry and wanted to break off from America. They said they would form a new country where they could keep their slaves. This was called The Civil War, because it was a war between two parts of our country, the North and the South. Soon very dangerous fighting began and many soldiers on both sides died. It was a very sad time for the United States.

Abraham Lincoln wanted more than anything to keep the country together. He believed America was stronger and better as one country. But he was also very sad to see soldiers dying on both sides. Some wanted to quit the fight, but Abe was determined to not give up. He gave the Gettysburg Address and his bold words inspired Americans to follow him. He also worked to create new laws to stop slavery even when it was unpopular to do so. 

Finally, the war came to an end when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the North. It was a time of much celebration for the North. Many lives had been lost, but in the end the country stayed together and the slaves became free. Some leaders may have been harsh to the losing side of the war, but Abraham Lincoln was determined to show kindness and mercy to the South and do all he could to rebuild the broken country.

Not long after the war ended, while Abe was watching a play in Ford’s Theater he was shot by the assassin John Wilkes Booth. The Americans who loved Abe were very sad at this news. They had lost the president who cared for them and saved the country. But having done all he could, Abraham Lincoln has gone down in history as one of the greatest presidents of all time.

Like Abe, no matter where you were born or to whom, you can decide to improve yourself and be a good person. Abe had very little, but he read everything he could and studied and worked until he could make a living for himself. He also decided to help his country by running for different offices in the government. These aren’t easy jobs, but when good people lead they can make a great difference. Like Abe, you can be aware of what is going on in your own communities and in your country. And when you’re old enough you can vote for good leaders and even become one yourself. Just remember, no matter your circumstances, if you make the decision to improve yourself and do good things, you can do it!

History of Hawaii for Kids

One of my favorite places to visit is a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Hawaii. I grew up in Arizona, which is a desert and a very dry place. I love Arizona, but visiting a tropical place like Hawaii was very exciting. I had never seen so much green and so much ocean! And every island on Hawaii has so many different sites to see and adventures to offer. Most of my visits have been to the islands Oahu and Maui. Oahu is home to the beautiful north shore and gigantic waves, a favorite destination for surfers all around the world. It also is home to Pearl Harbor and the big city of Honolulu. In Maui my wife and I drove to the top of a former volcano, up above the cloud, and were able to see the sunrise from very high. We also hiked through jungles and snorkeled in crystal clear, warm water and saw fish of so many different colors. The beaches are beautiful and whales pass by the islands while migrating north and south through the Pacific Ocean. So this week I was very excited to dig into the history of Hawaii and figure out how the beautiful islands came to be and the history and culture of the Hawaiian people.

First, let’s go back 40 million years to when the Hawaiian islands first began form on top of a hot spot. A hot spot is a place where hot molten rock is pushed to the surface of the earth and creates a volcano. But Hawaii was different because its volcanos were coming up from the middle of the ocean. So if you can imagine hot lava pushing up through a hole in the ocean and up to the surface, then cooling and hardening over millions of years, this is how the Hawaiian islands were formed. Magma is the burning hot rock that then turns into lava and then cools and then becomes rock once again. It took a VERY long time for the lava to cool and then harden little by little until these gigantic islands were formed and reached the surface of the water. 

Over millions of years the volcanos and hardening lava became 8 main islands. The biggest islands are named Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Molokai, and Kauia. In addition to the big islands there are 130 smaller islands that make up the Hawaiian chain of islands! But interestingly, the Hawaiian islands are not done forming. It has 3 active volcanos, which mean volcanos that still have hot lava flowing from them and slowly making the island larger. If you visit these islands today you can see actual lava pouring from their volcanos!

After the lava cooled and became solid ground, eventually seeds drifted to Hawaii on the water and the wind and the soil was very fertile, which means it was good for growing plants. Over time plants sprouted and began to grow across Hawaii making it very lush and green. The climate is tropical, so many places on the islands look like a jungle and some of the islands like Kaui get lots of rainfall and are very wet. Other places on Hawaii are very dry, so it’s geography is very diverse. But one reason Hawaii is such a favorite place to visit is that the weather is usually very nice and cool all year around, perfect for people to visit for a vacation.

Animal life also eventually made its way to Hawaii and over time the species there became very unique. Among the unique species are the monk seal, the nay-nay, also known as the Hawaiian goose, and the hoary bat. Along with these are many birds special to Hawaii, many of which have become endangered.

For thousands and thousands of years the Hawaiian islands only had plants and animals on them, no people, until around 300 AD, about 1700 years ago when people from different islands found it by boat. These people were Polynesian, which means they had lived on islands in the Pacific Ocean for hundreds of years. But the journey from where they probably lived to Hawaii was very far, around 3,000 miles, which you can imagine would take a very long time and be very dangerous in a small boat in the ocean. We’re not exactly sure when more Polyensians arrived in Hawaii, but over time more and more people arrived and settled the many islands. With them they brought new plants and animals, such as chickens and dogs, coconuts and bananas. Over time these groups settled into chiefdoms ruled by local chiefs, which ruled the settlements, created laws, and often competed with each other for food and land. They fished and planted farms and built homes and temples to their gods. They believed the gods gave them power, which they called mana

For hundreds of years the tribes of the different islands were divided until the 1780s and 90s when a chief named Kamehameha rose to power. Kamehameha was the son of a chief and at his birth it was said a bright star appeared, a prophesy that he would someday become a great king and rule all of the islands of Hawaii. Many believe this is the same time Haley’s Comet appeared in the sky in 1758. 

With all his heart, Kamehameha believed this prophecy about himself and was determined to defeat all of the other chiefs and rule Hawaii as one nation. Over time Kamehameha built up a strong army and one by one, went about fighting the other chiefs on each of the islands, conquering their tribes and making them his own. With each victory, Kamehameha and his people believed his mana, or divine power, increased. 

During Kamehameha’s rise to power, in 1778, the first known European explorer, Captain James Cook, reached Hawaii. The relationship between Europeans and Hawaiians was off and on, but Kamehameha saw their large ships and powerful weapons, such as cannons and guns that fired using gunpowder and looked for ways to use them in his own quest for power. In 1789 after British ships fired on Hawaiian locals, Kamehameha took two of them captive and gave them the choice to join his kingdom or be executed. They chose to join his kingdom and became his counselors showing his soldiers how to fire a cannon and guns and sail ships. Kamahameha had been using his wealth to buy guns, ships, and gunpowder from the European traders, so he could continue to conquer all of the Hawaiian islands and unite them under one ruler.

In 1795 Kamehemaha set off for the islands of Maui and Oahu with 960 war canoes and 10,000 soldiers. After defeating his final enemies, Kamehameha became supreme ruler of the Hawaiian islands. As king, he changed the laws so they were the same across the islands and did everything he could to keep them united. His wife, Ka-ah-humanoo was one of his advisors and became one of Hawaii’s most powerful leaders. 

After Kamehameha’s death, his son became the new King of Hawaii. During his reign, Christian missionaries began visiting the island and teaching about the religion of Jesus and the Bible. Many Hawaiians took interest in the religion. Eventually the leaders of Hawaii became Christian, too. Over time more and more Europeans and Americans moved to Hawaii. With this came a change in their native Hawaiian culture. The newcomers wanted the native people to speak English and change their traditions. They also were interested in using Hawaiian lands to plant sugar cane and sell it. Sugar cane is used to make sugar, which was a very desirable item across the world, because everyone loves sugar! Soon sugar cane plantations became a major business in Hawaii because of the weather and soil.

The children of the people who moved to Hawaii wanted more control over the government, so they could make decisions that helped their sugar cane businesses. At first they were just advisors to the Kings and Queens of Hawaii, but slowly they took more and more power to themselves. 

In 1891 a woman named Lili-oo-kalani became the first and last queen of Hawaii. She was born in Honololu on the island of Oahu and was raised up to be Hawaiian royalty. She loved the Hawaiian people and wanted them to be in control of their country rather than the foreigners who had come to power through their powerful sugar plantations and other businesses. She spent her time and energy helping to educate her people and feed the hungry. She was a talented songwriter and played the guitar, piano, ukulele (a small Hawaiian guitar) and sang. 

Even though she desperately wanted her people to stay in power, she was forced out of her position as queen by the powerful business people who were also aided by the American military who came to Hawaii with ships to back the powerful businessmen. At the time, the President of the United States and his advisors were interested in growing the United State’s overseas power and didn’t do anything to stop the forceful takeover of the Hawaiian government. The Hawaiian people peacefully protested, but it did little good. Queen Lily-oo-kalani was arrested and forced to stay in her home while she was replaced as ruler of Hawaii. It was there that she wrote the most famous Hawaiian song, “Aloha Oe.” 

Later, Lily-oo-kalani travelled to the United States to speak to the President and demand that her country be in control of the Hawaiian people again. He agreed, but other government leaders did not. Later, Hawaii became a territory of the United States and in 1859 an official state. During the years after Lily-oo-kalani was Queen there was pressure to do away with Hawaiian language and culture, but fortunately, in recent years there has been a return to an appreciation for the beauty of native Hawaiian traditions and many schools teach their native language again.

Today, Hawaii has become one of the top tourist destinations for people all around the world. 10 million people visited Hawaii in 2019 to sightsee, hike, surf, snorkel, whale watch, golf, and relax on its beautiful beaches.

Hawaii has a rich history and culture, and with it the “Aloha Spirit” and these principles: kindness, unity, humility, pleasantness and perseverance. And I wanted to end with these inspiring words by the last Queen of Hawaii, Lily-oo-kalani:  

“Never cease to act because you fear you may fail. The true secret is to know your own worth.” 

To echo her own words, know your own worth as a human being and the unique gifts you bring to the world. You can take courage and act and use your gifts to better the life of others!

Fred Rogers Story for Kids

Can you hear that?

“Ding, ding.”

It’s the Neighborhood Trolley making its way back from King Friday’s castle to the Neighborhood Of Make Believe. It’s here to deliver a message to all of you about the man known as Mr. Rogers.

Fred McFeely Rogers was born on March 20, 1928, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His father’s name was James and his mother Nancy. His love of music started early in life as he began to play the piano at the age of five. 

Before we go any further, I know that you’re all dying to know about Fred’s middle name, McFeely. Yes, that is actually his middle name. McFeely was his grandfather’s last name. Fred Brooks McFeely.  Fred’s grandfather was a local entrepreneur and the man that they named Fred.

Now that we have that interesting fact out of the way, let’s learn some more about Mr. Rogers.

Childhood wasn’t the easiest for the man who would become known as one of the nicest, happiest men on TV. He was very shy and overweight. He spent a lot of time stuck at home suffering from bouts of asthma.

Fred was picked on a lot as a child because of his weight. Some kids even called him “Fat Freddy”. Fred had a very lonely childhood which forced him to make up imaginary friends. He spent a lot of time playing alone with his toys in his bedroom, making up imaginary worlds for them to explore.

In High School, Fred finally overcame his shyness and made a couple of good friends. Fred served as president of the student council. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and editor-in-chief of the school yearbook. 

Fred got into television because he hated the shows that were on TV. In an interview, he said, “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of 

using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen”. His first job in the TV business was working for NBC in New York as a floor director on several shows.

Fred worked for NBC until 1963 when he moved back to Pitsburg. He took a job as a program developer at the public television station WQED. Together with Josie Carey, he developed a children’s show called The Children’s Corner. While Josie was the host of the show, Fred made puppets, characters, and music for the show. Many of the puppets and characters that he developed for The Children’s Corner were used on his later shows. 

It was while working on The Children’s Corner in 1963 that Fred became an ordained minister. Rather than becoming a pastor, he turned his focus to ministering to children and their families through television. He would appear before church officials regularly to keep up his ordination.  

It was during this time that he met Margaret McFarland. Margaret became his key advisor, collaborator, and child-education guru. Most of Fred’s appreciation for children came from his work with Margaret. Margaret helpd with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood scripts and songs for 30 years.  

The original Mr. Rogers show ran from 1963 to 1967 on the CBC in Toronto. It was a black and white 15 minute long show and was the first time that Fred appeared on TV as Mr. Rogers. In 1967 Fred headed back home to Pittsburg with his wife and two young sons.

In 1968 the real magic happened. Fred began filming the show Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers filmed 895 magical episodes of the show between 1968 and 2001.

Oh, can’t you hear it? I hear it. 

The shows about to start.

[Verse 1]

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood

A beautiful day for a neighbor

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

[Verse 2]

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood

A neighborly day for a beauty

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

[Bridge]

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

[Verse 3]

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day

Since we’re together, we might as well say

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please

Won’t you please

Please, won’t you be my neighbor?

Every show started this same way. Mr. Rogers would sing this song, greeting everyone while changing from his jacket to a cardigan sweater and his dress shoes to sneakers. He was now ready for the show’s adventures to begin.

He always welcomed everyone with open arms into his world. He would share stories of make-believe. He took everyone on amazing journeys outside his home to see how different things worked in the world. But most of all, he taught many lessons about life.

The show ran the same way for the entire time it was on the air. Mr. Rogers would introduce the show’s theme. Then he would leave his home to visit another location. He would let everyone see how different things were made or built.

Once he finished his visit, Mr. Rogers left and returned home. Now we knew it was now time to visit the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Mr. Rogers headed to the window seat by the trolley track and tells the viewers about the story they were about to see as the Trolley comes out. The camera follows it down a tunnel in the back wall of the house as it enters the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Each story and lesson would take place over a week’s worth of episodes. Each involved puppet and human characters. The end of the visit occurs when the Trolley returns to the same tunnel from which it emerged, reappearing in Mr. Rogers’ home. Mr. Rogers always had the last talk with the viewers before the ending of the episode.

Unlike the show Sesame Street, which focused on teaching kids numbers and letters, Mr. Rogers’ show focused on often things like developing feelings and having good morals. There was no other show quite like it. 

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood stopped filming for 4 years between 1975 and 1979. Mr. Rogers focused on adult programming to the shock of many of his coworkers. When he returned to making the show in 1979 until it ended in 2001 the show was better than ever.  

In 1969 Fred went before the U.S. Senate to help get more money for PBS. Fred wasn’t well known but he had the ability to be very convincing. He was able to connect emotionally with everyone he spoke to. His words helped get money for the television station for many years afterward. It was also considered some of the most powerful words spoken before Congress. In 1970, President Nixon appointed Rogers as chair of the White House Conference on Children and Youth.

Not bad for a guy who was so shy as a child that he only played with toys! Now he was using his talents to not only help children everywhere but also to make sure the TV station, PBS, had enough money to keep making Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for years to come. 

Over the years, Mr. Rogers did many interviews and over 150 speeches to college graduates. His speeches were all about children, television, education, his views on making the world a better place, and how he never wanted to stop learning.

Though Mr. Rogers always spoke with a soft voice, everyone always listened to what he had to say. During some speeches, he would ask the audience to be silent. He asked them to think about someone in their lives who helped them. This is something Fred always encouraged. He always appreciated others for all they have done. 

Mr. Rogers won a Lifetime Achievement, Emmy award, in 1997. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.

Have you heard of the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This kid’s TV show is based on characters from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

We can all learn some very important lessons from Mr. Rogers. Even though he started out shy and unhappy as a child, he didn’t let that stop him from having an enormous impact on the world around him. He focused his life on helping children grow and learn to be the best they could be. He taught kindness, compassion, and caring to everyone he ever met.

Mr. Rogers treated everyone like they were his friend and neighbor and only asked the same in return. The world would be a much better place if more people had this same attitude.

Each day please be kind to a stranger and do something nice for your friends and family. Even these simple acts of kindness can make a big impact on the world. Love and happiness are contagious!

As Mr. Rogers once said;

“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connect us as neighbors — in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

Thanks for listening to this episode about Fred Rogers. Be sure to tune in next Monday for a new episode!