History of Bessie Coleman for Kids

Imagine you’re a pilot, thousands of feet above the earth on an airplane. You look down from your cockpit at the patchwork of fields and tiny, Lego-sized houses below you. You’re planning your route, but you’re not trying to get from point A to point B. Instead of flying a straight line, you dive towards the ground, falling faster and faster until, just feet from the ground, you pull up the nose of the plane, thrilling the crowd of onlookers nearby. You corkscrew through the air, fly figure eights, and loop upside down as the crowds gasp and cheer below. You are a barnstormer, a stunt pilot in the 1920s, performing daredevil feats thousands of feet above your awestruck fans. 

Today we’re going to learn about a world-famous pilot, Bessie Coleman, who was remarkable but for many other reasons. She was not only a great pilot, she was also the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license, and the first woman anywhere to have an international pilot’s license. Because her father was part Native American, she was also the first Native American female pilot. Not only that, she always tried to use her fame to help other black people and women. Sadly, at the time, both groups experienced a lot of discrimination in America. 

Bessie’s story begins before airplanes were even invented, and only 27 years after the end of slavery in the United States. She was born in 1892 to African American sharecroppers in Texas, one of nine children. As a child, and then teenager, she worked picking cotton and washing other people’s laundry. She attended segregated schools, but was a good student, especially in math. Under segregation, many states in the southern part of the United States had laws forcing blacks to go to different schools from whites, among other unfair rules. Even though she came from a poor background, and had to deal with unfair laws, Bessie had a goal of going to college, and as a young woman attended Langston University in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, she ran out of money and had to return home after one term. 

Soon after returning home, Bessie and two of her brothers decided to try to start a new life in Chicago. They moved north, where Bessie became a manicurist. She worked in a barber shop called the White Sox Barber Shop on the south side of Chicago. She became known for having the fastest hands in the city when it came to giving manicures.

She learned about piloting and airplanes from veterans, including her brothers, who had returned home from World War I. Bessie became fascinated by airplanes and flying. Her brothers would tease her though, saying she’d never be able to fly like some of the women they’d met in France during the war. 

But telling someone they can’t do something is often a sure-fire way to make them want to do it. So right then and there, Bessie decided she would become a pilot and prove her brothers wrong. But her brothers, weren’t the only people she’d have to prove wrong. At the time, there were no flight schools in the United States that would train women or African Americans. 

But there was France. Bessie didn’t have a lot of money, but she knew that if she could get to France, she could train as a pilot there. Her race and gender didn’t matter to the flight schools in France. To earn the money she would need, she began working a second job at a chili restaurant and learning French at night. She also began talking to some of the people who came to the barbershop. Many of the clients there were wealthy and influential.

It was at the barber shop that she met a lawyer and newspaper owner named Robert Abbot. Abbot published the Chicago Defender, one of the largest black-owned newspapers in the country. When he learned about Bessie’s passion to become a pilot, he decided to help. He published a story about her in his paper. His newspaper had more readers than any other black-owned newspaper in the country at the time, so the story got a lot of attention. A banker named Jesse Binga stepped up, and he and The newspaper helped pay for Bessie’s travel to Paris for pilot training. 

Since airplanes were so new, it was still not possible to fly across the Atlantic ocean from the US to France, so Bessie took a boat. She had been accepted to a flight school there, and completed her training in a biplane called a Nieuport 80. A biplane had two sets of wings, one on top of the other.

When Bessie returned to the US with her pilot’s license, she made headlines in black newspapers and aviation magazines across the country. She told reporters that she wanted to open a flight school for women and people of color. 

However, since aviation was so new, there weren’t many jobs for pilots at the time. There were no major airlines that flew people around the country like there are now. Most packages and mail were still moved by trains or ships. And again, Bessie faced discrimination because of her race and gender. She was unable to get one of the few piloting jobs there were.  

Instead of flying for airlines or shipping companies like they do now, many pilots in the 1920s earned money as barnstormers. They would fly to a new town, land in a farm, and ask the farmer to let them perform using their fields as runways. They performed stunts such as loops, dives, and figure eights. They also offered rides to people for money. Bessie decided to become a stunt pilot, and returned to France for more training. 

After Bessie returned to the US this time, she traveled around the country performing daredevil stunts for crowds of people. The Defender newspaper called her “the world’s greatest woman flyer.” She was nicknamed “Queen Bess” and “Brave Bess.”

Bessie loved her job, and used her growing fame to fight racism. In the 1920s, segregation and discrimination were still widespread in America, and were part of the law in many states. Bessie worked with other activists and gave interviews and speeches about ending racism. She refused to participate in any air show that didn’t allow black people to attend. In her hometown in Texas, she had to argue with the producers of an airshow to allow blacks and whites to come in through the same gate, but even then, they were forced to sit in a separate section.

Bessie became so well known, she was asked to star in a movie about a female pilot. Though the movie was to be made by a black-owned production company, Bessie was not happy with how they wanted to portray her. They asked her to wear rags and act as though she was uneducated, negative stereotypes of black people that were very common at the time. Bessie refused. She walked off the set and didn’t return. She wasn’t interested in being famous just for attention. She wanted to use her fame to improve conditions for other African Americans, and she realized  that this movie would not help her do that. 

But other opportunities awaited Bessie. A company that made tires in Oakland, California reached out to her. They wanted her to be their spokesperson and fly over the city dropping messages on paper about their tires. Bessie accepted the offer and went to California. There she flew and appeared in newspaper ads for the tire company. 

It was also in California that Bessie experienced another setback, this time a more serious one. In February 1923, she crashed her plane after the engine stopped working suddenly. She survived with a broken leg and ribs, as well as some cuts. The injuries didn’t stop her though: She said that as soon as she could walk again, she would fly. After several months, she fully recovered and went back to stunt flying. 

Bessie moved to Florida, where a preacher and his wife had offered to give her a room. She opened a beauty salon, still trying to earn enough money to replace the plane that had crashed. She began performing new types of stunts such as wing-walking and parachute jumps. Wing-walkers stunned their audiences by leaving the cockpit while another pilot controlled the plane, and walking out on the wings!   

Finally, in 1926, Bessie had earned enough money to buy her own plane! She had worked hard performing in airshows, giving lectures, and working at her beauty parlor. The new plane wasn’t fancy: an old biplane called a Curtiss JN-4, or “Jenny.” She hired a mechanic named William Wills to fly it from Texas to Florida. Sadly, the plane was not in good condition. During a test flight with the mechanic, the plane stalled and crashed. Bessie did not survive the crash.

News of Queen Bess’s passing was carried widely in African American newspapers. Ten thousand people attended her funeral in Chicago, where Ida B. Wells, a famous black activist, led the service. 

Bessie continued to inspire black aviators in the 1920s and beyond. William J Powell, another African American aviator and civil rights activist, started Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles, fulfilling her dream of opening a flight school for African Americans and women. Powell later wrote in his book, Black Wings, that because of Bessie, “we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.” 

She was also an inspiration to many of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of black aviators to fly for the United States Army. In 1992, Mae Jemison took a portrait of Bessie Coleman with her when she became the first black woman in space, saying that Bessie “exemplifies and serves as a model for all humanity, the very definition of strength, dignity, courage, integrity, and beauty.” The US postal service issued a Bessie Coleman stamp in 1995, and in 2006, she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. 

Bessie Coleman once said that “the air is the only place free of prejudices.” But, in order to get there, she had to shatter many barriers that were placed in her path by a society that was unwelcoming to people of her race and gender. Instead of accepting the place she was offered in this society, Bessie decided to pursue her own path and make her own opportunities. She didn’t let the lack of training or jobs for black, female pilots keep her from her dream of flying. She forged ahead with determination and held onto her principles, knowing that her race and gender were not barriers to her ability; that she could lift others up by her example; and there was a place for everybody in the sky! 

Sources

https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/bessie-coleman-the-first-female-african-american-pilot
https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/bessie-coleman
https://www.cradleofaviation.org/history/history/women-in-aviation/bessie-coleman.html

http://www.bessiecoleman.org/bio-bessie-coleman.php 

The History of Walt Disney for Kids

So as a family one of our favorite activities is watching movies together. Often because they are so many of us we skip the theater and just pop popcorn and cuddle up together on the couch and watch our favorite movies from home. Movies are sort of like going on a little journey together. We laugh together; they are happy parts and sad parts, scary parts and fun parts, we feel many of the same emotions as the characters in the movie. I have great memories watching my favorite movies growing up like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Sometimes I imagined going on adventures like my movie heroes. I liked to make up scripts for my own movies and cast my little brothers and sisters as parts and sometimes we even filmed them. 

Some of my other favorites movies growing up were Disney movies. Have you heard of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Pinnochio? What about Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Lion King? Have you heard of Walt Disney before? If not you’ve surely heard of Disney movies or Disneyland. Did you know they all started with the imagination of a man named Walt Disney? 

Many years ago Walt Disney was a child just like you. Walt was born on December 5, 1901, a little over one hundred years ago in Chicago. His parents names were Elias and Flora Disney. They were very different in many ways. His father, Elias was a hard worker, a perfectionist and could be very stern at times. But their mother Flora was known to laugh a lot and be very warm and kind. 

A few years after Walt was born his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri. Walt loved living in the countryside. There were woods and lots of animals and many of Walt’s best memories were growing up in Marceline. There was a downtown in Marceline and Walt loved watching the trains chugging into town to stop to drop off and pick up passengers. Much of his inspiration for Main Street U.S.A in Disneyland came from his fond memories of Marceline. 

Around this time Walt started drawing. He often practiced by copying the comics in the newspaper and once the local doctor even paid him to draw a picture of his horse. 

In 1911 the Disney family moved to Kansas City, Missouri where his father owned a newspaper route. A newspaper route meant that every morning Walt and his brothers woke up very early every morning to take newspapers to everyone in town. It was very hard work and often Walt didn’t want to do it, but he helped the best he could to take care of the family. Many days he fell asleep in class because he was so tired from the morning newspaper route. 

For fun little Walt liked to act and makeup plays with his friends and family members. He even tried out for a play at school and played Peter Pan. He and his brother even made a contraption using a wire so it would look like he was flying! But when they tried to use it the wire broke and he flew into the crowd!  

Walt continued to practice drawing and told his father he wanted to be an artist for a living. In high school he drew cartoons for the school newspaper and at night he took classes from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He knew to be a great artist he’d need lots and lots of practice! 

During this time Europe was at war in what is known as World War I. Walt wanted to join the army but was too young at the time. He heard many young people were joining the Red Cross. The Red Cross helps take of soldiers who were injured during the war and others in need. But Walt was also too young to be in the Red Cross. So when he went to turn in his papers to join, he changed his birthdate so they would think he was older! 

By the time Walt made it to Europe the war was over, but he helped drive an ambulance and used his drawing skills to paint cartoons on the side of his ambulance and others. He also had some of his drawings published in the Stars and Stripes army magazine. 

After returning home to the United States, Walt got a job drawing advertisements for a magazine. An advertisement is used to try and sell something. At this job he met another young artist named Ub Iwerks. Before long, Walt and Ub were out of a job and started their own company doing advertisements. Walt also became very interested in animation. Animation is pictures that move. Most of the cartoons that you see are animation — basically many pictures switching quickly to make it look like they are moving. Walt bought a camera and started tinkering with animation at home. He spent many hours drawing and taking pictures, trying to figure out how to make good looking animations.

Before long, Walt and Ub’s animations were good enough to be sold as short movies. They called them Laugh-o-Grams and many of their animations were shown before real movies at the theater. Eventually they moved to Hollywood which was where all of the newest movies were being made. In Hollywood he and his brother Roy started Disney Brothers Studios. There Walt also met his wife, Lillian. For a few years Walt continued to make his animated movies but had trouble staying in business. There are many times when he could have given up, but he loved animation and kept on trying even when they failed. At one time someone stole his favorite character, a cartoon rabbit, which he had named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. 

After Walt found out he could no longer use his Oswald the Lucky Rabbit for his movies, he was on a long train ride with his wife from New York back to his home in Hollywood. He decided his newest cartoon character would be a mouse and he would name him … Mortimer Mouse. His wife, Lillian, thought that wasn’t a very good name and he should name him Mickey Mouse instead. And this was the beginning of the world famous cartoon character, Mickey Mouse!

Back in Hollywood, and together with Ubb Iwerks, they began animated their new cartoon, Mickey Mouse. And for their first movies, Walt even did the voice for Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse’s first big movie was called Steamboat Willie. Be sure to look it up on the Internet when you get a chance. It’s black and white, but it’s Mickey Mouse riding a steamboat and whistling a fun tune. Steamboat Willie showed before real moves in the theater, but was a hit. Disney Brothers Studio did other animated movies like The Skeleton Dance and eventually Flowers and Trees, which was one of the first animated movies to use Technicolor — which means it was in color, no longer black and white. 

For many years Walt and Lillian wanted to be parents, but had trouble having children. Finally in 1933, Lillian gave birth to a daughter who they named Diane. Walt was so excited to be a dad and spent a lot of time having fun with his daughter. Often she would spend time at the animation studio watching as her father and others created their cartoons.

With the success of all of their animated movies, Disney Brothers Studio began to grow and grow and soon hundreds of animators worked for Walt Disney. Because there was so much to do Walt no longer drew the pictures, he worked on the stories and music — and his brother Roy helped with the business, taking care of the money and paying all of the animators who worked for them. 

But Walt was always wanting to do something new and exciting. He was also driven to create the biggest and best animations, so his next big project would be a full animated movie. Before this time all of the cartoons were just short movies, but Walt wanted to do a longer one. At the time no one thought anyone would want to watch a full cartoon movie, but Walt didn’t agree. His brother, Roy, wasn’t sure if they could pay for it, and many others thought for sure this would be the end of Disney Brother’s Studios. But Walt didn’t care, he believed in what they were doing and moved forward anyway.

One of Walt’s favorite fairy tales growing up was Snow White, which told the story of a young girl named Snow White, who was being hunted by a wicked witch. During her adventures she meets a band of dwarves who help save her from the witch. Walt had decided this would be his first animated movie and held a meeting with all of his animators. There he told them the story of Snow White and acted out all of the parts — then they got to work! Drawing all of the animations for Snow White took many hundred animators, 4 years of hard work and $1.5 million dollars to create. It took a lot longer and cost a lot more than they had planned, but when it was finally released all of the popular actors and actresses in Hollywood all showed up to the Carthay Theater to watch Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. To Walt’s delight, the movie was a huge hit! People all over the world loved the movie and they ended up earning all their money back within a few months. Audiences were amazed by what they saw. The animation and color were beautiful. The sound and music was well done. Walt Disney had proved them wrong! 

Walt Disney and his animators continued to make animated movies — next Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi during a time period which came to be known as the Golden Age of Animation. Other classics included Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Disney Animation Studios also made live action movies, which means movies with real people and sets. Such movies included Treasure Island, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Mary Poppins. 

By this time, Walt Disney and his studio had become very profitable, which means they had a lot of extra money to try new things. For many years, Walt had been toying with the idea of doing something, very big and very different! 

In our next episode we’re excited to tell you the story of Walt Disney’s next big dream, the making of a theme park that parents and kids could enjoy alike — the one and only Disneyland! 

Thanks for listening! We appreciate all of your great reviews and kind words. Your support keeps us going. Also, if you love our stories and would like to read them to your kids — we have a book on Amazon. Just search for Bedtime History. Talk to you next time!

The History of Steve Irwin: Crocodile Hunter for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are riding down a river in a boat. The river is surrounded by swamp land. You hear bugs chirping in the trees and fish darting through the water below you. You are driving slowly, cautiously, watching the surface of the water for one of the largest, most ancient reptiles which rules these rivers — the infamous crocodile. At the front of the boat is the man known as The Crocodile Hunter. Behind him is a cameraman, who is filming the adventure. The Crocodile Hunter holds up his finger and you slow the boat’s engines. He points to the left and you look out across the river. Poking out of the water are two huge eyeballs and a long bumpy snout. Suddenly, The Crocodile Hunter dives out of the canoe and into the murky water. The cameraman films The Crocodile Hunter as he swims toward the crocodile and grabs it around the neck. You row closer as the cameraman continues filming. The Crocodile Hunter bursts from the surface of the river with the crocodile’s jaws trapped shut. Others in the boat help pull the crocodile onto the boat. The Hunter climbs into the boat and shouts into the camera “Crickey, we got one!” You have been witness to an amazing capture by the one and only Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.

Steve Irwin was born in February 22, 1962 in Essendon, Australia. Coincidentally, he was born on his mother’s birthday! Steve’s father, Bob, was a herpetologist. A herpetologist is someone who studies reptiles. Steve’s mother, Lyn, was a wildlife rehabilitator. A wildlife rehabilitator is someone who helps animals until they are able to survive in the wild again.     

When Steve was 8 his family moved to Queensland, Australia, and his parents started the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, sort of like a zoo for reptiles. At the park Steve grew up around lots of reptiles and crocodiles. From a young age, Steve’s job was to help at the park, from cleaning to helping take care of the animals. Like his parents, Steve loved learning more about animals and taking care of them. On Steve’s 6th birthday his parents bought him a 12-foot python!

When Steve was 9, his father took him on a trip to the river to look for a crocodile they could capture and bring back to their park. Steve was so excited to track down his first crocodile. When they saw the crocodile, Steve jumped out of the boat and tried to grab onto it! With the help of his father, they wrestled the crocodile into the boat and took it back to their zoo. There they fed and took care of it. Many of the crocodiles they brought back to their zoo were ones who were causing trouble in neighborhoods or needed to be nursed back to health.

Steve was very adventurous. Often he’d wander off into the woods, climb trees, hunt down reptiles on his own and bring them back to his parents’ park. As he got older, Steve spent a lot of time relocating crocodiles. Crocodiles were relocated, because people were worried about them being near their homes. Over the years, Steve captured and relocated over 100 crocodiles! He became an expert at working with crocodiles and was known all over the world for his skills.

When Steve got older, he became the new owner of his parents park and renamed it the Australia Zoo. Many people loved visiting the zoo because of Steve’s personality. He loved being around animals and sharing his experiences with others. Steve was very funny and did wild things like dive into the water with crocodiles. In 1991, an American woman named Terri Raines was visiting the Australia Zoo. She saw Steve interacting with the animals and thought he was so funny and passionate about what he did. Steve saw Terri in the crowd and said he fell in love with her at first sight. Four months later were engaged and later got married. They had two children, a girl named Bindi, and a boy named Bob.

Terri followed Steve on his adventures and with the help of a cameraman began filming him in the wild as he wrestled and captured crocodiles. With the first videos they created a show called The Crocodile Hunter. Eventually, the show became very popular in over 130 different countries and reached over 500 million people. Steve work a tan shirt and shorts, spoke in an Australian accent, was exciting and said funny things like “Crikey!”

Steve did a few other shows about dangerous animals, but more than anything he loved to show people all of the interesting animals all across the world, so they would come to care about them like he did. He used his money to buy large areas of land to make sure the species that lived there would be safe. He once said of himself “”I consider myself a wildlife warrior. My mission is to save the world’s endangered species.” He donated much of the money he earned to helping save endangered species. An endangered species is an animal that is close to becoming extinct, which means they are all entirely gone. He also spoke out against poaching, which is killing animals illegally and killing animals that are endangered. 

Steve loved his two children and often brought them along on his adventures. He also started filming a show featuring his daughter, Bindi, called Bindi the Jungle Girl. 

Sadly, when Steve was on one of his adventures, snorkeling and filming ocean wildlife, he was stung by a stingray and passed away. Many were shocked and sad to hear about what happened to Steve. He was a great inspiration to everyone who watched him. He taught others to care about wild species and what could be done to help save them.

Over the years, Steve was given many awards for his achievements over the years. His wife, Terri, and children have continued to run the Australia Zoo and many will remember Steve for his big heart and contagious smile. 

Like Steve, you can find something you are passionate about and do all you can to learn more about it and become better at it. Steve became an expert with crocodiles due to lots and lots of practice. Some skills are learned in books, but many skills are learned by doing. Think about something you are interested in and take the time to consider how you can make a plan to improve that skill. 

Like Steve, you care share what you are passionate about with others. As you do this, you can inspire others. This may mean sharing something you drew or something new you learned. Steve also cared deeply about those around him like his wife and children. Think about what you can do to show those around you that you care about them. 

Finally, take the time to think about the amazing world around you, all of the animals in it, and what you can do to keep it a safe place for them. After all is said and done, we share the world with them and need to make it liveable for them as well. 

The History of Hedy Lamarr for Kids

Have you ever wanted to invent something?  What if you were someone who enjoyed playing with technology, but everyone expected you to do something else very different?

That is what happened to Hedy Lamarr, one of the most famous actresses during the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” Hedy later became an inventor and helped invent the technology that later became the foundation of wireless communications, like the internet.

Hedy was born in Vienna in Austria-Hungary in 1913.  When she was born her real name Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler.  “Hedy” was her nickname.  

Hedy was the only child in a Ukrainian Jewish family and her father was a successful bank director.  Her mother was a professional pianist and came from an upper-class Jewish family in Budapest, the capital of what is now called Hungary.  

When Hedy was a child, she showed an interest in acting.  She loved the theatre and film.  When she was 12 years old, she won a beauty contest in Vienna.  This encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, as she had seen that many women in films at the time were very beautiful.

Hedy started to act in eastern European movies in Budapest.  When she was a teenager, she was discovered by an Austrian film director.  He cast her in a movie called “Ecstasy”, which became a popular movie internationally. 

Hedy decided to continue the momentum of this movie’s popularity and she flew to the United States and signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (or MGM) studio in Hollywood.  Momentum means to speed up and gain force. Sometimes when good things start to happen for you, in your career or otherwise in life, it is wise to take the opportunity to follow this momentum and see how far it can take you.

So Hedy moved to Hollywood and it was at this time that she changed her name from Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler to “Hedy Lamarr”.  She thought it would be easier for Americans to say and remember.

Hedy’s first American film was called Algiers and co-stared Charles Boyer. Everyone who saw the movie loved her and she became immediately popular.  At the time, she was considered to be one of the most beautiful and exotic of Hollywood’s female actresses.  Exotic means unique or from another country.  Americans hadn’t seen other actresses who looked liked her and they wanted to see her in more movies.

She started to star in a number of American movies throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including Lady of the Tropics, Boom Town and Samson and Delilah.  This was later called “the Golden Age of Hollywood” because it was when Hollywood movies grew in popularity and there was a lot of glamour around the idea of working in studios on movies.

But Hedy’s life wasn’t all glitz and glamour.  Hedy lived in Europe before the start of World War II.  When she left for the United States to become a Hollywood actress, she left her family behind.  Unfortunately, later during the war, her home country of Austria was invaded by the Germans and Hedy had to help get her family out of Europe to safety in America.  It was not an easy thing to do, but Hedy was successful and her mother was able to escape. 

Hedy enjoyed acting, but she was not just a beautiful actress.  She was also very smart and after acting on many films, she became bored of just doing that.  She felt frustrated that at the time, women’s role in movies were often to just look beautiful and not to say too much.  So she started to develop her other interest: science and technology.

Hedy worked with her friend, the composer George Antheil, on a radio signaling device or “Secret Communications System” which was a way of changing radio frequencies to keep enemies from decoding messages.  They worked on this to help defeat the German Nazis that had invaded her home country of Austria and other parts of Europe. 

The work the that Hedy and George did later formed the foundation of what is now wireless communications.  This is fundamental to all sorts of technological advances including cell phones and the internet.  Unfortunately at the time, people did not appreciate how important their amazing invention was and so at the time she didn’t get credit for what she had done.

But when she was older, Hedy was recognized for her work on technology and won awards for the work that she and George had done.  

Hedy also had a family, including three children, and after living in the US for many years in 1953 she became an American citizen.

Hedy was reclusive in old age, which means she liked to be on her own and live away from society.  She lived her later years in Florida where she died on January 19, 2000 at the age of 86.

Hedy was an amazing woman and did a lot of remarkable things for someone of her time.  She is an example of someone who worked hard, both at acting and at her passion, science and inventing.  She overcame stereotypes, which means that she went beyond the expectations that other people had for her.

Hedy did not allow herself to be boxed in by who she was.  A lot of people assumed that she was a beautiful actress but probably not very smart.  Hedy proved to be both.  She realized that she could go beyond something that initially interested her and become a scientist as well, despite the fact that this was not common for women at the time.

We can learn from Hedy about the value of following your passion and believing in yourself.  She wanted to work in the science field and she wanted to contribute to the effort of stopping the invaders in the Second World War.  Her hard work and effort paid off, for herself and for the world, who benefitted from her efforts.

Is there something that you are interested in or a field that you would like to contribute to?  Like Hedy, you can make a difference by getting involved in a field that you are curious about, working hard and believing in yourself.  And who knows what importance your contributions will play in the world and in the future.

The History of Bruce Lee for Kids

The year is 1955 and you live in Hong Kong.   You are a teenage boy and everyday, you study hard in school and then go to the Kung Fu training centre and practice Kung Fu for hours and hours.  Your dream is to become the best Kung Fu master in the world and your coaches are telling you that you are on the path.  If you study hard and practice hard, you may be a Kung Fu champion.  You are Bruce Lee, the most famous Kung Fu master in the world in the 1960s.  You don’t know it yet, but you will go on to become a movie star in China and then in America and around the world. 

Jun Fan (Bruce) Lee was born on November 27, 1940, in Chinatown, San Francisco, California. His father was a famous Chinese opera star.  He often toured around different countries with his opera. On one trip, Bruce’s dad took his wife on tour and while they were in the United States, she gave birth to a son there. 

Bruce was a happy and active baby.  According to the Chinese Zodiac Bruce was born in the hour and the year of the dragon. The Chinese Zodiac is an ancient system Chinese people used to predict the future. In traditional Chinese culture, that Bruce was a dragon was a strong and fortuitous omen.  An omen is an event that is meant to be a sign of things to come.

Bruce and his parents returned to Hong Kong when Bruce was just three months old.  His father’s opera tour was finished, so Bruce and his family moved back to Hong Kong to be near their family.  At the time, China was at war with another country called Japan, so Chinese people did not get out to do many fun activities.  However, after the war, Bruce’s dad continued to work in opera and also started to work as an actor in movies.

Because Bruce’s dad was an actor, he tried to help Bruce get in films as well.  Bruce was successful as a child actor.  He appeared in over 20 Chinese films. Bruce liked being in movies, but he also liked studying dance and kung fu.  

When Bruce was a teenager, he started to get into a lot of street fights.  Because a lot of teenage boys in China studied Kung Fu at the time, they would often try to fight each other in the streets to see who was the best.  Bruce Lee was a very good fighter, so many other teenagers wanted to challenge him to a fight to try to beat him.

During the street fights Bruce’s parents were worried that he would get hurt so they continued to encourage him to study Kung Fu so he could defend himself.  Bruce became a very good fighter and in 1958, Bruce won the Hong Kong school’s boxing tournament. There he knocked out the previous champion in the final fight.

When Bruce was 18, he got into another street fight in Hong Kong, and the police were called. This scared Bruce’s parents and they decided that Bruce should leave Hong Kong and move to the United States so that he could have a safer and happier life.

Bruce moved to the United States and at first, he went to stay with his older sister, Agnes Lee, who was already living with family friends in San Francisco. Bruce lived in  San Francisco for several months and then he moved to Seattle so that he could study at the University of Washington in Seattle.  In order to help pay for his education, Bruce worked as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.  He also lived in the back room of the restaurant for free.

In 1964, Bruce met an American woman named Linda Emery and fell in love.  She was a fellow student studying at the university to become a teacher.  They got married and the next year, Linda gave birth to their son, Brandon Lee.  They later had a second child, a daughter named Shannon.

Two years later, in 1966, the Lees moved to Los Angeles and Bruce started to try to be in movies.  Like his dad before him, Bruce had decided that he wanted to be an actor.  One of Bruce’s first acting roles was on the tv show The Green Hornet (1966-1967), where he played the Hornet’s sidekick Kato. 

Bruce found that he was often being cast as a sidekick, because at the time there were not a lot of good roles for asian people in Hollywood movies.  He heard about how popular martial arts movies were becoming in Hong Kong and this was more interesting to Bruce than staying in Hollywood.  He was excited about the idea of being the star in movies and so he decided to return to Hong Kong.

Back in Hong Kong, Bruce began to get a number of great movie spots because of his acting and amazing kung fu skills.  He also started writing movies so that he could act in them.  And once he got the money to make the films, he would direct them too.  This included the movies The Big Boss (1971) and The Way of the Dragon (1972). These movies were very popular in Asia and they also started becoming very popular in America and around the world.

Bruce’s next film was called Enter the Dragon, and it was released in the United States by Warner Bros., which is one of the biggest Hollywood movie studios.

Unfortunately however, Bruce Lee died one month before Enter the Dragon was released.  Bruce never got to see himself starring in a Hollywood movie even though he had worked so hard to achieve this goal.  He was only 32 years old.

Enter the Dragon was a big hit though and it made a lot of money.  After Bruce died, he continued to be very famous as a movie star in America. After Americans saw Enter the Dragon, they wanted to see more of his films so they started watching the movies that he had made in Asia.

Bruce Lee is still remembered as an amazing athlete and actor who changed the way that people around the world looked at Asian people. 

Bruce also taught many people to love kung fu and martial arts.  He inspired people who saw his films to want to be good at kung fu like he was.  And while he was alive, Bruce opened a martial arts school and taught people who wanted to learn.

Bruce Lee is thought of as one of the most influential martial artists of all time and a pop culture icon of the 20th century. 

Is there a sport or hobby that you would like to be good at?  Do you have a vision of yourself as a famous actor or being able to travel the world sharing a particular skill?  Like Bruce Lee, you can find success at the things you are passionate about. The most important things you need are a vision of what you want, hard work and the ability to be adaptable.  Adaptable means to be able to change as things around you change.

Bruce traveled from Hong Kong to San Francisco when he was only 18 years old.  He had to learn a new language and a new culture.  Culture is the way people behave and do things in their part of the world. Bruce had to work very hard to make money and he continued to practice kung fu and work on his vision of becoming a movie star.  He was able to accomplish so many things in his short life due to his dedication and drive.  Bruce adapted to life in America and was flexible enough to move back to Hong Kong when he could see that it provided a better opportunity for himself and his family.  

We can all learn from Bruce Lee about the power of having a dream and working hard to make that dream a reality.

The History of Michael Jordan for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are a basketball player racing down the court with your team. From the stands a huge crowd is watching and cheering and millions more are watching you on TV. You’ve played hard all night. You’re sweating and breathing heavy. Your legs ache and you want to take a break, but you know you’ve got to keep going. It’s the championship game for all colleges across the United States. The game is tied, there are only a few seconds left, and your team is losing by one point! The clock is running. You dodge your opponent to an open spot on the court. The point guard sees you open. The ball is flying across the court toward you. You grab it, jump, take aim for the basket, and shoot. The ball spins gracefully through the air and falls through hoop! You made the shot! The crowd goes wild! With seventeen second left your team wins the game. Your teammates pick you up and carry you off the court in celebration. 

This was the winning moment that made North Carolina freshman Mike Jordan into Michael Jordan, who became the most famous basketball player of all time.  

Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York.  He was the fourth of five children in his family.  When he was just a toddler, his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. When Michael tried out for the school’s basketball team they said his was too short to play and he didn’t make the team.

Instead of feeling bad for himself, Michael worked harder.  He practiced every day and made the team the next year. Eventually he became the star of his basketball team.  He trained very hard and by the time he was in his final year of high school colleges were asking him to come play for them. 

After receiving many offers, Michael accepted a basketball scholarship to North Carolina university. A scholarship is where a college pays for all of your schooling. In college Michael studied geography and played on the basketball team.  He helped his team make it to the championship game. During the final seventeen seconds his team was losing but Michael took a jump shot and won the game! Scoring the winning shot made Michael famous, and after college he joined the Chicago Bulls, a professional basketball team.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, everyone loved to watch Michael Jordan play basketball. Because he could jump so high, he earned the nicknames “Air Jordan”, “His Airness” or just “MJ.” He had amazing leaping abilities and could do slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests. During games he was known for doing trick dunks and dunking over other players. He also used other trick moves like the reverse layup.

During the summer of 1984, Jordan played for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. The team won the gold medal at the games that year, which were held in Los Angeles. In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona Spain Jordan and his team became known as the “Dream Team” and won their second gold medal there.

Over the years, Michael worked with a number of large brands in their advertisements, including Nike, Hanes, Upper Deck, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Chevrolet and Wheaties. He even acted in a few movies like Michael Jordan’s Playground and Space Jam. The movie mixed live action and animation and had Michael act with cartoon legends Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on screen.  Nike created a whole line of shoes and sports clothes named “Air Jordan” after him. Many kids at the time wanted to be like Michael Jordan and wear the shoes with his name.

In 1985, even though he was a very wealthy basketball player, Jordan knew school was important so made sure he finished the college degree in geography he had started. 

During his second season he tore his ACL and was hurt badly, but after this went on to become the first player since Wilt Chamberlin to score more than 3,000 points in a single season.

In 1989, Michael Jordan was married and later had three children. He was close with his children and taught them to play basketball too. Many years later Michael’s oldest son, Jeffrey, made the basketball team at the University of Illinois. Michael always tried to help his children do their own thing and not feel they needed to be as successful as he was or successful in the same way.  He said that the thing that he has tried to tell his children is that they should set their own expectations. Expectations are strong beliefs of something you want for yourself in the future.

By the late 1980s, the Chicago Bulls were becoming the team to beat and Jordan was a huge part of the team’s success. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1990 and won their first NBA championship the following year by beating the Los Angeles Lakers. A NBA superstar, Jordan became known for his power and agility on the court as well as for his leadership abilities.

During his time on the Chicago Bulls team, Michael Jordan led his team to six NBA championships and he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the tournament five times. He became the most famous basketball player in the world and kids everywhere were inspired to play basketball like Michael Jordan and dress like him and wear his number, 23. 

At one game Michael Jordan wore a nameless no. 12 jersey because his no. 23 jersey had been stolen! One funny fact about Michael is he was known for sticking his tongue out when driving to the basket or dunking a ball. 

In 1993 Michael’s father died and this was a very hard time for him and his family. After many years of success playing basketball, Michael retired and decided to play minor league baseball. He played for a team called the Birmingham Barons, as an outfielder. 

In March 1995, after a short time playing baseball, Michael returned to the basketball court, and re-joined the Chicago Bulls.  He eventually helped them win the championship against the Seattle Sonics in the 1995 to 96 season.

In 1997 during the NBA Finals, Michael became sick with the flu. Many didn’t know if he would play this very important game against the Utah Jazz. His trainers told him he should take a break and get feeling better. But Michael wanted to help his team and played anyway. There were many times where he could barely stand during the game, but he ended up scoring 38 baskets and helped his team win the game.

The next year was 1998 and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were in the last game of the NBA Finals again. This would be Jordan’s last game playing for The Bulls. The Bulls were losing to the Utah Jazz by one point and there were only 5 seconds left before the game was over. Jordan maneuvered back and forth, then took a jump shot and made the basket! The Bulls won the game thanks to Michael! 

After retiring from the Bulls, Jordan played a few years later for the Washington Wizards. He donated all of the money he made to families and those who suffered during the September 11th attacks.

In April 2009, Jordan received one of basketball’s greatest honors: He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Attending the induction ceremony was a happy but sad time for Jordan because being at the event meant “your basketball career is completely over,” he explained.

In 2003, Michael retired from basketball for a second time.  He decided to focus on his businesses, including owning a basketball team.

Michael Jordan is still considered a basketball legend.  He was known for his competitiveness and his very strong work-ethic.  He spent hours watching videos of his opponents so that he could learn how to defend them. He also had a special “Love of the Game Clause” written into his basketball contracts that said he was allowed to play basketball against anyone at any time, anywhere. This was rare and unusual for a player to request, but Michael loved basketball so much that he didn’t want to be limited by his contract from what he could do.

Michael Jordan was successful because he had natural talent and a drive to succeed.  He worked hard every day at his goal of becoming the best basketball player in the world.  People respected his work ethic and his drive helped him become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Remember, he didn’t make the basketball team the first time, but kept working at it until he became better despite being short at the time.  

One of the Michael Jordan’s most famous quotes is: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Even if you fail at something, that is okay, because you tried. Everyone who is good at anything has failed many times, but they kept trying and trying and getting better. Not doing something right the first time is okay. You’ll never become better at anything if you aren’t afraid to mess up sometimes.

Is there something that you love to do that you would like to become even better at?  Is there a sport or activity that you would like to turn into a career when you are older?  Practice those things that are interesting to you and focus on becoming the best that you can.  The important thing, as Michael Jordan said to his own kids, is to set your own goals and your own expectations for yourself.

History of Irving Berlin for Kids

Have you ever thought about how music is made? Some of the classic hits that we all hear regularly were once ideas in someone’s head.  How do these turn into the songs we hear on the radio today?

Tonight we are going to learn about an immigrant named Irving Berlin who later became one of America’s greatest songwriters. America has always been called a “land of immigrants” because ever since the beginning of our nation, immigrants have come here to start new lives with their families.An immigrant is someone who moves from one country to another. 

Irving Berlin was born May 11, 1888 in Russia. Irving Berlin’s family were of the Jewish religion. It was not an easy thing to be Jewish in Russia when Irving was little because Jews were persecuted for their beliefs. Persecuted means to not be treated fair or nice. Some were beaten, made fun of, and even had their things taken from them and destroyed. One of Irving’s first memories is sitting on the side of the road watching his house burn down. It was a scary time, so when Irving was only 5 years old, his Mom and Dad decided to move away from persecution and move to America in 1893.

Back in those days, the only way to get across the ocean to the United States was to sail on big steamships. These journeys were very dangerous and could take several weeks. Many times they would run into big storms and the ship captains had to watch for icebergs along the way. People would get seasick on the boat and some of the passengers would even die. But Irving‘s parents knew that if they could make it to America they would have a chance for a better life; so they took the risk and took their young family across the ocean.

Irving’s family settled in the big city of New York. New York was a bustling city even back then, and had lots of people and crowded streets. Life was hard for Irving and his family. It was a new place they had never been before; they had to learn a new language because they didn’t speak English. They were very poor and lived in a basement of a small apartment. Irving’s dad had a hard time finding a job to earn money and did anything he could to earn money to support his family. Everyone in the family had to work hard just to get enough money to buy food. When Irving was only 8 years old, he went to work as a newspaper boy. He had 3 sisters that had to work too. Can you imagine having to work a real job at 8 years old?

On the way home after his first day on the job, Irving decided to go to the shipyard and look at the big ships that were getting ready to set sail. A big swinging crane that loads up the ships with cargo accidently swung around and knocked him into the water. When the men that worked at the shipyard pulled Irving out of the water, he was still holding onto the 5 pennies he had earned that day. He had worked so hard for that money, that he did not want to let it go.

When Irving was 13 years old, his father died.  He was sad but he also worried about his family.  Irving felt like he needed to move out of the home and support himself so his mom wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of him and feeding him. So at 14 years old, Irving left home and slept in a homeless shelter with other newspaper boys.

Irving always loved to sing and was taught to sing at an early age by his father. His dad was a cantor. A cantor is someone who leads the singing and prayer at a synagogue, which is the name for a Jewish church. When Irving was selling newspapers on the streets he learned lots of different songs and sometimes he would sing on the streets and in the saloons, café’s and restaurants. Customers would throw him pennies because they liked his songs. 

Irving paid close attention to the people who threw money for him and figured out what kind of songs people liked best.  He was very smart and figured out which songs would give him the most money and he would sing more of those songs. Pretty soon, Irving was singing full time as a job. He worked hard and long, and he later said one of the reasons he did was so he could buy his mother a rocking chair. He knew she didn’t have the money to buy one for herself and he thought it would make her happy.

In his spare time and when the restaurants were closed, Irving would ask the owners if he could play their pianos. Irving taught himself to play the piano, and soon was singing, playing and putting on shows in the restaurants, music halls and city squares. He also learned from others how to make up new songs and write music.

Irving’s first big hit was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. Ragtime music was very popular back then. It was music that marched and bounced. People loved his song. Irving’s music was being made into records and people loved to buy them because his music was great to dance to.  After this hit song, people knew Irving’s name and he became famous.

In 1917, America entered a big war that was going on in Europe. This war was called “the Great War” and later became known as World War I. Irving Berlin was asked to do a special mission for the United States Army; to write songs for a group that would perform for soldiers. The Army and Country’s leaders knew that music helped to keep the soldiers happy and inspired.

One of the songs he wrote at this time was a song called “God Bless America”, but he didn’t add it to the show. Not until 20 years later, he released the song to the public for the first time; It was during the Great Depression and right before World War II. A depression is a time when there are not very many jobs and lots of people are poor and hungry. “God Bless America” became very popular and it meant a lot to people who had been struggling for years. The people felt that even though they had lived through hard times, God still helped them and loved them. Today, the song is still beloved and sung at very special events like the 4th of July.

Irving Berlin loved America. To love your country is to be patriotic. He once said he owed all his success to his adopted country. He also said he wrote “God Bless America” as “an expression of my feeling toward the country to which I owe what I have and what I am.”

Irving Berlin wrote many many more very popular songs. He wrote songs for the radio, movies, musical plays, Broadway and other shows. People sang his songs everywhere. He was the most successful songwriter of his time and people still sing his songs, many not even knowing who wrote them. One of his other most famous songs is the very popular Christmas tune “White Christmas”. There are lots of beautiful versions of this song, but the one we hear most today is the version sung by the famous singer Bing Crosby.

Irving Berlin knew that music can be very powerful. Music can tell stories and music can make us feel better. It can lift us up when we are sad. It reminds us of people we love and places we want to visit. Music sparks imagination and creativity. Irving Berlin understood that music is very important and he wanted to fill the world with good and uplifting music. He won several awards for his music and many historians call Irving Berlin, “America’s Songwriter” because of how his music has changed and influenced America.

Irving Berlin died in New York City at the age of 101 years old. He had lived a long and happy life, and had blessed many lives with his music. Even though Irving became very famous and rich, he never forgot his childhood and living on the streets. He felt that having those hard experiences and not always getting what he wanted made him a better person; it made him grateful for what he had. He believed that America was the land of opportunity. From Irving Berlin we learn that with hard work and dedication you can better your life and make a difference.

Do you enjoy singing to music you hear on the radio?  Have you ever thought of writing your own songs?  These are things that Irving Berlin because he loved music and was inspired to learn how to make it himself.  He taught himself to sing and play piano and write songs.  If he taught himself to do that, you can too!  We are all capable of great things if we are dedicated to our goals and strive to reach them.

The Story of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Making of Hamilton

Have you heard about the musical Hamilton? Maybe you’ve seen the movie on Disney Plus, listened to the music, or actually seen a live performance. My kids and I enjoy listening to the music. It’s catchy and fun to sing along, and what’s also great is we learn something new while having a good time together! The musical Hamilton has been seen on Disney Plus and Broadway millions of times and has come to be one of the most popular musicals of all time. But how did the musical come to be? Do you know who wrote the story and lyrics and music? If you guessed Lin-Manuel Miranda you were right!

Lin-Manuel Miranda was born January 16, 1980 in New York, New York. 

Lin-Manuel’s parents were from Puerto Rican. Puerto Rico is an island and U.S. territory in the Carribean. Lin-Manuel  grew up in a Hispanic neighbourhood in northern Manhattan with his family. His unique name was inspired by a poem about the Vietnam War . His father worked in politics and helped  several of the mayors of New York City, and his mother was a psychologist. They often played salsa and show tunes, which are songs from musicals, at home.. 

During childhood and his teens, Lin-Manuel spent at least one month each year with his grandparents in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. Lin-Manuel attended Hunter College Elementary School and Hunter College High School. He wrote some of his first musicals while growing up in school. 

Lin-Manuel saw his first Broadway musical, Les Misérables, when he was seven, and it made a life-long impression on him. His tastes also ran to hip-hop and R&B, and he became an excellent rapper. In high school he won the lead role in the musical The Pirates of Penzance and was very active in the school’s drama program. 

In school he met Stephen Sondheim, who later became a mentor to him, along with fellow musical-theatre legend John Kander. Lin-Manuel went on to study theatre at Wesleyan University, where he continued to perform in musicals and to write his own songs and shows.

It was there in 1999 that he wrote the first draft of his musical In the Heights, which was set in Washington Heights, a northern Manhattan neighbourhood similar to that of his own childhood. At college Lin-Manuel wrote and directed several other musicals and acted in many other productions, ranging from musicals to Shakespeare.

After graduating from college in 2002, Lin-Manuel  started an acting career, appearing in films and on television. He also performed with a hip-hop improvisation group, Freestyle Love Supreme around New York City and at festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

At this time Lin-Manuel  continued to develop In the Heights with his friend Thomas Kail. The musical blended hip-hop and salsa. Lin-Manuel wrote the music and lyrics for the show. He also co-wrote a book with Quiara Alegría Hudes that is the complete script and all the song lyrics from the show. 

In the Heights opened Off-Broadway in February 2007 and ran until July, with Lin-Manuel in the lead role. It won two Drama Desk Awards. In the Heights had its Broadway debut in March 2008 and won four Tony Awards, including those for best musical and best original score. They also nominated the show for the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and its original-cast recording won the 2008 Grammy Award for best musical show album. 

Also, In the Heights will be available to everyone as a movie in theaters and on HBO in June 2021.

While Lin-Manuel was on vacation in 2008, he read a book about the U.S. Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. The biography was written by Ron Chernow and told Hamilton’s life story. Lin-Manuel was inspired by Hamilton’s life, from his difficult childhood in the Caribbean island to his move to New York and the part he played in the American Revolution,  eventually becoming the U.S. secretary of the treasury. Lin-Manuel saw an important story that needed to be told and the wheels in his head started to turn. 

In Alexander Hamilton’s story, Lin-Manuel saw one that was very similar to that of the simple beginnings of many famous rappers. It inspired him to write a rap about Alexander Hamilton. In 2009 he later performed it for  the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word before President Barack Obama and others.

Lin-Manuel later said he spent a year writing the Hamilton song “My Shot”, changing it countless times for every verse to reflect Alexander Hamilton’s smarts. By 2012, Lin-Manuel was performing an extended set of pieces based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, which he then referred to as the Hamilton Mixtape. The New York Times called it “an obvious game changer”.

The resulting show, which Lin-Manuel called “Hamilton” was smart, energetic, catchy, and immediately popular with audiences, and featured a racially diverse cast, with Lin-Manuel starring in the main role of Alexander Hamilton. In January 2015 the musical opened Off-Broadway at New York City’s Public Theater. It was so successful it made an early move to Broadway in July.

In 2016 they awarded Hamilton the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and that year it received an outstanding 16 Tony nominations, which rarely happens. Lin-Manuel earned several nods, including best actor in a leading role in a musical. The production eventually won 11 Tonys, falling one short of the record. They named Hamilton best musical, and Lin-Manuel won for best book and best original score. 

On March 15, 2016, members of the cast of Hamilton performed at the White House and hosted workshops; Lin-Manuel performed freestyle rap from prompts held up by President Obama. Later In 2016, Miranda and Jeremy McCarter published Hamilton: The Revolution, a book describing Hamilton’s journey from idea to Broadway success. In July 2016 Lin-Manuel appeared for the last time in the show.

The following year the musical opened in London’s West End, where it was a critical and commercial success. It won seven Olivier Awards, including best new play. In addition, Lin-Manuel garnered the award for outstanding achievement in music. 

In 2017 Hurricane Maria hit the Carribean Islands. It was the worst recorded hurricane in history in that area of the world. Many lives and property was lost.  To help, Lin-Manuel briefly returned to his role as Alexander Hamilton in Puerto Rico and used the money made from the shows to help the people there. Lin-Manuel had been active in helping the people of Puerto Rico and the arts there over the years. 

Have you seen the Disney movie Moana? Lin-Manuel wrote the song “How Far I’ll Go” and sings parts of it. In the movie Mary Poppins Returns, he played Mary Poppins sidekick and chimney sweep, Bert. He also starred in the HBO TV series His Dark Materials. Today Lin-Manuel continues today to work on many projects with different studios, including Disney.

Lin-Manuel is an outstanding example of someone who found a talent he enjoyed and dedicated his life to improving it. Can you believe he spent a year working on the songs “Alexander Hamilton” and “My Shot”? Great things don’t come easy. Often they start off very imperfect and need to be worked on over and over until they improve with time and focus. He also wasn’t afraid to take risks by being original. Many of his close friends told him his idea for Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t work. A rap-musical about a founding father was a very unique and bold idea! But he kept working at it anyway until it was a great success!

Once Lin-Manuel reached fame and stardom, he didn’t only use the money he made for his own benefit. He has found many ways to give back to the communities he grew up in and places like Puerto Rico when it was hit by a devastating hurricane. He has also worked with charities that help children who are in foster care and are being adopted. 

What is something that you love to do? Think of what your next project might be related to your interests and set a goal. Plan out how you might work on that project each day until it becomes something better each time, so then you can share it like Lin-Manuel.

The Shirley Temple Story for Kids

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a movie star?  Many people around the world dream of being famous and acting in blockbuster movies.  Lots of actors work hard to build their careers and spend years trying to get even small parts on movies. But imagine if you were just a young child and suddenly became a star before you even started kindergarten.

This is what happened to Shirley Temple.  Shirley Temple became the most famous child actress of her time during the Great Depression in America.  The Great Depression was a time when the country was very poor and most American families did not have enough money to live well.  Many people were sad about their money situation and they needed something to make them happy.  And Shirley Temple became just what they needed.

Shirley was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California.  Her father was a banker and her mother was a housewife and she had two older brothers.  Although the country was quite poor at the time, Shirley’s family had enough money that they did not struggle.  

When she was young, Shirley’s family moved to Brentwood, Los Angeles and it was there that Shirley’s acting career started.  Her mother encouraged her to sing and and act and when she was three years old, she enrolled her in a dance school in Los Angeles.

Around this time, Shirley’s mother also began styling Shirley’s hair into corkscrew ringlets.  This cute hairstyle became her signature look and when she became famous, parents around the world started putting ringlets in their daughters’ hair so that they would look like Shirley Temple.

Getting her hair to look just right was not easy.  Every night before bed, Shirley’s mother had to roll her hair into 56 pin curls.  Shirley Temple did not like having her hair done, and she wished that she could just wear a short haircut like her hero, Amelia Earhart.

While Shirley was at the dance school, she was spotted by Charles Lamont, who was a casting director for Educational Pictures at the time. A casting director is someone who decides which actors and actresses will be put into movies.  When Mr. Lamont met Shirley, she was shy and hid behind a piano. But Mr. Lamont thought she was very cute and funny and he asked her parents if she could be in his movies.  She was just three years old.

Shirley Temple starred in many movies from the time she was three until she was six years old and became very famous.  She spent long days on set working very hard on the movies.  “Being on set” means spending time where the movie is being filmed and it usually involves spending long days filming and waiting for your turn to act.  When Shirley was not working on films, she attended the Westlake School for Girls.

Shirley starred in a number of feature films between 1932 and 1934, including Bright Eyes, Curly Top and Heidi and she became a worldwide star. In the movie Bright Eyes, Shirley sang a song called “On a Good Ship Lollipop”.  Everyone thought that she was so cute and so talented that she won a special Academy Award for the part.

Everyone around the world loved the curly haired girl.  Companies made dolls and dishes and clothing with her picture on them.  Everyone wanted to look like Shirley Temple and many girls dressed like her and curled their hair the same way. It became a very popular look.  

Someone even named a drink after her, called “The Shirley Temple”.  It was flavoured with cherry, lemon and lime and had a cherry in it.  It became a very popular drink and still is today.

Shirley became a sign of hope and optimism during the difficult years of the Great Depression.  Many people found Shirley’s attitude and energy in her movies made them very happy and optimistic. Optimistic means having a positive outlook on life and believing that the future will be positive and happy.

The President of the United States at the time was named Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Roosevelt called Shirley Temple “Little Miss Miracle” for making people happy during such a difficult time for the country.  He said in a speech to the country that, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.” 

By the time Shirley was 12 years old, she had made 43 films. However, as Shirley Temple got older, her movies became less and less popular.  Everyone wanted Shirley to stay the cute child star she was at first, but she was growing up.  Shirley was sad about this, but instead of wallowing, she decided to shift her focus to other things in life.

In 1945, Shirley married an actor named John Agar Jr., when she was only 17 years old. They had a daughter together but they got divorced in 1949.  The next year, Shirley Temple got married again and this time her marriage lasted for the rest of their lives.  Her new husband was a businessman named Charles Alden Black and together they had two children: a son, Charles, and a daughter, Lori.

In 1948, Shirley appeared in her last big movie, a Western movie also starring with John Wayne. Her career as a popular film star had ended at an earlier age than most actors’ had begun and she retired from acting in films in 1950 at the age of 22.

While Shirley Temple may have been sad about her movie career ending, she decided to refocus her efforts on other activities, including activities that would help others.  She sat on the boards of companies and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation.

She also decided to get involved in politics and from 1969 to 1970. She was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She later became the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia.  She found a way to give back to the world again through her political work instead of her movies.

In 1988, Shirley Temple published her autobiography, Child Star.  An autobiography is a book that someone writes to tell the story of their life. 

She received many awards and honors throughout her life, including the Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In 2005, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.

Shirley Temple died on February 10, 2014, at her home near San Francisco, California. She was 85 years old. Following her death, Shirley’s family said that: “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of 55 years.”

Shirley showed a great deal of charisma at a young age, which first got her noticed to be in the movies.  But it was ultimately her dedication to being a good actress and working hard that helped her build success.  Shirley also demonstrated resilience throughout her life.  Resilience means the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.  Shirley was able to shift her focus to new activities allowed her to continue to give back to the world in a positive way, even after her movie career ended. 

All of us can learn from Shirley about the power of being positive and spreading happiness and joy.  We can also learn about how to look forward to what we can do next in life when something stops working out for us.  By focusing on the positive things in life, we can continue to build happiness and meaning for ourselves and others. 

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.