The History of Marie Curie for Kids

Imagine you are in Europe. The year is 1895 and you live in Poland. Life is changing quickly at this time. Many people have been moving to cities for work or to America to start a new life. But you are a happy child, loving life with your four older siblings. Your father is a math and science teacher and from him, you have come to love math and science as well. However, you do not yet realize that one day you will become one of the most famous scientists in the world. You are Marie Curie.

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867. She was the youngest daughter of five children. When she was born, her name was Marie Sklodowska. She changed her name to Marie Curie later when she got married.

Marie had a happy child and she became interested in science at a young age. She was very smart and got good grades in school. Sadly when Marie was only 10, her mother died. She had become sick with tuberculosis. 

Marie was raised by her father and became more and more interested in math and physics. Physics is the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. Even though Marie got the top grades in her high school, she was not able to go to university when she graduated. The reason was because the university in Warsaw was a men’s-only university at the time.

Marie was very disappointed, but she continued to learn about the subjects she loved however she could. One way was through a secret school that taught university type courses at different locations around the city. Marie’s older sister Bronya also loved learning. Together the two girls dreamed of going to America to study at university there.

However Marie and Bronya were not rich. So they could not pursue this dream of studying in America together. To pursue means to seek to accomplish a goal over a long period of time. Despite this problem, Marie and Bronya did not give up in their hope of going to university. The two girls made a deal with each other. They would attend university in Europe. However, they would not go together. They decided that Marie would work and pay for Bronya to live and attend university in Europe. Afterwards, Bronya would work and pay for Marie to attend. 

For five years, from the age of 19-24, Marie worked as a tutor and nanny for children. She sent most of the money she made to her sister. And in her spare time, Marie would study and read about science and math. 

When she was 24, Marie moved to Paris and started attending university at the Sorbonne, a famous university in France. Marie received money every month from Bronya, however, it was not enough to live and eat well. Marie mostly ate bread and butter. Because she was not eating a healthy diet, Marie got sick often. 

Despite these hardships, Marie finished a master’s degree in physics and a degree in math. 

Shortly after Marie graduated from the Sorbonne, she met a man named Pierre Curie. Pierre was a professor of physics. A professor is a teacher and researcher in a college or university. Marie and Pierre were introduced by a friend of Marie’s in order for Marie to try to find lab space for an experiment she was going to conduct. 

Marie and Pierre fell in love and they were married in 1895. They both loved science and physics. They worked together investigating radioactivity. Radioactivity is a process in which parts of matter break down and create energy.

In 1898, the Curies discovered two new chemical elements, polonium and radium. This was an amazing discovery…

They were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903.

In 1906, Pierre had an unfortunate accident. He was knocked down by a carriage while crossing the road and he died. 

Marie took over his work after his death, including his teaching post at the Sorbonne. In doing so, she became the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. She devoted herself to continuing the work that she and Pierre had started together.

In 1911, she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry. 

The work that the Curies did was important in the development of x-ray technology. X-rays are electromagnetic wave of high energy and very short wavelength. They are able to pass through many materials that light cannot. X-rays are used for surgeries and other medical procedures, as they are able to help create images of what is inside of our bodies. Doctors can then use these X-ray images to figure out what is wrong with someone and where to operate, if necessary. 

During World War I, Marie helped ambulances have x-ray machines. She also volunteered with the ambulances and drove to the front lines to help wounded soldiers. 

Marie became the head of the International Red Cross’s radiological service. The International Red Cross is an organization dedicated to protecting victims of international wars.

In the 1920s, when Marie was in her 50s, she developed leukaemia, which is a type of cancer.  This was due to her exposure to radiation from her research. She died on July 4, 1934.

Marie Curie’s determination and hard work during her lifetime brought about amazing scientific developments that impact us all still today. As a woman physicist, she was a trailblazer in her field and faced backlash for her participation. But Marie was strong and determined. And she persisted in doing the work that she loved anyways. As a result, our medical and scientific world was changed. 

Is there something that you are passionate about? With hard work and determination, like Marie Curie, you can also make a difference in the world and in the things you are interested in. The key is to carry on despite times that are hard or backlash from others that you face to your efforts. If you believe in something and want to make a difference, you can do it!

The History of Presidents’ Day: Childhoods for Kids

So in the United States today is President’s Day. Presidents Day is a day we celebrate the life and presidencies of individuals who served in the highest political office in our country. Today we thought it would be fun to focus on a part of their lives that is often overlooked — their childhoods. And I am lucky to know some of the smartest people who know a lot about the lives of the Presidents! Most of this material came from Brittany at The American Moms. Check them out on Instagram or their website theamericanmoms.com. They always share great ideas about how you can teach and inspire your kids. So once again, a big thanks to Brittany at The American Moms for all of the awesome research.

So even though all of these individuals rose to the highest office in the United States government, many of them came from very little. Most of us know about Abraham Lincoln. If you don’t know about his childhood, check out our episode about Honest Abe, because we go into a lot more detail there. But he lost his mother at a very young age and often was left alone by his father to take care of his little sister in the woods of Kentucky. He had to teach himself to read and didn’t go to a normal school. He had to learn to become a lawyer all by himself, and he still became the President of the United States. That’s pretty amazing, right?

Andrew Jackson was the 7th President of the United States. The year before Andrew Jackson was born his family immigrated (that means moved) to America from Ireland. Sadly, his father died just after Andrew was born and his mother hoped Andrew would become a minister in their church, but he was a pretty wild kid and that continued until he was an adult, so becoming a minister didn’t work out. When the American Revolution started — that is the war where American fought for it’s freedom from Great Britain — Andrew and his two brothers joined the war. Andrew was only 13-years old! Can you believe that? Sadly, during the war he lost one of his brothers and Andrew and his other brother was captured by the enemy, the British. While they were prisoners they became very sick with smallpox. Eventually, their mother arranged for their release and they were set free.

Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States. Millard was also born to a very poor family. Like Abraham Lincoln he was born in a log cabin to a family of farmers who often couldn’t feed him and his brothers and sisters. Because they didn’t have any money they sent Millard to be an apprentice cloth maker. An apprentice is someone who is in training by an expert clother maker in this case. While Millard worked there they paid his family a little so they could have food to eat. But as an apprentice Millard was treated badly. They worked him very hard. Eventually Millard saved up some money and bought himself his freedom. Then he walked 100 miles back to his family farm! From there on out he decided to educate himself and was so desperate to learn sometimes he stole books! It was a rough life, but he was dedicated to learning so he didn’t have to be poor and hungry like his parents. Like Abraham Lincoln, Millard taught himself to become a lawyer and became very successful at it. Often we think we can only learn by going to school, but that is not true! The people who become the best learners teach themselves things. You can do that, too! And believe it or not some day school will end, but it’s important to enjoy learning and keep on learning anyway!

James Garfield was the 20th President of the United States. As an adult he once said: “I never meet a ragged boy in the street without feeling that I may owe him a salute, for I know not what possibilities may be buttoned up under his coat.” Whe he meant was that even those you might see someone who doesn’t look like they could do much in life as a child, you never know and shouldn’t judge them by appearances. 


James was born in Ohio. He lost his father when he was only two-years-old. As the youngest, his mother and siblings were super protective of him, but had great hopes for him. They knew that whatever happened, James had to have an education. They did whatever they could to make it happen, saving every penny to send him to school. His mom even convinced local leaders to build a schoolhouse on her property, since that was the only way her children would ever receive an education. She really cared about their education!

But she was very sad when James quit school and went to work for a canal company. A canal is a man-made river that boats can move things up and down. Although James had never seen the ocean, he was fascinated by it. And working on a canal boat was the closest thing to his dream. 


Although James worked on the water, he had never learned how to swim. One night while working, he fell in the canal and almost drowned. Miraculously, he grabbed a hold of a rope and pulled himself in. The rope never should have been there and as James said “I took it as a sign that God had bigger plans for me.”

After this experience James returned home and decided to go back to school. He worked as a janitor and things began to improve for him. He quickly rose to the top of his class and was asked to be a teacher the next year. 

Theodore (or Teddy) Roosevelt was the 26th POTUS. When he was little his family was wealthy, unlike many of the other presidents, but Teddy was always very sick. Often his kind father would carry him around at night or take him on carriage rides while he was coughing. His mother tried to be very protective of Teddy, but his father took a different path. His father said he needed to work his body to become stronger rather than stay inside. Teddy spent much of his childhood exploring the woods, studying out the creatures around their home, drawing pictures of them. Later he went on to become a very smart man who knew a lot about nature and animals. He started museums because of his love for science. He also created the first National Parks to protect wildlife and nature. In his teenage years he spent a lot of time living what he called “the strenuous life.” He lifted weights and boxed and ran and worked hard to become stronger. Eventually, his sickness went away and he became a strong and courageous man. He became known for his rough lifestyle and love for adventure.

Spend some time thinking about these incredible people and what they went through as children. Even though they had very little or had hard childhoods they were able to teach themselves, work hard and do great things. Teddy Roosevelt exercised and explored the natural world around him. That helped him grow. Think about what you can do to improve your situation like these presidents did. As children they are no different than you. But the choices they made, made all the difference. For you it might be setting a goal to read a little more, or finding a new hobby that interests you, or helping a sibling who needs you. All of these little steps each day make a difference and change your character in ways that will last a lifetime.

I hoped you learned some new things about presidents. I know I did! A big thanks again to Brittany at The American Moms. Be sure to check them out! Have a Happy Presidents Day and talk to you next time!

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 Martin Luther King, Jr. for Kids

So this coming month, February, is “Black History Month” in the United States and Canada.  Black History Month is a time for us to remember important people and events in the history of people of African descent around the world and in our countries. Black History Month can be traced back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements made by African Americans.  Carter Woodson was a Harvard university graduate and he chose February as the month to celebrate black history because the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were both in February.  

We thought that for this month’s first episode of Bedtime History, we would focus on one of the great black rights activists and civil rights leaders of American history, Martin Luther King Jr.  Civil rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.  His dad was a pastor and his mother was a school teacher.  A pastor is a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation.  Martin also had an older sister named Cristine and a younger brother named Alfred.  They grew up in a wealthy area of Atlanta called “Sweet Auburn” where many black families lived at the time.

Martin knew from a young age that he enjoyed a great childhood and a good education that not many black children in America at the time had access to.  It inspired him to want to help other black children have the same opportunities to live a good life.  He was also inspired by his father, who worked hard on activities to try to improve the lives of black people and achieve equality.

Martin was a very good student and he worked hard to get good grades.  Because of his hard work, he got into a good college when he was 15 to study law and medicine.  It was called Morehouse College and was the same college that his father and his grandfather had attended.

Even though Martin did not originally plan to become a pastor like his father, he became more and more interested in religious studies and politics during his time at college.  Martin decided to finish a Bachelor of Divinity degree so that he could become a pastor too.  

Martin was a popular student, even though he was one of the only black students in a mostly white student college.  He finished his degree in 1948 and was elected president of his class in his final year of college.

After he graduated, Martin moved to Boston to attend Boston University when he was 24.  While he was there and studying for a higher level degree, he met Coretta Scott.  Coretta was a singer from Alabama who was also in college in Boston.  She was studying music at the New England Conservatory of Music. 

Martin and Coretta fell in love and got married in 1953.  After Martin’s studies were finished, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama.  Martin became the pastor of a church there called the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  He was a great pastor and had a special gift of being a very good public speaker.  People always paid attention to what he had to say because he was well spoken and delivered his sermons in a very convincing style.

Martin and Coretta had been living in Montgomery for a short time when they started to have children.  At the time, the city of Montgomery also became the centre for the civil rights struggle in America.  The city was very segregated.  This means that black and white people were divided and expected to live apart from each other.  Some people challenged the rules that forced them to live apart.  This led to a court decision about segregation of students in schools.  The court decision decided that while black and white kids had been separated in the past, they were now allowed to go to school together. 

The decision was a great victory for those who wanted equality for all people and the end of segregation.  However, the decision made some people who disagreed with these changes very angry. At the time, there was a lot of racism in the area. Racism means to have negative thoughts and actions towards people of a different race based on the belief that your own race is better.  

The fight over civil rights grew greater in 1955.  That year, a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus and she was arrested. The rules at the time said that she was supposed to sit in the back of the bus in the segregated section for black people.  However, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus to protest this rule. To protest means to do something to show you are against a rule or law.

Rosa Parks’ arrest made a number of people angry.  A group of activists got together and decided to stop using the bus as a protest.  An activist is someone who works to bring about political or social change. Activist groups started taking more and more actions to try to change the rules that limited equality for black people and separated blacks and whites. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader and spokesman of the activist group at the time. Martin started speaking as the leader of a group trying to fight racism and bring about equality peacefully.  Martin admired Mahatma Ghandi and other peaceful activists from around the world and history.  Ghandi and others were people who taught that the way to bring about real change in society was to protest but not to be violent.

Even though Martin was trying to change things peacefully, many people disagreed with him. Many of these people threatened him and his family. Some even tried to set his house on fire. This was very scary for Martin and his family, especially now that they had four young children. Even though it was a scary time for Martin and his family, they were proud of the success of their protests and how many people had joined the cause for equality.

Next Martin began traveling across America and giving talks to big groups on civil rights and nonviolent protest.  His messages were becoming more and more popular, but also causing more and more people to be angry with him. 

Many people fought very hard for equality and the rights of black people and many people fought against these ideas.  Most of the protests were peaceful but some became violent when protesters and those against them became heated.

In 1963, Martin and his friends protested segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, which was one of the most racially divided cities in the United States. Martin was arrested and had to spend time in jail. It was a sad time for him because he was away from his family, but he used this time to write letters to those who opposed him, peacefully trying to convince them of why equality was right and good.

Later that year, when he got out of prison, Martin organized a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  A march is a type of protest in which people walk along public roads in an organized way to protest about something.  The march was peaceful and it was attended by around 250,000 people!  

At the March on Washington, Martin gave his famous speech, known as the “I Have a Dream” speech.  It called for a peaceful world in which all people are treated as equals.  Many people around the world watched Martin Luther King, Jr. give this speech in person and on TV.  Later that year, he was named “Man of the Year” by TIME magazine. 

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. also became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was only 35 years old. And in August 1965, the US Congress passed a law that gave all black Americans the right to vote. This was a big step and would not have come about at that time if not for the hard work of Martin and his fellow activists.

Unfortunately a few years later, Martin’s life and work were cut short when he was shot and killed.  He was standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee when someone shot him. The killer was a man that had escaped prison.  He was later caught and sent to prison.

People across the country were saddened by Martin’s death. The president at the time declared a national day of mourning, which was meant to be a time for the entire country to express sorrow over Martin’s death.  Later, in 1983, the US created a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is known as Martin Luther King Day and is on the third Monday of January each year. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a brave and hardworking man.  He fought hard for the things that he believed in and to help others.  He believed in equality and human rights for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin colour or how rich or poor someone is. And he did so by always being peaceful.  He was truly an incredible man.

There is still much work to be done as society works towards Martin’s dream of “full equality”.  But by learning about Martin and his life and work, you can join the conversation and become part of the efforts that are still underway in your country to bring about full and meaningful equality to all people. And the ways in which you can help society become a more peaceful, equal and loving place. 

If you haven’t already heard it, I would recommend that you listen to the full audio of Martin’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  It is one of the most famous and amazing speeches of all time. 

The History of Dian Fossey for Kids

Imagine you are hiking through the thick green mountains of Rwanda, a country deep in the heart of Africa.  It is wet and dark in the dense leaves, plants and vines and you and your team use machetes, which are large knives, to cut through the foliage as you make your way to your destination.  There is no path for you to follow, so you use animal tracks and signs.  Finally you cut through to an open area and stop in your tracks. Everyone goes quiet. Gorillas. Dozens of them lying around and frolicking in the mist. They are exactly what you have been looking for.

Tonight we are going to learn about Dian Fossey — an American woman who loved animals and grew up to become a famous zoologist, or someone who studies animal behavior.

Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, California in 1932.  She grew up with her mother and stepfather and developed a strong love of animals at a young age.  She enjoyed horseback riding as a kid and teenager and she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. A veterinarian is a doctor for animals.

Dian went to college in California and started studying veterinary courses, but decided to change and study occupational therapy instead.  Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that helps people who are injured or unwell to learn to use their bodies again.

After she finished college, Dian worked at a hospital in California.  She was offered a job as the director of a children’s hospital’s occupational department in Kentucky, so she moved there in 1955. In Kentucky, Dian lived on a farm and spent a lot of her free time with the farm animals.   

Dian had decided that she wanted to travel and see other parts of the world. And she really wanted to visit Africa.  So she saved up her money and in 1963, she traveled to Africa for the first time.  While she was there, she traveled to many countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the Congo.  

In Africa Dian met a number of other scientists and researchers.  She was inspired by the work they were doing in different areas, including paleoanthropology, or the study of human fossils, and wildlife photography.  The wildlife photographers that she met were working on a movie about African gorillas.  They took Dian along on one of their trips to find the gorillas in their natural habitat.  A habitat is an animal’s natural home or environment.

When Dian first saw the gorillas on that trip, she became instantly in love with them.  She liked that they had individual personalities and were shy.  She wanted to return again to see the gorillas.

Dian went back home to Kentucky and met others who were interested in gorillas. She met a professor named Louis Leakey and together they made plans to conduct a long-term study on the gorillas of the Rwandan mountains.  

In order to conduct the research, Dian needed to live in Rwanda and so she moved there and spent her time living mostly in the mountains with the gorillas and watching them. She lived like this for four years until a war broke out and Diana had to leave to escape the war.

Dian continued to study gorillas and worked on getting a doctorate degree based on her research at Cambridge University in England.

In 1983, Dian published a book about her research and her experience living with the gorillas.  It was called Gorillas in the Mist and it became a best-selling book. The book was even made into a popular movie in 1988.

Unfortunately there were people who did not like Dian and the work she was doing.  Many people at the time tried to hunt gorillas and kill them, since they could get a lot of money for the gorillas bodies and parts.  Dian spoke out against these hunters or “poachers” and because of this many of these hunters did not like her.  They did not want her message of protecting the gorillas to be spread. 

Sadly, on December 26, 1985, Fossey was found dead at her Rwandan forest camp. She had been killed by poachers.  However, no one was ever caught or put in in jail for what happened.

Dian’s work with gorillas continues through an international research fund called the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.  The Fund continues to operate and has expanded to other areas of Africa.  The Fund’s goal is to protect mountain gorillas and other endangered species in the gorillas’ habitats.

Dian Fossey is considered the leading researcher on the behavior of mountain gorillas.  She worked hard throughout her life to try to protect these animals from extinction and from hunters and poachers who wanted to kill them.  Dian’s love of the gorillas helped her to see them as highly intelligent individual animals.  And her passion for helping to save them made the gorillas lives better. 

From Dian, we can learn about the power of an individual to make a difference in the lives of other beings, including animals.  Sometimes one person’s interests and efforts can help save an entire species of animal.  She showed bravery in travelling to Africa and facing the dangers of the jungles and poachers who disagreed with her.  And her strength and bravery continue to inspire others. 

Is there a type of animal that you love?  Are there ways that you can learn more about these animals? Are there ways that you can get involved in caring for them?  Like Dian, you can make a difference in the lives of animals that you love.

The History of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for Kids

Close your eyes and picture that you are sitting in a grand concert hall.  The year is the 1762 and the hall is a large and beautiful hall in Europe.  It is full of wealthy people dressed in beautiful and fancy clothes. On the stage is a large orchestra of musicians, playing the most beautiful music you have ever heard.

You can’t believe how beautiful the music is.  After the orchestra is finished, everyone jumps to their feet and claps with loud applause, including you.  It is a magnificent show!  Then, to your surprise, the composer of the music comes on stage.  He is a young teenager and is only twelve years old!  His name is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Wolfgang Mozart was an Austrian composer who wrote many operas, concertos, symphonies and sonatas that shaped classical music in a very significant way.  He was one of the most talented and productive musical composers of all time.  

Wolfgang was born in the year 1756.  He was very gifted and was able to play a number of different instruments from a very young age. Wolfgang’s father Leopold was a successful composer, violinist and assistant concert-master. Wolfgang’s father introduced him and his older sister Nannerl to music at an early age.  When Wolfgang was three, he watched his seven year old sister learn piano.  He started to copy her playing and at a very young age, he started to show that he understood music and could play himself.  

Wolfgang’s father started teaching both his children how to play, even though Wolfgang was so young.  However, Wolfgang and his sister practiced a lot and worked on perfecting their playing.  Wolfgang soon showed signs of excelling beyond his father’s teachings.  He wrote his first piece of music at age five and learned how to play the harpsichord, the violin, the piano, organ and the viola.

When Wolfgang was young, Europe was divided into many small city-states which were run by the wealthy aristocrats.  Aristocrats means someone who is related to the king or queen of a country and is usually rich.  The aristocrats were so wealthy that they would pay artists and musicians to entertain and inspire them and their guests. When Wolfgang was six, his father took him and his sister across Europe to play music in these different cities for the aristocrats who paid to hear them play. Wolfgang’s first show was for the court of Bavaria in Munich.  He was only six years old! 

The Mozarts travelled to many cities and played in Paris, London, the Hague and Zurich.  These trips were long and difficult. They rode in vehicles like wagons and it was very uncomfortable.  Many times Wolfgang and other members of his family became very sick.  However, there were many good things about the time that Wolfgang spent touring as a child.  During the many tours his father took him on, Wolfgang met many musicians and got to know their music.  This included Johann Christian Bach in London, who had a big influence on Wolfgang. 

When Wolfgang was thirteen, he traveled from Salzburg to Italy where he lived with his father.  On this trip, Wolfgang’s sister stayed home with their mother, as she was at the age that she was supposed to get married.  The custom of the time was that when a girl was at the age to get married, she was not allowed to perform music in public anymore.  A custom is a traditional way of doing something.

Wolfgang and his father travelled to many cities and put on many shows during their time in Italy.  They were there for two years because they were trying to build the largest audience they could for Wolfgang’s talents.  One time, when Wolfgang was in Rome, he visited the Sistine Chapel and heard a song/concert called Miserere composed by Gregorio Allegri.  He later wrote out the entire score from memory and only had to go back and make a few small edits.  A score is the written version of music.

During the time that Mozart was in Italy, he also wrote a new opera, Mitreidate, re di Ponto for the court of Milan.  It was so beautiful that other aristocrats in Italy hired Wolfgang to write other operas. He wrote two more during that trip: Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772).  He was only a teenager at the time.

In March 1773, Mozart and his father returned home.  When they got there, Mozart was appointed assistant concertmaster of the church and he was paid a small salary.  A salary is an amount of money that someone gets paid regularly for doing a job. During this time, Mozart worked with many different types of music and wrote many amazing symphonies before he was even 21 years old. 

Even though he was successful in writing a lot of music, Mozart started feeling like he wanted to leave his hometown of Salzburg and do something greater.  He believed he could do that better somewhere else. Wolfgang traveled with his sister to Mannheim, Paris, and Munich, three large cities in Europe at the time. Unfortunately while they were on the trip, the got word that their mom had died and they returned home.

Wolfgang took on another job and continued writing a lot of music.  He also taught music and played several concerts. Around this time, Mozart met a young woman named Constanze Weber and they fell in love.  They got married and later had six children.  However, it was not a healthy time in history and only two of their children survived being babies. 

Wolfgang admired the works of other famous composers Johannes Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel and became obsessed with their music.  Around this time, Mozart also met another famous composer named Joseph Haydn and the two composers became friends. When Haydn visited Vienna, they sometimes performed impromptu concerts with string quartets. Between 1782 and 1785 Mozart wrote six quartets dedicated to Haydn.

Mozart was making a lot of money from his concerts and music and he was becoming even more famous throughout Europe.  He and Constanze had a very expensive lifestyle. However, because they spent so much money, they eventually found themselves poor again. Mozart decided that he wanted to get the job of court appointed musician, as it would pay him well.  However there were others that wanted this job, including his rival Antonio Salieri.

Mozart wrote two operas during this time, one called The Marriage of Figaro in 1786 and one called Don Giovanni in 1787. They were both very popular and they helped him to get the job he was seeking.  In December, 1787, Emperor Joseph II appointed Wolfgang as his “chamber composer”.

Mozart died on December 5, 1791 at age 35. He had gotten sick with rheumatic fever and did not recover.  Wolfgang died very young, even for that time period. At the time of his death, Mozart was considered one of the greatest composers of all time already. His music continues to be popular and his work has influenced many great composers that followed, most notably Beethoven.

Mozart may have been gifted, but it was his love of music and dedication to it that made him improve as a composer and musician.  Mozart’s love of music shines through his pieces, which are still loved around the world today.  

We can also learn from Mozart about the power of persistence.  He exercised persistence throughout his life and did not give up as he worked to build his fame and later to support his family through his music. 

Mozart’s life also teaches us about the importance of prudence.  Mozart became very wealthy but did not take good care of his money and so he soon found himself poor again. If you work hard to achieve something in life, make sure that you take care of it.  Be careful to save money and not spend too much so that you can enjoy your money throughout your life. 

But most importantly, Mozart demonstrates the power of loving an art form like music and dedicating your time and energy into something that you love.  Is there something that you love as much as Mozart loved music?

The History of Marco Polo for Kids

Have you ever swam in a pool and played a game with your friends called “Marco Polo”? One person shuts their eyes while the others swim away. The person who is “it” calls out “Marco” and in response, everyone else in the game yells out “Polo!”. The person who is “it” keeps their eyes shut and tries to find you.

It is a very fun game, but did you know that the name “Marco Polo” is the name of a real person? The game is based on a real explorer who traveled the world in the medieval times?

Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice, Italy (at the time, it was called Constantinople). His father, Niccolo Polo, was a merchant and traded with the Near East, becoming very wealthy before Marco was born. A merchant is someone who sells things to others.

Marco’s father and his uncle Maffeo, were jewel merchants and they set off on a sea trading expedition just before Marco was born. While they were away, there was political trouble back in Italy and they realized that they might lose their wealth. They decided to sell all of their assets, or valuable things, and move away. Marco was left behind with family as his father and uncle traveled through Asia, including to Mongolia. Marco’s mother had died when he was young, so was moved to live with his aunt and a different uncle. They raised him and taught him about the family business and about money.

When Marco’s dad and uncle were in Mongolia, where they met with Kublai Khan, the king of the Mongols and the Yuan dynasty. Kublai Khan’s Empire was the largest that the world had ever seen at the time. It was a sophisticated culture with great wealth. It was something that the Polo brothers knew no one back home would believe them about.

While they were staying with Kublai Khan, the Polo brothers taught him about their religion, Christianity. Kublai Khan was interested in what they said and he asked for the Polo brothers to visit again and for them to bring back 100 priests and some holy water.

When Marco was fifteen, his father and uncle returned from their expedition and to their families in Italy. They had left when Marco was very young so Marco did not know his father when he returned. However, Marco and his dad got to know each other when he was back in Venice and Marco learned a lot from his father. 

Two years later, when Marco was seventeen, the Polo brothers set off for Asia again. This time they brought Marco with them. They tried to recruit 100 priests to come with them, however only two joined them. And eventually they decided to turn back after a short time because the journey was so hard. 

The Polos traveled across land to get from Europe to Mongolia. It was a long and hard journey, but Marco loved it! He was excited by the adventure and loved seeing new places and learning about new cultures. Culture means the customs and norms of a particular group of people.

The Polos made it to Asia after a very long journey that took four years! By the time they reached China and Kublai Khan, they had travelled nearly 15,000 miles. Kublai Khan was on vacation at his summer place, called Xanadu, when they arrived. Marco could not believe the amazing marble buildings and gardens. 

The Polos were only planning to stay in Asia for a few years, but they ended up staying for more than twenty years. Kublai Khan accepted the Polos into his Empire which allowed them to learn a lot about Chinese culture, which most Europeans knew nothing about at the time. Marco even learned the language when he was there. 

Kublai Khan liked Marco and gave him jobs working for him. He promoted Marco into the role of governor of a Chinese city and at one point, he was the tax inspector. Marco gained a great deal of knowledge about the Mongol empire and brought many ideas from the empire back to Italy with him. One idea that he brought back from China was the idea of paper money. 

After 17 years living with Kublai Khai, the Polos returned to Venice. Kublai Khan did not want them to go because he liked the men and wanted them to stay and work for him. Kublai Kahn eventually said they could go, but asked them to escort his daughter, a princess to Persia, where she was going to marry a Persian prince. 

The Polos returned to Europe by boat. The trip was very dangerous though and only 18 people out of several hundred that started the trip survived. This included Marco and his dad and uncle. 

They arrived in Europe in 1295 with many riches and treasures. Marco was 41 years old. However, when they arrived, officials seized most of their family’s wealth. Their country was at war with Genoa and the Genoese officials took their money and Marco was put into prison. 

Marco was no doubt scared while he was in prison, but he made friends with his cellmate. His cell mate was a writer named Rustichello. Marco told many stories about his adventures to Rustichello, who was amazed by his tales. No other European person had travelled so extensively in Asia and returned to tell stories about it. Rusticello wrote down the stories because he found them so interesting. Later, these stories were turned into a book.

Marco was released from prison in 1299 when he was 45. He returned to his home city of Venice where he joined the family business and worked as a merchant. He became quite wealthy and got married and had three daughters. He ran the family business for 25 years.

Marco died at his home in Venice in 1324. He was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice. During Marco’s lifetime, many people did not believe that the stories in his book were real. They didn’t believe that the amazing things that Marco had seen and told them about could possibly be true. However many years later, researchers and explorers confirmed much of what Marco had claimed to be true. 

Marco’s story inspired many other people to become explorers and set out to see the world. This includes Christopher Columbus, who sailed out two hundred years later across the Atlantic in the hopes of finding a new route to Asia. When he traveled across the Atlantic, he had a copy of Marco Polo’s book on him.

Although Marco Polo’s was not the first European person to travel to China, he was the first person to have his stories about those travels recorded. The book was printed into French, Italian and Latin and became the most popular book in Europe. Marco Polo also influenced European mapmakers, which led to the most accurate map of the world to be made at the time, the Fra Mauro map. 

Despite its popularity, many people did not believe the stories were real. The book eventually started being called: Il Milione (or “The Million Lies”). However, Marco Polo stood by his stories and always told others that they were true. 

Marco Polo was a very brave person, traveling to parts of the world that he knew nothing about. He overcame great dangers to reach his destination and he maintained a sense of wonder and awe about the world around him. From Marco, we can learn the importance of keeping an open mind. Marco went into new cultures and instead of trying to force others to become like him, he remained open to learning new things about different people.

We can also learn the importance of perseverance and bravery. Perseverance means to do something despite the fact that it is difficult. Marco continued to press on and see the world despite the many obstacles that he had to overcome. Because of his bravery, the European world learned about a whole new place and culture. They helped create maps and inspire others to travel the world and explore.

In what way would you like to explore? Are there places and cultures you would like to visit and learn about. Traveling and meeting new people is a great way to expand your mind and your world view. Maybe one day you too will get a chance to visit other places and learn about other people. However, hopefully your trip will not be as difficult or as long as Marcos!

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.