Little-Known Holidays to Celebrate

June 14 — World Juggling Day

Parents are expert jugglers. We can keep three, four, five people's schedules carefully spinning through the course of a day with scarcely a drop — and that's not even mentioning our skill at balancing a budget. It's quite a feat, though not exactly one known to thrill kids. But put three balls in the air at the same time! Ah, now that's something to make their eyes light up.

There's something amazing about juggling, something almost magical. It seems to push aside gravity for a few seconds while hands make objects dance in mid-air.

And juggling, though it looks difficult, is easy enough for a child to learn the basics in a day or two.

To celebrate World Juggling Day, I have two activities for you.

First, for kids and adults willing to give juggling a try, learn how to juggle* from a page I've created with simple, animated steps.

Then, for those of you who'd like something the family can do around the dinner table — and don't consider it fun to have dinner rolls flying around the room — I have an activity page you can print. (Call it a play-sheet; who would ever want to do a work-sheet in the summer?) On it is a jester bear who is waiting for your family to draw the wacky things you think he's desperately trying to juggle.

Hey, there's something fun in the air today.

Want to catch it?


June 24 — Birthday of a Musical Instrument

On June 24, 1846, an instrument was born. Its inventor, a Belgian musician named Adolphe Sax, had combined the body of a brass instrument with the reed of a woodwind. I can imagine him in his workshop, holding up his creation into a ray of sunlight that glistened off the shiny brass. I can hear him say, "Oho!" — it sounds more French than "Aha!" — "What shall I call zees amazing new instrument? But of course! It eez, a Sax-ophone!"

Name an instrument after oneself? Why not? Sounds like fun.

Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone. John Philip Sousa created the sousaphone. And Elbert Xylo, of course, fashioned the first xylophone. Okay, I made that last one up. But that's my idea for June 24 — making up a crazy instrument and naming it after yourself.

And like old Adolphe, let's make this activity one of combining elements. This is a key part of the creative process: connecting previously unconnected things.

This will be a brainstorming and drawing activity

You can do this around the table. All you'll need is paper and something to draw with. It might also help to have a book with pictures of instruments.

First, brainstorm about things that make noise. They could be parts of an instrument: keys, a mouthpiece, tubes, a bell, strings.

Instrument parts Other noisemakers Personal interest
Keys Pots Soccer ball
Mouthpiece Thunder Paint brush
Tubes Car horn Book
An opening or bell Stick against spinning bike wheel Computer
A surface to hit (drum)

Then put some elements together in a simple drawing of your instrument. It doesn't have to be able to actually work. Just looking funny is enough.

How then do you name it? You could just add ophone to the end. Like a Tylerophone. Or make it a kind of horn, like a Katie Horn. Or just make up a weird name. I call the strange thing pictured above a boom-quack tooter.

What wacky instrument can you make?

Copyright © 2004 Bruce Van Patter. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.