This Week in Geographic History: January 29 – February 4

Here’s an advance look at some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week. For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead.

Check out our Pinterest board for more related resources!

Tuesday, January 30

South Vietnamese troops defend the city of Saigon during North Vietnam’s 1968 Tet Offensive.
Photograph courtesy U.S. Army

TDIGH 1968: Tet Offensive

The 1968 surprise attacks carried out by communist-affiliated troops against South Vietnamese and American forces shifted public opinion of the Vietnam War.

Map: U.S. involvement in Vietnam

Background: Timeline of the Vietnam War

Activity: Browse this excellent collection of lesson plans on the Vietnam War.


Thursday, February 1

This beautiful book cover illustrates a classic edition of Robinson Crusoe.
Illustration by N.C. Wyeth

TDIGH 1709: Rescue of Real-Life ‘Robinson Crusoe’

Alexander Selkirk, the probable inspiration for novelist Daniel Defoe’s shipwrecked character Robinson Crusoe, was rescued after four years alone on a South Pacific island.

Map: Compare this map of the travels of the fictional Robinson Crusoe to a real-life expedition to Robinson Crusoe Island.

Background: Was Alexander Selkirk really the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe? Experts aren’t so sure after all.

Activity: Have students watch this short video on a voluntary “castaway”. How do students think they would survive alone on an island for months at a time? What would they eat? How would they keep themselves busy?


Friday, February 2

Cades Cove Swamp is a rich wetland in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Photograph by Tommy Blankenship, My Shot

TDIGH 1997: World Wetlands Day

Since 1997 this day has helped raise awareness about the ecological importance of wetlands.

Map: Use our interactive GeoStory to get muddy with a wade through states, territories, and commonwealths.

Background: What is a wetland?

Activity: Biodiversity in a Wetland Ecosystem


Saturday, February 3

NGS Picture Id:1193853
The look of U.S. paper money has changed significantly from the first bill of credit was printed in Massachusetts in 1690. Photograph courtesy Department of Treasury

TDIGH 1690: Paper Money Introduced in U.S.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony printed the first paper money, called a “bill of credit,” in 1690 in what would become the U.S.

Map: Massachusetts Bay Colony was not yet part of the U.S.—use our map of Colonial New England to help navigate!

Background: The History of American Currency

Activity: Read about the dollar’s influence around the world and review financial vocab. For a vocab game, divide the class into two teams, put the words on the board, call a student from each team to the board, say the definition of a term without saying which term, and students must tap the correct term on the board as quickly as possible- whichever student taps the correct term first, his or her team gets a point!


Sunday, February 4

The Delaware, above, are generally allied with the protagonists of Last of the Mohicans.
Painting by Thomas Cole

TDIGH 1826: Last of the Mohicans Published

As with the rest of the books in Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales,”, Last of the Mohicans follows the adventures of Nathanial “Natty” Bumppo, nicknamed “Hawkeye” by his Native American friends. In the novel, Hawkeye and his Mohican and British allies pursue a villainous band of Hurons who kidnapped three people and massacred an entire Army division.

Map: The novel takes place during the French and Indian War. Use our map to navigate the conflict.

Background: Read this essay to get a Native American perspective on Last of the Mohicans: “When we talk about it, we laugh at it because it’s so wrong.”

Activity: Use this great media literacy lesson plan to help students investigate the 1992 movie version as

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