This Week in Geographic History: April 30-May 6

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 resources!

Monday, April 30

A US Army helicopter flies over Saigon, South Vietnam, in 1965.
Photograph by W.E. Garrett, National Geographic

TDIGH 1975: Fall of Saigon

North Vietnamese troops captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, ending the nearly 20-year war.

Map: Use our map to navigate North and South Vietnam, as well as major military routes.

Background: Scroll through this timeline of the Vietnam War, and learn how the Tet Offensive changed the conflict.

Activity: The end of the Vietnam War ended the policy of conscription, often called “the draft.” Use this lesson plan to help students understand conscription and the challenges it poses to both draftees and those who are not chosen for “the lottery.”


Tuesday, May 1

The leis of these gorgeous dancers may represent different islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Each of the eight major islands, including the four here, has its own traditional lei, represented by a specific color and plant or seashell. Red is the “Big Island” of Hawai’i, silver-grey is Kaho’olawe, yellow is O’ahu, and green is Moloka’i.
Photograph by Patrice Carlton, My Shot

TDIGH: Lei Day

Lei Day celebrates Hawaiian cultures and lifestyles, symbolized by the islands’ colorful floral necklaces, leis.

Map: Customize our outline map of Hawaii with each of the islands’ lei motifs.

Background: This easy-to-read article lists “Everything You Never Knew about Leis,” while this site gives more information on Hawaiian culture, leis, and how to make them.

Activity: Use this lei-making lesson plan to better understand the “Spirit of Aloha.”


Friday, May 4

Illustration by Ігор Пєтков, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-0

TDIGH: Star Wars Day

The Star Wars universe (a galaxy far, far away) is actually rooted in global myths and real geographic ecosystems.

Map: Navigate the evolving political boundaries of the Star Wars galaxy and compare them to how borders are determined on Earth.

Background: Learn how Star Wars creator George Lucas was influenced by mythology with this video, and then get some ideas to visit the Star Wars galaxy without leaving Planet Earth.

Activity: Join the Resistance—check out the terrific lesson plans on everything from social studies to robotics to service learning with Star Wars in the Classroom. We also love this video lesson that uses Star Wars to teach economics.


Saturday, May 5

A mural in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, celebrates Mexican-American culture.
Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic

TDIGH: Cinco de Mayo

Though technically the holiday commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in 1862, it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican-American identity.

Map: Was Cinco de Mayo an international incident? Click through our interactive map of the Battle of Puebla to find out.

Background: Learn five fast facts about Cinco de Mayo.

Activity: Use this curriculum guide for ideas about lesson plans, maps, discussion question, and extended activities.


Sunday, May 6

Illustration by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

TDIGH 1994: ‘Chunnel’ Opens

The underwater tunnel between Great Britain and mainland Europe has made travel faster and more affordable.

Map: Use these engineering maps to navigate the longest undersea tunnel in the world.

Background: Use this terrific, downloadable graphic from Eurotunnel to learn about this “Wonder of the Modern World.”

Activity: Use this lesson plan to help students understand the engineering challenges of building the Channel Tunnel.



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