- The Mona Lisa isn’t the Mona Lisa – The name Mona Lisa calls up the same iconic image of a beautiful woman with an enigmatic smile on her face for almost everyone in the world. The truth, however, is that Leonardo da Vinci’s famed portrait of Francesco del Gioconda’s wife was actually entitled La Gioconda by its creator. For a short time, the painting was called Madonna Lisa, which is believed to be the root of its present moniker. However the modern name was derived, the fact remains that one of the most famous paintings in history is widely known by an absolutely incorrect title.
- Chocolate Chip Cookies Were a Happy Accident – You’d be hard pressed to find a child that doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies, which is why the fact that they were invented inadvertently is the source of fascination for kids. The famous Toll House Cookie was born when Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, set out to create a batch of chocolate cookies. She chopped a chocolate bar into bits and added them to the cookie dough, thinking that the chocolate would melt completely during the baking process and leave her with a batch of chocolate cookies. Instead, the morsels held their shape and people began visiting the inn solely to sample the famous cookies she’d created!
- Saint Patrick Wasn’t Irish – Saint Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland and the namesake of countless Irish-themed celebrations every March 17th,, but in reality he wasn’t Irish at all! He was actually born in Scotland to affluent Roman parents in 387 AD. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. At 22, he managed to evade his captors and return to his native Scotland, though he later chose to return to Ireland with the message of Christianity. He converted many Irish people to Christianity and founded several churches, earning himself an indelible place in Irish history and an annual celebration in his name, despite the fact that he wasn’t Irish.
- Anne Boleyn Had Eleven Fingers – Anne Boleyn served briefly as the Queen of England before coming to an unpleasant end, the more morbid details of which kids tend to find exciting. However, the fact that she was rumored to have 11 fingers, with six on one hand, is one that kids love to repeat and talk about.
- Vikings Navigated by Ravens – Vikings were known as the best sailors and ship builders of their time, created a complicated alphabetical system, and were among the first to discover the North American continent. There’s an endless array of fascinating Viking facts, however, none seem to fascinate kids as much as knowing that their system of navigation sometimes relied upon a raven being released into the air. The sailors would then follow the bird as it led them to land.
- Paper and Printing Were Invented by the Chinese – The Ancient Chinese were responsible for many astounding feats of invention and engineering, some of which had significant effects on other civilizations throughout history. Among their many developments was not only paper, which was manufactured for playing cards and currency as early as 105 AD, but also woodblock printing. While Gutenberg’s printing press is credited with revolutionizing publishing, the Chinese actually created movable type hundreds of years earlier.
- Fun Toilet Facts – The fact that the toilet was invented by a man named Thomas Crapper is enough to send kids into paroxysms of giggles, as is the fact that rolled toilet paper wasn’t invented until 1890. Knowing that the monarch King George II met his decidedly undignified end by falling off his toilet might cause a few indelicate conversations, but is also sure to fascinate the younger set.
- Thanksgiving As it’s Now Known Almost Wasn’t a Holiday – Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each November, stuffing themselves with delicacies and spending time reflecting on all of the things they’re thankful for. Kids may not know, though, that the entire institution of Thanksgiving almost never existed. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, thought the whole idea was silly! Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin rallied to name the turkey the official symbol of the United States, which certainly would have kept them safe from the roasting pan.
- The First White House Independence Day Party – The Fourth of July was celebrated for the first time on the first anniversary of the country’s independence in 1777, and the term “Independence Day” wasn’t used until 1791. And, due to the fact that it wasn’t completed until 1801, the first July Fourth party at the White House didn’t even take place until 1801.
Provided by Paul Taylor