Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
Click on icon to go to my website:

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Thank you, Highlights for Children!

I was just informed that my article, "Art for the Sea", published in Highlights for Children's June, 2018, was awarded the Pewter Plate Award. Thank you very much for this honor!

As soon as I saw Angela Haseltine Pozzi’s amazing artwork, I thought kids might find it interesting to learn about this artist. As with Pozzi, I also hoped that the work, would draw young people(and not so young people) to look more deeply at the works of art to see just what was used in its creation. Plastics are all around us and are getting into our oceans, negatively effecting the marine life that calls the oceans their home. I hope that the article will spark kids to think twice about the plastic that they use and grow up to be better stewards of the earth than previous generations have been!

Learn more about Angela's Washed Ashore efforts:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cool Ice Cream Facts for National Ice Cream Month(July). Possible Interactive Notebook Activity!

COOL facts about Ice Cream
Did you Know that JULY is National Ice Cream Month  in the USA? It was established by President Ronald Reagan, in 1984. National Ice Cream Day is the 3rd Sunday in July. Learn some fun facts about ice cream!

• One scoop of ice cream needs about 50 licks to finish.

• The Chinese were making a type of ice cream with milk,rice and snow, about 2000 BC.

• The average American eats 48 pints of ice cream each year.

• To make one gallon of ice cream, you need 12 pounds of milk. A dairy cow can produce enough milk for about 9000 gallons of ice cream in its lifetime.

• The USA is the world's leading producer of ice cream.

• Alexander the Great liked nectar and honey flavored snow.

• National Ice Cream Month is in July.

• Yes...vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor(followed by chocolate and strawberry).

• An ice cream tester for Dreyer's Ice Cream actually insured his tongue for $1 million dollars!

• Dolly Madison served strawberry ice cream at the second inaugural ball of her husband, President James Madison, in 1812.

• Sunday is the day of the week when the most ice cream is sold in the United States.

• Did you know that one of the main ingredients in ice cream is ....AIR.(makes it lighter and gives it  smoothness)

• During WW2, the U.S. Navy(1945) built a floating ice cream parlor   for our sailors fighting in the Pacific.

• More ice cream is sold in the WINTER months in Canada than the summer months.

• Strange ice cream flavors? Jalapeno, dill pickle ice cream, garlic ice cream, bacon ice cream,blue cheese and shallots, squid ink and curry carrot ice cream might be flavors to include in this list.

• The world's largest ice cream cone weighted 2204 pounds. It was 13 feet tall. It was made in Gloucester, UK, in 2012.

• The world's largest ice cream sundae was created in Kingston, NY, in 2014. It  was 1606 ft. tall.

• Ever get a brain freeze from eating ice cream?  The top of the mouth has lots of nerves. When cold ice cream comes into contact with these nerves, it causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate, giving the short headache also known as an ice cream headache.

* During World War 2, Mussolini banned ice cream in the country of Italy. He thought it was too American!

• Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream. See his recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream at this link:

Extension Activities:

* Write a haiku poem on ice cream.

* If you had to describe ice cream to an alien from outer space, what would be 3 descriptives you'd use to explain the treat.  Write a paragraph about your encounter sharing ice cream with an alien.

* Draw/color a picture of an ice cream sundae. Exchange your drawing with 3 others and have them write descriptive words to describe what they see. When your drawing is returned, write a paragraph using the comments about your ice cream sundae.

* There is a saying, " A picture is worth a 1000 words. Illustrate/color one of the facts about ice cream which conveys the fact.

Additional Links:

2. Timeline on the history of ice cream.



FREEBIES! Check out these highlighted Freebies at my TpT Store.

Highlighted FREEBIES at my TpT Store.
Check out some of my FREE resources, including many which can be used as an interactive notebook activities. I have several others, too, posted at my TpT Store.

6. Doing a Fall unit on apples? Looking for an activity during a study of pioneers? Doing a unit on folk hero? Doing a biography on Johnny Appleseed? This interactive notebook on Apples has several activities and 17 interesting fun facts about apples:

9. Learn about 4 famous pranks done on April Fools' Day.
Also great to begin a discussion on REAL and FAKE News.

Feedback always appreciated.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Using the News in the Classroom: Flamingo Spotting in Texas!

In the News
Flamingo Spotting!
Wildlife officials in south Texas spotted a flamingo. It’s a rare sighting as flamingos are not native to the United States. This flamingo has a name, Number 492, and went missing from a zoo in the state of Kansas thirteen years ago! Seems a captive flamingo can’t fly if its wings are clipped as a baby. However, 492, which is the bird’s leg band number, came from the country of Tanzania and was an adult. Not having had its wings clipped, officials need to cut its feathers on a regular basis. Otherwise, the feathers regrow and flying is possible. Number 492 flew the coup at the Sedgwick County Zoo, in Kansas, with another flamingo, named 347, who hasn’t been seen in years. Wildlife official say the flamingo is about 23 years old and can live in the wild for close to 40 years.

Did You Know?
1. Flamingos get their color from the algae and food they eat(such as shrimp crustaceans and plankton). Flamingos are omnivores as they eat both animals and plants.

2. Flamingos like to stand on one leg with the other tucked into its feathers.

3. Flamingos are very social creatures and like living with other flamingos. Called colonies, the largest flamingo colony is found in East Africa. About 1.5 million flamingos gather here!

4. A flamingo can fly at up to 37 mph.

5. The oldest flamingo in captivity lived in the Adelaide Zoo in Australian until the age of 83.

6. Did you know when a flamingo sits down, it bends its legs backwards?

7. The pink plastic flamingo many people place in their yards was invented by Don Featherstone.

8. In order to fly, a flamingo needs a running start. With their 3 webbed toes, flamingos actually can run on water(for a short time)!

9. When it is time to eat, flamingos turn their heads upside-down and collect water which they strain out of their bills to catch food.

10. Interestingly, groups of flamingos can demonstrate an unusual behavior.  They “march” in one direction and suddenly will all suddenly change direction! 

11. The word flamingo comes from a Spanish and Latin word “flamenco” meaning “fire”.

12. There are 6 species of flamingo. The largest, the “greater flamingo” can measure 5 ft. tall! They only weigh about six pounds.  The “lesser flamingo” is the smallest of flamingos and is about 3 feet tall.

Your Turn:
1. Pretend you are a flamingo and tell about a day in your life.

2. To you, what  is the most interesting thing about a flamingo?

3.  Review the news story. What are 3 specific facts learned from the reading?______________  _____________ _____________.

4. Try and create 5 words(3 words or more) from the word flamingo.

5. Draw/ color a fact about a flamingo. Share one fact you found of interest on your drawing.

Teacher Page:
Before giving the students the handout, ask the students to share any prior knowledge they have about the flamingo.

Extension Activities:

2. Listen to a story about a flamingo:

3. Have students circle and correct any mistakes in the following news story.

Wildlife officials in south Texas spotted a flamingo. Its a rare sighting as flamingos isn’t native to the United Staes. This flamingos has a name, Number 492, and went missing from a zoo in the state of Kansas thirteen years ago! Seems a captive flamingo can’t fly if it’s wings are clipped as a baby. However, 492, which is the birds leg band number, came from the country of Tanzania and was an adult. Not having had it’s wings clipped, officials need to cut its feathers on a regular basis. Otherwise, the feathers regrow and flying is possible. Number 492 flewed the coup at the Sedgwick County Zoo, in Kansas, with another flamingo, named 347, who hasn’t been seen in years. Wildlife official say the flamingo is about 23 years old and can lives in the wild for close to 40 year.

Gail Hennessey

Illustration from

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Tour de France 2018 begins on July 7th!

The 2018 Tour de France began on July 7th and ends on July 29th. It's considered the world's biggest and most exciting bicycling race.  Athletes competing in the race will travel  approximately 3351K     ( 2082 miles) during the 22 day race. This year's Tour de France began in Noirmoutier-en-l'lle, France, and will end in Paris, France. For a brief time, the race with cross the border into Spain . Each day(called stages), a leader  will be awarded a yellow jersey(or Maillot Jaune in French). In addition to the yellow jersey, there is a polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber(king of the mountains), a white jersey( the best youngest rider) and a green jersey(best sprinter).The Tour de France began in 1903.

See a map with the 2018 route:

Fun Facts:

Only men compete in the Tour de France.

Approximately, 123,900 calories are burned by each rider in the Tour de France.

42000 water bottles will be used by the racers!

Someone figured out that enough sweat is created from racers competing in the 22 day race, to flush a toilet 39 times!

Riders from France have won the most races!(36 as of 2015)

The Tour de France is also known as "La Grande Boucle". 

Vocabulary word: Peloton, the term for the "pack" of riders.

History of Bicycles...Did You Know? 

As of 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark, is the bike friendly capital of the world. Amsterdam, Netherlands, came in second, with Utrecht, Netherlands, third. Some sources say Utrecht is more bike friendly than Amsterdam.

Some sources say the  invention of the first “bicycle” is credited to Comte Medi De Sivrac, of France. His bike didn’t have any pedals! The year was 1792 and it was called a hobby horse(or celerifere). To move you needed your feet!

Other sources credit Baron Karl von Drais, of Germany, with the Draisine meaning “running machine”.The 1917 human-propelled vehicle didn’t have any pedals.

A bike similar to today’s bike was created by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, from Scotland. The year was 1839. His bicycle had pedals!

The word “bicycle” comes from the French word “bicyclette”. The term became popular in 1868. Previous to this, bicycles were called “velocipedes” meaning “fast foot”.

The Penny-Farthing was a British bicycle that had a large front wheel and a much smaller wheel in the back. The name represented two British coins, the Farthing and the British Penny.

Early bicycles (velocipede) were known as bone shakers by their riders. With wooden wheels inside an iron rim and an iron frame, it was a very bumpy ride!

In 1887, Thomas Stevens became the first person to ride a Penny Farthing around the world!

In 1867, father and son, Pierre and Ernest Michaux, invented the modern bicycle.

Did you know that suffragette, Susan B.Anthony made a comment on the bicycle? She said that the mode of transportation “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” She called the bicycle the “freedom machine.”

In 1896, Margaret Valentine Le Long rode a bicycle from Chicago to San Francisco!

Did you know that before Orville and Wilbur Wright became famous for their flying machine, they owned a bicycle repair shop? It was in their shop, in 1903, that they made their first airplane! It was called the Wright Flyer!

  1. Write a diary pretending to be one of the cyclists in the Tour de France. What do you see? Feel? Hear?

2. Do you think women should be allowed to compete with the men's Tour de France? Why or why not?

3. What are 2 character traits of a person that would participate in the Tour de France? 

4. After reading the History of Bicycle facts, why do you think Susan B. Anthony called the bicycle, the “freedom machine”?

5. What are two positive things about riding a bicycle?

Teacher Page:
Ask students if they have heard of the Tour de France and share any information they may have on the famous race.  Have students locate the country of France on a world map.  
Give the students the handout pages. Have students do one or more of the following activities.
Extension Activities:

1. Try this FREE crossword puzzle on France:

2. Draw/color a picture of a bicycle. Write a fact learned about the Tour de France on your drawing.

3. Read about the Eiffel Tower, one of France's most famous landmarks:

4. Learn some fun facts about France:

5. Timeline on the history of the bicycle

Illustration from:Wpclipart

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Gail SKroback Hennessey

The brain is made up of five main parts: the brain stem, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, cerebellum, and the cerebrum.  Learn some cool facts about your brain! Share these facts with students.

• Did you know that the brain is about 3 pounds in weight?

• The largest part of the brain, or 85%, is called the cerebrum.

• Did you know that 75% of the brain is made up of water?

• The brain feels no pain as there aren’t any pain receptors in the brain.

• If you lined up all the neurons in your brain, they’d stretch about 600 miles!  That’s because there are about one hundred BILLION neurons in the brain. They are very tiny. About 50 neurons could be lined up side by side across a dot. What’s a neuron?  It’s a nerve cell.

• You can’t tickle yourself! That’s because the brain can tell the difference between your own touch and an external one.

• Did you know that there is a BRAIN BANK at Harvard? It’s the largest such “bank” in the world. About 7,000 brains are stored at the bank for research.

• Mummies of ancient Egyptians have been found with drilled holes suggesting people had some sorts of brain surgery in ancient times.

• You could use  a butter knife to cut the brain. It is THAT soft.

• Your brain creates about 25 watts of energy while you are awake, enough to light up a light bulb.

• Ancient Egyptians didn’t see any value in the human brain. It was removed via the nostrils and thrown away in the mummy-making process.

• Wow…it is estimated that we have 70,000 thoughts each and every day! That’s a lot of thoughts…hopefully they are positive ones.

• 170 mph is the speed in which nerve impulses travel to the brain and back.

• Scientists say we blink about 20,000 times each day. The brain keeps the world from going dark each time we blink.

• The hypothalamus is your brain’s thermostat. It monitors your body temperature. If it is too high, you sweat to help cool down. If your body temperature gets cold, you shiver to warm up.

• Have you had a “brain freeze”? The correct term is sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia.

• Often nicknamed, the “grey matter”, the brain is actually a pink-beige color.

• It is estimated that the brain has about 100,000 miles of blood vessels!

• Eating eagle hearts and crushed lizards was thought, in the middle Ages, to be brain food!

• Our brain’s very short term memory(working memory) can remember up to about seven digits at a time before it is forgotten. Hmmm, no wonder telephone numbers are no longer than seven digits!


Check out these Brain links:

NOTE: Illustration from


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Using the News In the Classroom: Raccoon Treks Up a Building!

Perhaps, you may find this of interest to use with students as a possible reading passage and/or interactive notebook activity.

Using the News in the Classroom:

An unusual climber scaled a 25 story building in Minnesota. It was a raccoon!  The furry climber first started his trek, stopping from time to time on different ledges to take a break. At one point, around the 17 floor, the raccoon began going back down but changed course and resumed climbing up the building. A crowd gathered at street level to watch the raccoon make its climb. It was dubbed #mprraccoon by reporters at the nearby Minnesota Public Radio station. 

As people learned of the raccoon, people wondered what could be done to help it. The windows of the building do not open and it was feared an attempt to rescue it, would endangered lives of the rescuers. Someone actually suggested using a hot air balloon to try and rescue the raccoon! Wildlife experts said it was best to leave the raccoon alone, fearing human interference would only frighten it. Eventually, the raccoon kept climbing and reached the rooftop where food(cat food) had been placed in a cage. Wildlife Management released the female raccoon back into the wild and hope that climbing days are over for this particular daredevil raccoon! 

Your Turn:
1. Make a caption for the photograph. 
2. Pretend you are the raccoon. Write a diary entry for your day. Why did you make the climb? What were you thinking? What did you see along the way?Etc. 
3. What are TWO facts you know about raccoons?
4. Illustrate one of the Did You Know? Facts.

Did You Know? Fun Facts:
1. Did you know that raccoons like to put their food in water before eating it? 

2. Raccoon is a Native American term(Proto-Algonquin languag)meaning “one who rubs, scrubs, and scratches with its hands”.

3. Raccoons live near a water source.

4. A nursery or a gaze is the name for a group of raccoons.

5. Baby raccoons are called kit.

6. Sound of a raccoon include:hissing, whistling, purring and growling.

7. Raccoons are great swimmers. 

8. Raccoons can run up to speeds of 15 mph(24 km/h)

9. Raccoons are Nocturnal-night is when they are usually most active time.

10. Native to North America, they are also found in southern areas of South America. Raccoons were brought over to other countries and are found in Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Japan and other areas of the world.

11. The scientific name for a raccoon is Procyon lotor. This means “before dog washer.”

12. Raccoons are very smart animals!

13. Omnivorous is the term for an animal such as a raccoon that eats anything!

14. Some people refer to raccoons as “little bandits” because of the black "mask” that they have on their face.

15. Having five fingers enables a raccoon to use their hands to pick up things. They also use their hands and claws to open jars, doors and other things.

16. Although raccoons may look cute, never approach or touch a wild animal! Raccoons are have sharp claws and sharp teeth.

Photo from

Illustration of paws to ID a raccoon's tracks: