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

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Wishing those of you who are now on Summer Break a very relaxing time. As someone that taught for 33 1/2 years, the very first FULL day of vacation was always the beginning of possibilities of things to do that I didn't get to do during the school year. In fact, I remember dreading the alarm clock going off at 6AM during the school year yet during the summer, I gleefully got up at 6AM because the day was all mine! I wanted to seize every bit of the day.  Enjoy each and every day of your vacation. It will go too quickly!  Read a book, garden, listen to music, take a pottery class, visit with friends and family, try a new recipe, take a trip, sit by the pool(or visit someone who has one), binge watch a series(so many great ones on Netflix! See below) and most importantly, take a break from thinking about school! Really! Even if it is only for a couple of weeks, place thinking about your classroom on hold for just a wee bit!

For those of you who have school or summer school during  July and August, I will continue to update my blog posting as well as my website for teachers/kids( Please continue to check in as you may find something of value to use with your students!


Recommendations of shows to Binge watch on Netflix:

Safe(Harlan Corbin) Kept me guessing until the end.
The Five(Harlan Corbin) Very Good mystery!
Midsomer Murders( Amazing how many murders take place in the villages of England!)
Murdoch Mysteries(Historical mysteries that will make you look up some information!)
Doctor Blake Mysteries
Father Brown
Death in Paradise (Think Columbo in Paradise)
Doc Martin(Love Cornwall, England, where this quirky doctor series is filmed)
The Crown
Call the Midwife(awesome)Really...I didn't think I would like it and I am hooked.
Broadchurch(powerful police story told in several season)
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries(1920 flapper solves mysteries in Australia) It is being made into a movie!

Acorn TV:
Good Karma Hospital(two seasons so far). Very GOOD!
800 Words
Brokenwood Mysteries
Queen of Mystery
Agatha Raisin

Recent Books I have enjoyed which I'd recommend:

Joanne Goodman: The Home for Unwanted Girls and The Finishing School were very good.

Hazel Gaynor: The Girl that Came Home, The Girl from the Savoy A Memory of Violet and more.

Pamela Flavey's books about Ireland: The Linen Queen, The Yellow House and The Girls of Ennismore.

Lexi Elliott's The French Girl 

Diane Chamberlian's books: I enjoyed The Dream Daughter and The Silent Sister.

Ruth Wares's books.

Karen White's books.

Melanie Dobson's books(most set in World War 2) are all excellent.
Try Chateau of Secrets and Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor.

Patricia McDonald's Books-GREAT!

Fiona Davis' Books: The Address, The Doll House-great stories and you learn about the Barbizon Hotel for Women and The Dakota. The Masterpiece shares the history of Grand Central Terminal.

All Sarah Jio books are great!(Most take place in two eras and are intertwined by the end.)

Pam Jenoff: Wow, I really like her historical books(mostly set in WW2-at least the one's I've read: Check out The Orphan's Tale and the Diplomate's Wife. 

Note: Illustration from

Friday, June 7, 2019

Using the News in the Classroom

Still in School? Vacation a couple of weeks away? Use the news and have students select one of the following news stories and write a short paragraph stating their opinions on the topic.

1. In addition to passing your classes, a new law passed in the Philippines will require ALL students to show that they planted 10 trees to graduate! With about 18 million students calling the Philippines home, that could mean that 175 million trees will be planted each year! It is estimated the requirement would mean about 525 billion trees could be grown in just one generation.The tree graduation requirement hasn’t begun as of yet but trees indigenous(native) to the Philippines will be the first priority. Areas for planting will include abandoned mining sites, forest and urban areas of the Philippines. In addition to helping to beautify the Philippines, scientists hope the tree requirement will cut down on CO2 levels and hopefully help lessen the growing global climate crisis.
Illustration from

1. What do you know about the Philippines. Write 3 facts.
2. Write TWO ways trees are helpful to the environment.
3. Write a paragraph stating your opinion on such a requirement to graduate.
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the Philippines:

2. Have you visited a national park or historical site? Senators Gary Peters and Ted Cruz have introduced a bill to create a protected site, on the moon! Called the “One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act”, it would be the first ever protected site somewhere other than on Earth. The area to be protected would be the Apollo 11 landing site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, became the first humans to walk on the moon. Photograph from

1. Write a paragraph and explain what do you think of this idea.
2. Write 3 facts you know about the moon.
3. Can you name two National Parks in the USA?
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the moon:

3. Did you know that of the 5000 statues nationwide, only 400 are of women? If you walk through Central Park, in New York City, you will come upon 22 statues of famous MEN. Not one statue is of a woman, except for statues of fictitious Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland. A group of woman want to have a woman statue added to Central Park… a REAL woman who made a contribution in history. Specifically, TWO women will be added for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote(2020). Statues of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are to be added. Additionally, at Statuary Hall, at the U.S. Capital, there are two statues for each state on display. Only nine of the one-hundred statues are of women. The state of Kansas is changing one of their statues to honor Amelia Earhart.  Photograph from 

1. Can you name one facts about Susan B. Anthony? 
2. Check to see if your state has a woman represented in Statuary Hall. If, not, is there a woman that you think could be suggested to be represented?
3. Things don’t change unless someone decides a change is needed. What might you like to change?

4. Twelve men have walked on the moon. By 2024, this may change when NASA launches a new mission, Artemis(named for the ancient Greek goddess of the moon). It will be this mission when a woman will leave her footprint on the surface of the moon. The previous moon mission, called Apollo(the twin of Artemis) ended in 1972. Now, after giving support for this mission, the Trump Administration has changed its mind and says that it is a waste of money. “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” Trump wrote. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
  1. Do you think going back to the moon is a waste of money? 
  2. Do you think we should try and land humans on the planet Mars?   Write a paragraph explaining your thoughts.                                               Note: Despite the tweet, the moon is NOT part of Mars.

After 76 days, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the astronauts for the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon, made history on July 20, 1969. After the Columbia reached the moon’s orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin went into a smaller module, the Eagle. They began a descent onto the surface of the moon and successfully landed on the moon where both men would become the first humans to actually walk on the moon. The date was July 21, 1969! Just think, from the first powered flight in 1903, it was just 66 years before we had humans walk on the moon!

In 2019, it will be the 50th anniversary of this remarkable achievement! 

Check out this Reader’s Theater Script. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are guests of Ms. Bie Ografee and her studio audience ask the guests questions about their historic trip to the moon. In addition to the play, with 10 audience questioners, there are Did You Know Fun Facts, comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and the key to the comprehension questions.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Brain Factoids! June is Brain Awareness Month!


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


Monday, May 27, 2019

Trump Administration blocks Harriet Tubman from Replacing Andrew Jackson on $20

In a disappointing decision, the Trump Administration has just decided NOT to replacing President Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. The change was scheduled for 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote(the 19th Amendment to the Constitution). If you look at any of the U.S. currency, no woman is currently on any U.S. currency bills. 

Tubman, probably the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helped bring hundreds of slaves to freedom. Her selection was made after many people voted that she would be a great pick to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. 

President Jackson was president during the Trail of Tears and the terrible treatment of thousands of Native Americans.

Trump said the decision made by the Obama Administration, to replace Jackson with Tubman, on the $20, was “pure political correctness.” 

Illustration from

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Flag Day is June 14th. Possible Interactive Notebook Activity

Fun Flag Facts:
1. A vexillologist is someone that studies flags! 

2. Most flags have the colors red and white. 

3. Only Vatican City and the country of Switzerland have square flags.

4. Most world flags are rectangle in shape. The flag of the country of Nepal is the only one which is not rectangular or square in shape.

5. When Sir Edmond Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, summited Mt. Everest, the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, was placed.

6.The idea of a National Flag Day,a day to honor our flag, was started by Bernard J. Cigrand, in 1885.  

7. There are currently 6 American flags on the moon.  

8. The country of Bhutan has a white dragon on its flag.

9. “From Old Saxon," Fflaken" , meaning “to fly or to float in the air”, is where the word FLAG originated.

10.The largest American Flag is called the Superflag. It weighs 3000 pounds and is the size of 2.8 football fields.

11. A WHITE flag is the symbol of a truce or ceasefire.

12.The last of the 50 stars represents the state of Hawaii.

Extension Activities:

2. Pretend you are an American flag on the moon or in a town, or on a mountain top. What do you hear, see, feel, etc. as you wave in the air? Remember...on the moon, there is no atmosphere so the flag wouldn’t wave!

3. Write a haiku to describe the American flag. A haiku has 3 lines(5-7-5 syllables per line). Use descriptive words. Sentence structure isn’t necessary. To check syllables, place your hand under your chin. Each time the chin drops is a syllable. For example: elephant. Three drops = 3 syllables.

4. Illustrate one of the factoids. Write a sentence to go with your drawing.

5. Read about the history of Flag Day: Write a paragraph explaining the history of Flag Day, including 3 facts learned from the reading.

Check out my Flag Webquest!  

Learn about the History of the Star Spangled Banner and Francis Scott Key:


Friday, May 17, 2019

In the News: Down, Down, Down, to the Depths Few Have Ever Gone( Possible INA)

World Ocean Day is June 8th.
In the News:
Down, Down, Down, to Depths Few Have Ever Gone.
Four people have visited the depths of the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench(Pacific Ocean), the deepest spot on Earth. The first humans to go into the Mariana Trench were Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard, in 1960. Film director James Cameron reached a record depth of 35,756 feet in a solo submersible dive in 2012. In May, 2019, Victor Vescovo beat this depth by successfully going 35, 849! He beat Cameron’s record depth by about 36 ft. Traveling down into the Mariana Trench, Vescovo (who also has climbed the seven summits on each continent) saw four never before seen prawn-like fish and sadly, a plastic bag at a depth of almost 7 miles! He also saw a candy wrapper at this depth.

Vescovo’s Five Deep Project has been making dives in all 5 of the Earth’s Oceans. He will finish his last deep dive this August when he goes down into the Molloy Trench, in the Arctic Ocean.
Five Deepest areas in the FIVE Oceans.( The Southern Ocean is now considered an Ocean) 
1.The Mariana Trench (Pacific)
2. Molloy Trench( Arctic)
3. Puerto Rico Trench( Atlantic)
4. Java Trench (Indian)
5. South Sandwich Trench (Southern)

* Photograph from five

Fun Facts about Mariana Trench:
1. It was the HMS Challenger that is credited with discovering the Mariana Trench in 1875.

2. The deepest areas of the Earth’s oceans, below 20,000 ft, are called the Hadal Zone. This zone is named for the ancient Greek god of the underworld, Hades.

3. The deepest part of the Mariana Trench is called the Challenger Deep, for the ship which first discovered the area.

4. You could place Mt. Everest into the very bottom of the Mariana Trench and the mountain’s peak would still be about 1/2 miles under the water!

5. The floor of the Mariana Tench is yellowish in color.

6. In 2009, President George W. Bush named the Marian Trench, a U.S. National Monument.

Fun Facts about Our Oceans:
• Coral has been used to repair bones in humans!

• Blue Whales can weigh as much as 30 elephants and are as long as three Greyhound buses! Its heart is about the size of a Volkswagen!

• The highest wave ever recorded hit near Lituya Glacier in Alaska in 1958. It was 1740 ft. high!

• Wondering how many marine species exist? According to World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), at least 212,906!

• Scientists say the jellyfish is older than the dinosaurs dating back at least 650 million years ago!
  • The highest tides occur in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia,Canada, reaching 53 ft. high!
• The Ring of Fire located in the Pacific Ocean is the largest zone of active volcanoes on the sea floor. 75% of the world's volcanoes are here!
  • There are 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean
• On April 17, 2013, a bottle washed up on the shores of a beach in the country of Croatia. It had been thrown into the sea in Nova Scotia, Canada....4000 miles away! Scientists say it probably traveled 5x that in its 28 years at sea!
  • A fish thought be be extinct for 60 million years was caught alive by fisherman off the southern coast of Africa in 1938. Called a coelacanth, the fish has been around for 300 million years.      
  • If you measure the tallest mountain from the sea floor up, Mt. Everest isn't the record holder.! The highest mountain would be Mauna Kea, in Hawaii. It is 33,474 ft. from the ocean floor but only 13,680 ft. above sea level.
• The longest mountain range on Earth is found in the Atlantic Ocean.

• There is so much salt in the ocean that if all the salt was dried and collect, it would cover all the continents with 5 ft. of salt!

• There is enough gold in the world's oceans for each person on the planet to have almost nine pounds of gold.
  • You can see the world's largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, in Australia,(1616 miles long) from outer space!

Your Turn: 
1. What do you think would be 2 dangers of deep ocean exploration?

2. What are 2 character traits of someone who would be able to do such a deep dive to the depths of one of the Earth’s oceans? What are 2 character traits you would give to yourself and WHY?

3. What are three reasons the Earth’s oceans are important to us?

4. How do our oceans effect climate?

5. Illustrate one of the factoids about oceans.

6. Pretend you are going on a deep dive into the Mariana Trench and write a diary entry. What are you thinking? What do you see? Etc.

Teacher Page:
1. Check out this interview with Cousteau’s son, Pierre Yves Cousteau:

2. Check out this video on the Mariana Trench:

Want to learn more about the Ocean? Check out my resource at my TpT Store: Learn lots of fun facts with this Exploring the Ocean Blue: A Web quest.There are 9 informative web questions. Fun Facts, comprehension questions, extension activities, links. Use as part of a unit on oceans, a Friday activity for a Friday or before a vacation.Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

Learn about Jacques Cousteau with this Reader's Theater Script: Oceanographer, photographer, filmmaker, scientist, writer, inventor, Cousteau spent his life studying the oceans and the marine life that lived in the oceans. His books and films on his studies sparked much interest in our oceans and created an awareness about the need for marine conservation. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series where Jacques Cousteau is a guest on her talk show and answers questions of her studio audience. There are 10 audience questioners, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions, a teacher section with extension activities, links and the key: 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Leprechaun Day is Coming: May 13th

Did You Know? 
1. Leprechaun Day is May 13th(YES...there is such a day!)
2. The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland, is dedicated to the folklore and mythology of Ireland.  
3. The legend of leprechauns dates back as far as the 8th century.
4. In Irish folklore, there are only male leprechauns. 
5. The origin of the word leprechaun may have been “lobaircin”, meaning “small bodied fellow.” 
6. Leprechauns love to dance the jig and wear out our shoes very quickly. Leprechauns are cobblers, or shoe makers. They always carry a tiny hammer for shoe making.
7. “Faeriefolk” live underground, deeply burrowed in caves. The entrances to their caves are usually hidden by rabbit holes or under old tree stumps. 
8. There is a place in Ireland, Carlingford, where someone says they once spotted leprechauns. The Slieve Foy Loop Trail, near the Carlingford Mountains, is protected land. Signs remind hikers to walk softly as it is a heavily populated leprechaun area!
9. The only park of its kind in the world dedicated to leprechauns. is found in Portland, Oregon. Actually, it is also the world’s smallest park, only 2 ft. wide. It was officially named a city park back in 1976. Called Mill Ends Park, it was actually where a light pole was supposed to go but never did. There is a tiny tree in this teeny park. 

Fun activity if you are doing a unit on folklore or want a Friday activity.
Check out this resource:   This fun/informative play has Ms. Bie Ografee's guest being McSean, a leprechaun. McSean is asked questions by the studio audience about the country of Ireland and the long Irish folklore about leprechauns. Great for a unit on folk stories/folklore or as an activity around St. Patrick's Day. The play has 11 questioners, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and links as well as the key.

Learn about the country of Ireland!

Learn about the country of Ireland: