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:

Monday, October 16, 2017

This year, Diwali or Deepavali, begins on October 19th and lasts for 5 days.

It's a happy time of year and is the biggest holiday in the country of India.  Practiced mainly by people of the Hindu faith, many other people enjoy taking part in the festive holiday season,too. During the holiday, there will be gift giving,lighting lamps(Dipa lamps) special sweet treats including Laddus(sweet wheat balls with nuts and fruits inside) and Karanjis (flour fried dumplings with coconut and sugar), praying, getting together with family and friends and fireworks to help welcome the new year. Deepawali means "festival of lights". 

Fun Facts:
1. Diwali celebrates the end of the harvest season.

2. President Barack Obama was the first US president to participate in a Deepavali celebration in the White House, in 2009.

3. “Shubh Deepavali” means “Have an auspicious Diwali “and is a common greeting for this holiday time. 

4. Diwali marks the Hindu New Year. It is a national holiday in India.

5. Other countries which have Diwali celebrations include: Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, Nepal(called Tihar), Singapore, Japan, Thailand(called Lam Kriyongh) and the United States.

Learn more about Diwali at these links:

Learn about India at these links:

Make a Rangoli- Using colored rice flour and water, people decorate patterns on the ground outside their homes and place of worship. It's a way to honor the Hindu goddess Lakshimi and hope the goddess feels welcome in their homes. Use colored markers and create a colorful Rangoli pattern  See some pics:


Check out my reading passage(with fun facts and additional activities)on Diwali.There are 10 fun Facts in the complete reading activity on the holiday of Diwali. There is also a short paragraph reading with comprehension questions.  The Teacher Page has lots of extension activities and the key:



Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 13th falls on a FRIDAY.
Friday the 13th!
Some people fear high places, other people fear closed places, and some people fear germs. There are many different things which bring out fear in people. For me, it's snakes! Some people don't like the number 13 thinking it is a very unlucky number. Others specifically fear Friday the 13th. The fear of the number thirteen has a special name. It's called triskaidekaphobia. Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia.(Yikes-try pronouncing both words!) Did you know that many hotels don't have a 13th floor?(Well, actually there IS a 13th floor but it isn't named 13th). Some airplanes don't have a row named 13 and many hospitals don't have a room 13. There WAS an Apollo 13, a space mission that blasted into space on April 11, 1970.(It was launched at 13:13!) On April 13(not a Friday), there was an explosion. Fortunately, the crew was able to come home safely. In many Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece)and not Friday the 13th, is considered a day of bad luck. 

Do something today to make Friday the 13th an awesome day! Make it a positive day!

Some Superstitions!

Do you pick up a penny for good luck? Another penny superstition is if you find a penny HEADS up, make a wish!

If you have an eyelash on your face, make a wish and blow it away!

Some people like to knock on wood to make sure something bad doesn’t happen after they say something. For example, “I never get a cold.” 

A superstition says you must leave a building by the same door you entered or you will have bad luck.

A superstition says that catching a falling leave in the fall brings good health for you throughout the winter months!

On your birthday, do you try and blow out all the candles in one breath? Superstition says if you do, your wish made will come true.

A superstition says that if you see a spider on Halloween, it means a loved one’s spirit is protecting you.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to travel on the 13th of the month. He also would not sit at a table with only 13 people.

Black cats are thought to bring bad luck in the USA but it is a WHITE cat that is thought be bring bad luck in Great Britain.

Your Turn:
* Illustrate a superstition.
* What is something you can do as an act of kindness for someone else on Friday the 13th?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Halloween Fun Facts: Interactive Notebook Activity

Halloween Fun Facts
Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

1. Fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia. Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia.(Yikes-try pronouncing both words!) Did you know that many hotels don't have a 13th floor?(Well, actually there IS a 13th floor but it isn't named 13th). Some airplanes don't have a row named 13 and many hospitals don't have a room 13. There WAS an Apollo 13, a space mission that blasted into space on April 11, 1970.(It was launched at 13:13!) On April 13(not a Friday), there was an explosion. Fortunately, the crew was able to come home safely. 
2. Black cats are thought to bring bad luck in the USA but it is a WHITE cat that is thought to bring bad luck in Great Britain. 
3. Ireland is thought to be the birthplace of Halloween.
4. The colors orange and black are associated with Halloween. In recent years, purple has also become popular at Halloween.
5. If you have samhainophobia, you have a fear of the holiday- Halloween! Do you have a  fears of something? What is it?___________________

6. Snickers are the most popular candy treat at Halloween. What is your favorite candy? Why?____________________________7. Over 35 million pounds of candy corn are made each year! (or 9 billion pieces of the candy). Some estimated that if you placed the kernels sold every year, end to end, the candy corn could circle the earth 4.25 times.
8. Seeing a spider on Halloween is considered good luck. It is believed to be the spirit of someone close coming to watch over you on Halloween. Name 3 creatures associated with Halloween:__________  _____________  _____________
9. There is a Pumpkin Bend, AR, a Tombstone, AZ, a Transylvania County, NC, and a Cape Fear, NC!
10. Turnips were used before pumpkins as Jack O’ Lanterns! Have you ever eaten a turnip? Do you like them?__________________________
11. Halloween dates back about 6,000 years!
12. Did you know there is actually a National Candy Corn Day? It’s October 30th. 


  1. Illustrate one of the Halloween Fun Facts.(Use the back of this paper or another sheet of paper)
  2. Draw/color a Halloween creature such as a scarecrow or witch. Write 4 adjectives to describe your drawing. Write a paragraph describing your drawing.(Use the back of this paper or another piece of paper)
  3. Find all the nouns you can find in FACT 1. Write all the action verbs you can spot in  FACTS 1 and 2.(Use the back of this paper or another sheet of paper.
4.  Create 5 three or more letter words using the letters found in the word, “ Halloween”______________  ____________  ____________           __________________   ________________
5. Use a world map and find the country of Ireland. Write 3 facts you know about the country of Ireland.___________   ___________  ________________
6.Write an acrostic poem using each of the letters in Halloween.
H__________   A_________      L____________  L__________   O__________    W____________  E__________     E___________  N____________
7. Find SIX words that have 4 or more syllables in the Halloween Fun Fact.______________  _____________  ______________  _______________  _____________  _____________   

1. Review Nouns, action verbs and syllables with students before giving the activity to the students.
2. Distribute the Halloween Fun Facts and have students do several of the activities. Regroup and discuss what they have learned about Halloween with the rest of the class.

My website for teachers/kids, ,has lots of free geography activities, short reads, factoids on different topics, news, career surveys, bell ringers and more.

Related Resources:
1. With 12 informational web questions, this resource is just the thing to use as a learning tool about the holiday of Halloween. Bats, Owls, pumpkins, the human skeleton, the origin of Halloween, superstitions, and famous stories in literature, are covered. There are comprehnsion questions, lots of fun facts, extension activities(including writing in the content area), and additional links for teachers.

2. Mummies aren't just found in ancient Egyptian culture. Mummies have been found all over the world! In fact, the oldest man-made mummies are found in the country of Chile! Mummies can be naturally created or man-made. This web quest includes the different types of mummies and has 12 web questions including information on Bog Mummies such as Tollund Man, the Inca Mummies,the Taklamakan Desert Mummies of China, Otzi, the frozen mummy, the Chinchorro Mummies of Chile, the Egyptian mummies... and more. There are comprehension questions, a Did You Know? section, a teacher section with extension activities, additional links and the key. Great for a Friday activity, at Halloween time, or if you are studying ancient Egypt.

3. Candy is on Kids' minds with Halloween.Over 35 million pounds of candy corn is made each year! Show your students that even candy has a history!Learn facts including marshmallows date back to 2000 BC and King Tut's Tomb contained licorice. Several additional resources and extension activities,too. Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

4.Pretend you are a pumpkin sitting on a front porch on Halloween night. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? Write a story about your evening. Just one sample of extension activities included. This informative webquest on PUMPKIN would be great for LA classes,a fall activity, or for a substitute lesson! 
There are 10 web questions, comprehension questions and 11 extension activities/links.

Boarder from:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15th

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15-October 15th. It was originally established, in 1969, as Hispanic Heritage Week, by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, it became a month long celebration. Some people say we don't really need an Hispanic Heritage Month, A Black History Month, A Womens History Month, A Native American Heritage Month and other such months to recognize the achievements of groups which have helped to make this nation great.  I believe we do since history books just cant address all the different accomplishments of all the people that have contributed to making our country what it is today. Here are some interesting facts to share with your students during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Did You Know?
• Before colonists settled Plymouth Colony, there were people living in St. Augustine, Florida, and Sante Fe, New Mexico.
• Chinese(Mandarin) is spoken by the most people in the world. The second most spoken language is Spanish. A close third is... English.
• The majority of Hispanic people in the United States came from the country of Mexico.
• Pedro Flores was the first to mass-produce the yo yo in the United States.
• in 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban American to become a member of Congress.
• Learn some Spanish: gracias(Thank you), por favor) (Please)and adios(goodbye)
• Cinco de Mayo(May 5th) is a festive holiday. It celebrates the victory over the French in the Battle of Pueblo(1862). The Mexicans were outnumbered 3-1, yet they won the battle. 
• Have you ever played with a pinata at a birthday party? This is another activity that has its origins in Mexico.  

Check out my webquest, Histanic Heritage Month.

It's Pumpkin Time! Possible Interactive Notebook Activity

Learn about Pumpkins! 
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity

1. Pumpkins are thought to have originated in Central America, specifically Mexico. Some seeds found date back to 5500 B.C.

2. Top pumpkin growers are U.S. farmers, growing more than 1.5 billion each year.

3. The word pumpkin comes from the French word for “large melon”,
pompon. The English used “pumpion” and colonists used “pumpkin”.

4. The World’s Largest Pumpkin Pie was made in New Bremen, Ohio, in 2010. 1,212 lbs of canned pumpkin, 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525
pounds of sugar, 14.5 pounds of cinnamon, 7 pounds of salt and 2796 eggs 
were used. It weighed 3699 pounds.

5. Did you know that pumpkins are 90 percent water?

6. Some people used to believe that pumpkins could cure snake bites and help remove freckles!

7. In addition to orange, pumpkins can be green, yellow, tan, white,red and blue.

8. The “Pumpkin Capital of the World” and home to Libby’s Pumpkins is Morton, Illinois.

9. The fibrous strands of string and seeds are called the “brains” of the pumpkin.

10. Carving pumpkins originated in Ireland using potatoes,rutabagas and turnips. Irish immigrants to America started using pumpkins as they were easier to carve and hollow!

11. Part of the squash and cucumber family(cucurbita), pumpkins are actually considered fruit!

12. Ohio, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania are the top pumpkin-growing states.

13. In 2013, Keene, NH, kept the record for the most lit pumpkins! 30,581. It holds the record in 2016, too.

14. Crowned the record heaviest pumpkin grown in North America(2017), a  man from Washington state  grew a pumpkin which weighed in at a whopping 2363 pounds.  
15. A pumpkin grown in the country of (2016) Belgium tipped the scale at a whopping 2623.5 pounds!

Pumpkin growers say that a 3000 pound pumpkin is possible in the near future!  It wasn't that many years ago that a 1000 pound pumpkin, now a light weight, would have been news worthy. The problem with growing such jumbos is that gravity often causes them to get smooshed and then they can't qualify for judging.

Need a writing prompt?  The record pumpkin has just arrived in a large truck to your home. What would you do with this pumpkin?  How would you describe it? 

1. Illustrate a picture of one of the facts learned.
2. Write a poem about a pumpkin.!• Pretend you are a pumpkin and write about your day in the

pumpkin patch, on a porch or waiting to be purchased at a farmer’s stand.
3.Discuss syllables. Find 7 words that have 4 or more syllables.
4. Can you spot 7 ACTION VERBS in the Pumpkin Facts?
5. Write an acrostic poem using each letter in the word, PUMPKINS.

Try my webquest on Pumpkins: 10 web questions with several comprehension questions(lots of extension activities).                  

Photograph from
Illustration from

Monday, September 25, 2017

October is National Bullying Prevention Month!

October is National Bullying Prevention Month! 

Although highlighted in this month, anti-bullying awareness should be practiced every day of the year.  If you SEE bullying taking place, SPEAK UP!   Possible activities to use with students to discuss the topic of bullying.
Click here for a free downloadable version: Interactive Notebook Activity:

1. Check out this short video at the Cartoon Network about joining the "I Speak Up" campaign.

2. Have kids read this short saying: "Sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you."  Is this a true statement? Explain your answer. Personally, I never thought this saying to be true. Words are very powerful and negative words can and do hurt....a lot!  

3. Discussion Questions to ask Students:
A. What is your definition of a bully?  What are some examples of bullying?
B. Why do you think some people are bullies?
C. If you see someone being bullied, what could YOU do?
D.  If YOU are being bullied, what could YOU do?
E. Have you ever been bullied? How did you feel? What did you do?
F. Have YOU ever bullied someone else? Have you ever been asked by others to join them in bullying someone else? How did you react to this? Take the "Are YOU Bulling Checklist":

G. How can you HELP someone that is being bullied. Make a list. Check with this site:

4. A great start to discussing bullying might be to read about Hans Christian Andersen, the author of "The Ugly Duckling". Hans was often teased as a boy. He was very tall and skinny. He was called "scarecrow" by neighborhood children. One day, he actually climbed a tree to get away from bullies who were chasing him. Then, he got tangled and stuck. His father had to come help get Hans out of the tree.  Check out my resource, a play on Hans Christian Andersen:

5. Have students make anti-bullying posters.

6. Have students make up a skit about bullying to share with the rest of the class.

7. Coloring sheets on the topic of bullying: 

8. Check out this link for lots of great information on Anit-Bullying:

9. Check out this site for "Bullying Myths and Facts". Have students discuss what they read:

10. Newspapers in Education has an online comic book story about bullying:

Other suggestions:
Using Literature to discuss the issue of bullying:
Read the story, the Ugly Duckling to start a discussion on bullying.

Another story to read is Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm. Find the story
at this link:Best Children's Book(Goose Girl)
Still another story is Cinderella.Find the story online at this link:

There are also many contemporary books that deal with bullying. Here is a small sampling for elementary and middle school students:
1. Blubber by Judy Blume
2. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
3. Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
4. Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Vedick.
5. The Bully from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler with Jared Lee.
6. My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
7. Roxie and the Hooligans by Phillis Reynolds Naylor
Find more books on bullying and read summaries at this link:

Read and listen to a short story about bullying online at this link:
(Ramone Sticks Up for Himself)


I hope you find this information of value to use with your students!
Gail Hennessey

Thursday, September 21, 2017

World Rhino Day is September 22nd

World Rhino Day is September 22nd 
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity:

A crash is what you call a group of rhino

A Black rhino can run up to 40 mph...on its toes!

About 50 pounds of manure is produced by an adult white rhino EVERY day.

A white rhino isn't really WHITE. It's name comes from an Afrikaans word meaning wide(for its mouth). The word is wyd. White rhinos are really grey.
A black rhino isn't really BLACK. Also a grey/brownish color, it got its name for the dark wet mud that they often have covering their bodies.

Did you know that a rhino is a relative of the zebra, tapirs and horse?

The word, rhinoceros comes from the Greek words-rhino(nose and ceros(horn)

After the elephant, the white rhino is the largest land mammal. A white rhino can weigh up to 5000 pounds. 

Eating only plants, a rhino is a HERBIVORE.

The horn of a rhino is not ivory but keratin, a material found in fingernails.

Rhinos have VERY bad eyesight! They do have great hearing and a great sense of smell.

Rhino have wandered the earth for over 50 million years(and haven't changed much in their appearance)

Did you know that there are 5 species of rhino? (White, Black, Javan, Sumatran, Indian)


Ask students why the rhino is endangered. Have students make a list of 10 endangered species. If you can only save 3 on the list, which  would you work to save and why? Make a list of 3 factors that might go into why some creatures might be preferred to be saved over others. Possible answers: "cuteness", reputation, national symbol, if there are other similar species, impact on the environment, etc.

Use a world map and have students locate the areas of the world where rhinos live in the wild. (Rhino can be found in Africa countries including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania,Kenya and Uganda. They can be found in  India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma, Nepal and Vietnam. Rhinos are found on the island of Java. There may still be rhino in  Sumatra and Borneo.

Write a Day in the Life of a rhino. What did you do? What did you see? Feel? Smell? 

Read a story about a rhino

Read an interview with a Rhino ranger/keeper:  Pretend you work with rhinos and write a diary, including 3 facts learned about rhino.

Illustrate one of the Rhino Facts.

Photograph from