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:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

For Those Taking A Summer Break and For Those Who Are Not...

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, 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!

Of, course, if you are on the computer,  please check in from time to time as I will continue to make blog postings, update my website for teachers/kids and add new teaching resources to my store.  :-)

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:

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!)
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)

Recent Books I have enjoyed which I'd recommend:
Pamela Flavey's books about Ireland: The Linen Queen, The Yellow House and just out, The Girls of Ennismore

Kristina McMorris: Just read The Edge of Lost  I will plan to read her other three books!

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: The Orphan's Tale and the Diplomate's Wife. She has at least 7 more I will be reading.

Note: Illustration from

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

No Photographs, Please!(INA)

No Photographs, Please!
One of the most beautiful countries to visit(in my humble opinion) is Switzerland. I remember visiting a small village(Murren) near Interlaken. There aren't any cars in Murren and to get there you need to take both a cable car and a cog train. Absolutely, a "Heidi" moment looking out at the mountains for the hotel window and hearing cow bells when off hiking. I recommend a visit if you are ever traveling in this area of Switzerland!

This news story caught my attention. I thought it might be a possible Interactive Notebook Activity, bell ringer, etc. With school winding down for many(and over for some), this writing prompt might be something to hold for when you return to classes.

Have a wonderful summer vacation!

A new law in the village of Berg√ľn/Bravuogn, in the Swiss Alps will surprise visitors. Photographs have been banned. Seems the village is so beautiful, town leaders are concerned that people seeing photographs posted by tourists might get depressed! Signs are posted in the tiny village near St. Moritz stating fines may be charged to those taking photographs.

For Students:

What are your thoughts on this news story?

Why might the village have really tried to do this?

Write three facts you know about the country of Switzerland.

Learn about Switzerland with this resource: 
Did you know that a Swiss man named Bertrand Piccard was the first person to circumnavigate the earth in a hot-air balloon? Did you know that the first chocolate bar was made in Switzerland back in 1819? Learn more about this mountainous country with this informative webquest on Switzerland!
Mapwork, 9 web questions, extension activities and key...

Photograph from

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

World Ocean Day is June 8th!

The ocean is a place which brings tranquility and so many great memories of growing up and going to the Jersey Shore for family vacations. I remember learning to surf(wasn't very good at it) and my sister and I could stay in the ocean for hours! My husband and I still enjoy getting a chance to visit the Jersey Shore and family members both at Long Beach Island and Cape May.

World Ocean Day is June 8th. Learn about the Oceans of the world with this web quest: Exploring the Ocean Blue: A Web quest, will introduce students to our oceans. There are nine informative web questions. Fun Facts, comprehension questions,extension activities and links are also provided as is the key. Can be used as part of a unit on oceans, for Earth Day, World Ocean Day or as an activity for a Friday, before a vacation break or as an end of the year activity. This can be a one day class resource or used for a couple of days depending on whether the activities(creative writing/art work/online simulation games, etc.) are used with the students:

I also have a Reader's Theater Script on Jacques Cousteau you may find of interest(part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show series of plays):

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Woman's Record Climb up Mt. Everest TWICE in 5 days! Using the News as a writing prompt.

Using the News in the Classroom.

I found this recent news story of interest and wanted to share. Perhaps, it might be a writing prompt for your students. 
Imagine reaching the summit of Mount Everest. Now, imagine reaching it TWICE in one week. Anshu Jamsenpa, of India, set a new women’s record for a double ascent of Mount Everest in one season. Even more amazing, this is the FIFTH accent of Mount Everest by Jamsenpa! At 29,028 ft., (some say it is now 29,035), Mt. Everest stands about 5 1/2 miles above sea level! Note: If you measure from the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is actually higher than Mt. Everest. 

1. Check out this map of the base camp to summit of Mt. Everest:  Write a diary entry about your day of climbing the mountain. What are you thinking? seeing? hearing? Etc.

2. If you reached the summit,what would you take out of your bag to hold up in a photograph?

Possible Interactive Notebook Activity:

In 1923, English mountaineer George Mallory was asked,”Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?” His response, “Because it’s there.” He would make three attempts at climbing the massive peak , which at that time was known as the Third Pole. On 1924, he and Andrew Irvine trekked up the mountain and never came down. On May 29th, 1953, Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Norgay Tenzing, became the first people to successfully summit Mt. Everest. 

What do you know about Mt. Everest?

In Tibet, Mt. Everest is called Chomolungma, meaning “mother goddess of the universe”

In Nepal, Mt. Everest is called Sagarmatha meaning  “forehead of the sky’.

Mt. Everest is called the “roof of the world”. It is located between Nepal and China.
About the size of 20 Empire State Buildings, Mt. Everest stands 29,028 ft. (some sources say it is now 29,035 ft.) That’s about 5 1/2 miles above sea level!

Originally called Peak 15, the mountain peak was named for Sir George Everest,

Did you know that marine fossils have been found on the mountain? This shows that at one time, the mountain was below sea level!  The first fossils were found by Noel Odell, in 1924.

Only the black jumping spider calls  Mt. Everest home. It can be found at 22,000 feet.

At times, the winds at the peak of Mt. Everest blow at gusts of 200 miles per hour.

Mt. Everest is growing at about .25 inches per year.

Formed in 2008, the Eco Everest Expedition is trying clean up the mountain. An estimated 50 tons of trash have been left behind by climbers. As of 2014, there is a rule that you must bring down 18 pounds of trash.

Mauna Kea is actually higher than Mt. Everest, if measured from the ocean floor.

If you reach the summit, you have reached the crusing altitude of a jet airplane!

Mt. Everest is about 60 million years old!

Kenton Cool, in 2011, sent the first tweet from the summit of Mt. Everest.

1. George Mallory and Andrew IRvine were the first to attempt to climb Mt. Everest in 1924. Mallory's body was discovered, in 1999, on the North Face of Mt. Everest. Attempts, including one in 2010, to find Mallory’s Vestpocket Kodak camera, have yet been successful. The close to the summit did he and Irvine get back in 1924? If found, will the pictures on the camera give any clues? Did Mallory and Irvine reach the summit. Write a newspaper headline and paragraph on the discovery of the camera.

2. Test your IQ on Mt. Everest:

3. Many people believe a creature roams the Himalayan Mountains. Called the Yeti or Abominable Snowman, it is said to walk on two legs. Some climbers have found unusually large footprints in the snow. Could the Yeti actually exists? What might explain the size of the footprints?(melting snow making the tracks look larger than they were).Write a story pretending to find the Yeti. What does it look like? What sounds does it make? What does it smell like?  and 

4. Check out my informative webquest on Mt. Everest and Nepal. There are 10 web questions and several extension activities:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

June is Brain Awareness Month! Brain Factoids


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:

Check out my website for teachers/kids:

NOTE: Illustration from


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Flag Day is coming, a day to honor the flag of the United States.Flag Day is June 14th.

Flag Day is coming, a day to honor the flag of the United States.  Flag Day is June 14th. 

Use these Flag Facts with your students as a 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:
1. Take this Flag quiz

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.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Got A Minute, Two or Five? Ideas for When You Need a Quick Activity!

Got a Minute, Two or Five?  

I am a strong believer in having kids on task throughout the class session. Lessons rarely finished “early” and if they did, I always had something for the kids to do until the class ended. I usually didn’t give students  “free time” to start homework or to read a book or magazine. That’s because that seemed to be a signal to have a chat fest. If I started the class by quickly checking homework or doing some clerical things, I had a bell ringer(is this term still used?) or activity for the students to do.  During  testing days, some of these ideas for “Got A Minute, Two or Five” might be useful, too! My belief is that it's very important to keep kids on task. Learning should be a continuous process.  Here are some suggestions for a  “Got a Minute” folder  that can be fun and, keep the learning going!

  1. Bell Ringers:  Using the News as Bell Ringers: There is always something in the news which could be used as a few minute read/opinion exercise. Here are two examples of recent news stories for which a Got a Minute, two or three could be used.
  1. Man Helps Bear Cub and May be Charged!  While hiking in Oregon, a man came upon a baby black cub. Thinking the young cub wasn’t breathing, he decided to look to see if its mother was in the area. After determining the cub was alone, the man wrapped up the malnourished bear cub and took it to a nearby wildlife center, where it received care. The man faced possible charges as it is illegal to capture wildlife in the state of Oregon. People are warned to let wildlife be. In this case, authorities say the hiker should have just notified wildlife them so they could have dealt with the bear cub.What do you 
What do you think?
  • What do you think about this news story?
  • *Should this hiker be fined for what he did? Why or why not?
  • *What would you have done if you were in this situation?

B. Bill for not attending a Birthday Party!
You're invited to a birthday party and accept the invitation to attend. Sounds like a fun day of going to a ski area and doing lots and lots of tubing and having something to eat. When the day of the party arrives, your parents decided you won't be attending as they have other plans for the day. A few days later, you have a note to bring home from school from the host of the party. Inside, is a bill for about $25, the cost of the ski party. The parents of the birthday child say that all guests were told if they accepted and didn't show up, the fee would still need to be paid, so the parents felt that "no-shows" should have to pay the expense. The five year old boy's parents were very upset about receiving the bill in such a way and said they didn't plan to pay it.
What do you think?
* Should the parents of the boy who didn't show up, have to pay the bill?
* the parents have called the boy's parents and not send a note home in the boy's backpack?
* How would you settle this dispute?

I regularly update a Bell Ringer activity using topics in the News at my website for teachers:

2. Picture This:
Another activity if you have a few minutes is to show a photograph and have students respond to it. Here are a couple of examples:

A.Writing Prompt: Pretend you are this statue of fairly tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen, found in Copenhagen, Denmark. What do you see as you sit there? What are you thinking about? Write in complete sentence form. 

B.Writing Prompt: Pretend you are throwing a penny into the Grand Canyon for good luck. What would you wish to have? Why? Write in complete sentence form

C. Writing Prompt:The footprints of a Theropod can be seen at the North Dinosaur Open Space Park, in Morrison, CO. Where was the dinosaur going? What did it see?  Write in complete sentence form.

Note: Photograph: Credit to Gail Hennessey

3.Geography activities:

A.Geography Safaris:
Have atlases or a world map and have kids go on Geography Safaris. I have these posted on my website or you can go to for printable versions.

Each of the short safaris have the answers all start with a particular letter. Pair up students and have them get used to looking at maps to find the answers!

(Illustration from: EducationWorld)

4. Write A-Z.  I actually made this activity into a contest for extra credit. It was quite popular especially as a review before a test on all important terms covered. How I did this was, students listed the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper(vertically). IE: Egyptians:
  1. afterlife, Africa
    C. canopic jar
You could write multiple terms. When you regroup, you review the words. If another group has the word,so NILE RIVER, it has to be crossed out. If you have a different word, you each get 2 points. If you have a term for a letter which no one else has, you get 5 points. Oh, and the words must be something mentioned in the unit of study!

Have pairs of students try and find a response for each of the letters.( You don’t have to go alphabetically.) Great activity to utilize reference materials.
Mountains        Famous Scientist      World Capital   Island  Bodies of Water
H Hawaii
Madame Curie                Caspian Sea
G Greenland      Gulf of Mexico

6. Three things I learned today:  If you ever watch Morning Joe on MSNBC, I like how at the end of the show, each of the people state something they learned that day.  Write a note and specifically write in complete sentence form, three things you learned from the lesson today. Encourage the students to share with their parents, grandparents, whomever. Maybe, offer extra credit if an adult signs that the information was shared!

7. Color GAMES: (Promotion) 
Have a few minutes, have students work on  my color games to test knowledge about things that are a certain color or have the color in the world.  Great for small group activity. I have a Purple Game, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Orange Game. Check out one of these color games to see the activity:

8.Write a paragraph and have students proofread to correct the statement. For example:  I like to use news stories.  

Here is an example.
A Zookeeper at the London Zoo has stepped in to help a bady sloth. The baby sloths  mom were unable to car for its so the zookeeper came to it’s rescue. Named Edward Scissorhands, because it will grew up to four inches claws. The zookeeper got a teddy bare  from the gift shop to help the tiny tot develops its climbed muscles. Rope climbing couplings, called carabiners, was attached to the teddy bare and it was hung from a tree branch about six inches of the ground. That’s so if Edward felled, he won’t get hurt. The sloth is a very slow moveing animal, native to the forests of south America. They move so slowly, that moss can actually grew on them.

Revised Version:
A Zookeeper at the London Zoo has stepped in to help a BABY sloth. The baby sloth’s  mom WAS unable to CARE for IT so the zookeeper came to ITS rescue.IT WAS named Edward Scissorhands, because it will GROW up to four inch claws. The zookeeper got a teddy BEAR from the gift shop to help the tiny tot DEVELOP its CLIMBING muscles. Rope climbing couplings, called carabiners, WERE attached to the teddy BEAR and it was hung from a tree branch about six inches OFF the ground. That’s so if Edward fell, he WOULDN’T get hurt. The sloth is a very slow MOVING animal, native to the forests of SOUTH America. They move so slowly, that moss can actually GROW on them! 

You may wish to have something that pertains to the subject you are teaching.

9. Another activity to have in your “Got A Minute, Two or Three” folder, could be a Vocabulary word of the day or a  quote of the day. Have students place the vocabulary word in a sentence or to write a sentence explaining what they think the quote means.
  • Here are several of my favorite quotes: “ Life is NOT a spectator sport!”(Dick’s Sporting Goods) 
  • “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men(and women…) to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
NOTE: Actually, all the “Got a Minute, Two or Three” suggestions I have listed, could also be used for a substitute folder as well.

Gail Hennessey