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, February 22, 2017

Lawmakers would like a Statue of Harriet Tubman at the U.S. Capitol(In the News/Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Using the News in the Classroom:
This week,Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, and co-sponsor Senator Ben Carin have introduced a bill to have a statue of Harriet Tubman placed in a “prominent location” in the U.S. Capitol. In 2012, a commission was set up to raise money to pay for a statue of Harriet Tubman. In oder for such a statue to be in the Capitol, lawmakers much accept the money collected and agree to the statue being displayed in the Capitol. Although Tubman spent much of her life in New York, she was born on a plantation in the state of Maryland where she spent much of her life until she escaped to freedom.
Did You Know?
1. In 2016, the Treasury Secretary announced that the $20 bill will be updated with the face of  Harriet Tubman. The current face on the $20 bill is President Andrew Jackson.

2. Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849. She continued to return about 13 different times bringing slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Her last trip was in 1860. It is believed that Tubman helped over 300 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

3. Probably the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, a bounty of $40,000 was offered for Tubman’s capture! In today’s world, that would have been approximately $600,000!  Other conductors on the Undergroud Railroad included John Fairfield, Frederick Douglass and Levi Coffin.

4. Harriet Tubman’s nickname of “Moses” was given by Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

5. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked as a nurse,, spy and soldier!

6. Harriet Tubman worked with James Montgomery and helped lead an armed expedition during the Civil War. The Combahee River Raids helped free hundreds of slaves in South Carolina.

7. After the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked for women’s rights.  She also worked to establish African Americans’ rights and set up a home for elderly African Americans.

8. Having been a soldier during the Civil War, it took thirty-four years for Harriet Tubman to receive a small veteran’s pension.

9. Did you know that there is an asteroid named in Harriet Tubman’s honor?

10. The SS Harriet Tubman was launched in 1944, by the United States Maritime Commission. It was the first liberty ship named for an African-American woman! 

11. In 1978, the United States Postal Service honored Harriet Tubman with a stamp.

Your Turn:
1. Do you think Harriet Tubman should have a statue in the Capitol Building? Write a paragraph explaining your position.
2. Illustrate one of the facts about Harriet Tubman.
3. Write 3 facts you know about the Underground Railroad.


Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on Harriet Tubman: The fun/informative play uses the format of Harriet Tubma being a guest on Ms. Bie Ografee's talk show and the studio audience asks questions about her life and contributions. There are comprehension questions and extension activities.

Photograph from

Monday, February 13, 2017

Presidential Trivia For Presidents' Day(Interactive Notebook Activity)


1. Dogs, cats and birds  have often found a home in the White House. 

2. There have also been some unique pets such as John Quincy Adams’ pet alligator,Martin Van Buren two tiger cubs and James Buchanan’s elephant. President Coolidge had a wallaby and a pygmy hippo and Theodore Roosevelt had a lion, hyena, five bears, a piebald rat, and a zebra. Only Presidents Arthur, Fillmore and Piece had no pets.

3. President Washington was an avid spelunker,enjoying exploring caves. 

4. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president to be elected  four times.The constitution was later changed to allow only two four-year terms.

5. President Theodore Roosevelt named the Executive Mansion or President’s House, the White House.

6. Only President George Washington did  not live in the White House. It was opened in 1800.

7. The Star-Spangled Banner became the National anthem under President Herbert Hoover.

8. President William Henry Harrison only served one month after taking the oath of office, dying from pneumonia.

9. President Van Buren is said to have started the expression OK, signing paper with his “Old Kinderhook” nickname.

10. Left handed President James Garfield  could write with both hands at the same time and in different languages such as Greek and Latin.

11. President John K. Kennedy was the first president who had been a Boy Scout in his youth.

12. President George W. Bush was appointed President in 2000 by Supreme Court after the election results gave him more electoral votes but his opponent, Al Gore won the popular vote. John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. hayes and Benjamin Harrison also won the presidency without the majority of the voters. 

13. The teddy bear was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. 

14 .President Richard Nixon was the first president to resign his presidency over a scandal called Watergate.

15.President Taft became chief justice of the Supreme Court after leaving the White House, saying he preferred this job to that of being President of the United States 

16. Gerald Ford was the only president of the United States to not be elected by the people. He was appointed vice president by President Nixon and later assumed the office of president when President Nixon resigned.

17. President John Quincy Adams liked to swims naked in the Potomac River the early morning.

1. Pretend you are the President of the United States. Write a diary entry about a day in your life. Who did you meet in the Oval Office? What issue do you address? Etc.

2. Which president would you like to meet and why? What would you ask of this President?

3. What are FOUR characteristics you feel that someone who is President should possess? Why are these characteristics important?

Extension Activities:
1. Try this free web quest on the Presidents of the United States:

2. Have students illustrate a Presidential Factoid.

3. Have students share some of their responses from YOUR TURN.

You may wish to check out these resources:

The Election Process! (A Webquest/Extension activities)Students will learn about the election process including who the candidates are, requirements to run for office, requirements to vote, the Succession Act, the Electoral College and more. There are 12 web questions, a Did You Know?Comprehension Questions, Teacher page with extension activities, key, links.

Do YOU Know Your Presidents is a series of three challenges. Each challenge worksheet has 25 questions(with 3 choices). The first challenge is the easiest with the third, the hardest.There is also a Presidential Did You Know?

Did You know that President John Quincy Adams had an alligator? Martin Van Buren had two tiger cubs and President McKinley's pet parrot could whistle, "Yankee Doodle". Did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt served HOT DOGS to the King of England? Did you know that President Garfield could write with both his right and left hand at the SAME time? Presidential Webquest/Extension Activities:

Learn about the White House with 10 informative web questions, comprehension and discussion questions and several extension activities.NEW:Check out all my resources(summaries) in one place:

Gail Hennessey

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Valentine's Day and the Heart Factoids(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Valentine’s Day and the Heart Factoids
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Click here for the free downloadable version:

1. At one time, Valentine’s Day was also the day to celebrate Groundhog Day! 

2. Ever wonder why lace is associated with Valentine’s Day? Seem the word comes from a Latin word, “laques”meaning “net.” Someone tries to capture  someone’s heart on Valentine’s Day.

3. Because blood is red and people once thought the heart was the center of feelings, red became the color of Valentine’s Day.

4. The first Valentine’s Day card dates back to 1415. It was in that year France’s Duke of Orleans send a love message to his wife while a prisoner in the Tower of London. He was captured in the Battle of Agincourt.

5. It is believed that Valentine’s Day began around 270 AD in ancient Rome.

6. One of the legends of Valentine’s Day says that the Roman emperor, Claudius 11, banned marriage during war time.  A priest named Valentine(some say a Bishop) continued to marry and was arrested and jailed for his “crime”.  While in prison, he sent the jailor’s daughter a note and signed it “from your Valentine.” He was eventually sentenced to death on February 14th.
7. Did you know that over 8 billion candy hearts are made each year for Valentine’s Day?

8. In 1537, King Henry VIII, of England, made February 14th, an official holiday.

9. On Valentine’s Day, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented his idea of the telephone!
10. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Italy, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, France, Great Britain, Australia and the United States.

11.Back when most people couldn’t write, people often signed their name with an X. Another person would witness their “signature”. The person would then kiss their X . Today, people sign notes with Xs to stand for kisses.

12. Have you heard the expression, “to wear your heart on your sleeve”? This saying dates back to the Middle Ages when men and women would draw a name and wear their  “valentine” on their sleeve for a week.

13. Did you know that the human heart is about the size of a fist?

14. In a lifetime, a person’s heart pumps about 1 million barrels of blood! That’s about 2,000 gallons each day or 5 quarts a minute!

15. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart throughout the body. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart.

16. People used to believe that your heart stopped when you sneezed. That’s why people started saying “bless you”. Actually, the heart does NOT stop. It just isn’t pumping blood as well. 

17. The heart is a MUSCLE. It is found in the MIDDLE of your chest, between your two lungs. 

Extension Activities:
  1. Illustrate one of the facts.
  2. Make a chart showing 3 of the countries which celebrate Valentine’ Day. Write 2 facts about each country.
  3. Pretend you are a human heart. Write a day in your life. What are you doing today? What are you thinking? Include 2 facts about the human heart in your story.
Teacher Page:
  1. Have students watch this short video and write 3 facts learned about Candy Hearts:
2.  Show the nutritional information of Candy Hearts:



10 Candy Hearts contain 60 calories.
Have students bring in a candy wrapper and discuss the nutritional information.
3. Have students review the heart diagram at this link:

4. Check out my webquest on Valentine’s Day and the human heart:

5. Check out my activity, The Red Game(also included in my Webquest activity):

6.  Show kids that everything has a history with my web question on the History of Candy:

Always appreciate feedback!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A "Grade Bank". What Do You Think? Possible Bell Ringer Activity

A Unique Type of Bank:A "Grade Bank"-What Do You Think?  

Saw this news story and wanted to share. It might make for a possible In the News Bell Ringer activity:

Imagine if you didn’t do well on a test. Did you ever wish you could get a few more points onto your test so you’d have a passing grade? A school in Nanjing,China, has opened a “grade bank. Yes, a grade bank! The idea is that students could withdraw or borrow a few points from the bank to bring their score up to a passing grade.  In return, students that make withdrawals must repay the “grade bank"...with interest.  The student would return some points from their next test score to the “grade bank". Additional ways to return your loan include doing public presentations or extra credit. For those students that borrow points and do not return them, the bank bars them from future withdrawals. Currently, the concept is only being used by students in the top ranking in their class.

Your Turn:
1.What do you think of such a grade bank?
2. Would you participate in such a program?
3. Do you think such a grade bank makes students more or less likely to prepare for a test? Why?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Black History Month Factoids(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Black History Month:
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, organized a two week period in February,in 1926, to highlight contributions of African Americans. In 1976, the month of February was established as Black History Month.
The month of February was selected as it was the month in which both Frederick Douglass(abolitionist) and Abraham Lincoln (Emancipation Proclamation)were born.  Black History Month is also celebrated in Canada in February and in October in Great Britain.4. Since 1976, (President Gerald R. Ford),every president has deemed the month of February “Black History Month.”

*  Click here for the free Interactive Notebook download:

Did You Know?
The first African American invited to the White House(by President Theodore Roosevelt) was Booker T. Washington. The educator was also the first African American to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African American female astronaut. She went into space, in 1992.

Guion Bluford was the first American American to travel into space.

In 1821,Thomas L. Jennings was the first African American to receive a patent for an invention.(dry cleaning process)

George Washington Carver developed 300 products from the peanut, 118 from the sweet potato and 75 for the pecan! 2. Carver also invented PEANUT BUTTER.

The first American American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court was Thurgood Marshall, in 1967.

The first African American elected to the U.S. Senate was Hiram Rhodes Revels.( 1870-1871)

Bessie Coleman was the first American American woman to get a pilot’s license and the first American to hold an international pilot’s license.

Olympian Jesse Owns broke 4 world records for track and field, at the 1936 Olympics, in Berlin, Germany. 

In 1909, African-American explorer Mathew A. Henson and Robert E. Peary made the first successful expedition to the North Pole.(for the USA).

In 1940,Dr. Charles Drew found a way to preserve blood and started the first blood bank.

Garrett Morgan invented a traffic light and a gas mask.

Ralph J. Bunche, in 1950, was the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, for his efforts to mediate an  Arab-Israeli truce.

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play for a Major League Baseball team.

In the 18th century, astronomer and inventor, Benjamin Banneker helped design Washington, DC.

During WW 2, the first African American pilot group were the Tuskegee Airmen.

An African American named George Crum, a chef, is created with inventing potato chips. The year was 1853.

Do you own a Super Soaker? Lonnie G. Jhnson, an aerospace engineer invented the water gun.

Basketball great, Bill Russell, was the first black coach for a NBA team.

Like instant mashed potatoes? Dr. William C. Davis, invented them in 1959.

One of the earliest published African American authors was Phillis Wheatley. Her “Poems on Various Subjects “ was published inn 1773.

In the 1930s, Frederick McKinley Jones invented the air-cooling units that enabled foods to be transported distances without spoiling.


  • Dr. Carter G. Woodson once said,” It is never too late to learn.” What do you think he is saying by this statement?

  • Hispanic American Heritage Month is in October,Native American Heritage Month is in November, Black History Month is in February and Women’s History Month is in March. Do you think there is a need to highlight groups of people for their contributions today? Why, why not?

  • It is said that an important question we should each ask ourselves is: “ What is something you have done for someone else this week?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” What do you think this quote by Martin Luther King means?

Teacher Page:
Extension Activities:
•Have groups of students play the “Find the Face” game:
• Learn about the Tuskegee Airman: Have students write a summary of the article.
•Learn more famous African American Inventors:  Illustrate one of the African American Inventors with one of their inventions.
Check out my Thirteen fact-packed Black History Month Webquest/Extension Activities:
• Read this article to your students: In November,2015, Samuel Burris was pardoned(after 168 years!) for helping fellow African American escape from slavery on the underground railroad. Have students listen and write 4 facts learned from the article

Other resources of interest:

Check out my fact-packed Webquest on Martin Luther King/Extension Activities:

Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on Katherine Johnson:
Learn about Katherine Johnson, a physicist, space scientist and mathematician, who played a very important role with NASA’s early space missions. The movie Hidden Figures highlights the role of NASA's "computers" such as Katherine Johnson.

Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on George Washington Carver:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Are you Ready for Groundhog Day?

Are you READY for Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is February 2nd. It's a time when people look to a groundhog to find out whether or not we will be having six more weeks of winter. The idea dates back hundreds of years when people looked to hibernating animals such as badgers, hedgehogs and bears to see when they might wake up from their winter sleep.

According to the tradition, if the animals saw its shadow, winter would last several more weeks. If it didn't see it's shadow, spring would be soon arriving.

When Europeans, especially the Germans, came to the United States, they brought the tradition. The groundhog became the animals of choice as it hibernated and looked something like the European hedgehog. Groundhog Day started back in the 1880s with the first official celebration on February 2, 1887. The most famous groundhog weather forecaster is Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney, PA. On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil , who lives at the Punxsutawney Library is taken to Gobbler Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on the stage near where hundreds have gathered. At 7:25 if Punxsutawney Phil comes out to make his weather prediction. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring is on its way!

Did You Know? 
  1. The groundhog, also called woodchuck, is a relatives of the squirrel. Learn some additional Fun facts about groundhogs at this link:
  2. Groundhog day is also celebrated in Canada on Feb. They have several weather forecasting groundhogs including Wiarton Willy, Shubenacadie Sam and Balzac Billy.
3. Did you know that Groundhog Day is an official university holiday at the University of Dallas(Irving, TX)? Celebrations are held in honor of the groundhog.

4. The very first mention of a Groundhog Day in the United States was found in a diary entry of James Morris. The year was 1841.

Extension activities:

1.Pretend you are a weather forecasting groundhog. Tell about your big day. What did you hear? What did you see? How did you feel being in the limelight?

2.Learn about the country of Germany:

3. Read more about the groundhog. Draw/color a picture and write 5 facts learned about the groundhog( in complete sentences): 

4. The Groundhog isn't the only creature in nature that is used to help forecast weather.Can spiders predict a sunny day? My mother-in-law told me that if you see spiders hanging up their wash(making webs) early on a summer morning, it's a sign of a beautiful summer day. See chimney smoke going straight up on a winter's day? Another sign of nice weather. But, if you see ants building mounds, it's a sign of rain. Same with birds roosting on electrical wires, another sign of coming rain. There are lots of weather folklore. Being observant to nature, can help you predict the day's weather, without a weatherman. Illustrate a weather folklore: 

Check out my Groundhog Day, Reader's Theater Script: Learn about the groundhog and the history of Groundhog Day with Ms. Bie Ografee's guest, Sarsaparilla, the Groundhog:

Photograph from

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Note: Download the free resource at this link:

Chinese New Year Factoids
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
That’s Happy New Year in Chinese. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. The rooster is a symbol of confidence. Those born under this Chinese zodiac sign are said to be hardworking, courageous, talented and resourceful. "Rooster" people are friendly and like to talk. They are loyal friends and like to b e active in sports. On the Chinese calendar, called Yan Tan, the new year is 4715.  Chinese New Year is not always held on the same day each year. It depends on when the second new moon of the winter solstice occurs. In 20167 Chinese New Year starts on January 28th.  It is the beginning of a 15 day celebration!

Some of the following are Chinese good luck foods and customs:
Long, uncut noodles are a symbols of long life and friendship.

Giving oranges and tangerines are symbols of wealth and good luck.

Dumplings are eaten as a symbol of a happy family.

Wearing red is thought to bring good luck.

People put up lights and decorate windows and doors with red and gold paper. Messages of good fortunes are written.

The Chinese word for fish is similar in sound to the word for plentiful, so fish are important in the Chinese New Year.

Using knives or scissors on New Year's Day are considered bad luck as they may cut your good luck for the new year.

It is also considered bad luck to wash your hair on New Year's Day.

It is considered good luck to hear a bird sign on New Year's Day.

The number 4 sounds like the Chinese word for death, so people try not to use the number on New Year's Day

Fireworks are shot off on New Year's Eve to send away the old year and welcome the new.

Before the new year, it is a custom to clean the home from top to bottom to sweep away any bad luck from the previous year.

It is considered bad luck to own money from the previous year, so people try to pay any bills before the New Year.

It is bad luck to clean on New Year's Day. You might sweep away any good luck!

At exactly midnight on New Year's Eve, all windows and doors are opened to send away the old year and welcome in the new.

If a flower opens on New Year's Day, it is considered good luck.

The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac
Several stories are told about how twelve animals came to be honored with a year in the Chinese calendar.  One is that Buddha was having a party and invited all the animals of the world to come. It was very cold and only twelve animals braved the weather to attend the party. Buddha was so grateful to those that attended his party, that each that came got a year named in their honor. The rat was the first to get to the party, with the ox being second. If you look at the 12 year calendar, which animal arrived last? Man didn't brave the weather to come to the party and is the reason that a year isn't given to man on the calendar.

There are twelve animals in the Chinese calendar and everyone has a year in their honor. The year just ending was the year of the rat. Other animals  include: pig, monkey, snake, dragon, goat, rabbit, dog, tiger, rooster,and horse.

*Purple Annie at the Great Wall of China

•Write 3 things you learned that you found very interesting about Chinese New Year.
•Write a paragraph describing Chinese New Year. Include 4 facts learned from the information listed.

Teacher Page:
Extension Activities:
  • Give students a handout of the information on Chinese New Year.  Have small groups use the information to make 5 comprehension questions to exchange with another group to answer. Regroup as a class and discuss the information presented.
  • Check which animal you were born.  Draw a picture of your sign and write three character traits you feel you have. Give an example to back up your traits.

• Illustrate/color one of the customs of Chinese New Year.

  • Read a Chinese Folk story Story of the Foolish Old Man Who moved Mountains foolish-old-man-moved-mountains.html
 • Chinese animated folk story: The Three Monks a summary of the story
  • Dragons and bats are considered good luck. Draw/color a picture of either a dragon or bat. Pretend your dragon or bat could grant you three good things to happen. What would you choose and why?

You may find these resource of interest. Take a look:
  1. Country in Focus: China. A Webquest/ Extension Activities:
  1. Let’s Explore China!  Did you know that enough dirt was used to create the Great Wall of China to circle the earth with an 8 ft. high wall? Did you know that ice cream was probably first invented by the Chinese(frozen milk/rice)? Did you know that the yo-yo was invented by the Chinese or that the number 9 and the color red are considered good luck in China? I taught a unit on China for 32 years and would love to share some my notes, activities and resources I used with my students.

Note: Illustrations from