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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Monday, September 11, 2017

International Day of Peace is September 21st

Perhaps, you will find this helpful to use on the International Day of Peace:

The International Day of Peace is held every year on  September 21st. Also called Peace Day, the first celebration was adopted by the United Nations in 1982. It would be in 2001, that nations of the world established September 21st as International Day of Peace. In 2017, the theme for the  International Day of Peace is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”  At the United Nations, in New York City, the Japanese Peace Bell is rung to start the day. Made from coins collected by children from sixty countries,  the Peace Bell has the following words engraved on the bell, “Long live absolute world peace”.  There is a minute of silence at noon(at all time zones around the world).

Possible Activities for the International Day of Peace:
1. The dove is the international symbol of peace. Draw/ color a picture of a dove. Write a statement about the International Day of Peace.

2. Write an acrostic poem using the words PEACE.

3. Have students list some of the places in the world where there is conflict. Locate these places on a world map. Ask the students if they have any prior knowledge about the areas .

4. Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Peace Prize.  

Learn about some of the people that have been award recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. The youngest was teenager, Malala Yousafzai.
was teenager, Malala Yousafzai.

5. Make a Peace Pole(“May Peace Prevail on Earth) and place in the lobby of your school.

6. Read Sadako Sasaki and her One Thousand Paper Cranes. Free online book:   Make an origami paper crane.

8.Share with kids how to say "PEACE" in many different languages: Write Peace In Different Languages

9. Check out my Purple Turtle story, Purple Meets Dovey, the Dove:
10. Illustrate one of these quotes: Write a short paragraph explaining what they think the quote means.
A. “ Peace begins with a smile. “ Mother Teresa

B. "You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.“ Indira Gandhi
C.  "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”  Nelson Mandela

D.  "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  Mahatma Gandhi
E.  “It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." Eleanor Roosevelt

F.  "While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”  Francis of Assisi

G.  “If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”  Archbishop Tutu

Gail Hennessey

Note: Illustration from

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Constitution Day
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Each year, Constitution Day is celebrated on September 17th. This is the date, in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention, signed the Constitution. They had met for 116 days, at the State House(now called Independence Hall), in Philadelphia, PA.

In 2017, Constitutional Day will be observed on Monday,September 18th, since September 17, 2017, falls on a Sunday. Constitution Day is also called Citizenship Day.  It’s a day to celebrate this important document of our nation!
Did You Know?
1. Did you know that Ben Franklin arrived at the Grand Convention in Philadelphia on a sedan chair? Four prisoners from the local Philadelphia jail carried Franklin on the chair.

2. Before deciding on Mr. President, names for George Washington, the first leader of the United States, included “His Most Benign Highness” and “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.”

3. Philadelphia, the largest and most modern of cities at the time of the Convention, had a population of 40,000.  Gravel was used to cover the cobblestone streets to make it less noisy for the meetings.

4. It took 116 days to complete the draft of the document called the Constitution.

5. To date, only ONE amendment to the constitution has been removed(repealed). The 18th Amendment(1918) which abolished the making, sale and transportation of alcohol, was repealed in 1933.

6. Each night, the Constitution is lowered into a specially made vault for its protection.

7. George Washington announced the first national “Thanksgiving Day”, November 26, 1789, to “give thanks” for the creating of the Constitution.

8. The words “democracy” and “God” do not appear in the document of the Constitution.

9. Eighty-one year old Ben Franklin cried as he signed the Constitution.

10. James Madison, who would become the 4th President of the United States, was called the “Father of the Constitution”. 
Teacher Page:
Things to do:
  1. Have students pretend they are the Constitution on display at the National Archives. Tell a day in your life as people come to see you. What do you hear? See? feel?

  1. Enter the Constitution Day Poster Contest:Postmarked by Oct. 2, 2017:

3.  This link explains the Bill of Rights  for kids:  Groups of students could be assigned one of the rights and make a poster.  Have students write a paragraph explaining which right they feel is most important and why.

4. Have students create posters or greeting cards for Constitution Day.
Website of Interest:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Why do we have to learn this stuff” is a common question my students would ask me while learning about Julius Caesar and the fall of the Roman republic or other topics in social studies. Of course, I would explain that the the past is important to learn because past events are the building blocks that create our present. 
     With a new year beginning, it's a great way to start a discussion on just WHY study history and encourage responses from students.  
I like to remind students of when they were little and played the game of "Telephone". Remember, sitting in a  circle and someone would whisper something in your ear and you would  pass along the information to the person sitting next to you? History of the world is kind of like that game. People through the ages have passed down ideas which are still used today. 

EVERYTHING has a history, from the potato chip we eat, to the tissues we use to blow our noses, to the shoes we are wearing, to the pencil we use to jot down a note. Everything was once an idea that someone developed, passed along and in some ways was improved upon by those that learned of the idea. 

We are very connected to the past as it has shaped the present that we have today!

Here are some examples of "World-History Telephone"
1. You get up and look at the clock and see that it’s time to get ready for school. Did you know that the ancient people of Mesopotamia (people that lived in the present day country of Iraq) had a counting system based on 60? That’s how high they could count on their joints on their fingers and toes, and that’s the bases of our time counting today!
2. You look at the calendar and see that it’s Thursday. Thank the people of Mesopotamia again. They established a seven day week. Seems they had seven main gods that they wished to honor each day. 
3. Even the names of some of the days of the week came from people living many years ago. The Vikings had several main gods which they worshiped on a certain day. “Tiew’s day” became Tuesday, “Woden’s Day” became Wednesday and “Thor’s Day” became Thursday
4. Staying with the calendar, did you ever wonder why there are 365 day in a year? Yes, that’s another gift from the past. The ancient Egyptians had 360 days in their calendar and added 5 extra days at the end of the year for a BIG harvest party.
5. The earliest bathroom was excavated in a place called Orkney Islands, Scotland. The bathroom excavated dated back to 8000 BCE. 
6. You grab onto a bar of soap. Soap was invented about 600 BCE, by the ancient Phoenicians (of present day Lebanon). They made their soap from goat fat and wood ash. 
7.Pick up a fork and thank someone from the country of Italy who lived in the 11th century. Before this time, people ate with their fingers. In fact, for many years it was considered poor manners to use that metal contraption called a fork

I have a reading which I have developed sharing many things in our world that came from us from other past cultures. It includes comprehension questions and a couple of extension activities. It would be a great beginning of the school year activity to show kids that "history is all around us".

Note: The illustration is from and

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My A-Z Teacher LIST for the New School Year

A-Z Teacher LIST 
With the new year about to begin, I’d like to share my A-Z Teaching List.   If you have suggestions, please share.
Gail Hennessey

A-Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching.  If you think it’s important , your students will, too. Have an assessment for how to grade your students.

B- Be prepared with your lesson. Have “bell ringers" to keep students on task when you  are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.

C-Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross curricular activities whenever possible.  Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement. 

D- Dress for success, your “teacher uniform"  should not be too casual, Decorate your room.(It’s your “home away from home for 7 hours each day). Don’t READ your with the students.

E-Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder"with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans. Make EYE contact with your students.

F-Try and Focus on the positive each day.  Negatives will only get you down. Fire drill procedures and emergency Z Schedule procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.

G- Set up a Grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc. 

H- Have consequences for students not meeting your requirement and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc. HANG students’ work around the room.  State and post your Homework policy.

I- Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise"  for good work, less homework passes  or bonus point, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic  “positive" telephone calls home.(Personal note: The initial voice of the parent was always suspect when I’d say I was their teacher calling. When I said I was calling to say how proud I was of their son/daughter for a particular reason  and wanted to call, their tone changed. I had a number of parents contact the principal AFTER my call to say how the call had such a positive impact. The student was always walking on air the next day,too! I remember some students sharing they got a positive treat because of my phone call!) 

J-Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.

K-Keep  note paper in your desk(or Thank you notes)  and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness ,etc.

L-Try and laugh each day! 

M- “Menu"  of what will be covered in the class-write it on the board so students know what is to be covered. Mark your papers.  If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work....that’s(in my opinion)  your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool).Motivate your students by “acting"  and performing.

N- Never be alone with a student!(especially middle school and high school students).

O- Be Organized. Keep folders of lessons developed, websites used so you have them for future reference. 

P-Use Primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writinHomeschool Curriculum Marketplaceg, Gather Personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.) Proof read any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar. Speak professionally.

Q- Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.

R- Review often all  terms and concepts throughout your unit. (Have the students HEAR, SEE , READ and WRITE , more than one method to help retain materials covered in class)Have a daily routine.  How will you arrange your room?  What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats,etc.) *** Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends"  and allow them to  stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting. Create a RUBIC for student assessment.

S-Share some personal self interests with your students(favorite color, favorite author or sports team, etc.). I shared my ballerina picture from when I was 10 and my 6th grade report card. There was a photograph of my husband and my dogs on my desk. Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model!  Smile!(it’s a great stress reducer)  Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.

T- Ask experienced teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions. 

U- Use text to self connections whenever possible. Try and find a way for kids to see a connection with what is being taught and their lives.

V- Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson.

W-Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary and any assignment to be given.  WALK around the room during the presentation of your lesson . Have students WRITE in journals, their notes(interactive notebooks), etc.

X- Do “xtras"  such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.

Y- “You"  set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!

Z- Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

Gail  Hennessey

My website for teachers/kids:

Illustration from:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Would YOU Do? Possible Bell Ringer Activity

What would you do? 

Possible Bell Ringer photograph to share with you to use with your students.
I was walking on a NJ beach searching for sand dollars(and found several in good shape) and took this photograph.  Hope you find this of value to use with your students!

Share the photograph with your students:

Your Turn:
1. Where would your footprints take you?

2. Write a paragraph describing the person that may have left these footprints. What were they thinking? 

Wishing you all a wonderful school year!


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Solar Eclipse is Coming on August 21st!

A total solar eclipse to cover the USA from coast to coast hasn’t occurred in the USA since 1918 and one to exclusively occur only over the United Sates hasn’t happened since Revolutionary War days (1776). However, that will change on August 21st. On that day, the moon will block out the sun leaving what scientists call a “diamond ring remaining. The entire solar event will last just 3 minutes.Since I wasn’t around in 1918, it will be an amazing scientific event to witness(on television news) as I will not be in the path of the eclipse where I live in Upstate New York! 

Did you Know?
1. The moon is actually 400 times smaller than the sun? Since the sun is about 400 times father away, the moon will be able to “cover” the sun during the eclipse.
2. Scientists say that animals may react strangely to an eclipse. Night creatures may be more active and day creatures may think it’s time to go to sleep.
3. Columbus used a lunar eclipse in 1504 to get the native people on the island of Jamaica to give he and his crew food.
4. The average speed of the moon crossing the USA is about 1651 mph.(two times faster than a supersonic jet)
5. The next total solar eclipse  will be in 2024.
6. The first to see the total solar eclipse, if the weather cooperates, will be West Coast of Oregon at 10:16 AM . Charleston ,SC will have the eclipse at 2:48 pm.
7 The 12 states in the path of the solar eclipse are: South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming.
8. DO NOT look at the eclipse before or after as it can do eye damage!
9. A total solar eclipse is rare because you need the Earth, moon and sun to all be lined up with their orbital paths.

Illustration from:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Past Lives...Hmmmm

This is not the usual posting but I wanted to share an experience in my life in hopes that it might be of help to someone else.
I just finished reading Kristina McMorris’ The Pieces We Keep which included the topic of past lives. It got me remembering about my own encounter with this topic.(It's a great read!)
For the past twenty-five years or so, a woman has been making my life very unpleasant. A year ago, I  decided that it was finally time to have a confrontation, to finally come to terms with her.  It was on an beautiful sunny August day, that I met this woman, Judy, she was... my past life.
Before you shake your head, let me say that I, too, was very skeptical of the entire concept. However, after years of trying traditional medical options, I felt I had nothing to lose by contacting someone who specializes in past life regressions to try and  rid me of night terror for which I suffered for so many years. 
For years, like clockwork, I would wake up within 40 minutes of going to sleep, around 11:40.  Aroused from a deep sleep, I would start screaming, “no, no, no”.  My heart would be palpitating at a tremendous pace, I would wake up visibly shaken. I was terrified that I was dying. My husband would calm me down and within minutes, I would return to sleep for the evening. This routine occurred a couple of days a week.   Awakening with one of my night terrors,  first with loud whimpers and then screams echoing from the bedroom, was extremely embarrassing when we’d travel to a bed and breakfast or stayed with friends  for the weekend.
My primary physician sent me to a neurologist who prescribed a strong tranquilizer to help with the episodes, to little effect. After a couple of days of being so groggy during the daytime, I had to stop the drug medication.  My doctor then suggested another doctor that specialized in sleep disorders. I spent two nights in a sleep lab, hooked up to lots of wires stuck onto my scalp with a clay like substance. I commented to the technician that it would be a wonder that I’d be able to “sleep” with so many wires and equipment hooked up to my during the evening. Just as I thought, I had no sleep problem the first night and was asked to stay another evening....nothing the next day, either.  Of, course, the  following night when I was back home in my own bed, I had a terrible episode. Another visit to the doctor, another prescribed to help me sleep. This medication caused my white blood cells to be so depleted, I was eventually taken off the pills!
After numerous doctors were unsuccessful in trying to help me with my night terrors, I finally gave up ever getting any help from these extremely unpleasant night episodes.  The screams, the horrific panic, the heart palpitations and embarrassment continued. Then, one day, I picked up Carol Bowman’s book,Children’s Past Lives. Her book shared a phenomenon where very young children often recount past-lives. She also discussed how fears and issues we deal with in our lives might have a connection with a previous life.  I was intrigued. Nothing else had worked for me so what did I have to lose in trying a non traditional avenue to seek help? I thought that I’d contact her.
It took me another couple of years before I actually  contacted Carol. My hesitation...worries what people might think of me if they learned that I was seeking out such a non-traditional therapeutic approach to my night terrors. But the nightmares continued. I finally picked up the telephone and dialed Carl Bowman and made the appointment.  
My husband accompanied me on the four hour drive to meet Carol and maybe my past. With a book to read, he waited outside on the porch as I went in for my session, which would last for three hours. Carol and I spoke for about an  hour, getting acquainted, building a confidence bond and discussing  reasons why I came for a session. Carol asked me if there was a period in history of particular interest, of which I said the holocaust.  She asked me why did this time in history seem to be a focus for me and I said a great aunt died in the concentration camps. Silently, I was a bit disappointed and skeptical at this point.  Would  this pre discussion cause me to create a past life from this period , drawing a “life” from the many movies and books I’d read on the time period? I, then, moved to a comfortable floor cushion, lights turned down.  I was asked to close my eyes as relaxation techniques were used. I was asked to focus on a distant time and just start speaking of what was coming to the forefront. I began to talk about being a nurse in a children’s ward of a hospital. I gave my name.....Judy.  The year was 1941. In extremely vivid details(which I will not go into), I talked about the last day of my life, being abducted around 11:15 from the streets near Temple University, in Philadelphia, PA, and dying around 11:40.  Screams, hysteria crying, intense fear, regrets that my family would never know what happened to me, all came through in my session with Carol. When done, I was shocked at the story which I had brought to the surface for the very first time. Carol had taped the entire regressive therapy session. She gave it to me when I left.
Was it my imagination at work creating the memory of a young woman who died a traumatic  death, or, did I actually, remember a distant past I had once lived?  What ever the truth may be, one thing is certain, my horrible night terrors have virtually gone and to that, I am most grateful to Carol, and ,to myself for trying this alternative idea to alleviate  my night terrors. I have made peace with this memory of Judy and she has now found the peace to also move on, as well, from my unconscious mind. 
As for the tape made during the session, it’s in a drawer, one which I will probably never have the desire or need to replay.

I’ve been asked whether I plan to “investigate” a disappearance of a nurse in Philadelphia, PA, in 1941. Sometimes, I  am tempted to do this, to see whether there may be any validity to my memories brought to the surface on that particular August day. However, at this point, I have no needs to search out ... Judy.

* I'd love to hear from anyone who reads this blog as to whether they have had similar past life encounters, too.

Gail Hennessey