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, April 24, 2017

 Library of Congress Day is April 24th!

2/3 of all Americans have a library card. If you don't have a library card...this would be a great time of year to get one.  And, what's great about a library card... it's  FREE! 

Fun Facts to Share with Kids:
1. The word "library" comes from the word librarie, meaning "a collection of books". The Anglo-French word comes from an earlier Latin word, librariaum ,meaning "chest of books"

2.The first lending library was established by Ben Franklin, in 1731.

3. The first bookmobile was in operation, in 1857, England.

4. St. Catherine's Monastery's Library(in Sinai, Egypt) is said to be the oldest continually run library in the world. It was constructed in 6th century. Only monks and  scholars can use it.

5. The oldest continually run public library is The Library of Paris(Bibliotheque de Paris), in Paris, France. It dates back to 1368.

6. A Greek, Zenodotus, is considered the first known librarian in history.  He worked at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt.

7. The Library of Congress, in the USA,is the world's largest library.

8.The largest book find ever owed was  $345.14(two cents a day). A book of poetry was checked out in 1955 and found in a home 47 years later!

9. The most expensive book ever sold is the Codex Leicester, by Leonardo da Vinci. It was purchased by Bill Gates, in 1994, for $30.8 million!!!! dollars.
10. Each year, the main library ,at Indiana University, sinks about one inch from the weight of all the books! 
11. The world’s first library was built by Ashurbanipal(668-627BC) in Assyria.
12.The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered the oldest written story. It comes from the people of Mesopotamia ,telling the adventures of the King of Uruk( @2750-2500 BC). 

Extension Activities:
1. See photographs of some of the most beautiful libraries in the world:  Pretend you are visiting one of these libraries. What do you see? How do you feel?What might you be reading?
2. Write a paragraph explaining what you think of one of these quotes:
     " Reading makes all other learning possible. We have to get books into our children's hands early and often." President Barack Obama
     "Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." American Broadcast journalist, Walter Cronkite.
     "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." Walt Disney
     " A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
3. Write a persuasive paragraph explaining why someone should have a library card.
4. Write a poem about a library.
5. Check out my informative web quest on the Library of Congress, our nation’s library! Are you a bibliophile(someone that loves books)? The Library of Congress, called our Nation's Library has over 33 million books. There are also over 12.5 million photographs and 6 million pieces of sheet music! Learn more about the Nation's Library with this fun and informative webquest.


Monday, April 17, 2017

TREES! Free Interactive Notebook Activity for Around Arbor Day!

* Feedback appreciated

Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Arbor Day 2017 is April 28th. 
It’s a time to celebrate trees!

Can you think of THREE ways in which TREES are important to us?

Did You Know?

1. The Botanical Gardens Conservation International  announced that there are 60,065 different species of trees in the world.(2017)

2. The most endangered tree species according to the Botanical Gardens Conservation International is the karma gigs. Found in the country of Tanzania, there are only six trees left.

3. The tallest tree in the world is the Hyperion. The tree is 379.4 ft.(115.6m) tall and is located in California’s Redwood National and State Parks. The tree is taller than the Statue of Liberty (305.6ft or 93.1m) and the famous Big Ben(316 ft or 96 m) found in London, England.

4. The largest tree in the world is the General Sherman. The giant sequoia stands 275 ft.(or 83.8 m). Twenty people holding hands would be needed to circle the base of this tree!

5. For many years, the oldest individual tree in the world has been a bristlecone pine named Methuselah.It’s location is a secret but it is located in the White Mountains of California. It is estimated to be about 4,,848 years  old. In 2013, another bristlecone was found to be about 5,066 years old. This tree may now be the world’s oldest tree.The unnamed tree is located in the same forest. What would YOU name the tree?

6. There is clonal tree in the country of Norway which has a root system estimated to be about 9552 years old! It is called Old Tjikko. A clonal tree grows when their branches touch the ground and start new roots.

7. The beautiful cherry trees, found in  Washington, D.C., were a gift from the people of Japan. Back in 1912, 3000 trees were gifted by the mayor  of Japan. Interestingly, in 1981, the United States gifted cuttings of some of the cherry trees back to the people of Japan, after many of their trees were destroyed in a flood.

8. Did you know that Guinness World Records says the manchineel tree is the “most dangerous tree” in the world? Just getting the sap of the tree on your skin can cause blisters. Getting the sap in your eye could actually cause blindness! This tree is found in tropical regions of North and South America.

9. There is a tree called the Great Banyan Tree, found in the country of India that is called the “widest tree in the world”. If you look at the “tree” it looks like a forest as the “tree” covers 3.5 sq. acres of land in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden. Its branches reach the ground and sprout new growth. Is the Banyan tree a “clonal tree”?

10. Did you know that one tree can inhale about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year?

11. Some people like to grow trees in a small dish. Called bonsai, the word means “tree in tray”. Growing living trees in this way is an art form from Japan. China also developed a similar type of art,too.

Your turn:
1. What do you think these quotes mean? Illustrate on of the quotes.
A. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
B.“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” 
2. List 7 products we get from trees.
3. Write a diary entry about a day you took a walk into the woods. What did you see? Hear? Smell? Feel?
4. Draw a picture of a tree. Write three ways in which trees are important.

Teacher Page:
  1. Have students learn about bonsai trees with this reading passage. Write 4 facts learned:
2. Show students the Great Banyan Tree:  Write a poem about the tree.
3. Have students illustrate one of the Did You Know? facts.
Links for additional information teachers:
Resources of Interest on this Topic:
1. Learn about the history of Arbor Day and all about trees with this web quest. There are 11 web questions, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions and a teacher section with keys, additional links and lots(11 extension activities).This could also be something to use with EARTH DAY, when you are studying TREES and, of, course, for ARBOR DAY!
2. A Biologist and marine zoologist, Rachel Carson’s books shared her love of nature, especially the ocean and its inhabitants. Her book, Silent Spring, sparked concern in how chemical pesticides were harming our environment. Carson helped to start the environmental movement in our country, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This Reader's Theater Script on Rachel Carson could be used as a STEM biography any time of year or especially during the time of Earth Day.

Illustration from

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Celebrate William Shakespeare During the Month of April!

William Shakespeare

The anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is April 23rd.
What do YOU know about this famous writer?

I though you may find the following information of interest to share with your students.

Did You Know?
1. Did you know that there are actually many ways to spell his name? The estimate is that there are over 80 ways to spell Shakespeare’s name!

2. Considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays* during his lifetime. Probably, the three most famous works were Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth. Shakespeare introduced thousands of words to the English language and also wrote 154 sonnets. 
It is said that next to the Bible, his works are the most quoted!

3. Shakespeare also used lots of expressions that are common today.  Examples include: “Knock, knock, Who’s there?”, “green eyed monster”, “vanish into thin air”, “wild goose chase”, “makes your hair stand on end”, “so-so”, “good riddance”, “tongue tied”, “night owl” and “eaten out of house and home”.

4. Did you know that pencils were a new invention when Shakespeare was born?

5. It is thought(based on a 17th century portrait of him), that Shakespeare wore a gold hoop in his left ear.

6. During the time of Shakespeare, plays were only performed in the afternoon.

7. Women were not allowed to participate in plays during the time of Shakespeare so all the roles were performed by men.

Check Out These Resources:
  1. Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare is a guest on a talk show and the studio audience asks questions about his life. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee's Talk Show Series. Comprehension/Did You Know?section, LOTS of extension activities/links/key.

  1. William Shakespeare: Possible Interactive Notebook Activity. Short reading, fun acts, comprehension questions and a few extension activities:

Note: Other Resources on Famous Writers:
I also have a play on Hans Christian Andersen, Dr. Seuss and a webquest on Charles Dickens!

Note: Illustration from Photograph of Shakespeare’s home was taken by Gail Hennessey

*37 plays are what most believe Shakespeare wrote in his lifetime.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Earth Day Fun Facts(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Gail Skroback Hennessey

Did You Know?

1. Scientists say that it takes about 500 years for plastic to decompose.

2. The Ring of Fire located in the Pacific Ocean is the largest zone of active volcanoes. 75% of the world’s volcanoes are here!

3. There is enough salt in the oceans that if you could collect all of it and spread it, it would cover all the continents in 5 ft. (1.5m) of salt.

4. Scientists say the earth travels at 66,700 mph through space or 18.5 miles per second!

5. The name "Earth" is the only planet named for an Angle Saxon word("erda") and not from Greek or Roman mythology.

6. In 1961, the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin, was the first to call Earth, “the Blue Planet”.

7. Scientists say that the average person makes about four pounds(1.8kg) of garbage every day!

8. Did you know you are heavier in certain places on Earth? There is less gravity near the coast of India and more gravity in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean.

9. The earth isn’t round. It is an oblate spheroid, or “pear shaped”.

10. It is estimated that the earth weighs about 6, 588,000,000,000 million tons.

11. 25,000,000 plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in the United States. You read correctly!

12. Don’t thrown away the tinfoil of a Hershey’s Kiss. About 133 sq. miles of tinfoil are used to wrap 20,000,000 of the sweet treats every day!

13. Yellowstone National Park, was the world’s first national park. It was established in 1872.

14. The Peace Bell, rung at the United Nations every Earth Day, was made from coins collected by kids in Japan to promote peace on Earth.

15. Scientists say that the jellyfish is older than the dinosaur and dates back at least 650 million years.

16. One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy for a television to run for three hours.

17. Scientists say there are more living organisms in just ONE tablespoon of soil than all the people living on the earth(and that’s over 7.4 billion people)

18. One inch of topsoil, the very most fertile layer of soil, takes over 500 years to create.

19. Seen from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef(off the coast of Queensland, Australia), is called the “single largest animal being of the world”.

10. Mt. Trashmore, in Virginia Beach,VA, is a hill 60 ft(18 m high) 800 ft, long( 240m) made from trash.(That’s why it’s called Mt. Trashmore!)

Extension Activities:

1. Illustrate one of the Did You Know? facts.

2. Have kids select a photograph of the earth from space and write a paragraph as to what they see. 
3. Discuss Haiku(3 line poem with 5-7-5 syllable pattern). Write a Haiku about Earth day or something about the earth(trees, ocean, river, trash, etc.)

Links for teachers: very cool! See the world population continue to grow every second!

Check out these resources:
1. NOT JUST FOR EARTH DAY.Learn about the history of Earth Day and, our planet, EARTH, with this informative web quest. There are 15 web questions as well as comprehension questions and a Did You Know? fun fact section. The teacher page includes extension activities, the key, and additional links. Great for a Friday activity!

2. Scientists say Nepal earthquake MOVED Mt.Everest ONE INCH! Learn about Mt. Everest, Nepal and the Yeti with this fun web quest! Activities,interesting facts and comprehension review,too.Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

3. 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.

4. Studying the ocean? Looking for a resource for Earth Day or World Ocean Day? Introduce your students to Jacques Cousteau with this informative Reader's Theater Script. Oceanographer, photographer, scientist, inventor, writer and filmmaker, Cousteau spent his life studying the oceans and the marine life that lived in the oceans. Part of Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series(extensions/comprehension questions, Did You Know?, key)

5. Antarctica!Geographical web quest which introduces kids to the continent of Antarctica. There are 10 web quests(with lots of information in the questions), 14 Did You Know? facts, comprehension questions(including several "thought question"), a teacher page with a number of extension activities, additional links and key.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017



April Fool's Day 
is a great opportunity to begin a discussion with students on Fake /Real News!

Download this April Fool's Day FREEBIE to start the discussion with several “news” stories: 

You can also download this blog entry by going to this link:

IF you find this blog of interest, please share. Thanks!
Gail Hennessey

Seems that the phrase FAKE NEWS is being used a lot these days but just what is fake news and how can student learn to determine fact from fiction?

FAKE news is defined as news that is intentionally shared which is made-up or mostly fictitious. The purpose of fake news is to get arouse people’s emotions. Here area two example:
A few years ago, (2015) several websites had a headline that stated,” Al Gore Wants to Ban ALL Cars in ALL cities on the Planet.” Ask yourself-Does this sound incredible? Yes! In actuality, Gore was suggesting that without cars, there would be much less carbon dioxide going into our atmosphere. The result would be a smaller effect on global warming. He didn’t REALLY wish to BAN ALL cars in the entire world! This is an example of taking a partial statement and expanding on it to make it fake news.

Another news story(again about Al Gore) stated that Al Gore wants to Ban all Snowmobiles in the United States! You can imagine how this article angered many people who like to ride snowmobiles or own stores that sell them. The actual story was Al Gore wanted to see snowmobiles banned from our very first national park, Yellowstone National Park. He was concerned about the negative impact snowmobiles had on the wildlife and serenity of the park.

According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media(appeared in TIME MAGAZINE 3/27/2017) more than 45% of 10-18 young people in the United States said that they could NOT accurately determine fake news from real news. In fact, almost 1/3 also said that they clicked and passed along the news items before knowing that it wasn’t really true. This isn’t just a problem in the United States. Other countries, including Great Britain, are concerned about the need for young people to develop “digital critical literacy”.

Here are some tips to review with students to help to determine if what you are reading is REAL news or FAKE news:
  1. Is the  URL an uncommon one such as or URLs include .com, .gov, .edu and .info)
  2. Are there a number of spelling errors in the news story?
  3. Does the news story make you have a strong emotion, especially anger?
  4. Does the news story sound a bit unbelievable? Have you heard this story anywhere else? Check other news sites to see if they are reporting the story,too!
  5. Fact check with a link such as to see if they have reported anything about the news story being false or true. Another site to fact check stories are and .
  6. Check out the “about us” section to see who the people are,who are  associated with the news story.
7.  Before you send the “NEWS” story to someone else, make sure you      check out the story!

When evaluating news stories, share this ACRONYM: CARS: 
  1. Credibility
  2. Accuracy
  3. Reasonableness
  4. Support

Activities to Use with Students:
  1. Use this website created by Lyle Zapato to discuss FAKE news sites. Pacific Northwest tree octopus. The site shares information on a tree octopus that is on the endangered list. The unique creature, according to the site, could live in the water and on land(in trees). There are FAQs about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. There is a section on activities to help the endangered creature as well as sightings, links and more. THIS is really great!

B.  Here’s another news item that appeared in 2016 at Yackler Magazine.  It stated, “Scientists say giant asteroid could hit the earth next week, causing mass devastation.”  Approximately 356,000 people shared this story, which was untrue!

C. Share this clip with students( or share the content) . There was a posting on Facebook that stated,” Sweden bans Christmas lights -to avoid angering Muslims! “This story went viral with about 43,000 people forwarding this “news” story. This FAKE news story was based, in part, on an actual news story which stated that because of technical problems, there would be no Christmas lights that year! 

D. In 1957, this news story appeared on a news show in the country of Switzerland. The video clip showed a spaghetti harvest. People were pulling strands of spaghetti dangling down from trees. People actually called the news show asking how they could purchase a spaghetti tree! Ask students to explain why people may have believed this FAKE news story? Have students explain how FAKE news is harmful.

E.  Have students write up a FAKE news story. Exchange with other students and write a paragraph explaining why they didn’t think the story could be true.
Links for Teachers:

This link is a tutorial on how to check images to see their origins.

Note: Additionally, I have another resource you may find of interest to use for such a discussion on fake/real news: 
Want to introduce your students to the history of April Fools' Day? This resource provides a reading for students as well as lots of interesting famous April Fools’ pranks. Additionally, there are extension activities as well as a Test your April Fools' Day IQ(can you spot the True News Stories from the Fake ones?). There are also comprehension questions for the students to answer after reviewing the resource: