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:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Importance of decorating your classroom

I truly believe that a classroom should be an inviting place. Yes, we have lots and lots of responsibilities placed upon, and it seems more and more each year but  I think "bare" walls are not something you should have in your classroom.So, especially for new teachers....I say decorate your room, even if you teach high school!!! It's your home away from home, make it inviting with lots for students to see about what you will be teaching, current events,inspirational quotes, pictures of places in the world,hanging works of students, having personal things(in my case-bears, sunflowers and almost anything purple, my 6th grade report card and picture, etc).

I found this decorating tip to be very helpful to me and wanted to share: During study hall the last week of school with testing done, and less assignments for the students to work on, I often asked if anyone wished to cut out "fresh" letters for next year's bulletin boards. Students helped me take down all my boards.After the room was bare, and can remember a major echo in the room, it didn't stay that way for long. I would begin decorating my room for the fall. Then, students offered to cover the boards with newspaper so the construction paper didn't fade over the summer. When I came down the end of August to set up my room, I just removed the paper and could move to other tasks needing to be done for the first day of school. At first, I used to get a confused look from staff but eventually, I found many other teachers using this "pre" readiness idea.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review Games for Upper Elementary/Middle School

Heree are some popular review activities I found successful to use in the classroom.

1. HISTO: A vocabulary review game which is like bingo. Students use a word list and fill in a bingo grid(six box for a short review or 16 for a larger review). The game board can be used for several games. I usually have them place the letter H for my name for the first round, perhaps, an X, a smiley face, etc. The teacher gives a definition and if they have the word on their board(usually have one or two extras on the world list), they place the appropriate marker. The student(students) with 3(or 4 if using 16 boxes) across, down or diagonally, stand saying “Histo”. In order to “win” the round, the student (s) must say the word and give a definition.

2. Hot Potato: This is like musical chairs. Have an alarm that can be set to go off in a couple of seconds or wind up a music box or anything that can make a noise. Have the students stand or sit in a row and continue to pass the item that is making the noise. When the noise stops, the student with the item is asked a question about the lesson. If they don’t know the answer, they are out of the round. Continue until there is a winner.

3. History Bee: Have the students stand by their desks. Begin by asking questions. If the student doesn’t know the answer they are to sit down. Continue asking the question until the answer is correct. Ask another question. Continue the same pattern. The student still standing at the end of the round wins. * If, you ask a question which no student can answer correctly, all the students who sat down for the particular question get to stand back up and another question is asked.

4. WHO, WHAT, WHERE am I : Before class, place different terms for the unit of study on index cards. The terms can be famous people for the unit, places and things(terms). With masking tape, place an index card onto each of the students’ backs. Explain they can only ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Have the students circulate amongst the class trying to figure out the term on their back. Once they have identified the card, give them a point and ANOTHER index card on their back. Continue with the students with the most identified cards, the winners.

5. Concentration: Make cards( or have groups of students make their own cards of a term on one index card and the definition on another card). Shuffle the cards when done and place on the floor or a desktop. Groups of students take turns trying to find pairs(term/meaning), taking the pairs for each they have correctly identified. Play the round until the cards have all been identified.

6. Bluff: Divide the class into two or three teams. Explain that you will ask the students a question. All the students in the group being asked the question that know the answer are to quietly stand. Anyone that wants to “bluff” they know the answer, can stand as well. The teacher picks a standing student. If the student knows the answer, the team is awarded the number of points for the amount of students standing. If, incorrect, the team loses the number of points for the amount of students standing. The team with the most point wins the round.

7. Play the game show Jeopardy:

8. Play a game based on HangMan: Instead of hanging a person, make a pumpkin, snowman, or some other picture which you add parts as the answers are correct, making it a positive drawing. *Before playing, show a picture of a completed drawing.

9. Play a variation of Deal or No Deal: Place 10-15 large index cards on the chalkboard with various points for 5-100. Also place a couple of cards which say double points, triple points or take away half your points. Divide the students into two or three teams. Have the students on each team take turns answering a question. After they answer, have the student pick the amount of points they have earned for a correct answer. If they have earned one of the special cards, they can use on another turn.

10. GRIDLOCK: This activity is a fun research activity. Make a grid of 5 topics( for example: Country of the World, Famous scientist, capital of the world, famous place to visit, River of the world). Then, make a list going downward with 5-7 letters. Students using reference materials with a partner try and find as many topics that start with the letters given.
See example
Country of the World /Famous Scientist/ Capital of the World/ Famous Place River

Gail Hennessey

Using News for Creative Writing-Monarch Butterfly Carried to Great Britain by Hurricane Isaac!

Using the news for creative writing.

A monarch butterfly migrating from North America to Mexico made an unexpected detour-to Great Britain. It is believed that Hurricane Isaac caused the tiny butterfly to be carried 3500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean!
The left wing of the orange, white and black monarch butterfly is damaged. It was spotted near the Portland Bird Observatory on the Isle of Portland,Dorset, Great Britain. Butterfly enthusiasts are coming to the facility to catch a glimpse of monarch butterfly.Some do not believe a monarch could have made such an amazing trek and say that it may be a monarch butterfly raised in Great Britain that flew the coop. Only the tiny butterfly ,with its four inch wingspan,knows its true origins!

Word of the day:lepidopterist-a scientist who studies of butterflies, moths and similar insects. Write 3 sentences using the word lepidopterist.

Helpful link: Learn about monarch butterflies:

•Draw/color a picture of a monarch butterfly. Write a haiku poem(or other type of poem) about the monarch.
•Make a list of  descriptive phrases to describe the monarch butterfly. Using similes and metaphors to describe the coloring of the monarch butterfly, its fluttering and how it gathers nectar, etc.
•Pretend you are a monarch butterfly. Describe your adventure being caught up in the winds that carried you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. What do you see? Hear? Feel? What are you thinking about as thousands of people with cameras are trying to catch a glimpse of you as you rest on some plants gathering nectar?
• Do an interview with another student with one being the reporter and the other the monarch butterfly. Tell about your adventure.

Hope you find this of value to use with your students.
Gail Hennessey

Friday, December 14, 2012


Today, 28 were killed,20 of those children,at Connecticut Elementary School in Newtown.After such horrible violence against innocent people,the cry for gun control laws always goes out-to no avail. Maybe, this time...change WILL happen. NO one(in my opinion) needs such killing weapons! Little kindergarteners, in their classroom gunned down..such sadness in my heart!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Photograph from

Check out my website to download these plays based on the To Tell the Truth Game Show:

Abigail Adams
Florence Harding
Lady Bird Johnson
Mary Todd Lincoln
Eleanor Roosevelt
Dolly Madison
Edith Wilson
Hillary Clinton
Michelle Obama

Fun Facts about First Ladies:
Lucy Webb Hayes was the first wife of a president to be called "First Lady".

Only Abigail Adams and Barbara Bush were a spouse and mother to Presidents of the United States.

Florence Harding was the first woman to vote for her husband in a presidential election.

Frances Cleveland was the first to have a baby born in the White House while her husband was president.The popular candy, Baby Ruth ,was named for their child.

Dolly Madison was the first American to answer a telegraph message sent by Samuel Morse.

Pat Nixon was the first First Lady to wear pants in public.

Caroline Harrison was the first First Lady to have a Christmas tree in the White House.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first First Lady to become a senator of the United States,was a candidate for President and became Secretary of State under President Obama's administration.

Try this Webquest on First Ladies:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Did you know that the Wright Brothers' plans for their Wright Flyer airplane was turned down by the U.S. Army? Did you know that the distance of the Wright Flyer was less than that of the wingspan of today's 747 Jet? Did you know that only 7 people came to witness the December 17,1903 flight(and TWO of these people were Wilbur and Orville)? I've developed a fun and informative webquest which you may find of value to use with your students. Additionally, I have included some activities which you might find of use.Go to this link:
Have a wonderful holiday season!

Photograph of the December 17,1903 flight from
Gail Hennessey

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Using the News:

Graham Hughes, of Great Britain, has accomplished something no one has ever done. He has visited all 201 countries of the world AND without taking an airplane!  It took Hughes four years to complete his journey beginning in the country of Uruguay,on January 1,2009. He just completed his trek in Juba, South Sudan. Hughes traveled an estimated 160,000 miles in his 1426 days relying on boats, trains, buses, taxis and his feet. In addition to a no fly rule, Hughes didn't drive his own vehicle, took only scheduled transportation and said that a visit to a country must involve actually stepping on land.Along the way, Hughes had some difficulties such as being arrested for being a spy in the Congo and accused of entering Russia without proper permission. High points of his trip included dancing with natives in Papua New Guinea and swimming in a lake filled with jellyfish in Palau.He spent four days aboard a leaky fishing canoe traveling from Senegal to Cape Verde and said probably the most difficult part of his journey was getting from some of the island such as Tuvalu, Samoa and Nauru without flying in an airplane. He said that he loves to travel and wanted to show people that the world is "not some big, scary place,but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger." Living on $100 per day, Hughes' trip also raised money for Water Aid, a British organization that works to provide clean water and sanitation to the world's poorest  people.

Sources: to contact Graham Hughes(his website)

If you could travel to any country of the world, where might you wish to visit and why. Research the country and make a travel poster. Include: 3 geography facts, 3 places to visit(specific place like a mountain, museum, landmark, etc), 3 souvenirs(things the country is famous for), 3 historical facts, 3 facts about the 
government of the country.

Obviously, you would need to travel light for a trip to visit all the countries of the world. Draw a large backpack. What would be 10 things you'd pack in your backpack?

Find a train table(perhaps use for a trip between 3 nearby countries(perhaps in Europe) From which city could you leave/arrival time/ leave time to get to 3 countries in 24 hours.

Write a one day diary entry about your travels. What did you do? Hear? See?

Learn about WaterAid. Activities for kids:  Make posters to share a fact about water and sanitation issues in parts of the world.

Use a map of the world. Have small groups of students make 7 mapwork questions. Exchange with another group to answer.

As of 2012,the  United Nations recognizes 193 countries .Use the world map to locate those places Graham Hughes visited that are not included in this list:Taiwan, Vatican City, Kosovo,Palestine and Western Sahara. South Sudan is the newest country(July 9,2011), find this country on a world map,too.