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:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

That's Happy New Year in Chinese. 2014 is the Year of the horse. On the Chinese calendar, called Yuan Tan,this new year is 4712. 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.This year, Chinese New Year begins on January 31st. It is the beginning of a 15 day celebration.

Some of the following are 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

Check out my website for teachers to see lots of interesting customs and information on Chinese New's FREE!  Click on the link below:

Check out my resource-Let's Explore China!  Notes, extension activities and links are included. This is a great time of year to introduce kids to the culture of China!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fun New Year's Customs from Around the World/Webquest,too!

Happy New Year! 

Bonne annee(French)

Frohes neues Jahr(Germany)

Felice anno nuovo(Italian)

Gelukkig nieuwjaar(Dutch)

Gott nytt ar(Swedish)

Feliz ano nuevo(Spanish)

Shana tova(Hebrew)

Hauoli makahiki hou(Hawaiian)
Interesting Customs around the World forNew Year's.

In Russia, divers place a New Year’s tree into Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest river. 

Did you know that in Denmark, people like to throw old broken dishes at the front door of friends, at New Year’s Eve?

Did you know that eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight  is considered good luck in Spain?

Christmas trees are made into bonfires to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands. This custom is done to symbolize getting rid of the old and welcoming the new year.

Did you know that April Fool’s Day involved New Year’s Day?  People used to celebrate the new year  around March 25-April 1st. When the calendar changed the new year to January 1 st, pranks were played on those that continued to celebrate the New year on April 1.


1. New Year’s has been celebrated for over 4000 years. It began with which ancient culture?_________________They celebrated the beginning of the new year with the first new moon after the vernal equinox occurred. Their celebration lasted 11 days! In which month did New Year’s take place?_____________What important event always took placed during this time?_______________________Find the answers at this link:

Go to my website to see lots more interesting customs, extension activities and 4 more web questions.
It's FREE!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to All!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

History of Candy! Great way to show kids that even candy has a history.

What do you get with 7200 eggs, 3000 pounds of brown sugar, 1800 pounds of butter, 7200 pounds of flour,1,080 ounces of ground ginger and 22,304 candy pieces? That's the world's biggest gingerbread house! The 20.11 ft. tall and 60 ft by 42 ft. house is located in Bryan,Texas.  One issue that resulted from this massive gingerbread house is it attracted BEES who were loved all the sweets! Guinness World Records says the really sweet house is a record setter. All money raised by people visiting the massive gingerbread house will go to charity. 

Why not show your students that even candy has a history with this fun/informative web quest! Learn facts including marshmallows date back to 2000 BC and King Tut's Tomb contained licorice. Newly updated to include the history of lollypops and the world's largest gingerbread house! Did you know that candy canes were originally just WHITE or that they originated in the country of Germany? I also have included several additional resources and extension activities.  

Sample:  1. Marshmallows date back to 2000 BC and were first enjoyed by which ancient people?________________Which groups were able to eat marshmallows in this cultures?_________________The candy treat was made from which plant and what was added to it?___________________More than 90 million pounds of marshmallows are eaten each year by people in the USA, the largest consumer of marshmallows.Some people are afraid of marshmallows. What is this fear called?_______________. Find the answers at this link: There are 8 webquests packed with informative text!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 95, statesman, activist has died. Mandela,of South Africa, worked to end apartheid in his country(laws that separated whites and black races) and spent 27 years in prison. He went on to become president of the country of the Republic of South Africa. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize(in 1993).  Mandela once said,"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."  Such a wonderful statement by a remarkable man!

Other words spoken by Nelson Mandela:

"No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated."

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

"It always seems impossible until its done."

"Where you stand depends on where you sit."

"May your choices reflect your HOPES, not your fears."

"There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."

Extension activities:

Ask students to explain what they think one of the quotes mean.

Illustrate one of the quotes of Mandela. -Short bio for kids on Nelson Mandela  Have students read the bio and write 4 facts learned from the reading. -lots of information and video clips
Find 4 facts about what it was like living under apartheid.  WHY was Mandela arrested and put into prison?  Find three facts about what it was like in Robben Island prison for all those years?  Write a paragraph pretending to be Nelson Mandela and explain a day of your life in prison.(what did you do? what do you think about?  etc.)

* Photograph from

Sunday, December 1, 2013

World's oldest public toilet...for dinosaurs found in Argentina

Scientists say they have found what is being called the "world's oldest public toilet"...for dinosaurs. Thousands of fossilized droppings(called coprolites)have been uncovered in the country of Argentina,in a region called La Rioja Province. The dino poo is from a dinosaur called Dinodontosaurus, a herbivore(plant eater) that lived about 240 million years ago which was somewhat like the rhinos of today. 

It is thought that even dinosaurs didn't want to "go" where they lived and ate. And, scientists think there was another reason for a common toilet area. It made those creatures wandering into the toilet territory think that with so many droppings, there must be a large herd of dinosaurs in the area...and, they'd better keep on moving! 

Studying the droppings will provide information on the diet and possible diseases of the dinosaurs that left their poo behind.

1. Find three facts from the news article.
2. Write a paragraph pretending to be the scientists that made the discovery. What were you doing? What made you think you had found dinosaur droppings?  
3. Write a headline for this news story.
4. Write 2 Factual statements. Write 2 Opinion statements. Exchange with another students to determine which are the Fact statements and which are the Opinion statements.
5. See a drawing of a dinodontosaurus at this link: 
Write 3 descriptive sentences. Discuss metaphors and similes. Use these in your descriptions.  This link has information on metaphors and similes:

Note: Photograph from

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale,editor of Godley's Lady's Book Magazine, campaigned for an annual day of thanksgiving. She tried for almost 40 years writing hundreds of letters to religious leaders and government leaders.  

It would finally become a reality on October 3, 1863. The Civil War was still raging on and the horrific  Battle of Gettysburg, where hundreds of both Union and Confederate soldiers died, had recently occurred. President Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday in  November would be a day to give thanks for "general blessings". He said " I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving..."

Interestingly, in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the national holiday to the third Thursday of November. People were so upset by this change, that the president publicly stated the error of his decision and the holiday was returned to the last Thursday of November. What are three things you are thankful for at this time of year? Try doing an act of kindness to someone else during this week...

Check out this interesting reading: On a trip to England, my husband and I visited a Quaker Barn that may have had the Mayflower used in its construction. Check out the story at my website:

Check out my web quest on Thanksgiving and Turkeys at this link:

Friday, November 15, 2013

In the News: 

Rupee, an 11 month old pooch, has done something no dog has done before. He has climbed to the base camp of Mt. Everest with his owner, Joanne Lefson. Called Expedition Mutt Everest 2013, the journey was to create awareness to homeless animals and to promote adoption. Joanne found Rupee abandoned in a city in India. The pair trekked through snow and crossing old bridges and wet paths to reach 17,598 ft. in 13 days. Joanne said that Rupee pulled her along when she tired and loved playing in the snow.Photograph from

Extension Activities: 

1. Pretend you are Rupee, tell about a day as you and Joanne trekked up Mt. Everest. What did you see? Hear? Think about?

2. Create an awareness poster on homeless animals and how people can help.

3. Learn about Mt. Everest: Check out my informative web quest on Mt. Everest. Extension activities including comprehension questions included.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


When you think of your childhood, does one toy or stuffed animal or other item, comes to mine?  Mine was Pinkie. Pinkie is beige(so go figure the name I chose as a little girl). My mom had to sew her eyes and nose back on a number of times and the stuffing got squashed when I dropped it in the street and a car ran after it before my dad heroically rescued Pinkie for me.  

In the beginning of the school year, I'd take Pinkie from her protective plastic bag resting in a memory box in the attic, bring her to class and start an activity to show kids that each of them has their own history. My 6th graders usually giggled seeing me holding my favorite childhood toy but they soon got into the activity.
What was YOUR favorite childhood toy?
Why was it so important to you?
Who gave it to you?
Describe what it looked like.
What became of your favorite Childhood toy?

Now, take the information you wrote down and write a paragraph on you favorite childhood toy.

Many of my 6th graders that still had their favorite childhood toy asked if they could bring it to class to show as they volunteered to read their paragraphs.

Do you have a favorite childhood toy? What was it? Love to see you share your comments.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In the News- Surfing a Record Wave!

I can't imagine surfing down such a whopper of a wave!

Perhaps, this news short might be of interest for a quick "bell-ringer" activity while you are checking homework, doing attendance, etc.

Carlos Burle has surfed into the record books by hanging ten down a wall of water estimated to be 100 ft. tall! The beach at Nazare, Portugal,Praia do Norte, is famous for their REALLY big waves and Burle hit the jackpot thanks to the St. Jude storm that had recently hit the European area. Currently, the record for surfing the biggest wave, was done by Garret McNamara in 2011 when he caught a 78 ft. wave in the same area. People on the shore watching say that when these massive waves crash onto the shore,it's like that of an earthquake, causing the ground under the feet to shake. Guinness World Records still needs to certify the measurement before they can announce officially that Burle indeed has surfed an amazing mountain of water!

*Pretend you are Burle, what would you be thinking as you began your descent down the wave?

*Write a headline for the news story.

*What safety gear would you wear?

Photograph from


Monday, October 21, 2013

A pumpkin grown by Tim and Susan Mathison, Napa, California has smashed the record for its mammoth size. The giant pumpkin weighed in at 2032 pounds. Grown in 105 days,the pumpkin surpassed the 2012 record pumpkin of 2009 pounds.Photograph from 

Pretend you are a pumpkin sitting on a front porch on Halloween night. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? Write a story about your evening.

Review tips on how to grow a giant pumpkin. Give groups of students the ten steps on different index cards. Have the students place the steps in proper sequencing.

What would you do with a giant pumpkin?

Fun Fact: The city of Keene, N.H. has regained the title for the most lit jack=o-lanterns. On October 18,2013, 30,581 carved and lit pumpkins were on display!
Learn about pumpkins with this fun/informative webquest:

Photograph from:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nobel Prize for Peace

Ever wonder what people might say about you after you die? Perhaps, you'd like others to say you were a good friend or that you displayed kindness to all. A man named Alfred Noble actual got to read what people though of him when they thought he'd died in an explosion at a factory he owed. He was called the “merchant of death”!

Alfred Noble,born 1833, in the country of Sweden, was the invented of dynamite. He thought that this invention could be used for good. Dynamite could blast through rock to build tunnels and bridges. But,dynamite could be used as a deadly weapon! The newspaper that called him the “merchant of death” said his dynamite would "kill more people faster than seen before."

Upset by how he was being remembered, Noble got an opportunity to do something most of us do not. Since he was still alive, he had a chance to change the opinion people had of him. Having become very wealthy from his invention of dynamite(he also invented hundreds of other things), Noble shocked his family when he died in 1896. He had changed his will to leave most of his huge fortune not to them, but to a trust to award people who made contributions in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Literature and Peace. The awards were to be called the Nobel Prizes. Each October, awards are presented. The recipients receive a diploma,gold metal and a very large check!

Thus far, three American presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson won the award. In 2002, President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 2009, President Barack Obama received the award. In 2009, the award was over 1.4 million dollars!

 In 2013, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This group is watching the current checking of the destruction of such weapons in the country of Syria.Congratulations to this organization for their efforts!

 I feel that another of those nominated such be highlighted on this day.

 Malala Yousafzai,16,was the youngest person ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in the country of Pakistan, Malala has wanted to do something many children take for granted. She wanted the right to go to school and get an education. Unfortunately, in her area of Pakistan, a very strict group, called the Taliban forbid girls from getting an education. Malala started a blog which was published by the BBC website. She explained what was happening in her home area and what it was like being denied an education.

Eventually, Malala was able to attend school but the Taliban didn’t like how this young girl had so vocally attacked their views on girls and schooling. On October 9, 2012, while riding a school bus home from school, two Taliban men carrying guns stopped the bus and got on. The men shouted that they would kill everyone on the bus if Malala wasn’t identified. They pointed their guns at the young teen and shot her! Amazingly, Malala survived the attack. It took many months for her to heal from the horrible attack.

 In 2012, the teen was named one of the top 100 influential people in the world by Time Magazine for her efforts to bring awareness to the fact that many girls were being denied an education.

 In July 2013, Malala spoke at the United Nations. It was her 16th birthday. She asked that people unite for equality in education for girls and boys. In her speech, Malala said,”One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” She also said that people such as the Taliban are afraid of books and pens and that the power that comes from an education frightens such people. She also said,”Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”        
Despite the fact that the Taliban continues to make death threats again this remarkable teen, Malala continues to speak out. May the spirit in Malala take hold in us all!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Islands, they can be big and small. They can be found in oceans, lakes and rivers. Learn some interesting facts about some of the islands in the world!

The most populated island in the world is Java(part of the country of Indonesia).

The largest island in the world is Greenland. Australia, which is 3x the size of Greenland, is considered a continent.

The man-made islands called the World Islands of Dubai are in the shape of the continents! There is also an artificial group of islands created in the area that looks like a giant palm tree. The Palm Tree Islands is called the world’s largest artificial island and can be seen from outer space. See beautiful photographs of Palm Islands at this link:

As of 2013, the world’s newest island is Zalzala Koh, an island that popped out of the Arabian Sea following an earthquake in Pakistan! Scientists think it may only be around for the next year.

It is estimated that 1 out of 10 people live on islands!

The dodo bird, a flightless bird, lived on the island of Mauritius(Indian Ocean). It was the thought to be the first recorded creature to become extinct. Similar to a pigeon, sailors from Holland brought rats, cats, dogs,pigs and crab-eating macaques with them on their voyages. The dodo had not natural enemies until these creatures came to the island. Sailors easily hunted the dodo birds and the birds were gone within one hundred years(1681). Learn more about the dodo bird:

Yumenoshima is an island in Japan’s Tokyo Bay made out of trash. Since then,several other garbage islands have been created around the world!

The Maldives island nation found in the Pacific ocean is sinking and is thought to have less than 100 years left before it become submerged under the waters.

A real “garbage” island,twice the size of the state of Texas,is located between Hawaii and San Francisco, California.

Ometepe, an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, is the oldest inhabited island! People have lived there since 300 BC!

The world's largest river island is Ilha do Bananal found in the country of Brazil.

 Iceland, is the world’s largest volcanic island. Learn more about Iceland: and :

The Galapagos Islands( 600 miles west of the country of Ecuador) are famous for its large tortoises. Charles Darwin visited the islands and wrote his book on the theory of evolution, “The Origin of Species”, after observing the life on the islands.

Easter Island,one of the most distant located inhabited islands is found 2237 miles from the country of Chile. Easter Island, discovered on Easter Day, 1772, is famous for the nearly 900 tall statues(called moia),many of which are 3 stories tall. Learn more about the moias at this link:

Note: Illustration from:

Friday, October 4, 2013

The New York Public Library has released its 100 Great Children's Books.
Thought it might be of interest to post. Check out the entire list at this link:

How many have you read? Can you think of a book that you would add to the list?

Classic Books that I would consider for the list include:
Around the World in 80 Days
Swiss Family Robinson
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Black Beauty
The Prince and the Pauper.

Other books I'd consider for the list include:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Anne of Green Gables

Activity: Show the list to your students. Ask them how many of the books on the list they have read. Ask them to suggest a book to add to the list of great 100 Children's books. Why would they think other kids should read the book that they suggest for the list?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's That Time of Year to Discuss MUMMIES!
Whether you are teaching ancient Egyptians(one of my favorite units of study when I taught 6th grade!) and are discussing mummies or maybe, you need some fun mummy information for around Halloween, I have compiled lots of fun mummy facts you may find useful.  For example:
1. Some male and female mummies were buried with extra hair wigs!
2. The mummy of Pharoah Ramses 11 has a passport. When his mummy traved to France from Egypt, a passport was issued for his travels!
3. Licorice root and watermelon seeds were found in King Tut's tomb as well as a change of underwear!

I have included lots of great resources, too(website of interest, interactive activities and video clips) and several extension activities. The resource is Amazing Mummy Facts and it is FREE. Check it out at this link:

Hope you find it of value to use with your students!
Gail ots of free resources to use with your students....

Museum Night-Each year I held a Museum Night where students displayed a project that they created. Parents and grandparents often assisted with the projects which were pretty amazing! I encouraged their involvement as I felt it was a great way to share social studies in the home. Of, course, each year, I'd get a call the morning of Museum Night asking me how I could expect their child to make a project for homework in one night...When I told the parent the students had 2 weeks AND that a paper went home to be signed explaining the project assignment, they said they would be speaking with their child.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

If You See Something that Looks like Bullying....Say Something!

I'd like to know who coined the saying,"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you."? I've never found this to be true. Words are very powerful and negative words can hurt...a lot!  I have found some  helpful resources which teachers might wish to review on the topic of bullying. Go to my website to see the list of resources(stories, links, video clips,etc.) I have compiled.

A great  start to discussing bullying  might be to read Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling and read about the author himself( I've written a play for kids on Hans Christian Andersen which you can find at this link:

 Hans was often teased as a boy. He was very tall and skinny. He was called "scarecrow" by neighborhood children. One day, he actually climbed a tree to get away from bullies who were chasing him!  Once in the tree however, he got tangled and stuck. Hans' dad had to come get him down.

Most kids say they have been bullied at some point. And, many children admit that they have bullied other children... The resources I have gathered might be of interest for teachers.
Gail Hennessey

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Need a short activity for your students: In the News...
NASA has announced that the first man-made object has left the solar system! The Voyager 1 launched in 1977(along with the Voyager 2 sixteen days later) has left heliosphere and is now zooming into interstellar space. The heliosphere is the boundary separating our solar system including the sun, planets and solar wind from the rest of the galaxy. Some say the solar system contains the orbits of  distant comets so if this is included, the Voyager still has thousands of years to go to exit the solar system. Either way, it's an amazing triumph for the space probe, which with memory less than a smart phone is still working! Traveling at more than 28,000 mph, the Voyager carries what is called the "golden record", including sounds and photographs of our word so that if alien life forms are out there and come into contact with the Voyager, they can learn a bit about our world.

NOTE: Illustration of The Golden Record from NASA. gov

Extension Activities:
Pretend you are the Voyager 1 and write a diary entry as to what have you seen along your journey?
Make your own "Golden Record". What would be 7 things you'd want aliens to know about earth and its live forms?
Learn about a planet, comet, asteroid or meteor and create an illustration. Write 4 facts learned about your topic.
Learn about space junk:

Resources for Kids:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In a world where beauty is highlighted, a unique organization wants people to think about creatures less cute. The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, located in Great Britain,has just selected a new mascot-the Blobfish, as the world's ugliest creature! Found in the deep ocean waters off of south-eastern Australia, the Blobfish is really a creature only a mom(or dad)could love! A world wide competition was recently held with thousands of people voting on the ugliest animal. Other creatures up for selection included the kakao(a non flying parrot), the Titicaca(water frog), the purple pig-nosed frog, the giant Palouse earthworm, the proboscis monkey,and Axolotl(salamander). The society is "dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mather Nature's more aesthetically challenged children." All creatures cute and ....ugly,need to be remembered when it comes to being in trouble of endangerment or extinction. The Ugly Animal Preservation Society hopes that such a contest will help to shed more light that "challenged looking" creatures need our concern,too.
 Extension Activities:
Have students write a poem describing the Blobfish.
Learn more about the Blobfish.
Create a poster of one of the creatures in the contest. Explain why you should be selected for the "World's Ugliest Creature".
Write a persuasive paragraph explaining why you should be remembered when it comes to being endangered and not just the cute and cuddly creatures. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dusting off my soap box....
On the first day of every school year, my husband would don what he called his teacher uniform. He wore a suit and tie and his dress shoes. He always felt it was important to start the school year dressing accordingly.  From that day forward, he'd always wear a pair of slacks, dress shirt and tie and sport's jacket.

I also felt the need to dress what I felt was professionally for the my students,wearing one of my skirt sets or dresses. I never would think to come to school in jeans(unless it was a special dress down day or field day activity), wear a dress showing cleavage or a top that was especially formfitting. Thus, I was amazed by a headline that stated a school district in Little Rock, Arkansas, is requiring its teachers to wear... underwear!

Just where have we come when a teacher needs to be reminded that see-through tops, showing their midriff or wearing form fitting clothing(especially in middle school), might not be appropriate?
For many young people, teachers are about the only role model they may have. It is important that in addition to teaching about social studies and grammar,that we model behavior that our students can emulate. Note: I understand that primary teachers may need to alter their dress code for the different activities they will be doing with their students, however, to me, spaghetti-straps, cut off shorts, form fitting clothing, still isn't proper to this "veteran" teacher, at any level.

The article about the Arkansas School district's dress code also caused me pause when I read that the teacher's union was voicing opposition to the dress code(to include wearing underwear),stating it was  a violation of the teachers' rights and that the policy was condescending.  Such comments are just fuel to the fire for television networks like Fox News that see little value in what a teacher does(based on their many previous story topics). This news story is just what they want to share with their viewers to give validation to the quality ,or in their minds, lack there of, of the teaching profession today!

So, in my opinion, don your underwear when you are heading off to school this year. As I used to say to my student teachers. Dress professionally. What does this mean? I guess the best way to answer this is the following: Are you wearing what you’d wear to go with your friends to the movies or hang out on the weekend?  Or, are you wearing what you’d wear to a job interview? The latter should be what you’d wear as you enter the classroom  each day.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Starting the school year and need an activity? I have just added another topic at my website for teachers/kids, FACTS to Wow your Friends! This time, the information is on bees. Did you know that bees can actually sense the location of land mines or that a honeybee can move its wings about 11,400 times a minute? Read these and about 20 other bee facts under the BUZZ about BEES at this link:

Five Extension activities are included as well such as the following:

Facts at my website for teachers/kids.   Learn more about bees

 Illustration from:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spinal Surgery on Wednesday :-(

Haven't posted lately....lots on my mind.
Perhaps, you have had a surgery and got the what-ifs before the operation. That is what I've been experiencing the last couple of days.  I am finding that keeping busy helps. Twelve years ago I had to have 5-7 cervical disk fused and now 3-5 are in a very unstable condition. I've put it off for three years so I am very grateful for the extra years. Now, however, I can't work in my gardens, something I love to do, have less energy due to the discomfort,the prospects of skiing this winter are a BIG no(if I fall the results could be horrible) and can't do what I love to do-travel! So, surgery is Wednesday. I will find out tomorrow during the pre-visit as to what exactly I won't be able to do for a while. I already was told-no piano(just returned to taking lessons after 47 years and love it!), probably, not computer?, no driving-for a month.
Hopefully, I can use my laptop-otherwise,going NO computer will be VERY difficult. Stocked up on videos and some books to read. Any recommendations of "fluff"-nothing heavy as I'm sure the pain meds will keep me from concentrating for a few days, would be appreciated.
Hmmm, maybe, after a few days when I am not to groggy, I just might start my novel.
I will try and post again soon.
Gail Hennessey

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NOAA says Beluga Whales Should Roam Freely! :-)

I saw an article on beluga whales today that brought a smile to my face.  The world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta, Georgia, was told they can not acquire 18 more beluga whales. They currently have four such whales.  The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration said that the beluga whales,which are very intelligent,should exist in their natural habitat, the polar oceans, and not in an aquarium.  I realize that there are two sides to the issue. In captivity, scientists can study beluga whales and better determine how to protect their dwindling species. On the other hand, I favor wildlife being able to roam freely. What do you think?

Extension Activities:
1. Pretend you are a beluga whale. Write about a day in your life.
2. Learn about the beluga whale from the link below. Draw/color a picture of a beluga whale and write 4 cool facts learned about the whale.
3. Pretend you work at the aquarium. Give 2 reasons why you feel you should be able to acquire more beluga whales. Pretend you are a marine biologist, give 2 reasons why you feel beluga whales should not be allowed to be captured for aquariums.

Learn more about the beluga whale at this link:

Note: Photograph from

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I am written a new children book series.(about 17 pages with colorful illustrations). Purple Turtle has lots of friends. There is Roxy the chameleon,Biggy Bear, a stuttering rabbit named Zing. Other friends include Freddy the frog, Fella the fish,Bob the Butterfly, Squirty the Squirrel, Walter the ant and Melody the bird.  In each Purple Turtle story, children learn a lesson.

Here are some of the titles:

Purple Learns to Use Less: Purple and his friends learn that each of us can help the planet in saving water.

Purple Meets Freddy at the Lily Pad: Purple meets Freddy at the lily pad. Freddy is very sad. His pond is littered with trash including soggy newspapers, a plastic milk jug and even an old sneaker. Purple and his friends set out to lend Freddy a hand to clean up the pond.

Roxy Learns to Swim:Purple suggests going swimming in the river to his friend, . Roxy says no and tells Purple why. Along comes a friendly fish named Fella who helps Purple solve Roxy's problem.

Purple's Birthday Party: Purple's friends are all excited because it's Purple's birthday. When Biggy breaks his ankle, he can't attend and is very disappointed. Purple has a great idea and shows that friendship is one of the very best gifts one can have.

Purple Turtle's Safari Adventure: Purple and his friends go on a safari to see some of the world's unique animals. They learn that many of the animals are in trouble. Can Purple and his friends do anything to help?

Purple Meets Dovey: Purple meets Dovey the Dove, while walking in the woods. A symbol of peace, the dove is sad that there is so much fighting in the world. Purple tries to find a way to make Dovey smile.

Purple and the Cupcakes: Purple brings cupcakes to the park to share with his friends. Leaving them on a log, the cupcakes are gone when the friends return from playing. Who took the cupcakes? Purple and his friends are surprised at just who did!

Purple and the Pumpkin Race: Purple, Zing and Biggy are excited about participating in the annual pumpkin race. After they carve out their pumpkin to sail, the race begins. Sounds like lots of fun but somehting goes very wrong!

Purple Meets the Monsters: Biggy invites Purple for a sleepover. When nighttiome comes, monsters come out frightening Biggy. How will Purple come to the rescue?

Grades 1-3

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I am very excited about my news short stories for social studies!

Substitute Mrs. Purpilopolis brings her purple backpack filled with Purple Adventure Goggles and takes kids on an adventure to witness historical events. The stories are about 9-10 pages and present historical topics in a fun and very informative way.

The first adventure has students travel back to learn about the life of Alexander Graham Bell. While wearing the purple adventure goggles, the students are witnesses to history being able to see and hear history as it is happening. Lots of fun and informative information is presented in this short story.

* Discussion questions are included.

Use as an extension activity teaching American History, famous biographies or for a short reading in Language Arts. 

Extension Activities:
*A "Day in the Life "writing exercise pretending to be either Alexander Graham Bell or Thomas Watson could be done where students include 4 facts learned in the reading.

*Students could also do an interview pretending to be Alexander Graham Bell and a reporter. These are just two suggestions as extension activities after using the short reading.

* Draw a purple picture of something in history!


*******Check out the demo:

Check out other adventures of Mrs. P:

Alexander Graham Bell:

George Washington:

The first Thanksgiving:

Grades 5 and up(maybe...4th depending on the level of readers)

Do you have any suggestions for historical adventures you might find of value to use with your students?

Gail Hennessey

Friday, July 12, 2013

In the News: A National Park is proposed for...the MOON!

A new national park is being considered by Congress but don't expect to visit it any time soon. That's because the proposed park is on the moon! Two congresswomen have sought to establish the lunar park at the area where the first Apollo manned space landing occurred back in 1969.
Why make a national park on the moon? There is concern that future space travelers might damage the site where footprints of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin can be found. Other items are also at the site including American flags, moon walking equipment and even a moon buggy. Due to a treaty signed by 101 countries, called the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, countries can not claim ownership of the moon so the bill proposes the site being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What do you think?

Discussion Questions:
What would you call the park?
Do you think this proposal  is a good idea?

Make a poster advertising for the national park on the moon. 

Resources for Kids about the moon: interesting video
lots of information for kids!

Fun Facts:
Did you know that we only see one side of the moon?
Did you know that in Japan, instead of the "man in the moon", it is the "rabbit in the moon"?
US Astronauts left six American flags on the moon.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Science to be Dropped from 5th Grade Curriculum???????????????

A colleague of mine just told me that in September, the fifth grade will not be offering the  teaching of science. I am totally shocked. The students will have LA, Math and Social Studies but science will not be a subject taught! I hope that when parents hear about this change, they will question and demand its inclusion back into the 5th grade curriculum. Critical thinking, problem solving,experimentation, learning about the universe, the oceans, microbes and, just the world in which we live are just some of the things that science brings to mind. I just don't understand how a school can rationalize doing away with the teaching of science in 5th grade. Any comments?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Using the News in your Classroom
Homing pigeons are known for their abilities to return back to a destination but it sees that one particular bird took a detour during a 600 mile race in Japan.  Last week, the  year old racing pigeon,that left during a race on May 10th, was found on Vancouver Island, Canada-5000 mile away from Japan! It is believed that the unnamed racing pigeon may have hitched a ride aboard freighters to get needed water and food along its flight across the Pacific Ocean.Thanks to an identification band around its leg, the marathon racing pigeon's owner was contacted. The owner doesn't want the misdirected bird returned so it has been adopted by a racing pigeon club in Canada.

Fun Facts:
Did you know that homing pigeons(also called carrier pigeons) were used during ww1 in France to transfer messages by soldiers over enemy lines?

Pigeons can fly an average of about 50 miles per hour.

Unlike all other birds, pigeons don't have to lift their head to swallow water!

In 1992, a pigeon was sold for $132,000.00.

Pigeon droppings were so valued as a fertilizer during the 16-18th centuries that  armed men guarded the coops!

Extension Activities:
* How do homing pigeons find their way home? Read this article and summarize it:

* Pretend you were the homing pigeon that flew across the Pacific. What did you see, hear, feel as you were making your journey

* What would be a great name for the unnamed homing pigeon. Write a reason for why you selected the name.

* Draw/color a picture of a pigeon. Write four facts learned about homing pigeons. 
 Lots of interesting facts:

Photograph from

Monday, June 24, 2013

                                                      The Black Day-Planner

I knew when I placed my black day planner on the roof of my car that I shouldn't have done so but my hands were full and I wanted to get the groceries that needed to go into the cooler,put away. I said to myself, don't forget the planner! Of course, that reminder quickly went out of my thought as I walked around to the other side of the car,opened the door,got in and drove out of the parking lot. And,that's when things spiraled down to an eventual garbage picking episode!

About one hour later, I couldn't find my day planner. Where could it be? I use the thick black planner to not only record appointments but list all the things I hope to do throughout the day.And, yes, I admit, I love to cross out things that I’ve accomplished. I also admit that on occasion, I have been known to write something down after I have done it, just so I could cross it out on my to-do list! The back of the day planner is also stuffed with lots and lots of coupons, including my cherished 30% coupon for Kohls and my 10 dollar birthday coupon which I had intended to use that week,blood work orders and the paperwork for my next mammo. There was also a medical proxy and on the back page, a listing of all important telephone numbers. With just one week to go before its time had passed being useful, you may wonder why I was so upset about its being missing. In addition to telephone numbers, there was another set of numbers... I had written my husband’s and my social security numbers in the back of my planner! Why do something so foolish? Because, I rationalized, I read you should never keep your social security card in your wallet and I have a mental block about the arrangement of my social security numbers! I needed to write the numbers somewhere! Doesn't make a whole lot of sense,does it?

Anyway,my husband,after learning of the social security numbers written in my planner, helped in the search. We drove back to the grocery store when I had been. No planner in the parking lot. I went into the store and all the others in the strip mall and asked if anyone had turned in my planner. No luck. Then, I spotted a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon across the street lying in the grass. I was getting warmer. The planner was in the area. I gathered up four of the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons, all expired but someone said that the expiration date doesn’t matter so I’ve kept them. I then spotted some other coupons but sadly not the 30% or the $10 Birthday coupon. Gathering them all up, my husband and I continued to search for my planner. Again, not to be found. That’s when I decided it was time to get up close and personal with the store’s trash can. Maybe, someone ran over it and threw it into the garbage can. Getting some rubber gloves from a store clerk, I proceeded to search the garbage for my missing black planner.Did you know people toss photographs? Found a bunch of them. I also found a jewelry box and of, course,the usual trash- discarded milkshake cup from McDonalds,a Diet Coke bottle,an empty cigarette pack and more. But, my planner. Nope, it wasn’t there.

Leaving for home, I contacted the banks, investment companies and anyone else I thought should be alerted that my social security number and that of my husband’s may have been compromised. I was also disappointed that no one had turned the old planner in to one of the stores.

The next morning, the telephone rang at 7:15 AM. As an early riser, most of our friends know this but even this hour was just a tad early. A woman’s voice asked, “Is this Miss Gail?”  I responded quizzically, “Yes.”  She went on to say that she was the owner of a store near where I had lost my planner. Could it be, I wondered, that she’d found my planner?
The woman went on to say that she usually takes the bus to work but on that particular morning, she’d had a desire for some mints and being it was early, asked the bus driver if he’d let her off at a convenience store along the bus route. He agreed even though it wasn’t an official bus stop. She then walked the rest of the way to her shop. About two blocks from the store, she found a black planner resting peacefully by a yellow fire hydrant. Nicole said she remembered a woman coming in looking for a black planner and thought this might be the one.

I said that I’d drive right in to get the now found planner, stopping on route to get the woman a dozen roses as a thank you. We hugged each other as she went to retrieve the battered black planner. It was the start of a wonderful day.

I learned my lesson...better to “forget” the numbers of my social security card than to write them in my new blue planner that starts on July 1st. I also learned that through a series of unlikely events, the old black planner had been found by a caring person that realized how much it meant to me to get it back.

What to do if you lose your social security card:

Don’t panic, most banking institutions and investment companies require a password and other questions to get into your accounts.

Contact your credit card companies and tell them there is a possibility of the numbers getting into the wrong hands.

Fill out a Fraud alert with one of the credit companies:
Equifax - 1-800-525-6285
Trans Union - 1-800-680-7289
Experian - 1-888-397-3742 
Monitor your credit report for a couple of months.

Contact the Social Security Office to report the information may have been compromised.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission: 1-877-438-4338 to file a formal complaint or

Contact the local police department.

*Contact the Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Unit(1-800-908-4490)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Using the News in your classroom:  Flying Bicycle

Remember the scene from the 1982  movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, when Elliott with E.T in his bicycle basket take flight? Scientists in the Czech Republic have developed a flying bicycle! Weighing about  210 pounds, the bicycle actually stayed in the air for about five minutes.  Remember, the Wright Brothers very first flight lasted 12 seconds and the Wright Flyer went just 120 ft!  Propellers powered by batteries give the flying bike the appearance of a tiny  helicopter. The first passenger was a dummy dressed in clothes and a helmut. The scientists say more battery life will be needed for an actual human passenger to go for a ride.

Extension Activities:

• Write a paragraph describing the expressions of people as you fly your bike over head.

• If you could fly your bike over a famous landmark, where would you wish to do this and why?

• When the Wright Brothers first suggested to sell their Wright Flyer to the US Army in 1905, it was turned down. Most people at the time thought there was no practical purpose for people using an airplane for transportation. It was considered just a dangerous sport!  Think of  ways in which a flying bicycle could be helpful.
Photograph from


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FLAG DAY is June 14th

Each June 14th, the United States celebrates a day to honor our flag. Use this webquest of 9 informative questions to learn about Flag Day and Flag history. In addition to the webquest there are 7 extension activities.I always try to include a multi-curricular idea such as writing in the content area with my activities.  There are also 9 fun facts about the American flag and flags of the world. After students in small groups complete the webquest activity, discuss the information learned as a class. Students can also create a short comprehension review of 5-7 questions to exchange with another group to answer. Grades 4 and up.

Use on Flag Day or any day you have an opportunity to discuss the American Flag with your students!

Here is a demo:

Flag Day and Flag History

A Webquest
Gail Hennessey

June 14th is a day we honor our flag. How much do you know about our nation’s symbol? Find lots of interesting information on Flag Day and flag history with this webquest!

1.Philadelphia seamstress and friend of George Washington,Betsy Ross, is credited with making the first flag.Others say that Francis Hopkinson, a congressman, was the person to design the first American Flag. How many versions of the flag have there been to date?________ What was different on the versions of  flags?_________________In 1912,which president said that the flags should have a certain pattern?_________Find the answers at this link:

2. The idea of a National Flag Day,a day to honor our flag, was started by Bernard J. Cigrand, in 1885. Which president proclaimed a national day of recognition of the flag?____________ In 1949,which president established Flag Day to be held each June 14th?__________________ Find the answers at this link:

Fun Facts:

Did you know that most flags have the colors red and white? 

  • There are 7 red stripes and six white stripes on the American Flag. A red is on the top and bottom.

NOTE:There are 9 informative text webquestions, 9 fun facts and 7 extension activities in the complete resource.

NOTE: Illustration

Gail Hennessey