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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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

Monday, June 10, 2013

In the News:
On June 5,2013, the Connecticut state senate passed a bill saying Gustave Whitehead was the first to fly in the United States. The measure still needs to be voted on before this recognition becomes Connecticut state law.  Use this news story to discuss with kids the Wright Brother's first flight and any impact that the Connecticut legislature might have on history books. Perhaps, you might find this webquest/extension activities of interest to assist in a discussion of the history of flight with students in grades 4-8. I just visited the Wright Brother's National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC, last month. Interesting to walk the distance of the different flights...the first only 120 ft. That's the distance of lining up 20 people 6 ft. tall! Amazing!
Did you know that people actually thought that the airplane would have no real purpose? Less than 10 people showed up for the Wright Brothers attempt to make history on that December 17, 1903, morning.Using this webquest of 10 informative text questions, students will learn about the Wright Brothers and their first flight. Extension activities,additional links and key are included. I've included some information for discussion about this news story about Gustave Whitehead,too. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

IN the NEWS....
Possible Bell RInger Activity
Piano, guitar and  drums are instruments...but the Eiffel Tower? Composer Joseph Bertolozzi is creating on opus, "Tower Music" using the Eiffel Tower as his instrument!  The American Bertolozzi says banging different sized mallets, drumsticks and a lambs wool covered log against the tower's girders, railings and panels creates sounds similar to that of marimbas, Indonesian gamelan gongs and metallic drums. Before recording approximately 2000 audio sounds, Bertolozzi had to first assured the French that his mallets wouldn't do any denting to the famous Paris landmark. WIth the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower coming in  2014, Bertolozzi hopes to perform his completed opus at the tower. 


Think of something on which you could try and create music?
Why do you think ancient people started creating music?
Describe in a sentence what a world without music would be like?

Fun Facts about the Eiffel Tower:

In 2014, the Eiffel Tower will be celebration its 125th birthday!

When I walked up the steps to the 2nd level, there was a sign stating that in 1948, an elephant walked up to the first floor lever. From the Bouglione circus, the elephant was at the time the world's oldest...85 years of age!

In 2011, the Eiffel Tower was the most visited paid monument in the world. Seven million people visited the famous landmark.

The tower sways up to 3 inches in the wind and if the sun is really beating down on it, it can shift away from the sun by about 7 inches!

The Eiffel Tower was the world's tallest building from 1889 until 1930 when it was replaced by the Chrysler Building in New York City.

Built for the World's Fair in 1889, the Eiffel Tower, also called the Iron Lady, was supposed to be a temporary structure. Many people thought it was very ugly and wanted it torn down! Today, it is one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

In 1885,the engineer, Gustave Eiffel also designed the internal frame of the Statue of Liberty.

Check out my resources at :

Picture from

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In the News: 
Possible Bell Ringer activity:

Imagine being able to move something just by thinking it. Scientists at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Engineering in Medicine are working on a thought-powered helicopter. Wearing a special hat, electric currents from the wearer's brain were sent to a computer that enabled a model helicopter, a quadcopter,to actually move! The scientists successfully moved the quadcopter though an obstacle course which included foam rings.
* Can you think of ways such thought technology might benefit our world?
* What might be some things you'd like to be able to move just by thinking about it?

Gail Hennessey

Photograph from

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Has Amelia Earhart's Airplane been Found?

Might a fuzzy image off the coast of the Pacific island of Nikumaroro solve a long mystery of what actually happened to Amelia Earhart?  During her round the world attempt with navigator Fred Noonan in 1937, a transmission was made asking for help in finding a place to land the airplane. She said she was running low on fuel. That was the last contact Earhart made.  For many years an organization called TIGHAR(The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery), led by Ric Gillespie has focused on the island of Nikumaroro, which Earhart and Noonan may have reached . Items found on the uninhabited island included a woman's shoe, a skeleton thought to be of a woman, a pocket knife and a jar of anti-freckle cream ,both of which Earhart used. Now sonar images see what looks like  parts of an airplane on the sea floor. Could it be Amelia Earhart's  Lockheed Electra?

Try my biographical play on Amelia Earhart.
GREAT end of year biographical play on Earhart. The play includes directions, a short link to a You-Tube clip to show what the game show was like, discussion and comprehension questions and extension activities. FREE webquest on LEOPARDS with any purchase(email me for PDF)
The biographical play is $3.00. Grades 5 and up.