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:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Orangutan in Argentina Wins Court Case! Using the news as a Bell Ringer

I remember a few months ago, a black macaque swiped a camera and took a very cute selfie. A court case questioned the owner of the photograph. Was it the macaque's or the photographer that owned the camera. It was determined that being non-human, the monkey had no rights to "ownership". What do you think of this new court ruling? Should primates have any rights?

 Perhaps, you may find this news story of interest to use in your classroom:

What makes a court in Argentina determining that Sandra has rights newsworthy is that Sandra is... an orangutan.
Until this ruling, animals were declared things. The historic court decision states that  twenty-eight year old Sandra is a non-human person and thus, has basic rights. In this case, Sandra has been living  at the Buenos Aries' Zoo for twenty years. The Argentina's Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights said in their petition, that Sandra has been denied her basic rights to freedom. If the court ruling stands and is not appealed, Sandra's right to freedom will mean, she will be moving to a sanctuary to spend the rest of her days.
It is thought that such a non-human person ruling would only apply to primates as they have much of the genetic codes with humans.

1. Should animals have rights?
2. If you were the judge, how would you have ruled?
3. What other rights might primates have?
4. Pretend you are representing the Buenos Aries' Zoo. Why should a primate such as an orangutan be considered a thing and not a non-human person.

Learn about orangutans:
The word orangutan means "man of the forest".
Orangutans are native to the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo .
Did you know an orangutan can have an arm span of almost 8 feet?
The orangutan does not have a tail.
Orangutans are both meat and plant eaters. They are called omnivores.
Orangutans are APES not monkeys.
No larger animal lives in trees. Some can nest about 100 ft. up in a tree!
Orangutans given Ipads seem to enjoy using them.
Orangutan have the same number of teeth as humans...32.
Orangutan have opposible thumbs.(They can touch their other fingers with their thumbs)
Very intelligent, orangutans will use sticks to catch insects and to determine the depth of water. They also make "sponges" from chewed up leaves.

Extension Activities:
Draw/ color a picture of an orangutan. Write 3 facts learned about orangutans.
Pretend you are Sandra and tell about a day in your life at the Buenos Aries' Zoo.
Do an interview with one student being the reporter and the other student being the lawyer arguing Sandra's cause to be classified as a non-human person and not a thing.
Check the status of orangutans in the United States, England, Canada and Australia.

Photograph of Sandra from

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy 2015!


Bonne annee(French)

Frohes neues Jahr(Germany)

Felice anno nuovo(Italian)

Gott nytt ar(Swedish)

Feliz ano nuevo(Spanish)

Shana tova(Hebrew)

Hauoli makahiki hou(Hawaiian)

Gelukkig nieuwjaar(Dutch)

Did you know that there are 24 different time zones? That means people around the world celebrate New Year’s Eve at different times. When the fireworks are going off in Australia, it’s still morning in New York! 

There are  lots of different customs done by people to celebrate the New Year. There are also several different types of New Year’s celebrations.  Get your noise makers and let’s learn about how people  around the world celebrate the New Year!

Fun Facts about New Year’s Celebrations:
In Russia, divers place a New Year’s tree into Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest freshwater lake. 

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

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

Hogmanay is a custom celebrated in Scotland at New Year’s. The word means “last day of the year”. One of the activities is “first footing”, being the first person to visit a neighbor or friend in the new year. Usually, a gift is brought, too.


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:

2. On the Jewish calendar, September welcomes the new year. What is the name for this religious celebration?_________________ What does this phrase mean?____________________ What is a shofar?______________________What are two things which  Jewish people often do at this time of year?____________________What is the name for the bread often eaten at this time of year and what is often spread on this bread?______________Find the answers at this link:

3. The celebrating of the new year on January 1st began with which ancient culture?__________________For whom is the month of January named?__________________Why did he have two faces?_________________________For a time, ___________was used as the beginning of the year as was ____________In which year, did Pope Gregory X111 return the calendar to January 1, as New Year’s Day?_________________Find the answers at this link:

Learn about the history of New Year's with my complete resource. There are nine questions, lots of interesting customs of how people celebrate New Year's around the world, comprehension questions, extension activities and the key. Great activity for reading for information and research/computer skills.Included are also other holiday New Year's celebrations including Diwali, Chinese New Year, Songkran and Rosh Hashanah. The resources also mentions how April Fool's Day originated over when to celebrate New Year's!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oldest Time Capsule in USA Discovered! Using the News as a Bell Ringer Activity

While fixing a leak, workers made an amazing discovery. What is being called the oldest time capsule, found in the United States,has been unearthed under the Golden Dome, at the Massachusetts State House. The 219 year old capsule, originally made of cowhide,was actually buried by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, back in 1795! It was actually found in the cornerstone of the building, back in 1855. At that time, it was revealed that the capsule contained papers, a Raul Revere plate and coins dating back to the 1600s.After adding some additional artifacts, the capsule was reburied, this time inside a copper box. The historic capsule,now covered with white plaster and having turned green, will first  be X-rayed, before opening it.  It hasn't yet been determined what will be done with the time capsule.

What do you think?
1. Do you think the time capsule should be reburied after it has been reviewed or should it go on display  in a museum? Give a reason for your opinion.
2. If you could add 3 items to the capsule to show events of our current world, what would you place inside?Give a reason for your selected items.
3. Why do you think the time capsule will be x-rayed before opening it?


Photogrtaph of the conservator for the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts holding the time capsule is from

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reindeer Cops-In the News Bell Ringer/Extension Activities

Seems Santa isn't the only one that relies on reindeer to get things done.Police in Siberia are thinking of a new way to fight crime...using reindeer!
Seems that snowmobiles are no match for chasing crooks in the deep snow and reindeer may be the answer. Reindeer have the ability to see in the dark. Reindeer eyes seen the sun's UV rays reflecting off the snow. Reindeer also have great hooves that cut into ice. Their hooves act like shoeshoes,spreading out as they move! And, they never run out of gas or break down like snowmobiles do.  Police are finding that law-breakers using carts pulled by reindeer are getting away from them! A four-legged police transport may be the answer!

Extension Activity:
* Pretend you are a reindeer cop and tell about a day in your life.  What's going on? What do you do?Etc.
* Discuss persuasive writing. Write a paragraph trying to convince someone that using reindeer in law enforcement in such a snowy region would be a good idea.
* Write a persuasive paragraph expressing why you would oppose the idea of using reindeer in law enforcement.
* Read the story,"How the Reindeer Got Their Antlers", by Geraldine McCaughrean 
* Learn about Siberia:  Have groups of students find 5 interesting facts about Siberia and share their findings with the class. Have students draw/color a picture of a reindeer. Write FIVE facts you learned about Siberia

Fun Reindeer Facts:
Reindeer are known as caribou, wild reindeer and reindeer.
Male and female reindeer have antlers!
With a great sense of smell, a reindeer can find lichen to munch on, 2 ft. beneath the snow. The favorite lichen is called "reindeer moss".bg
Reindeer are very good swimmers!
A Reindeer can run at speeds of up to 40 mph.
The sound a reindeer makes is a bellow.
Like fingerprints, a reindeer's antlers are unique.No two are alike!

Photograph from

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Writing Prompt: A "Day in the Life of a Christmas Tree"

Holiday Writing Prompt: A Day in the Life of a Christmas Tree.

Have kids draw/color a picture of a Christmas Tree. Exchange drawings with other students to write descriptive words on the back of the drawing.Encourage students to write descriptive phrases and not just one word. 
Using the comments, have the students write a "Day in the Life of a Christmas Tree".In the first person, the "Christmas tree" tells what it hears, sees, feels, etc. as it stands in the room. It might overhear conversations, it might be ticklish as it is being decorated, it might be sad to have been cut down, etc. Encourage the students to use some of the descriptive phrases in their writing.
You could open this up to other holiday things such as an ornament, a menorah, the Kinara(candle holder )for Kwanzaa, a stocking hanging on a chimney mantle,etc.
Gail Hennessey
Check out my resources at my Pinterest page: website for teachers/kids


Sunday, November 23, 2014

What Would YOU put in a "Digital Memory Box"? Using the News as a Bell Ringer Activity

What Would YOU put in a "Digital Memory Box"?
A company in Great Britain is hoping to send a robotic vehicle to the Moon and land it on the South Pole of the Moon. Once at the location, the plan is to bore into the lunar surface down about 65 ft., a depth never tried before on the surface of the Moon. The retrieved rock samples would give scientists information on the origin of the moon such as examining rocks that haven't been touched by cosmic radiation, in millions of years. To raise money for the project, the Lunar Mission One, is asking people to contribute "digital memory boxes" which would be placed in the hole, as a type of time capsule. Additionally, the complied digital memory box database would eventually  be available for free to anyone to view.The mission is still in the planning stages.

What would be three things you'd place on your digital memory box for others to learn about you?
Which do you think is best and why? Private companies conducting explorations in space or governments(like NASA) being the main source of missions into space?
What are three facts you know about the moon?  
What is something you would like to learn about the moon?

Illustration from

Try my resource on Space: The Final Frontier. Learn about the history of space exploration with this informative web quest. There are 12 web questions, comprehension questions and extension activities.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Will SNOW DAYS be a Thing of the Past?

Here's a little secret. Teachers love snow days, too!  And, they may be a thing of the past as schools turn to technology. Imagine, a snow storm and school closed but students still have... virtual classes.  It's being tried at a private high school in Minnesota.  With virtual classes, students can go online to work on assignments that teachers have posted. Schools must be in session for a specific number of days each year. For most schools, this is at least 180 days. Too many snow days often mean having to make up the days over other breaks.  If states approve this alternative virtual school day, such make-up days would not be needed.
Which would you rather have, a virtual school day or have to make up the day over other school breaks? Why?
Can you see any problems with virtual school days?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Could You Stay in Bed for THREE Months? Bell Ringer Activity

Perhaps, this news story might be of interest for a Bell Ringer Activity.

Ever have a day when you wished you could stay in bed? Andrew Iwanicki not only is staying in bed for one day but for THREE months! As part of a NASA program to study how bones and muscles react to long periods of weightlessness  in space, they have asked for volunteers to stay in bed for 70 days. NASA has actually gotten 54 people to volunteer for this experiment in addition to Iwanicki. No getting out of bed, no going outside, just staying in a bed  with your head slightly tilted downward and your feet up, hooked up to different monitors to see how your body is handling "complete bed rest",is  what Iwanicki will be doing for about seven more week. There is television and internet available and NASA suggests that participants use the time for achieving goals. One bright side is that the volunteers are paid about $15,000 to lie in bed for this period of time!

1. Would you be able to participate in such a study? Why, why not?
2. What would be the most difficult aspect of participating in this study?
3. Watching television and playing video games might get old after a while, what might you decide to do with some of your time?

Illustration from

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Welcome to the NY Skyline: The One World Trade Center!

Perhaps, you might find this bell ringer activity of interest to use with your students.

The tallest building in the United States(and the Western Hemisphere) has opened for business. Built at the site of the original World Trade Towers which was destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the new One World Trade Center has 104 floors and took eight years to build. Standing 1776 ft. tall, the skyscraper will have a ceremony marking its official opening later in the month. I am very proud to see this new building standing proudly in the New York skyline! 

Bell Ringer activity for students: 
1. What statement do you think this new building tells the rest of the world? 
2. What meaning does the height of the skyscraper have? 
3. Write a sentence describing the new skyscraper. 

Photograph from

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween is coming:MUMMY FACTS to Share with your Students.

With Halloween around the corner, you may find these MUMMY FACTS of interest to share with your kids.

Many  mummies, male and female, were buried with extra hair wigs for the afterlife.

Mummies of pharaoh (kings) had onions place in the eye sockets for eyes.

With Halloween around the corner, perhaps, you may find these MUMMY FACTS of interest to share with your students.
Many mummies, male and female, were buried with extra hair wigs for the afterlife.
Mummies of pharaoh (kings) had onions place in the eye sockets for eyes.
Some mummies were wrapped in 20 layers of linen.

The oldest mummies are not Egyptian. Found in what is now Chile and Peru, the Chinchorro mummies date to 5000 BC.(Egytians date back to 2500 BC)

The Takla Makan Mummies are 3000 year old mummies found in China. Interestingly, their features are NOT Chinese!

Egyptians didn’t just mummify people.Mummified gerbils, birds, cats, dogs, fish, snakes, baboons,crocodile,hippo and even a lion have been found!

During the 70 day mummification process, ancient Egyp- tians removed the brain through the nostrils using a hook shaped instrument. Believing it had no value, the brain was thrown away.

The center of intelligence and caring, the ancient Egyp- tians kept the heart, wrapping it and replacing it back into the mummy.Other organs were placed in special contain- ers called canapic jars.

Believing mummies had healing powers, for almost 500 years, mummies were ground up and used to treat stom- ach aches and other ailments.Yuck! 

During Victorian times, mummies being unwrapped after dinner was popular entertainment for the guests!

Believing you could take possessions into the next life, King Tut was found with licorice root,watermelon seeds as well as chariots, games, weapons and furniture and a change of underwear. 

One mummy actually has a passport! When Ramses 11 went from Egypt to France, a passport was issued! 

Extension Activities:

If you were a mummy, what are 5 things you’d pack away for the afterlife. Why would you place these items in your tomb?

Draw/color a mummy coffin. Write 5 facts learned about mummies on your drawing in complete sentence form.

Write a day in the life of a mummy on display in a mu- seum. What do you hear? See? Smell? Feel?

Do you think mummies should be on display in a museum or be left in their tomb? Write a persuasive paragraph on your position. Include at least 2 reasons for your position. 

Try my Resource: All Things Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Amazing Jump! Bell Ringer Activity

Google computer scientist Alan Eustace has just broken a record held by Felix Baumgartner for the the highest altitude jump. Eustace used a helium ballon to reach 26 miles above the earth(or about 135,000 ft.) and then...jumped! Wearing a specially designed suit, Eustace hit speeds of 830 mph, actually traveling the speed of sound, in his 15 minute descent back to Earth. Baumgartner, in 2012, jumped from 128,100 ft. As for the amazing jump, Eustace said that he could see the layers of the atmosphere, the darkness of space and that it was an amazing experience.  
What would you be thinking as you hurled back toward earth in such an altitude jump?
What are three character traits of someone such as Eustace or Baumgartner?
Write a headline for this news event.
Write 3 descriptive sentences to describe your jump.

photograph from


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Smashes Record in 2014

The world record (North America) for heaviest pumpkin has been smashed once again! Last year,Guinness World Records crowned Tim Mathison, Napa, California,with the record for his 2032 pound pumpkin.This year's gourd , grown by John Hawkley, was weighed at a pumpkin contest in California. It tipped the scales at 2058 pounds! That's the size of a small car. Amazingly, Hawkley also had another pumpkin that was over 2000 pounds(that's ONE ton!). 

Photograph from

Friday, October 17, 2014

Philae will be first man-made object to land on a comet-Name the landing site contest!

You might find this of interest to do with your students.

You have until October 22nd to submit a name for the Rosetta Mission's Landing Site.  On November 12, a European Space Agency hopes to land a space probe, Philae, onto a comet.  If successful, it will be the first landing of a man-made object onto a comet. The mission is known as Rosetta and was launched in 2004. This past August, the probe arrived at the comet. It is hoped that much information will be learned as the probe orbits along with the comet around the sun. Scientists also hope that the  landing of the smaller probe onto the comet's surface will help them learn  more about the composition of a comet. The comet is called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  You are asked to suggest a name(not a person) and give a short explanation for your selection as to why you think SITE J should be the best choice for the location. Go to this link to learn more. The winning name will be announced on November 3rd. 

The "selfie" of the Rossetta is from

Learn more about comets:


Friday, October 10, 2014

Congrats to Malala Yousafzai!

Wonderful news! Malala Yousafzai, of Pakistan, becomes the youngest to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize(17 years old). She shares the award with Kailash Satyarthi, of India. Shot by Tailiban members two years ago for her efforts to allow girls to get an education, Malala continues to work toward that goal. She said of her attackers,
The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens. She said that books and pens are the most powerful of weapons. Congrats to Malala...she is an inspiration!

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world". Malala Yousafzai

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chewing Gum Facts and Extension Activities

Chewing Gum Facts!

Need an activity for a Friday or a substitute? Have small groups read over some of the facts about chewing gum.  Have small groups make 5-7 True or False questions to exchange with another group to answer. Regroup and discuss and then have students do one of the extension activities.

What is 7,400 ft. long? (That’s about 1 1/2 miles) The answer, the longest gum wrapper chain ever made. It took Cathy Ushler of Redmond, Washington from 1969-1992 to make!

Do you like chewing gum?  You’re not alone. About 100,000 tons of gum are chewed every year!

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, in 1994, Susan Montgomery blew the largest bubble on record. It was 23 inches in diameter. 

Did you know that chewing gum on an airplane will keep your ears from popping? Gum chewing  makes your salivary glands produce 250% more saliva than normally, so you swallow more. That helps to balance pressure in your head.

The USA has the most gum chewers. 

Some studies suggest that chewing gum helps improve memory.

If you chewed a wad of gum for one hour, you would  burn 11 calories.

Americans chew enough gum in one year that if ONE stick of gum was made, it would be 3.5 million miles long or the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back seven times. Another way to see the amount of gum chewed in the USA is a stick of gum that could circle the Earth at the equator 150 times!

Purchasing chewing gum in the country of Singapore is illegal, except for medical purposes.

More gum is chewed by those ages 12-24 than any other age group.

Frank Henry Fleer invented the first bubble gum in 1906. He called it Blibber-Bubber.  It was very sticky and Walter Diemer, developed Double Bubble, twenty-two years later and is created with inventing the first “real” bubble gum.

John Curtis, made the first commercial chewing gum. The year was 1848. State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum was the name for his gum.It had a very strong taste of spruce and wasn’t very popular.

Spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon are the most popular flavors of chewing gum today.

The first bubble gum was pink as that was the only food coloring available when Walter Diemer was working in the lab. Pink is still the most popular coloring for bubble gum.

Prehistoric people chewed on lumps of black tar. Examples of “gum”(with teeth marks) have been found in bog areas in Germany, Sweden and Finland.

The ancient Greeks chewed mastiche, a resin from the mastic tree, the Mayas used a natural gum from the sapodilla tree,Native Americans munched on a resin cut from the black spruce tree and early colonists chewed on a combination of tree sap and beeswax.

The oldest “gum” is about 5,000 to 6000 years old.

Extension Activities:
Do you think kids should be allowed to chew gum in school? Why, why not?

Illustrate one of the facts about chewing gum. Write your fact on your drawing.

Pretend you are a wad of bubble gum. What flavor are you? Tell about a day in your life on the pavement, underneath a desk or waiting in a wrapper to be popped into someone’s mouth.

Some people swallow their gum. How do you get rid of gum after it no longer is of use?

Have you ever made a chewing gum chain? Here are directions.

Illustration is from:

Some sources for Teachers:

Monday, October 6, 2014


In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, discovering America for me and you. We have all heard this little poem.First of all, he didn't "discover" North America as indigenous people were living on North America before he ever set foot on land across the "Ocean Sea" from Spain. And, the Vikings may have gotten to North America almost 500 years before Columbus made his sailing. St. Brendan, the Irish monk, may also  have actually sailed to North America... even before the Vikings. Lastly, a Chinese explorer, Zheng Ho, may have reached the Pacific shore of North America, too!

One important achievement for Columbus is that he voyages interested other people in exploration and he began what would be called the time known as the Age of Exploration.  The Age of Exploration would change the world in many positive and some negative ways. Culture contact between groups would be made and ideas and products would be exchanged. Cultures would changed and others would be destroyed.

Learn about Columbus with this informative play. There are comprehension questions, discussion questions and extension activities:

Thought question: In Seattle, there is a vote on October 6th to vote on changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. What do you think of this idea?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Free College Tuition In Germany...why not here?

I was watching a recent episode of The Middle(If you haven't watched the show, I'd recommend it!). Their daughter, Sue,a senior, was very excited about applying to college. Not an athlete, Sue didn't have any possibility of getting a scholarship to college. Of, course, the teenager had no concept of the cost of college in the United States. She set her goals on expensive private schools. Her parents didn't have the heart to tell her, not only didn't they have the money for a private ivy-league college of her dreams, but that even a state-school, would be difficult to afford with their incomes. A usually humorous sit-com, the show had an impact on the seriousness of college for many families in this country.

Then, today, the news stated that the country of Germany would be offering FREE tuition for all students to attend college!  When I was in Norway and Denmark this summer, I learned that college is free for young people in their countries, too. In fact, much of the European countries offer free tuition to college to their young people.

That makes me wonder. WHY can't the United States offer the same?  Why should college be more and more for wealthy families in our country?  OR why, should college leave so many of our young people with huge college loans? My thinking is that any student that succeeds in maintaining a C average, should be offered free tuition to at least a two year  state college. Students with Bs and higher, could be offered free tuition at a four-year state college. This might also help kids do BETTER in middle/high school as I would think the incentive would also insure that some parents better monitor their kid's school performance to help make the end goal, free college tuition, a reality in their family.  We give millions and millions in moneys to other countries. Perhaps, we should look first at our own country and the future generations of this land and see education should not be just for those that can afford it, but is something that would benefit all of us living in the United States. 

I am getting off my soap-box.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Would you like a Chairless Desk? Bell ringer activity

 Do you like to sit in a chair at a desk at school? Some schools are testing a new type of desk...minus a chair! Schools in both a Texas elementary school and New Jersey elementary school have experimented with  chair-less desks. Schools in  Great Britain and Australia are also testing whether such desks might encourage learning and help fight obesity. The test desks had a sensor that recorded the amount of steps the students took and thus, the amount of calories they burned up while at the desks during the lessons. About 100-800 calories were burned a day. Studies suggest there is less fidgeting and more focus on lessons with stand-up desks. Stools are available if a student needs to sit for a bit.  What do you think of such desks?
1. Would a stand-up desk make you more alert?
2. Do you think younger kids or older kids would best adapt to such stand-up desks?
3. Can you think of any positive aspects of a stand-up desk?
4. Can you think of any negative aspects of a stand-up desk?

Personally, at about $500 per stand-up desk, I'd prefer the money used for school supplies and more classroom teachers!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pay it Forward!

Paying it forward. A few years ago there was a movie with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, called Pay it Forward. The idea was a young boy, as part of a school project, started a chain reaction by doing an act of kindness for a stranger.

A few months ago, my mom passed away. She asked that we do an act of kindness in her memory if we wished to do something to remember her.  I recently began taking piano lessons again after more than 40 years. It has brought me such joy!  It got me thinking. My mom and dad gave me a wonderful gift of piano lessons when I was a little girl. This might be a great way to “pay it forward” and do something in my mom’s memory.  I contacted my piano teacher with my idea. Did he have any students whose parents might be finding it a struggle to give their children the give of music,especially with the holidays soon upon us? If,so, I wanted to pay for their lessons. He did have such a family and I am now passing on a random act of kindness to strangers. I think my mom would have really liked this. I hope that the two children will in turn, try to think of something they can do to “pay it forward” to someone else.

What can kids do as random acts of kindness?
Maybe, it might be donating a pair of winter gloves or a hat to someone who might be in need with the winter months coming.You can purchase both at most $1 stores.  It doesn't have to involve money. Maybe, a child could offer to sit with a new student at lunchtime so they don’t feel alone in a new school. A child could put a smiley face on a student’s desk that may be having a bad day.It might be helping to review for a quiz with another student or helping them organize their notebooks for a particular subject. It might be offering to do something for an elderly neighbor.

What  ideas might you have to suggest which kids could do to “pay it forward”? With anti-bullying month in October, this might be a helpful list to compile and, an activity to promote with your students!

Interesting piece of historical trivia: Ben Franklin did a "pay it forward" to a person named Benjamin Webb. The year was 1784 and Franklin gave some money to Webb. Franklin told Webb that he didn't want the money repaid but instead, use the money to help someone else out at some point.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Speak Up to Bullying!

During September 29-October 3rd, kids and adults are being encouraged to join the “I Speak Up” campaign sponsored by the Cartoon Network. It is the annual challenge to stand up to bullying. It is hoped that one million people will to make a video stating just three words, “I Speak Up” and upload their recordings to their site. Go to to learn more. National Bullying Prevention Month is in October but should be practiced every day of the year.

Discussion Questions:
What is your definition of a bully?  What are some examples of bullying?

Why do you think some people are bullies?

If you see someone being bullied, what could YOU do?

If YOU are being bullied, what could YOU do?

Have you ever been bullied? How did you feel? What did you do?

Have YOU ever bullied someone else? Have you ever been asked by others to join them in bullying someone else? How did you react to this?

Using Literature to discuss the issue of bullying:

  • Read the story, the Ugly Duckling to start a discussion on bullying. Best Children's Books

  • Another story to read is Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm. Find the story

  • Still another story is Cinderella.Find the story online at this link:Together We Teach

  • There are also many contemporary books that deal with bullying. Here is a small sampling for elementary and middle school student.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan Berenstain
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  • Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Vedick.
  • The Bully from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler with Jared Lee.
  • My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
  • Roxie and the Hooligans by Phillis Reynolds Naylor 

  • Find more books on bullying and read summaries at this link: 

    Read and listen to a short story about bullying online at this link:

  • Newspapers in Education. Comic book story about bullying might lead to a good follow up discussion.


    I have compiled lots of resources for classroom teachers to use on this topic. Go to this link:

    Bully Free Graffiti Art is from

  • Friday, August 22, 2014

    The dedication to get an education displayed by these young teens is amazing!

    How do you get to school? Do you walk , ride a bike or take a bus? Approximately 60 students in a rural village in India's Gujarat state, walk and WADE across a river each day to get to and from their high school! There isn't any public transportation and there isn't a bridge for them to cross the river. Their village is located across the Heran River from  the Utavali High School. The river is about 50 ft across. After making the river crossing wading across shoulder deep waters, the students still have another three mile walk before they start their school day! The only other way is to walk almost 16 miles to avoid the river crossing.  Students carry their books, homework and dry clothes in plastic bags or containers. After a day at school, the students repeat the journey home.

    Think of three words to describe these students.

    Do you think you could do this every day? Why or why not?

    What do you think is the reason they go through such effort to get to school?

    Pretend you are one of these students and write a diary entry about one day you went to school. What do you talk about? What did you see? How did you feel,etc.?


    Photograph from:

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Happy 200th Birthday to The Star Spangled Banner! September 14, 2014, is the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's writing of the poem which became our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

    Fun Facts:
    • Francis Scott Key wrote the words to his poem in pencil!

    There was a huge rainstorm the night before the battle. The flag, made of 500 pounds of cotton was taken down and a substitute storm flag raised. After the battle, the larger flag went back up.

    • There were 15 stars on the flag at the time of the War of 1812!

    The flag was sewn by Mary Young Pickersgill, her daughter Caroline Pickersgill(13) and nieces, Eliza Young(13) and Margaret Young (15). An African American indentured servant, Grace Wisher(13), also helped create the flag.

    • About 61% of Americans admit they don’t know all the words to the national anthem(the first verse) and only 39% know the words after, “Whose broad stripes and bright stars”! Do you?

    The Star Spangled Banner is one of few national anthems that do not mention the name of the country in its lyrics!

    There are only 14 stars(of the 15) left on the flag that flew at Fort McHenry. The missing flag star was given away as a souvenir and its location is not known. 

    Use this web quest to learn about Francis Scott Key, the national anthem and the war of 1812. There are nine web questions, 9 comprehension/thought questions, fun facts and extension activities.