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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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why do we have to learn History?

Students have always ask me..."Why do we have to learn this stuff about ancient Greeks or Middle Ages?" My answer-much of what we have today was because of things developed by people that lived long ago. 

I used to start the year by taking out of the attic a VERY sad looking stuffed dog which I had as a girl and bringing it to class. Its button nose had been replaced several times over the years and it got run over when I dropped it in the street so it's stuffing was a bit lumpy. I still remember crying as my dad ran into the street to retrieve "Pinky"(which is far from having any coloring now).  I told the students that we'd be covering history in class this school year but wanted the students to realize THEY had a history, too.  I shared the history of my favorite childhood toy(stuffed animal). I then asked the students to take out a sheet of paper and I prompted them with questions to remember THEIR childhood toy. Where did they get it? What did it look like? Why was it special to them? What became of their childhood toy.   Students were encouraged to share their paragraphs about their personal history of their childhood toy.  HISTORY is all around us.

This reading resource is a great source of sharing some of the many things we have from other cultures of the past and a great beginning of the year reading exercise. … ty-1358252

How do you begin the school year in your social studies classes?


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Historical Fiction: Mrs. Paddington and The Silver Mousetrap Shoppe

Ideas are all around us waiting for us to notice them.  I never thought when I took a photograph of a 1690 building in Lincoln's Inn Field, London, last month that it would spark me to want to learn more about the unusual shop.  The shop with the unique shop sign was a jewelry store, A. Woodhouse & Son. It had a reputation in the 18th for its silver mousetraps! This caused me to stay up one night late into the wee hours because a woman named Mrs. Muriel Paddington was waiting for me to tell her story. Eager to have a unique high hairdo for the Moonlight Ball, Mrs. Paddington comes up with the idea of having a windmill placed in her hair by her hairdresser, Mrs. Blinkhorn.  Because of the long process to make the hairdo, Mrs. Paddington, like other women of the time, didn't wash their hair for weeks at a time. And, the sugar water and beef marrow used in the hairdos attracted bugs...and mice.  Mrs. Paddington decides she must make a visit to the Silver Mousetrap...

I've written an historical fiction(nine pages) on the custom of the 18th century of very towering hairstyles. Women wore hair about 3 ft. tall and this caused lots of problems. Door entrances had to be lengthened. Carriages couldn't accommodate the high hairdos, so some women stuck their head outside the carriage window! Taking hours to create, women went weeks without washing their hair. Some slept in a sitting up position to keep from flattening their hairdos! With sugar water and beef tallow used to keep the hair in place, bugs and mice were attracted to the hair. Back scratchers became a fashion accessory for women who wore the high hairstyles!

This story uses fiction and historical facts. Your students will enjoy reading the story, Mrs. Paddington and The Silver Mousetrap Shoppe, or having it used as a listening activity. Comprehension and extension activities(writing in the content) are included.

Check it out at this link:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FREE Webquests

Looking for several FREE resources to use when school starts? I wanted to share with teachers the following I developed on the White House, US Landmarks and World Landmarks!

Check out these FREE web quests!
Hope you find them of value. Grades 4 and up

1. Learn about the White House(Webquest):


Gail Hennessey

See all my TPT resources at this link:


Monday, July 7, 2014

I visited England in May and found an unusual shop near Lincoln's Inn Fields(London). Called the Silver Mousetrap, it dates back to 1690. I discovered that it had a very unusual history concerning hair styles of the 18th century. Thought I'd share some interesting hair facts as well as the story about why wealthy women made purchases at this particular shop!


Did you know that your hair grows fastest in warmer weather?

Men's hair grows faster than women's hair.

Next to bone marrow, only hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body.

From Hindi, the national language of the country of India, comes the word shampoo.

People once believed that helpful spirits lived on our heads and that washing our hair would harm these spirits. Many people washed their hair just once a year.

People once powered their hair using colored flour to get greens, pinks, blue, lilac and yellow coloring. 

In France, during the 1700s, flour was being used so much(about one pound per person per week) by wealthy people to powder their hair that there was a shortage of flour. This caused the price of flour to rise making bread more expensive. It caused a riot in Caen, France!

The ancient warriors of the region of Iraq, the Assyrians, are created with inventing the first curling iron! 

From the 16th-19th century Europe, wealthy women wearing very high hair styles became very popular. Some hair styles were 3 ft. tall. Women also placed objects into their hair including bird cages(with live birds), solar systems, flowers , windmills and, one woman worn a  small ship in her hair! The hair styles were kept in place with support wires, false hair and a cushion base(made of wool, horse hair and rope). Such high hair styles caused problems with getting through doors and also riding in closed carriages. Some women had to stick their heads out the window until they got to their destination! 

After spending hours to create such elaborate fancy hair styles, women went up to NINE weeks without washing their hair. To sleep, they had a special pillow so their hair wouldn't get flattened. Without hairspray as we have today, women used a concoction of sugar water to get their hair in place. You can imagine what this attracted! Wealthy women purchase fancy silver mousetraps and set the traps around their pillow at night to keep the mice away!  There was a shop in London(near Lincoln's Inn Field), called the Silver Mousetrap, that was famous for their silver mousetraps. The building, from 1690, still stands! See the photograph below.

Only 1%-2% of hair coloring(natural, that is...) is RED. 

One strand of hair can share lots of information as to what you have placed into your body!

The Guinness World Record for longest hair was Xie Qiuping of China. In thirty years without cutting her hair, it reached 18 ft. 5.54 in.

Hair is very strong. Just a single strand of healthy hair can hold  3 ounces!

The word for bathroom,powder room, gots its name for the room where people went to "powder" their hair!

Read The Lady with the Ship in her Head by Deborah Attimore, about a woman named Maddame Pompenstance who hopes to win the best headdress at a fancy ball. Great story! 

Draw a picture of a woman wearing an elaborate hair style. Draw something inside her hair.

See this science video on "How Strong is a strand of your hair?" Write a summary of the video clip.