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, November 29, 2016

A Bus Ride that Changed History!

On December 1, 1955, a tired seamstress living in Montgomery, Alabama, made history. Rosa Parks was an African American woman who broke the law when she refused to give up her seat on a crowded bus for a white passenger. Her act of civil disobedience resulted in her being kicked off the bus and her arrest! She was charged  and found guilty of violating the segregation law of the city even though she had NOT taken a white-only seat that December day.That action resulted in a long boycott against the buses in Montgomery lasting 381 days and led to a Supreme Court action which overturned such discrimination laws. Rosa Parks is called the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”.

When Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal(the highest civilian honor of our country), President Bill Clinton said of her,” We must never ever, when this ceremony is over, forget about the power of ordinary people to stand in the fire for the cause of human dignity.”

Your Thoughts:
1. Have you ever taken a stand about something?

2. Perhaps you have seen someone being bullied. Did you say or do anything?

3.What makes someone a hero? Would you say that Rosa Parks was a hero?(Why,why not?) Find a news story that shows an act of heroism.

Did You Know?

1. White people, even those that couldn’t read or write, were “grandfathered” into being able to vote without a literacy test. A law stated that if a relative could vote before the Civil War, you could, too,without haven’t to show you could read.

2. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, made Jim Crow laws illegal in the United States.

3. The term “Great Migration” was used to describe the six million African Americans who moved from the South while Jim Crow laws were legal

4. When Rosa Parks died, she was the first woman and second African American to lie in state in the Capitol Building. President George H. W. Bush, ordered all flags at half staff in her honor, on the day of your funeral.

5. There is a statue of Rosa Parks in the Statuary Hall of the US. Capitol Building. 

6. In 2014, an asteroid was named in Rosa Parks' honor (asteroid 284996)

7. Time Magazine named Rosa Parks one of the 20 most influential figures of the 20th century.

Check out this Reader’s Theater Script on Rosa Parks for kids to learn all about her life and contributions:


Note:photograph from

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's The Time of Year for "A Christmas Carol". Learn about Charles Dickens(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Today, a person who is very tight with money, is often called a scrooge, after, the main character in A Christmas Carol. Did you know that several other words and phrases were coined by Charles Dickens?

Words such as abuzz, flummox, the creeps,round the clock and whiz-bang are credited with Dickens. Other words that Dickens helped to popularize include, kibosh, butter-fingers,boredom,messiness,squashed,bah humbug,and tousled. 

Interesting Facts about Charles Dickens:
1. In addition to a canary(named Dick), dogs(including Mrs. Bouncer), Charles Dickens had two pet ravens. Both were named Grip. The first was stuffed and now resides in the Philadelphia Free Library. 
2. A paw of a Dickens’ cat, Bob, became a letter opener after it died. You can see the letter opener on display at the New York Public Library. 
3.Someone said that if you counted all the words which Dickens used in his writing, it was an amazing 4.6 million different words! 
4. Charles Dickens may have had epilepsy. He also may have had obsessive-compulsive behavior making him comb his hair hundreds of times a day or to touch something several times for good luck.

5. Phrases including “Merry Christmas!” and “Bah! Humbug” became popular after reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

6. Did you know that Charles Dickens created 989 characters for his 
7. Hans Christian Andersen was a good friend of Dickens. Interestingly, after 5 weeks of being a guest of Dickens’ home, Andersen was encouraged to leave when Dickens wrote on the mirror in Andersen’s room, “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks, which seemed to the family like AGES”.

8. A “new”treat called the lollypop was featured in several of Dickens’ books.
1. Illustrate a quote of Charles Dickens and write a brief paragraph explaining what you think the quote is saying:
A. “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” 
B. “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” C. “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” 
D. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” 
E. “There is always something for which to be thankful.” 
2.  Would you have enjoyed reading an installment book, popular during the time of Charles Dickens? Why, why not?
3. Dickens got lots of his ideas for his characters from people he met in his life. Who might be 3 people you'd use in a story that you have met? Why would you use these people in your story?

With this being the time of year for the story, A Christmas Carol, it's a great opportunity to learn about its author,Charles Dickens. One of the most famous writers of all times,Dickens also wrote Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and more. 

Resources of Interest:
1. My webquest includes 8 fun/informative questions to learn about Dickens. Additional activities/links,too. 
Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

2. In addition to a webquest, I have a Ms. Bie Ografee Reader’s Theater Script on Charles Dickens. Great for this time of year!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Perhaps you will find this resource of interest to use with your students during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Feedback always appreciated.

What Became of the Mayflower?
Gail Skroback Hennessey

    Ever wonder what became of the Mayflower? The ship sailed with 102 Pilgrims over the Atlantic to North America, in 1620. If you are expecting to find it docked to some pier, or in a museum, you’d be wrong.  That’s because the Mayflower most likely ended up as scrap wood and may have ended up in an old Quaker Barn in Great Britain!
    It was common practice many years ago, in England, to use unseaworthy ships’ timber to build new things.  Dutch Elm disease had killed many of the trees in 17th century Great Britain and lumber was very scare.  To preserve the number of oak tress from being cut for lumber, wood was priced quite high by the government. That made any available timber, such as that in old ships, very desirable. Since the Mayflower wasn’t an important ship to the people of Great Britain, this is the fate that most likely happened to the Pilgrims’ Mayflower.
    In the early 1900s, a Quaker Historian , named Rendel Harris, found a document stating that the Mayflower had been determined to be unseaworthy. The year was 1624. The ship’s owners then sold the oak ship for its timber to make some money. While attending a funeral at the Quaker Meeting House in Jordans, England, Harris heard someone say the barn had been built from wood of the Mayflower.  That got Harris hunting through documents such as wills and deeds to try and find out whether this was true.
    The age of the barn’s timber dates back to the time of the Mayflower and the barn was said to have been built by one of the owners of the Mayflower.  If you go to the barn, you will notice that the main beam in the barn has a huge crack in it, just like the Mayflower got on its maiden voyage during a bad storm. The size and weight of the hull used in the barn’s construction matches that of the Mayflower and at one time, the letters ER HAR were evident, perhaps, referring to “Mayflower, Harwich, the ship’s home port.
    One thing is certain, if you tilt your head upside down, you can see that a hull of an old ship was used to build the roof of the barn...whether it was the Mayflower, that can’t be certain.

1. 102 passengers in addition to the crew were aboard the Mayflower when it sailed from England to America. The year was 1620.
2. It took 66 days to cross the Atlantic.
3. A baby, named Oceanus Hopkins, was born on the voyage.
4. A crack in a main beam which happened during a bad storm was repaired with a giant screw(perhaps from a printing press or other equipment which was aboard the Mayflower)
5.  Before leaving the ship, the Mayflower Compact was signed, establishing a temporary government for the Pilgrims.
6. By the time of the first Thanksgiving, 52 Pilgrims had died during the harsh winter.

Your Turn!
1. Why were old ships used in construction in Great Britain?
2. Why wasn’t the Mayflower “saved” as an historic ship?
3. What would be 3 fears you would have had as a Pilgrim on the Mayflower voyage?
4. What would be 2 things you might have done to pass the time on the voyage?
5. Create sentences using the highlighted vocabulary words.

Other possible resources of interest on this topic:
1. Learn more about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims with this fun webquest. Extension activities, additional information and links, and the key are provided:

2. Love Brewster is a guest on Ms. Bie Ograffee's Talk Show. The studio audience asks Love questions about the voyage on the Mayflower, the first winter and the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth. The Reader’s Theater Script includes comprehension questions, a Did You Know? Section, a Teacher Page with extension activities, links and the key:

NOTE: I visited the “Mayflower Barn” in England and took the photographs.

Gail website for teachers/kids

Monday, November 7, 2016

Thanksgiving is coming! Factoids to Share with Kids about the Pilgrims

Pilgrim Factoids
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

1. Over the years, many people took samples of Plymouth Rock. Today, it is now 1/3 the size it was during the time of the Pilgrims.

2. The sailors on the Mayflower didn’t care for the Pilgrims and called them “flib-gabbety puke stockings” because so many of the Pilgrims got seasick.

3. Would you wear the same clothes for 66 days? The Pilgrims did! 

4. The Pilgrims didn’t have forks on the table at Thanksgiving. Forks weren’t popular until the 18th century.

5. There weren’t any ovens to make pumpkin pie and sugar was in short supply. The Pilgrims also didn’t have cranberry sauce to eat at Thanksgiving.

6. Historians believe that in addition to turkey, the Pilgrims ate lots of venison, cod, clams, sea bass and lobster at their Thanksgiving feast.
7.  Did you know that there wasn’t any milk at the first Thanksgiving? There weren’t any cows brought over on the Mayflower!
8. Here is a list of some of the unusual names of some of the Pilgrims:  Oceanus, Resolved, Peregrine, Wrestling, Love, Remember, Humility  

9. The Mayflower traveled at a speed of 2 mph and traveled 2750 miles from England to North America.  The voyage took 66 days.

10. During the first winter, most of the Pilgrims lived aboard the Mayflower. Half the Pilgrims did NOT survive the first winter.

11. Of the 102 passengers, there were 34 children on the Mayflower’s voyage.

12. The Wampanoag Indians were guests at the first Thanksgiving.

Extension Activities: 
1.  Each family on-board the Mayflower could only bring one trunk of possessions with them.  What would be 7 things you’d  pack?

2. Some historians think when the Mayflower was no longer sea-worthy, its lumber may have been used in the construction of a barn. Read the story here:  You can also get a free download at this link:

3. See a list of the Passengers on the Mayflower in 1620:

4. Illustrate a factoid about the Pilgrims.

Links for Teachers:

Additional Resources:

Additional Resources of Interest:

1. A Ms.Bie Ograffee Reader's Theater Script, an interview with Love Brewster, a Pilgrim of Plymouth Colony.Love was an actual member of the 102 Pilgrims that came to America. He was about nine years old. The play includes info on Mayflower, first winter and Thanksgiving feast. Fun facts,Comprehension questions, extension activities, links:

2. The Mayflower was named after a flower called the "Trailing Arbuttus". This flower is an evergreen with a white flower and pink center. Learn more about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims with this fun webquest. Extension activities, additional information and links, and the key are provided:

3.Want a fun and informative activity to teach your students about the history of the first Thanksgiving?This webquest has 11 informative text questions on the history of Thanksgiving and turkeys. Hope you find it of value to use with your students:  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Mystery of What Happened to Amelia Earhart. Might Clues be Shedding Light on the Mystery?

I have always been fascinated in Amelia Earhart. Earhart was one of the first biographies I remember reading in grade school. She was such a role model as I was growing up. She showed that a woman was capable of doing anything she set her mind to doing!

Over the years I have been following Richard Gillespie’s TIGHAR(International Group for Historic Aircraft)attempts to discover what happened to Earhart and her co pilot, Fred Noonan, when they disappeared somewhere over the Pacific in an attempt to circumnavigate the earth. Gillespie believes he has solved the mystery. He says Earhart and Noonan were forced to land on a remote island in the Pacific called Nikumaroro, as they didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the Howland Islands.  A number of artifacts have been found on the uninhabited island including a size 9 shoe of the style worn by Amelia Earhart. Additionally, an aluminum navigator’s book case was discovered, similar to that which would have been on the type of plane(Electra) flown by Earhart.  An empty jar similar to a Freckle Ointment which Earhart used, a zipper from a flight jacket, a woman’s mirror and fragments from a plane,have also been unearthed. The U.S. Navy that conducted a search for the missing aviator and her navigator recorded that campfires were spotted on the island but no search was done as it was thought to be made by natives living on the island. Now, Amelia Earhart is once again in the news. Human remains which were found on the island back in the 1940s and thought to be male have been studied and scientists have discovered the remains belong to a woman! Comparing the arm bone to a photograph of Earhart, the humerus is similar in size. The mystery isn’t solved as to what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan but evidence continues to suggests that they survived a forced landing on the island of Nikumaroro but without food and drinking water, eventually died.

Did You Know?
Earhart was the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic. (1928)
Earhart set an altitude record at the time for female pilots. She flew to a level of 14,000 ft.
Earhart was the woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (1932)
To date, Earhart is the first and only woman to receive the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.
A friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Earhart convinced Eleanor to take flying lessons!
Earhart was the first woman to fly from California to Hawaii.

1. Who is someone you think is a hero and why?
2. Did you know that 200,000 people submitted an application to be considered to go on a one way trip to Mars (tentatively scheduled for 2024) knowing they will never come back home? Why do you think people would be willing to do this? What would be 7 things you'd pack for such a one-way trip? Do you see a similarity with early sailors during the Age of Discovery?
3. Write a diary pretending to be Amelia Earhart stranded on the island of Nikumaroro. What would you wish to tell people, how are you feeling(especially if you noticed U.S. Navy aircraft flying overhead,etc.

Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on Amelia Earhart: Students will have fun acting out their parts and learning some interesting facts about Amelia Earhart. Comprehension questions, discussion questions and extension activities and links are also listed. The biographical play addresses several common core standards in social studies, speech and listening and language arts.