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:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman's image to be on New $20 Bill!

Goodbye, President Andrew Jackson. Jackson is going to be replaced on a twenty dollar by  Harriet Tubman. The selection of Tubman, abolitionist and known for her amazing work of bringing slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, was made this week by Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew. It will be the first woman's image to be on paper currency, in the United Sates, since Martha Washington's image was on a dollar silver certificate(1891-1896). It may be up to ten years before the new $20 bills, with Tubman's image, are in circulation. The selection of Harriet Tubman is  the very first time an African- American has been chosen to be on the face of any U.S. paper currency.


Use this news story to discuss the life of Harriet Tubman:Check out my Reader's Theater Script on Harriet Tubman:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Earth Day Fun Facts!

Gail Skroback Hennessey

Did You Know?

  1. It takes about 500 years for plastic to decompose. 

2. The Ring of Fire located in the Pacific Ocean is the largest zone of active volcanoes. 75% of the world’s volcanoes are here!

3. There is enough salt in the oceans that if you could collect all of it and spread it, it would cover all the continents in 5 ft. (1.5m) of salt.

4. Scientists say the earth travels at 66,700 mph through space or 18.5 miles per second!

5. The name Earth is the only planet named for an Angle Saxon word(erda) and not from Greek or Roman mythology.

6. In 1961, the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin, was the first to call Earth, “the Blue Planet”.
7. Scientists say that the average person makes four pounds(1.8kg) of garbage every day!

8. Did you know you are heavier in certain places on Earth? There is less gravity near the coast of India and more gravity in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean.

9. The earth isn’t round. It is an oblate spheroid, or “pear shaped”.

10. It is estimated that the earth weighs about 6, 588,000,000,000 million tons.

11. 25,000,000 plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in the United States. You read correctly!

12. Don’t thrown away the tinfoil of a Hershey’s Kiss. About 133 sq. miles of tinfoil are used to wrap 20,000,000 of the sweet treats every day!

13. Yellowstone National Park, was the world’s first national park. It was established in 1872.

14. The Peace Bell rung at the United Nations every Earth Day was made from coins collected by kids in Japan to promote peace on Earth.

15. Scientists say that the jellyfish is older than the dinosaur and dates back at least 650 million years.

16. One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy for a television to run for three hours.

17. Scientists say there are more living organisms in just ONE tablespoon of soil than all the people living on the earth(and that’s over 7.4 billion people)

18. One inch of topsoil, the very most fertile layer of soil takes over 500 years to create.

19. Seen from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef(off the coast of Queensland, Australia) is called the “single largest animal being of the world”.

10. Mt. Trashmore, in Virginia Beach,VA, is a hill 60 ft(18 m high) 800 ft, long( 240m) made from trash(That’s why it’s called Mt. Trashmore!)

Extension Activities:
  1. Illustrate one of the Did You Know? facts.
2. Have kids select a photograph of the earth from space and write a paragraph as to what they see. 
3. Discuss Haiku(3 line poem with 5-7-5 syllable pattern). Write a Haiku about Earth day or something about the earth(trees, ocean, river, trash, etc.)
Links for teachers: very cool! See the world population continue to grow every second!

Check out these resources:
1. NOT JUST FOR EARTH DAY.Learn about the history of Earth Day and, our planet, EARTH, with this informative web quest. There are 15 web questions as well as comprehension questions and a Did You Know? fun fact section. The teacher page includes extension activities, the key, and additional links. Great for a Friday activity!

2. Scientists say Nepal earthquake MOVED Mt.Everest ONE INCH! Learn about Mt. Everest, Nepal and the Yeti with this fun web quest! Activities,interesting facts and comprehension review,too.Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

3. Learn lots of fun facts with this Exploring the Ocean Blue: A Web quest.There are 9 informative web questions. Fun Facts, comprehension questions,extension activities,links.Use as part of a unit on oceans,a Friday activity for a Friday or before a vacation.Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

4. Studying the ocean? Looking for a resource for Earth Day or World Ocean Day? Introduce your students to Jacques Cousteau with this informative Reader's Theater Script. Oceanographer, photographer, scientist, inventor, writer and filmmaker, Cousteau spent his life studying the oceans and the marine life that lived in the oceans. Part of Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series(extensions/comprehension questions, Did You Know?, key)

5. Antarctica!Geographical web quest which introduces kids to the continent of Antarctica. There are 10 web quests(with lots of information in the questions), 14 Did You Know? facts, comprehension questions(including several "thought question"), a teacher page with a number of extension activities, additional links and key.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

400 Years Since the Passing of William Shakespeare: Interactive Notebook Activity

The 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare is April 23, 2016.
This reading passage, Did You Know? and questions might be a great Interactive Notebook Activity for this time of year. It would also be a good activity if you are studying the famous English writer. 

NOTE: Click here for the free download of this resource:

William Shakespeare
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Hennessey

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is April 23, 2016.

Did you know that there are actually many ways to spell his name? The estimate is that there are over 80 ways to spell Shakespeare’s name! Even Shakespeare used different spellings such as Willm Shakespeare, Willm Shakp, and William Shakspeare.  In fact, William never spelled his name the way his name is spelled today!

Considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays* during his lifetime. Probably, the three most famous works were Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth. Shakespeare introduced thousands of words to the English language and also wrote 154 sonnets. It is said that next to the Bible, his works are the most quoted!

An estimated 1700 words which we use all the time were first used  in the plays of Shakespeare. Words such as  eyeball, hurry, lonely, frugal, majestic and generous are just a few. Shakespeare also used lots of expressions that are common today.  Examples include: “Knock, knock, Who’s there?”, “green eyed monster”, “vanish into thin air”, “wild goose chase”, “makes your hair stand on end”, “so-so”, “good riddance”, “tongue tied”, “night owl” and “eaten out of house and home”.

Another interesting fact about Shakespeare you may not know is he is the reason there are millions and millions of starlings in North America!  Native to Europe and parts of Asia, the story goes that a  person named Eugene Schiffelin really loved the work of Shakespeare. He was called a “bardolator”. He decided to  bring the songbird to the United States. In fact, he was part of a group that wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America, that weren’t native to this continent. The year was 1890. The place was Central Park, in New York City.  Schieffelin released 60 starlings in the famous park. Today, there are over 200 million of the birds flying over the skies of North America!

Did you Know?
Shakespeare wrote the words found on  his tombstone. At the time, it was common to remove buried bones in a cemetery to make room for new bodies. Shakespeare tombstone has a curse to anyone who would dare to move his bones. Shakespeare's bones were never moved! See his tomb(and read the curse) located inside the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Did you know that pencils were a new invention when Shakespeare was born?

In one of his most famous plays,”Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare uses the word love  150 times.

It is thought(based on a 17th century portrait on him), that Shakespeare wore a gold hoop in his left ear.

During the time of Shakespeare, plays were only performed in the afternoon.

Women were not allowed to participate in plays during the time of Shakespeare so all the roles were performed by men.

  1. What do you think of Schieffelin’s efforts to bring a non-native bird to North America? Write a paragraph explaining your thoughts.
  2. Why do you think, during the time of Shakespeare, plays were only performed in the afternoon?
  3. Why do you think women weren’t able to participate in plays?
  4. What would  you place on your headstone?
  5. Explain the meaning of 3 of the sayings of Shakespeare.
6.This above all; to thine own self be true.”  William Shakespeare. 
What do you think this quote by William Shakespeare is saying?

Teacher Page:
Extension Activities:

1. Check out this free printable: Common Phrases and Saying from Shakespeare:  Have the students illustrate one of his phrases and write a short paragraph explaining what they think the quote means.

2. This short video is GREAT! A tour of the Globe Theater. Two kids lead the tour and explore the famous theater on their own. Lots of information about some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

3. Check out this cartoon video summary of Romeo and Juliet:   Have students act out the balcony scene.(My students really had fun with this!)

Check out this RESOURCE:
Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare is a guest on a talk show and the studio audience asks questions about his life. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee's Talk Show Series. Comprehension/Did You Know?section, LOTS of extension activities/links/key.

Note: Illustration from
*37 plays are what most believe Shakespeare wrote in his lifetime.

Note: Other famous writers:
I also have a play on Hans Christian Andersen and a Webquest on Charles Dickens!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

National Library Day and Library of Congress Day are coming!(April 16 and April 24th)


National Library Day is April 15 and Library of Congress Day is April 24th. Use this resource as a possible Interactive Notebook Activity to share with students about interesting book facts throughout history.

Amazing Book Facts:
Did You Know?

1. Did you know that the Chinese invented paper around 105 AD? Before this, people wrote on parchment(animal skin) to create books.

2. Each second, 57 books are sold. Someone figured that in one day, you’d need 78 miles of book shelving to store that amount of books.

3. Each year, the main library at Indiana University sinks about one inch from the weight  of all the books!

4. Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,worked as a boy, at Cadbury, as a chocolate taste tester! Shows you never know how your childhood may shape what you do as an adult! 

5. In 2013, while cleaning out a box, a manuscript by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr.  Seuss, was found. Called “What Pet Should I Get?”, the “new” Dr. Seuss book was published in 2015.

6. Another fun fact about Dr. Seuss, he was challenged to write a book using only 50 words. The result, “Green Eggs and Ham”. Here are the 50 words he used: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

7. Ever read, Where the Wild Things Are, written by Maurice Sendak? He originally wanted the book to be called Where the Wild Horses Are, but couldn’t draw horses and told his editor, he could draw…things.

8. The author of Frankenstein was Mary Shelley. The monster was NOT Frankenstein-he had no name. Frankenstein was the scientist who created the monster.

9.  The author of  Alice in Wonderland ,Lewis Carroll, is credited with introducing 21 made-up words to the Oxford English Dictionary.

10. Someone calculated that Charles Dickens used 4.6 million different words in his writings. Also, a new treat, the lollypop was featured in a couple of Dicken’s books.

11. Books helped to build a road! 2.5 million books were shredded and added to the road asphalt for part of the M6 road in England.

12. The world’s first library was built by Ashurbanipal(668-627BC) in ancient Assyria.

13. In 2012,  998 people, in Sydney, Australia, set a record for the most people balancing books on their head!

14. Sadly, worldwide, 1 in 5 adults can not read or write.(as of 2014) 

15.Did you know that people in the country of India  take the title for the most reading done each week? On average 10.7 hours a week is spent reading.  

16. The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered the oldest written story. It comes from the people of Mesopotamia , telling the adventures of the King of Uruk( @2750-2500 BC).

17. The first book printed on the printing press was the Bible, in 1450. It was done on Johann Gutenberg’s press. The Bible is also  the largest-selling non-fiction book in the world!
18. A library in Charleston, South Carolina, opened its doors in 1698, making it the first public library in the America. 
19. As of  2014, the handwritten,The Codex Leicester, by Leonardo da Vinci, which sold for a whopping $30.8 million dollars,in 1994, is still the most expensive book ever sold. The buyer…Bill Gates.
20. According to the Pew Research Center, 1 out of 4 Americans said they didn’t read even ONE book in the past year! 

21. Did you know that books were once shelved backwards(spine facing the back)?

22. The word “hurry” is said to have been invented by William Shakespeare.

23. JK Rowling was once told by people in the Mugglenet chatroom,not knowing her real identity on the chat site, that she didn’t know much about Harry Potter and should be quiet.

24. Can you imagine a sentence with 823 words?  It is found in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

25. At 5 ft 9 inches(1.75 m tall), and 6.3 inches when opened(1.90 m), The Klencke Atlas is the world’s largest book! 

26. The letter ‘e” is found in one out of  every eight letters you read.
Quotes about Reading and Books:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.  Richard Steele

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."  Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."  Walt Disney  

“ A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb

"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." Abraham Lincoln

 “A house without books is like a room without windows.” Heinrich Mann

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." Harry S Truman 

Teacher Page:
Each child should have a library card. As educators, ask your students if they own a library card and if,not, try and encourage them to get one.

Illustrate one of the quotes.

Which quote do you like the best and why? Write a paragraph explaining what you think your favorite quote means.

In a 2014 study, posted at, one out of five kids asked said that if a friend found them reading a book, they’d be embarrassed! The study also found that of those kids responding, 54% said they prefer to watch television than read a book. How do you feel if a friend finds you reading a book? Do you prefer reading, watching television or playing video games?

Pretend you are Hans Christian Andersen’s statue found in Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen. What do you see,hear, smell, etc., as you sit there? What are you thinking about?

Have groups of students make 7 comprehension questions from the Did You Know? facts to exchange with another group to answer.

Check out my informative web quest on the Library of Congress, our nation’s library! Are you a bibliophile(someone that loves books)?The Library of Congress, called our Nation's Library has over 33 million books. There are also over 12.5 million photographs and 6 million pieces of sheet music! Learn more about the Nation's Library with this fun and informative webquest.

Additional Resources on this topic:
1. Considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, learn Shakespeare with this play. It is said that next to the Bible, his works are the most quoted! Shakespeare is a guest on a talk show and the studio audience asks questions about his life. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee's Talk Show Series. Comprehension/Did You Know?section, LOTS of extension activities/links/key:

2. A Christmas Carol is probably the most popular holiday story.Have your students learn about Charles Dickens,one of the most famous writers of all times! 8 informative web questions. Additional activities/links,too. It is said Dickens used an amazing 4.6 million different words in his writing! Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

3. This reader's theater play introduces kids to fairy tale writer,Hans Christian Andersen. Comprehension questions, discussion questions, extension activities and resources are included.His Ugly Ducking was said to be about his life. He was badly bullied as a kid. Perhaps,sse play to start discussion about bullying.

Photography by Gail Skroback  Hennessey
Illustrations from



Thursday, April 7, 2016

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April 26th is National Pretzel Day!

Part of my Everything Has a History Series! Everything has a History even Pretzels! A Reading Passage/Extension Activities

Use this reading passage to show students that everything has a history, even pretzels! The resource includes a reading passage, a Did You Know? section of fun facts about pretzels. For example: Baldies are what saltless pretzels are called! Comprehension questions/mapskill activity, teacher page with extension activities. 

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