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:

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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Saturday, April 2, 2016

World Elephant Day is April 16th. Possible Interactive Notebook Activity

April 16th is Save the Elephant Day!(also called World Elephant Day).

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, announced in March, that by 2018, elephants will be phased out of their circus acts! This is after 145 years. Many people have questioned the treatment of these massive and unique creatures and due to this concern,the circus has made this change. As the elephants retire from performing, they will live out their lives at the Elephant Conservation Center, owned by the circus, in Florida.  Although, I wish the decision went into effect immediately, I am very happy to hear of their decision.

Use the week of Save the Elephant Day to do an activity with your students about elephants!

Share These Elephant Facts with your Students:

Did you know that elephants can be right or left tusked, similar to how humans are with their hands?

Quickly waving of ears, twirling of its trunk and blowing dirt are signs of an angry elephant!

The elephant has the largest brain of the animal world. They are very intelligent! 

Elephants can show many emotions including joy, anger, playfulness and grief with the death of a family member

Surprisingly, peanuts are NOT a favorite food of elephants.

The world’s largest LAND mammal, elephants eat about 300-600 pounds of food every day. They are herbivores, non-meat eaters.

Elephants live in families with females being the head of the heard(called a matriarch). There can be as few as 8 or as many as 100 in a group.

Did you know the elephant can use its trunk as a “snorkel” making it possible to swim in deep water.

In the last 100 years, the number of  Asian elephants in the wild have declined by about 90%  due to habitat destruction and  killing for their  ivory tusks.

Elephant throw dirt onto their backs to prevent getting sunburned.

Did you know that ever 15 minutes a poacher kills an African elephant?

Of the two, Asia and African, there are much less Asia elephants left in the wild.

Elephants make a sub-sonic rumble sound to communicate over long distances. The feet and trunks are very sensitive and other elephants can feel the sound being sent over the ground.

The word, jumbo, comes from the circus animal by that name. It means “large” or “huge”.

Elephants walk on average about 4 mph but can actual run up to 24 miles per hour!

The skin of an elephant is about 1 inch thick.

An elephant tusk can be as long as 10 ft. and weigh over 200 pounds.

Elephants are one of the few animals that can recognize itself in the mirror.

There are 40,000 muscles, but no bones in an elephant’s truck.

Did you know that an elephant tooth can weigh up to 12 pounds?

What can you do?
* Spread the word of the dwindling number of elephants.
* Draw a picture of an elephant.
* Write a poem about an elephant using all the letters in the word, elephant, or write a haiku.
* Read a story about elephants.
* Read this article on Elephants:  Write 7 facts learned from the reading.  Illustrate one of your facts.

Links for teachers to share with students: Children’s efforts to stop ivory and destroy stockpiles of Ivory in Hong Kong

Check out my Elephant Webquest!
*Photograph from

NOTE:  IN THE NEWS: Hannibal is remembered for being a most unique thinking general of the ancient world. One of his ideas was to attack the city of Rome during the Second Punic Wars with horses and ELEPHANTS.  In  218 BC, Hannibal and his 30,000 troops marched from Spain, up the snow covered Alps, with about 15,000 horses and about 37 elephants into Italy. From there, those that survived the trek, moved forward to the city of Rome.For years, historians were unsure of the route Hannibal took. Now, archeologists have found an area of boggy terrain that was badly trampled near the French/Italian border. Could it have been done by Hannibal’s animals? Scientists have been digging into the earth and have come upon what may be the remains of large deposits of  horse manure and elephant dung. Further study of the microbes in the samples, suggest large amounts of microbes commonly found in horses and elephants. The narrow mountain pass, Col de la Traversette, just may be where Hannibal, his soldiers and animals made their trek!