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.

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

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. 

Here's another interesting fact about Charles Dickens.Someone said that if you counted all the words which Dickens used in his writing, it was an amazing 4.6 million different words!

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. 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.

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Gobble, Gobble. Fun Turkey Facts to Share with Kids!(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Possible Interactive Notebook Activity.
Click here for user friendly version:

November is Thanksgiving time and most of us will be celebrating with a turkey dinner. Did you know that the Native American Indians were raising turkey as far back as 1000 A.D. ? Did you know that the Aztecs, of Mexico, were raising turkeys even earlier, about 200 B.C. ? Did you know that the state of Minnesota raises more turkeys each year than any other state? An estimated 46 million turkeys are raised in Minnesota each year! Share these fun factoids on the turkey with family and friends!

1. Did you know that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey as our country’s national symbol? Some say he just said it was “more respectable” than the bald eagle!

2. For short distances,wild turkeys can fly up to 55 mph and run up to 25 for short distances. Domesticated turkeys are usually too heavy to all!

3. If you get up close to a turkey, they don’t have any external ears BUT still have a great sense of hearing!

4. The only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere is the turkey.

5. If you are wonder what a group of turkeys is called, it’s a flock. A baby turkey is called a poult(or goblet). Groups of turkeys are also called rafters.

6. Only male turkeys can gobble! Females make clicking sounds.

7. Tiny stones in a turkey’s stomach help the turkey grind and digest

food. This part of the stomach is called the gizzard.

8. Someone counted that a turkey has about 5,500 feathers! Eighteen make up the tail fan of a male turkey. Another source says they only have about 3500. That’s still a lot of feathers!

9. The flap of skin under a turkey’s chin is called the wattle.

10. Called the snood, the flap of skin over the turkey’s beak can turn different shades of red depending on the turkey’s mood.

11. The month of June is called National Turkey Lovers’ Month.

12. Find droppings of a turkey? Did you know you can tell whether it was left by a male or female? Female turkeys leave behind droppings looking like the letter J and a male turkey’s dropping are spiral shaped.

13. Did you know that after walking on the surface of the moon, in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate roasted turkey?

14. Guinness Book of Records says a whopper of a turkey tipped the scale at 86 pounds.

15. Four towns in the USA are named Turkey.(They are found in NC, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana). Pennsylvania has two townships with the name Turkey in their name. (Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot)

16. Wishing on the wishbone of a turkey is a tradition at Thanksgiving. The person getting the largest part supposedly gets their wish granted.

17. The idea of a president pardoning(sparing) the life of a turkey is credited with President George H.W. Bush. The first official pardon was given in 1989.

18. Only male turkeys parade their fan of feathers(like a peacock).

19. Some people make turducken at Thanksgiving. This is a turkey which is stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken!

Extension Activities:
1. Illustrate/color a turkey fact.
2. Pretend you are a turkey. Write a persuasive paragraph stating why

people should eat chicken, fish or beef instead of you!
3. Use the vocabulary words in a sentence.
4. Name 5 countries(other than the U.S.A) found in the Western

Hemisphere! Write TWO facts that you may know about each of
the countries listed.
5. Have small groups of students make 4 factual statements about

turkeys and 4 opinion statements about turkeys. Exchange and have another group determine which are facts and which are opinion statements.
6. Write a poem using each letter of the word, TURKEY.
Some Sources:

Other resources to check out for November:
  1. A Visit With Love Brewster: A Pilgrim at Plymouth Colony(A Reader’s Theater Script): 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. Mayflower and Pilgrims: A Webquest: Learn about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims with this informative web quest!There are ten informative text web quests,extension activities,fun facts. Skills include:reading for information and using research/computer skills.

3. Turkeys and Thanksgiving: A Webquest: Want a fun and informative activity to teach your students about the history of Thanksgiving?This webquest has ten informative text questions on the history of Thanksgiving(including the Macy's Day Parade). TURKEY facts,too!

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:

3. See this 5 minute clip on the Pilgrims:  Write 5 facts learned:

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

5. 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.