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:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

FAKE NEWS: Developing Digital Literacy

Seems like almost every day, this term is being used. Just WHAT is Fake News? Can you tell the difference between fake and real news?  

1. A cyclist in England snapped a photograph of some very unusual pigs. They looked like sheep with their wooly coats.  Do YOU this is a real photograph or fake? Why? How would you go about determining whether this is a real or fake story? ___________________________________________________

2. On April 20th, the planet Uranus will be moving into the moon’s origin and for ninety minutes, the moon would appear green. The very rare occurrence is known as a “green Moon”. The last time this scientific event has occurred was 420 years ago! The news story was posted on Facebook and people were encouraged to share the news. What do you think of this story? Real or Fake?

3. After a tragedy such as an earthquake or flooding, many people are homeless. Designed by architects in Poland, the Skyshelter may be helpful. An  accordion-like shelter, it can be airlifted easily to where temporary shelter is needed. Once on site, the “skyscraper” unfolds almost instantly and can be used as housing. There is a balloon inside which quickly can be filled with helium to raise the building. What do you think of this story? Could it be a real story or is it fake? ____________________________________________________

4. Did you know that when President Barack Obama was President, he signed an Executive Order banning the National Anthem at all sporting events in the United States? Do you think this is true or Fake news? Why?

5.Why do you think people create “fake news”? _______________________

6. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own set of facts,” said a famous lawmaker named Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. What do you think he was saying with this statement?________________________________________

For Teachers:

Great chart to help students learn how to determine FAKE and REAL News: 

This is part of my resource on FAKE NEWS, Developing Digital Critical Literacy with Kids(INA): Click here to learn more:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Arbor Day is Coming: What do you know about TREES?

* Feedback appreciated

Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Arbor Day 2018 is April 27th. 
It’s a time to celebrate trees!

Can you think of THREE ways in which TREES are important to us?

Did You Know?

1. The Botanical Gardens Conservation International  announced that there are 60,065 different species of trees in the world.(2017)

2. The most endangered tree species according to the Botanical Gardens Conservation International is the karma gigs. Found in the country of Tanzania, there are only six trees left. Where in the world is Tanzania?

3. The tallest tree in the world is the Hyperion. The tree is 379.4 ft.(115.6m) tall and is located in California’s Redwood National and State Parks. The tree is taller than the Statue of Liberty (305.6ft or 93.1m) and the famous Big Ben(316 ft or 96 m) found in London, England.

4. The largest tree in the world is the General Sherman. The giant sequoia stands 275 ft.(or 83.8 m). Twenty people holding hands would be needed to circle the base of this tree!

5. For many years, the oldest individual tree in the world has been a bristlecone pine named Methuselah.It’s location is a secret but it is located in the White Mountains of California. It is estimated to be about 4,,848 years  old. In 2013, another bristlecone was found to be about 5,066 years old. This tree may now be the world’s oldest tree.The unnamed tree is located in the same forest. What would YOU name the tree?

6. There is clonal tree in the country of Norway which has a root system estimated to be about 9552 years old! It is called Old Tjikko. A clonal tree grows when their branches touch the ground and start new roots.

7. The beautiful cherry trees, found in  Washington, D.C., were a gift from the people of Japan. Back in 1912, 3000 trees were gifted by the mayor  of Japan. Interestingly, in 1981, the United States gifted cuttings of some of the cherry trees back to the people of Japan, after many of their trees were destroyed in a flood.

8. Did you know that Guinness World Records says the manchineel tree is the “most dangerous tree” in the world? Just getting the sap of the tree on your skin can cause blisters. Getting the sap in your eye could actually cause blindness! This tree is found in tropical regions of North and South America.  Can you name 2 countries found on North America? Can you name 2 countries found on South America

9. There is a tree called the Great Banyan Tree, found in the country of India that is called the “widest tree in the world”. If you look at the “tree” it looks like a forest as the “tree” covers 3.5 sq. acres of land in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden. Its branches reach the ground and sprout new growth. Is the Banyan tree a “clonal tree”?

10. Did you know that one tree can inhale about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year?

11. Some people like to grow trees in a small dish. Called bonsai, the word means “tree in tray”. Growing living trees in this way is an art form from Japan. China also developed a similar type of art,too.

Your turn:
1. What do you think these quotes mean? Illustrate on of the quotes.
A. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
B.“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” 
2. List 7 products we get from trees.
3. Write a diary entry about a day you took a walk into the woods. What did you see? Hear? Smell? Feel?
4. Draw a picture of a tree. Write three ways in which trees are important.

Teacher Page:
1. Have students learn about bonsai trees with this reading passage. Write 4 facts learned:
2. Show students the Great Banyan Tree:  Write a poem about the tree.
3. Have students illustrate one of the Did You Know? facts.
Links for additional information teachers:
Resources of Interest on this Topic:
1. Learn about the history of Arbor Day and all about trees with this web quest. There are 11 web questions, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions and a teacher section with keys, additional links and lots(11 extension activities).This could also be something to use with EARTH DAY, when you are studying TREES and, of, course, for ARBOR DAY!
2. A Biologist and marine zoologist, Rachel Carson’s books shared her love of nature, especially the ocean and its inhabitants. Her book, Silent Spring, sparked concern in how chemical pesticides were harming our environment. Carson helped to start the environmental movement in our country, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This Reader's Theater Script on Rachel Carson could be used as a STEM biography any time of year or especially during the time of Earth Day.

Illustration from

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gail Skroback Hennessey

Did You Know?

1. Scientists say that 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 about 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 throw 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.

Monday, April 9, 2018

March 18-24th(2009) is Shakespeare Week !

William Shakespeare
In Great Britain, March 18-24th(2019) is Shakespeare Week!
The anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is April 23rd.
What do YOU know about this famous writer?

I though you may find the following information of interest to share with your students.

Did You Know?
1. 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!

2. 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!

3. 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”.  More expressions of Shakespeare can be found at this link: 

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

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

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

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

Your Turn:
1. Illustrate an expression of William Shakespeare. See examples below in 3.  Place three of his expressions into sentences.

2. What are 2 character traits you think a writer needs to have?

3. Select one of the quotes of Shakespeare and illustrate it. Write a short paragraph explaining what you think the quote is saying.
A. "Better three hours too soon than a minute too late."
B. "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."
C. " I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed."
D. "What's done can;t be undone."
E. "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

4. Create a compliment using Shakespeare's words. Go to this link:

5. See the grave of William Shakespeare and what he had written on it: Interestingly, recent scans seem to suggest that Shakespeare's skull is missing from his grave! Why do you think someone may have stolen it?

Check Out These Resources:
  1. 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.

  1. William Shakespeare: Possible Interactive Notebook Activity. Short reading, fun acts, comprehension questions and a few extension activities:

Note: Other Reader's Theater Scripts on Famous Writers:

Note: Illustration from Photograph of Shakespeare’s home was taken by Gail Hennessey

*37 plays are what most believe Shakespeare wrote in his lifetime.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fairy Tale Writer, Hans Christian Andersen's Birthday is Coming!

Photograph of Hans Christian Andersen taken by Gail Hennessey in Copenhagen, Denmark
Happy Birthday, Hans Christian Andersen!(April 12th)
Perhaps, you might find this fun and informative play on Hans Christian Andersen of interest. The information play is based on the Mark Goodson Production To Tell the Truth Game Show. To Tell the Truth was a popular television show which has returned with host Anthony Anderson(of Blackish). Three guests all claim to be the real guest being interviewed by a panel. The real guest must tell the truth where the other imposters do not have to do so. Kids must be "truth detectives" to determine just who is the REAL Hans Christian Andersen.
Students in grades 4 and up will have fun acting out their parts and learning some interesting facts about fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen. Comprehension questions, discussion questions, extension activities and resources are included. 
It is said  that Hans Christian Andersen based his story, The Ugly Ducking, on his own life and the bullying he experienced.  Hans was often teased as a boy. He was very tall and skinny. He was called "scarecrow" by neighborhood children. One day, he actually climbed a tree to get away from bullies who were chasing him!  Once in the tree however, he got tangled and stuck. Hans' dad had to come get him down.

Did You Know?
1. In  2012, a fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen was found. It is believed to be his very first story, written as a teen. The six page story tells about a dirty candle that isn't used until a tinder box sees its inner value and lights the dirty candle's wick.
2. Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen met and Andersen visited Dickens at his home. It would be the end of a friendship when Andersen overstayed his welcome. Dickens wrote, "Hans [Christian] Andersen slept in this room for five weeks – which seemed to the family AGES!
3. Hans Christian Andersen may have had dyslexia making reading and writing very difficult for him.
4. One of the first stories Hans Christian Andersen remembers his dad reading to him was The Arabian Nights.
5. The fairy tale writers, the  Grimm Brothers(Jacob and Wilhelm), became friends with Hans Christian Anderson.
6. The stories of Hans Christian Andersen were translated from his native Danish into 150 languages.
7. The Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Theme Park opened in Shanghai, China, in 2017.
8. Some of the popular fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen include: The Emperor's New Clothes, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Ducking and The Princess and the Pea.
9. You can see a statue  honoring Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park, New York City.
10. April 2nd, the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen is International Children's Book Day.
11. Unlike many famous people, Andersen was recognized during his lifetime for his amazing storytelling!
1. Which fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen to you like the best and why?
2. Write TWO facts about the country of Denmark.
3. Look at the statue of Hans Christian Andersen found in Copenhagen, Denmark. Write a paragraph pretending to be the statue. What do you see? What do you hear? What are you thinking?
4. What is your definition of bullying? Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever do something which someone else might think is bullying? If you see someone being bullied, what could you do?
Mapwork on Denmark:
1. Denmark is a peninsula meaning it is surrounded by water on THREE sides. Name the 3 bodies of water which touch Denmark.______________  _________   _____________
2. Which country touches the country of Denmark?______________
3. On which continent is Denmark located?___________________
4. Which country is across a bridge(Oresund Strait) from Denmark?___________
5. Which famous amusement park is located near Jutland?____________________

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Spring is TULIP Time. Show kids that EVERYTHING has a History, even Tulips!

With spring, comes the sprouting of tulips. Personally, I love purple tulips. Although I try year after year to grow them in my gardens, the chipmunks seem to find them and haul the bulbs away! 

Tulips have a very interesting history. Sharing information about the history of the tulip is a great way to show kids that EVERYTHING has a history.

In 1634, tulips caused people to go a bit crazy, in the country of Netherlands. The bulb, looking like a onion was as prized as diamonds. It got so nobody was planting the pretty posies, they were just buying and selling the bulbs. People used tulips to purchased homes, food, clothing and even horses. Government officials kept a record of tulip purchases. Tulipmania is what this time was called. One tulip could be worth over $35,000!(Yes, you read that correctly)

Fun Facts about Tulips:
1. To have a tulip in your home was a way to impress others!
2. Interestingly, the tulips with the most value, really were infected with a virus and were feathered and not solid colored tulips.
3. It is believed the tulip came from Asia and the area of Turkey,1000AD. Its name, is thought to come from the word dulban or tuliban(meaning turban), because the flower looks like an upside down turban. In Turkey, tulips were very much prized and in fact, for a time, it was forbidden to buy or sell the bulbs outside of the capital city. Such crimes could mean exile!
4. The tulip capital of the United States is Holland, Michigan.
5. During World War 2, people ate tulips and made tulip bread. Neither were very tasty but when you are hungry, taste isn't that important.

Your Turn:
1. Do you know which two flowers are more popular than the tulip?If, not, take a guess!________________ and ______________
2. What is your favorite flower? Why do you favor this flower over other flowers?
3. What do you know about the country of Turkey? Write ONE fact:__________________
4. What do you know about the country of Netherlands? Write ONE fact:________________

Extension Activities:

2. More Tulip facts. Illustrate one of the facts about tulips.

Sharing information about the history of the tulip is a great way to show kids that EVERYTHING has a history. The resource includes a reading passage, Did You Know? fun facts, comprehension questions, Map-skill activity, Teacher page with extension activities and key. Click here:

Illustrations from and