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:

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Tour de France 2019

2019 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Tour de France.

In 2019, the Tour de France began on July 6th and ends on July 28th. The end of the race takes place along the Champs-Elysees, one of the famous streets in France. It's considered the world's biggest and most exciting bicycling race.  Athletes competing in the race will travel approximately 3460K  ( 2149 miles) during the 22 day race. Each day(called stages), a leader  will be awarded a yellow jersey(or Maillot Jaune in French). In addition to the yellow jersey, there is a polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber(king of the mountains), a white jersey( the best youngest rider) and a green jersey(best sprinter).The Tour de France began in 1903.

See a map with the 2019 route:

 (Route of the 2019 Tour de France)

Fun Facts:

Only men compete in the Tour de France.

Approximately, 123,900 calories are burned by each rider in the Tour de France.

42000 water bottles will be used by the racers!

Someone figured out that enough sweat is created from racers competing in the 22 day race, to flush a toilet 39 times!

Riders from France have won the most races!(36 as of 2015)

The Tour de France is also known as "La Grande Boucle". 

Vocabulary word:
Peloton, the term for the "pack" of riders.

History of Bicycles...Did You Know? 

As of 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark, is the bike friendly capital of the world. Amsterdam, Netherlands, came in second, with Utrecht, Netherlands, third. Some sources say Utrecht is more bike friendly than Amsterdam.

Some sources say the  invention of the first “bicycle” is credited to Comte Medi De Sivrac, of France. His bike didn’t have any pedals! The year was 1792 and it was called a hobby horse(or celerifere). To move you needed your feet!

Other sources credit Baron Karl von Drais, of Germany, with the Draisine meaning “running machine”.The 1917 human-propelled vehicle didn’t have any pedals.

A bike similar to today’s bike was created by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, from Scotland. The year was 1839. His bicycle had pedals!

The word “bicycle” comes from the French word “bicyclette”. The term became popular in 1868. Previous to this, bicycles were called “velocipedes” meaning “fast foot”.

The Penny-Farthing was a British bicycle that had a large front wheel and a much smaller wheel in the back. The name represented two British coins, the Farthing and the British Penny.

Early bicycles (velocipede) were known as bone shakers by their riders. With wooden wheels inside an iron rim and an iron frame, it was a very bumpy ride!

In 1887, Thomas Stevens became the first person to ride a Penny Farthing around the world!

In 1867, father and son, Pierre and Ernest Michaux, invented the modern bicycle.

Did you know that suffragette, Susan B.Anthony made a comment on the bicycle? She said that the mode of transportation “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” She called the bicycle the “freedom machine.”

In 1896, Margaret Valentine Le Long rode a bicycle from Chicago to San Francisco!

Did you know that before Orville and Wilbur Wright became famous for their flying machine, they owned a bicycle repair shop? It was in their shop, in 1903, that they made their first airplane! It was called the Wright Flyer!

  1. Write a diary pretending to be one of the cyclists in the Tour de France. What do you see? Feel? Hear?

2. Do you think women should be allowed to compete with the men's Tour de France? Why or why not?

3. What are 2 character traits of a person that would participate in the Tour de France? 

4. After reading the History of Bicycle facts, why do you think Susan B. Anthony called the bicycle, the “freedom machine”?

5. What are two positive things about riding a bicycle?

Teacher Page:
Ask students if they have heard of the Tour de France and share any information they may have on the famous race.  Have students locate the country of France on a world map.  
Give the students the handout pages. Have students do one or more of the following activities.
Extension Activities:

1. Try this FREE crossword puzzle on France:

2. Draw/color a picture of a bicycle. Write a fact learned about the Tour de France on your drawing.

3. Read about the Eiffel Tower, one of France's most famous landmarks:

Illustration from:Wpclipart

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

July is PlasticFree Month. What Can YOU do to use LESS Plastic?

Out in the Pacific Ocean, between California and Hawaii, is a vast floating debris field known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is estimated that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about two times the size of the state of Texas! Sadly, the area is growing each year. It the world’s largest debris field(mainly plastics) in the world. Unfortunately, it is not the ONLY such waste field in our oceans as the Atlantic and Indian Oceans have such patches, too.

This week, 40 TONS, yes, 40 TONS of plastic were removed from the site by an environmental groups called Ocean Voyages Institute. To better understand the amount, think almost 7 elephants! In addition to plastic bottles, their haul included  plastic detergent containers, plastic children’s toys, plastic furniture and fishing gear(made from nylon and polypropylene-plastics)

The 40 tons of waste will be turned into energy at a power plant on Hawaii with 1.5 tons going to the art department at the University of Hawaii and individual artists who plan to turn the plastic waste into art sculptures.

Despite the massive amount of waste collected, it really doesn’t add up to much when you consider we are dumping between 1-2.4 million tons of plastic debris into the oceans EVERY year.

July has been designated as PlasticFree July.

What can YOU do?
1. Say NO to a plastic straw. When you order a beverage in the store, say no straw please!(or bring your own metal, bamboo, paper, etc. alternative)

2. Bring your own reusable bags to a store and say no to plastic bags.

3. Use reusable plastic water containers and not throw away plastic bottles.

4. What can you think of to lessen YOUR impact on plastic?

You are sitting in a restaurant and a server brings over a glass of water and drops a plastic straw next to the glass. Any idea how many plastic straws are thrown away in the USA every day? It is estimated the number is 500 million(yes, a day). Think 125 school buses filled with straws! Many of these straws find their way into our oceans. In 2015,  a video showed a sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged into its nostril! Different groups are saying something should be done about these narrow pieces of plastic. Straws are one of the most common pieces of plastic found along our beaches. Think enough plastic straws to wrap around the Earth 2 1/2 times…that’s how many straws are used just in the USA every year!

The straw, first invented in 1888, was thought to be hygienic. It was felt that keeping your mouth off of the rim of a glass, someone else might take a sip, might keep you from getting sick. 

Interestingly, the straw actually has a long history. In a tomb of an ancient Sumerian(present day Iraq), dating back 3000 BCE, a very fancy straw was found. It was a gold tube inlaid with the precious blue stone lapis lazuli. Modern straws were made of paper, with plastic straws replacing paper, in the 1970s. 

McDonalds Corp has changed to paper straws and only are given out if a customer asks for a straw.  Alternatives to paper include switching to bamboo straws. Miami, Seattle, Davis, San Louis Obispo, and Malibu are cities moving away from plastic straws being used in their cities. Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has banned straws as has Smithsonian Institution museums. Some national parks including the Grand Canyon have switched back to paper straws in dispensers. Vancouver became the first major Canadian city to impose a plastic straw ban in restaurants. Scotland plans to be rid of plastic straws. Taiwan is working on a ban, too.

Some people are concerned about banning plastic straws. Hot liquids can't be used with a paper straw. Some people with disabilities need the help that a straw provides.

Your Turn:
  1. Do you use a straw?
  2. What do you think about the banning of plastic straws?
  3. Next time, you are in a restaurant, will you use a plastic straw if given?

Resources of Interest:
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:

Exploring the Ocean Blue: A Web quest, will introduce students to our oceans. There are nine informative web questions. Fun Facts, comprehension questions, extension activities and links are also provided as is the key. Can be used as part of a unit on oceans, for Earth Day, World Ocean Day or as an activity for a Friday, before a vacation break or as an end of the year activity. This can be a one day class resource or used for a couple of days depending on whether the activities(creative writing/art work/online simulation games, etc.) are used with the students:

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. His books and films on his studies sparked much interest in our oceans and created an awareness about the need for marine conservation.

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 could be used as a STEM biography any time of year or especially during the time of Earth Day.

Purple Turtle EBOOK: The stories involve Purple Turtle and his friends including Zing,the stuttering rabbit, Biggy Bear, Melody the bird, Squirty the squirrel and others. In each story, a topic is addressed such as friendship, honesty, conservation, getting over fears, etc. In this story, "Purple Learns to Use Less", the friends learn that each of us can help the planet in saving water.Grades 1-3, Aadarsh Publishing.

Illustration from
Photograph from

Monday, June 24, 2019

July is National Ice Cream Month. Fun Factoids to Share with Kids!

COOL facts about Ice Cream
Did you Know that JULY is National Ice Cream Month  in the USA? It was established by President Ronald Reagan, in 1984. National Ice Cream Day is the 3rd Sunday in July. Learn some fun facts about ice cream!

• One scoop of ice cream needs about 50 licks to finish.

• The Chinese were making a type of ice cream with milk,rice and snow, about 2000 BC.

• The average American eats 48 pints of ice cream each year.

• To make one gallon of ice cream, you need 12 pounds of milk. A dairy cow can produce enough milk for about 9000 gallons of ice cream in its lifetime.

• The USA is the world's leading producer of ice cream.

• Alexander the Great liked nectar and honey flavored snow.

• National Ice Cream Month is in July.

• Yes...vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor(followed by chocolate and strawberry).

• An ice cream tester for Dreyer's Ice Cream actually insured his tongue for $1 million dollars!

• Dolly Madison served strawberry ice cream at the second inaugural ball of her husband, President James Madison, in 1812.

• Sunday is the day of the week when the most ice cream is sold in the United States.

• Did you know that one of the main ingredients in ice cream is ....AIR.(makes it lighter and gives it  smoothness)

• During WW2, the U.S. Navy(1945) built a floating ice cream parlor   for our sailors fighting in the Pacific.

• More ice cream is sold in the WINTER months in Canada than the summer months.

• Strange ice cream flavors? Jalapeno, dill pickle ice cream, garlic ice cream, bacon ice cream,blue cheese and shallots, squid ink and curry carrot ice cream might be flavors to include in this list.

• The world's largest ice cream cone weighted 2204 pounds. It was 13 feet tall. It was made in Gloucester, UK, in 2012.

• The world's largest ice cream sundae was created in Kingston, NY, in 2014. It  was 1606 ft. tall.

• Ever get a brain freeze from eating ice cream?  The top of the mouth has lots of nerves. When cold ice cream comes into contact with these nerves, it causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate, giving the short headache also known as an ice cream headache.

* During World War 2, Mussolini banned ice cream in the country of Italy. He thought it was too American!

• Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream. See his recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream.

Extension Activities:

* Write a haiku poem on ice cream.

* If you had to describe ice cream to an alien from outer space, what would be 3 descriptives you'd use to explain the treat.  Write a paragraph about your encounter sharing ice cream with an alien.

* Draw/color a picture of an ice cream sundae. Exchange your drawing with 3 others and have them write descriptive words to describe what they see. When your drawing is returned, write a paragraph using the comments about your ice cream sundae.

* There is a saying, " A picture is worth a 1000 words. Illustrate/color one of the facts about ice cream which conveys the fact.

Additional Links:

2. Timeline on the history of ice cream.



Friday, June 21, 2019

World Giraffe Day is June 21st

World Giraffe Day is June 21st

NOTE: Click here for the free download of this Interactive Notebook Activity:

The Giraffe
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

In less than 30 years, the number of giraffe have drastically decreased by almost 40 percent. That makes giraffe in more danger of extinction than the elephant. In 2016, the conservation group, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, listed the giraffe on its Red List of species which are endangered.  Specifically, the giraffe has been moved from “least concern” to “vulnerable”.The main cause for their dwindling population is destruction of their habitat.  Additionally the group says that illegal hunting of giraffe and civil unrest in the areas where giraffes roam are also causes for their declining numbers.  Learn about the giraffe with this web quest!

Did you Know?

1. There are nine subspecies of giraffe.  One is stable, three are actually increasing in number and 5 have dwindling numbers.

2. Did you know that the okapi is the only close relative of the giraffe?

3. The tallest land animals, the giraffe’s legs are about six feet long!

4. Each giraffe’s spots are different. They are like a human fingerprint.

5. People once called the giraffe a “camel-leopard” because of its small hump and leopard spots. That is how it got its the species name of camelopardalis.

6. Hisses, grunts, snorts roars and even moos are some of the sounds made by a giraffe.

7. Giraffes sleep less than 30 minutes a day.

8. Did you know a giraffe can reach speeds of about 35 miles per hour(56 K)?

9. Giraffes don’t drink much water, just a few drinks every few days. In fact they drink less water than a camel! Drinking isn’t easy as their necks can’t reach the ground. A giraffe must spread its front legs when it wants to take a drink of water.

10. Although Giraffes can lie down, they tend to spend most of their lives standing.

11. Did you know that a giraffe can clean its ears with its tongue! That’s an amazing feat that humans can’t do!

12. Weighing up to 24 pounds, a giraffe’s heart is about 2 ft. long.

13. Did you know a giraffe’s tail can be up to 8 feet long? The tail of the giraffe is the longest of any land mammal.

14. You can tell the age of a giraffe from its spots. They get darker as a giraffe ages.

15. You can find giraffes living in the grasslands, woodlands and
savannas of Africa.

16. With bristly hair, the purple-bluish tongue of a giraffe is tough enabling
them to eat thorny Acadia trees(one of their favorite foods).

Your Turn:
  1. Pretend you are a giraffe. Write a day in your life. What did you do? What did you see? What did you hear? Include 3 facts learned about the giraffe in your diary entry.
  2. Illustrate one of the fun facts about the giraffe.
  3. Use each letter of the word, GIRAFFE, and write a poem.
  4. Write a persuasive paragraph and explain why you think that humans should try and save the giraffe from extinction.  Give 2 reasons in your persuasive paragraph. 
5.  Write a story on how a giraffe got its long neck, long tail or long legs. 
6. Read the mythHow Giraffes Got Long Necks. Write a summary of the story.

Check out my webquest on the Giraffe(it includes these fun facts as well as extension activities and links for the teacher:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Wishing those of you who are now on Summer Break a very relaxing time. As someone that taught for 33 1/2 years, the very first FULL day of vacation was always the beginning of possibilities of things to do that I didn't get to do during the school year. In fact, I remember dreading the alarm clock going off at 6AM during the school year yet during the summer, I gleefully got up at 6AM because the day was all mine! I wanted to seize every bit of the day.  Enjoy each and every day of your vacation. It will go too quickly!  Read a book, garden, listen to music, take a pottery class, visit with friends and family, try a new recipe, take a trip, sit by the pool(or visit someone who has one), binge watch a series(so many great ones on Netflix! See below) and most importantly, take a break from thinking about school! Really! Even if it is only for a couple of weeks, place thinking about your classroom on hold for just a wee bit!

For those of you who have school or summer school during  July and August, I will continue to update my blog posting as well as my website for teachers/kids( Please continue to check in as you may find something of value to use with your students!


Recommendations of shows to Binge watch on Netflix:

Safe(Harlan Corbin) Kept me guessing until the end.
The Five(Harlan Corbin) Very Good mystery!
Midsomer Murders( Amazing how many murders take place in the villages of England!)
Murdoch Mysteries(Historical mysteries that will make you look up some information!)
Doctor Blake Mysteries
Father Brown
Death in Paradise (Think Columbo in Paradise)
Doc Martin(Love Cornwall, England, where this quirky doctor series is filmed)
The Crown
Call the Midwife(awesome)Really...I didn't think I would like it and I am hooked.
Broadchurch(powerful police story told in several season)
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries(1920 flapper solves mysteries in Australia) It is being made into a movie!

Acorn TV:
Good Karma Hospital(two seasons so far). Very GOOD!
800 Words
Brokenwood Mysteries
Queen of Mystery
Agatha Raisin

Recent Books I have enjoyed which I'd recommend:

Joanne Goodman: The Home for Unwanted Girls and The Finishing School were very good.

Hazel Gaynor: The Girl that Came Home, The Girl from the Savoy A Memory of Violet and more.

Pamela Flavey's books about Ireland: The Linen Queen, The Yellow House and The Girls of Ennismore.

Lexi Elliott's The French Girl 

Diane Chamberlian's books: I enjoyed The Dream Daughter and The Silent Sister.

Ruth Wares's books.

Karen White's books.

Melanie Dobson's books(most set in World War 2) are all excellent.
Try Chateau of Secrets and Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor.

Patricia McDonald's Books-GREAT!

Fiona Davis' Books: The Address, The Doll House-great stories and you learn about the Barbizon Hotel for Women and The Dakota. The Masterpiece shares the history of Grand Central Terminal.

All Sarah Jio books are great!(Most take place in two eras and are intertwined by the end.)

Pam Jenoff: Wow, I really like her historical books(mostly set in WW2-at least the one's I've read: Check out The Orphan's Tale and the Diplomate's Wife. 

Note: Illustration from

Friday, June 7, 2019

Using the News in the Classroom

Still in School? Vacation a couple of weeks away? Use the news and have students select one of the following news stories and write a short paragraph stating their opinions on the topic.

1. In addition to passing your classes, a new law passed in the Philippines will require ALL students to show that they planted 10 trees to graduate! With about 18 million students calling the Philippines home, that could mean that 175 million trees will be planted each year! It is estimated the requirement would mean about 525 billion trees could be grown in just one generation.The tree graduation requirement hasn’t begun as of yet but trees indigenous(native) to the Philippines will be the first priority. Areas for planting will include abandoned mining sites, forest and urban areas of the Philippines. In addition to helping to beautify the Philippines, scientists hope the tree requirement will cut down on CO2 levels and hopefully help lessen the growing global climate crisis.
Illustration from

1. What do you know about the Philippines. Write 3 facts.
2. Write TWO ways trees are helpful to the environment.
3. Write a paragraph stating your opinion on such a requirement to graduate.
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the Philippines:

2. Have you visited a national park or historical site? Senators Gary Peters and Ted Cruz have introduced a bill to create a protected site, on the moon! Called the “One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act”, it would be the first ever protected site somewhere other than on Earth. The area to be protected would be the Apollo 11 landing site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, became the first humans to walk on the moon. Photograph from

1. Write a paragraph and explain what do you think of this idea.
2. Write 3 facts you know about the moon.
3. Can you name two National Parks in the USA?
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the moon:

3. Did you know that of the 5000 statues nationwide, only 400 are of women? If you walk through Central Park, in New York City, you will come upon 22 statues of famous MEN. Not one statue is of a woman, except for statues of fictitious Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland. A group of woman want to have a woman statue added to Central Park… a REAL woman who made a contribution in history. Specifically, TWO women will be added for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote(2020). Statues of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are to be added. Additionally, at Statuary Hall, at the U.S. Capital, there are two statues for each state on display. Only nine of the one-hundred statues are of women. The state of Kansas is changing one of their statues to honor Amelia Earhart.  Photograph from 

1. Can you name one facts about Susan B. Anthony? 
2. Check to see if your state has a woman represented in Statuary Hall. If, not, is there a woman that you think could be suggested to be represented?
3. Things don’t change unless someone decides a change is needed. What might you like to change?

4. Twelve men have walked on the moon. By 2024, this may change when NASA launches a new mission, Artemis(named for the ancient Greek goddess of the moon). It will be this mission when a woman will leave her footprint on the surface of the moon. The previous moon mission, called Apollo(the twin of Artemis) ended in 1972. Now, after giving support for this mission, the Trump Administration has changed its mind and says that it is a waste of money. “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” Trump wrote. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
  1. Do you think going back to the moon is a waste of money? 
  2. Do you think we should try and land humans on the planet Mars?   Write a paragraph explaining your thoughts.                                               Note: Despite the tweet, the moon is NOT part of Mars.

After 76 days, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the astronauts for the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon, made history on July 20, 1969. After the Columbia reached the moon’s orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin went into a smaller module, the Eagle. They began a descent onto the surface of the moon and successfully landed on the moon where both men would become the first humans to actually walk on the moon. The date was July 21, 1969! Just think, from the first powered flight in 1903, it was just 66 years before we had humans walk on the moon!

In 2019, it will be the 50th anniversary of this remarkable achievement! 

Check out this Reader’s Theater Script. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are guests of Ms. Bie Ografee and her studio audience ask the guests questions about their historic trip to the moon. In addition to the play, with 10 audience questioners, there are Did You Know Fun Facts, comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and the key to the comprehension questions.