Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Space Day is May 3rd(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Space Day is May 3rd, 2019. Held the first Friday in May, the day to recognize space and spark young people in science, was in 1997. In 2001, astronaut John Glenn promoted the day as International Space Day.

1. Write THREE facts you know about space.
2. What are three character traits you would give an astronaut and why?
3. What would be your biggest fear as an astronaut?
4. If you could bring ONE personal item with you on a space mission what would it be and why?
5. Do you think there may be life on other planets?
6. Write TWO questions you’d ask an astronaut.
7. Illustrate one of the Did You Know? factoids.

Did You Know?
• Dennis Tito, became the first  space tourist in 2001.He paid $20 million to spend 8 days at the International Space Station.
•  Snoopy, the Peanut character, is the safety mascot of NASA astronauts.
  • Wan-Hu, a Chinese man that lived around 1500 AD, may have been the first in space. 47 Rockets were attached to a chair with two large kites. He was never seen again!• The word astronaut is Latin for “star sailor.
  • The first person to walk in space was Russian, Alexei Leonov(1965).
  • The first American to walk in space was Ed White(1965).
  • President Nixon called Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while they were taking photographs of the flag on the moon. Nixon said of the telephone call that it “was the most historic phone call ever made from the White House”. 1969
  • Scientists hope that there will be a manned mission to MARS by 2025.
  • Venus is the hottest planet. Although Mars is closest to the sun, its atmosphere can’t regulate temperatures. Venus is about 450 degrees C. on its surface.
  • Pluto was demoted from being a planet(2006). It is called a dwarf planet. Ceres, Haumea, Makemake and Eris are the four other recognized dwarf planets.
  • The first man-made object in space was launched by the Russians in 1957. It was called Sputnik. It was the beginning of the “Space Race” between Russia and the USA.
  • Famous Halley’s Comet returns to our solar system every 76 years. It will be visible in 2061.
  • A Latin word, “alien” means “stranger” or “foreign”.
  • The planet Saturn has officially 53 moons. Another 9 haven’t been confirmed as moons.
  • Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system.
  • About 4.24 light years away, the sun is the closest star to the Earth.
  • Stars don’t really “twinkle”. The light of stars is distorted by the Earth’s atmosphere making the appearance of twinkling.
  • A group of solar systems is called a galaxy. We live in the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • It is estimated that there are 500,000 pieces of junk floating around in space! 
  • The first person to believe that the Earth revolved around the Sun was Nicolaus Copernicus. People at the time believed the EARTH was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around the Earth.

Resources of Possible Interest:

Check out this resource:

Illustrations from WPClipart and NASA

Friday, April 26, 2019

Just for Fun: HAIR Factoids to cause some Hair Raising Responses!


1Did you know that your hair grows fastest in warmer weather?

2. Men’s hair grows faster than women's hair.

3. Next to bone marrow, only hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body.

4. The word “shampoo” comes from the national language of the country of India, called Hindi.

5. People once believed that helpful spirits lived on our heads and that washing our hair would harm these spirits. Many people washed their hair just once a year.

7. People once powered their hair using colored flour to get greens, pinks, blue, lilac and yellow hair coloring.

8. In France, during the 1700s, flour was being used so much(about one pound per person per week) by wealthy people to powder their hair that there was a shortage of flour. This caused the price of flour to rise making bread more expensive. It caused a riot in Caen, France!

9. The ancient warriors of the region of Iraq, the Assyrians, are created with inventing the first curling iron!

10. From the 16th-19th century Europe, wealthy women wearing very high hair styles became very popular. Some hair styles were 3 ft.tall. Women also placed objects into their hair including bird cages(with live birds), solar systems, flowers, windmills and, one woman wore a small ship in her hair! The hair styles were kept in place with support wires, false hair and a cushion base(made of wool, horse hair and rope). Such high hair styles caused problems with getting through doors and also riding in closed carriages. Some women had to stick their heads out the window until they got to their destination!

11. After spending hours to create such elaborate fancy hair styles, women went up to NINE weeks without washing their hair. To sleep, they had a special pillow so their hair wouldn't get flattened. Without hairspray as we have today, women used a concoction of sugar water to get their hair in place. You can imagine what this attracted! Wealthy women purchase fancy silver mousetraps and set the traps around their pillow at night to keep the mice away! There was a shop in London(near Lincoln's Inn Field), called the Silver Mousetrap, that was famous for their silver mousetraps. The building, from 1690, still stands! See the photograph:

12. Only 1%-2% of hair coloring(natural, that is...) is RED.

13. One strand of hair can share lots of information as to what you have placed into your body!

14. The Guinness World Record for longest hair was Xie Qiuping of China. In thirty years without cutting her hair, it reached 18 ft. 5.54 in.

15. Hair is very strong. Just a single strand of healthy hair can hold 3 ounces!

16. The word for bathroom, got its name for the room where people went to "powder" their hair!

Extension Activities:
1. Read The Lady with the Ship in her Head by Deborah Attimore.
2. Draw a picture of a woman wearing an elaborate hair style. Draw something inside her hair.
3. See this science video on "How Strong is a strand of your hair?

4. Write 4 comprehension questions from the Hair Factoids and share with another student to answer.

Friday, April 19, 2019

 Library of Congress Day is April 24th!

2/3 of all Americans have a library card. If you don't have a library card...this would be a great time of year to get one.  And, what's great about a library card... it's  FREE! 

Fun Facts to Share with Kids:
1. The word "library" comes from the word librarie, meaning "a collection of books". The Anglo-French word comes from an earlier Latin word, librariaum ,meaning "chest of books"

2.The first lending library was established by Ben Franklin, in 1731.

3. The first bookmobile was in operation, in 1857, England.

4. St. Catherine's Monastery's Library(in Sinai, Egypt) is said to be the oldest continually run library in the world. It was constructed in 6th century. Only monks and  scholars can use it.

5. The oldest continually run public library is The Library of Paris(Bibliotheque de Paris), in Paris, France. It dates back to 1368.

6. A Greek, Zenodotus, is considered the first known librarian in history.  He worked at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt.

7. The Library of Congress, in the USA,is the world's largest library.

8.The largest book find ever owed was  $345.14(two cents a day). A book of poetry was checked out in 1955 and found in a home 47 years later!

9. The most expensive book ever sold is the Codex Leicester, by Leonardo da Vinci. It was purchased by Bill Gates, in 1994, for $30.8 million!!!! dollars.
10. Each year, the main library ,at Indiana University, sinks about one inch from the weight of all the books! 
11. The world’s first library was built by Ashurbanipal(668-627BC) in Assyria.
12.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). 

Interesting Story: Bats HELP TWO Libraries!

Two libraries in the country of Portugal have a most unusual security system for pest control. They have bats! Dating back more than 200 years, the bats and their descendants have been patrolling the halls of the libraries at night with a very important goal…munching on bugs. 

Some of the books in these two libraries are very old, dating back to the 1500s. Bugs can be very harmful to such old books including the  silverfish, which like to chow down on old glue found in book bindings and munch on old paper. The bats also eat flies, gnats and a library beetle which likes to tunnel through old books made from parchment, causing much damage.

Visitors to the Bibiloteca Joanina and the Mafra Palace library, both built in the 18th centuries, don’t have to worry about the bats. The tiny bats, about one inch long, are nocturnal and sleep in the spaces of the book shelves and crevices in the high ceiling, during the day. The bats and their ancestors tend to keep the same living areas for years and years. 

At night the bats swoop down from their sleep places and eat bugs. The bats have a BIG appetite, each eating about 500 bugs each night. After a hearty meal, the bats fly out of the library windows in search of water to quench their thirst before returning to their sleeping areas.

Because the bats droppings could be an issue, the tables are covered with animal skin fabric at night, a tradition that has continued by the librarians, of the two libraries, for hundreds of years. The guano, bat feces, that falls onto the library floor, is cleaned each morning.



Extension Activities:

1. Write a paragraph explaining what you think of one of these quotes:
     " Reading makes all other learning possible. We have to get books into our children's hands early and often." President Barack Obama
     "Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." American Broadcast journalist, Walter Cronkite.
     "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
2. Write a persuasive paragraph explaining why someone should have a library card.
3. Write a poem about a library.
4. Check out some of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Pretend you are visiting one of the libraries. Find 3 facts and include the facts in your diary entry about the visit. What did you see? Here? Feel? Etc.

5. 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.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Celebrate Earth Day!

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 plan to measure Mt. Everest to see if the mountain shrank a bit after the 2015 earthquake in the country of Nepal. 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.

6. Geographical web quest which introduces kids to the region of the Earth known as the Arctic. There are 14 web quests(with lots of information in the questions), Did You Know? facts, comprehension questions(including several "thought question"), a teacher page with a number of extension activities, additional links and key.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Arbor Day is Coming! Interactive Notebook Activity on TREES

* Feedback appreciated

Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Arbor Day 2019 is April 26th. 
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 a 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. Name ONE Fact about the country of Japan.  Name ONE fact about the country of China.

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

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fake News! Teaching Digital Literacy (INA)

Teaching 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.  He posted the photographs on social media. Do you think what he posted was a real photograph or fake? Why? How would you go about determining whether this is a real or fake story? ___________________________________________________

2. A couple of years ago, it was announced that on a certain date, April 20th, the planet Uranus would be moving into the moon’s orbit and for ninety minutes, the moon would appear green. The very rare occurrence had a name. It was known as a “green Moon”. The news story posted on Facebook said that the last time this scientific event occurred was 420 years ago! People were encouraged to share the news story. What do you think of this story? Real or Fake? WHY?

3. After a tragedy such as an earthquake or flooding, many people are homeless. Designed by architects in Poland, the Skysheltermay 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. It was stated 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 was True or Fake news? Why?___________________________________________________

5.Why do you think people create “fake news”? _______________________
_______________________________________________________Why do you think so many people "believe" FAKE News stories?______________________________________________________

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?________________________________________

7. For World Penguin Day(held every April 25th),the BBC announced an amazing discovery in Antarctica. Flying penguins were spotted! The announcement stated that the flying birds actually fly about 1000 miles to South America, in the winter time, to spend time in the tropics. What was used in the article to suggest this MIGHT be a true story?______________ How could you go about determining whether or not the story was true?_____________________________

For Teachers:

Check out my FREE April Fool's Day Pranks for additional examples of News/ FAKE News for your students to review. 

Additionally, my resource on the history of April Fool's Day has LOTS of materials  which could also be used to develop digital literacy with your students.Teaching Digital Literacy

Article on Determining Fake News

Great chart to help students learn how to determine FAKE and REAL News: More information deterimining Real and Fake News at this site.

Note: There is a Penguin Awareness Day held each January 20th.