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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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chinese New Year is Coming! Factoids(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Note: Download the free resource at this link:

Chinese New Year Factoids
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Kung Hei Fat Choy!
That’s Happy New Year in Chinese. 2018 is the Year of the DOG. The Dog is a symbol of loyalty. People born under this Chinese zodiac sign are said to be good natured, kind, honest and cautious. DOG people make good friends and tend to find jobs helping other people. On the Chinese calendar, called Yan Tan, the new year is 4716. Chinese New Year is not always held on the same day each year. It depends on when the second new moon of the winter solstice occurs. In 2018, Chinese New Year starts on February 16th. It is the beginning of a 15 day celebration!

Some of the following are Chinese good luck foods and customs:
Long, uncut noodles are a symbols of long life and friendship.

Giving oranges and tangerines are symbols of wealth and good luck.

Dumplings are eaten as a symbol of a happy family.

Wearing red is thought to bring good luck.

People put up lights and decorate windows and doors with red and gold paper. Messages of good fortunes are written.

The Chinese word for fish is similar in sound to the word for plentiful, so fish are important in the Chinese New Year.

Using knives or scissors on New Year's Day are considered bad luck as they may cut your good luck for the new year.

It is also considered bad luck to wash your hair on New Year's Day.

It is considered good luck to hear a bird sign on New Year's Day.

The number 4 sounds like the Chinese word for death, so people try not to use the number on New Year's Day

Fireworks are shot off on New Year's Eve to send away the old year and welcome the new.

Before the new year, it is a custom to clean the home from top to bottom to sweep away any bad luck from the previous year.

It is considered bad luck to own money from the previous year, so people try to pay any bills before the New Year.

It is bad luck to clean on New Year's Day. You might sweep away any good luck!

At exactly midnight on New Year's Eve, all windows and doors are opened to send away the old year and welcome in the new.

If a flower opens on New Year's Day, it is considered good luck.

The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac
Several stories are told about how twelve animals came to be honored with a year in the Chinese calendar.  One is that Buddha was having a party and invited all the animals of the world to come. It was very cold and only twelve animals braved the weather to attend the party. Buddha was so grateful to those that attended his party, that each that came got a year named in their honor. The rat was the first to get to the party, with the ox being second. If you look at the 12 year calendar, which animal arrived last? Man didn't brave the weather to come to the party and is the reason that a year isn't given to man on the calendar.

There are twelve animals in the Chinese calendar and everyone has a year in their honor. The year just ending was the year of the rat. Other animals  include: pig, monkey, snake, dragon, goat, rabbit, dog, tiger, rooster,and horse.

*Purple Annie at the Great Wall of China

•Write 3 things you learned that you found very interesting about Chinese New Year.
•Write a paragraph describing Chinese New Year. Include 4 facts learned from the information listed.

Teacher Page:
Extension Activities:
  • Give students a handout of the information on Chinese New Year.  Have small groups use the information to make 5 comprehension questions to exchange with another group to answer. Regroup as a class and discuss the information presented.
  • Check which animal you were born.  Draw a picture of your sign and write three character traits you feel you have. Give an example to back up your traits.

      • Illustrate/color one of the customs of Chinese New Year.

 • Chinese animated folk story: The Three MonksWrite a summary of the story:
  • Dragons and bats are considered good luck. Draw/color a picture of either a dragon or bat. Pretend your dragon or bat could grant you three good things to happen. What would you choose and why?

You may find these resource of interest. Take a look:
  1. Country in Focus: China. A Webquest/ Extension Activities:

  1. Let’s Explore China!  Did you know that enough dirt was used to create the Great Wall of China to circle the earth with an 8 ft. high wall? Did you know that ice cream was probably first invented by the Chinese(frozen milk/rice)? Did you know that the yo-yo was invented by the Chinese or that the number 9 and the color red are considered good luck in China? I taught a unit on China for 32 years and would love to share some my notes, activities and resources I used with my students.

Note: Illustrations from

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Black History Month is February! Factoids to Share with your Students!

A Possible Interactive Notebook Activity!

Black History Month is February:
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, organized a two week period in February,in 1926, to highlight contributions of African Americans. In 1976, the month of February was established as Black History Month.
The month of February was selected as it was the month in which both Frederick Douglass(abolitionist) and Abraham Lincoln (Emancipation Proclamation)were born.  Black History Month is also celebrated in Canada in February and in October in Great Britain.4. Since 1976, (President Gerald R. Ford),every president has deemed the month of February “Black History Month.”

Did You Know?
The first African American invited to the White House(by President Theodore Roosevelt) was Booker T. Washington. The educator was also the first African American to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African American female astronaut. She went into space, in 1992.

Guion Bluford was the first American American to travel into space.

In 1821,Thomas L. Jennings was the first African American to receive a patent for an invention.(dry cleaning process)

George Washington Carver developed 300 products from the peanut, 118 from the sweet potato and 75 for the pecan! 2. Carver also invented PEANUT BUTTER.

The first American American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court was Thurgood Marshall, in 1967.

The first African American elected to the U.S. Senate was Hiram Rhodes Revels.( 1870-1871)

Bessie Coleman was the first American American woman to get a pilot’s license and the first American to hold an international pilot’s license.

Olympian Jesse Owns broke 4 world records for track and field, at the 1936 Olympics, in Berlin, Germany. 

In 1909, African-American explorer Mathew A. Henson and Robert E. Peary made the first successful expedition to the North Pole.(for the USA).

In 1940,Dr. Charles Drew found a way to preserve blood and started the first blood bank.

Garrett Morgan invented a traffic light and a gas mask.

Ralph J. Bunche, in 1950, was the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, for his efforts to mediate an  Arab-Israeli truce.

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play for a Major League Baseball team.

In the 18th century, astronomer and inventor, Benjamin Banneker helped design Washington, DC.

During WW 2, the first African American pilot group were the Tuskegee Airmen.

An African American named George Crum, a chef, is created with inventing potato chips. The year was 1853.

Do you own a Super Soaker? Lonnie G. Jhnson, an aerospace engineer invented the water gun.

Basketball great, Bill Russell, was the first black coach for a NBA team.

Like instant mashed potatoes? Dr. William C. Davis, invented them in 1959.

One of the earliest published African American authors was Phillis Wheatley. Her “Poems on Various Subjects “ was published inn 1773.

In the 1930s, Frederick McKinley Jones invented the air-cooling units that enabled foods to be transported distances without spoiling.


  • Dr. Carter G. Woodson once said,” It is never too late to learn.” What do you think he is saying by this statement?

  • Hispanic American Heritage Month is in October,Native American Heritage Month is in November, Black History Month is in February and Women’s History Month is in March. Do you think there is a need to highlight groups of people for their contributions today? Why, why not?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” What do you think this quote by Martin Luther King means?

Teacher Page:

Extension Activities:
•Have groups of students play the “Find the Face” game:
• Learn about the Tuskegee Airman: Have students write a summary of the article.
•Learn more famous African American Inventors:  Illustrate one of the African American Inventors with one of their inventions.
Check out my twelve fact-packed Black History Month Webquest/Extension Activities:
• Read this article to your students: In November,2015, Samuel Burris was pardoned(after 168 years!) for helping fellow African American escape from slavery on the underground railroad. Have students listen and write 4 facts learned from the article.

Other resources of interest:

Check out my fact-packed Webquest on Martin Luther King/Extension Activities:

Learn About Marian Anderson with this Reader's Theater Script:


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ground Hog Day is Coming, February 2nd.

Perhaps, you'd like to share the following with your students on Tuesday,Groundhog Day, February 2nd.

Groundhog Day is Tuesday,February 2nd. It is celebrated in the USA and Canada. It’s a time when people look to a groundhog to find out whether or not we will be having six more weeks of winter. The idea dates back hundreds of years when people looked to hibernating animals such as badgers, hedgehogs and bears to see when they might wake up from their winter sleep.  According to the tradition, if the animals saw its shadow, winter would last several more weeks.  If it didn’t see it’s shadow, spring would be soon arriving.
When Europeans, especially the Germans, came to the United States, they brought the tradition. The groundhog became the animals of choice as it hibernated and looked something like the European hedgehog. Groundhog Day started back in the 1880s with the first official celebration on February 2, 1887. The most famous groundhog weather forecaster is Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney, PA. On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil , who lives at  the  Punxsutawney Library is taken to Gobbler Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on the stage near where hundreds have gathered. At 7:25 if Punxsutawney Phil comes out to make his weather prediction. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is on its way!

Did you know that the groundhog, also called woodchuck, is a  relatives of the squirrel? Learn some additional Fun facts about groundhogs at this link:

Read more about the groundhog. Draw/color a picture and write 5 facts learned about the groundhog( in complete sentences).

Check out my latest Reader's Theater Script, A Visit with a Groundhog!

Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show series of Reader' Theater Scripts, her guest is Sarsaparilla, the groundhog! Kids will learn about the groundhog and a bit of history about Groundhog Day. There is a Did You Know? section,ten comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and links and the key.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

World War 2 FEMALE Pilot's Wish to be Buried in Arlington Cemetery...DENIED. What do you think?

WHAT do YOU think about this news story?
Woman's family wants Arlington Cemetery to allow their WW2 pilot MOM to be allowed burial at this hallowed ground.
I found this news story very interesting, perhaps, you will, too. Posted this at my website under Bell Ringers and thought it might be of interest to use with your students.…

Elaine Harmon was one of 350,000 woman that served during World War 2. Harmon was part of the Women Air Force Service Pilots(WASP) and served as a pilot during the war. Women were needed to help when male pilots were in combat missions. Harmon was one of 1074 women who earned their pilots' licenses and “wings" to fly and were responsible for flying new planes from factories, over long distances to military bases. They also assisted in air gunner training missions by towing targets for the gunners to shoot.(Did I mention there was actually ammunition in the target practices?) Considered to be “civilians", Congress eventually granted the WASPs veteran status, in 1977, making them eligible to be buried in Arlington Cemetery. Over this time, women were allowed to have their ashes buried at the cemetery until last year when the Secretary of the Army, at the time, said women should never have been allowed buried in Arlington and took away their eligibility! When Harmon died last year, her wish was that her ashes be buried in Arlington Cemetery. At this time, the Army has denied the request for Harmon’s ashes to be buried at this honored cemetery for veterans. Arlington Cemetery says that space is limited. However, the rules state that " any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty and whose last service terminated honorably" can have their ashes buried at Arlington. 

What do you think?
Should all veteran’s who wish to be buried at Arlington be allowed this tribute?
Did you know that the women pilots during WW2 didn’t get insurance and, if killed, didn’t get any payment from the Army? A collection was taken by the other women pilots to help pay the expenses of sending the body home. What do you think of this?
Did you know that the WASP program was a “secret" for many years? It was feared that if the enemy knew women were flying planes during the war, it would appear that our country was weak and desperate. What do you think of this?

My opinion is that any women who served our country(there are less than 100 WASPs still alive) and who wish to be buried at Arlington, should be given this honor. 

Would love to year your thoughts!


Ben Franklin’s birthday is January 17, 1706. He had lots of sayings on how to live one’s life. For example,” If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him.” He also said, “ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Learn about this famous “founding father” of our country with this webquest!

1. Ben Franklin was a inventor, scientist,writer,statesman and librarian. Believing we could save fuel by using natural light of the sun, Ben first suggested an idea we use today. _______________________Find the answer at:

2. Ben Franklin is the only founding father to sign all four important documents in American History. Name the four documents:______________, _____________, _________________ and _____________An inventor of such things as bifocals and the lightning rod, why didn’t Franklin get a patent for any of his ideas?__________________________Find the answers at this link:

3. Often called the “ First American”, Ben Franklin became a printer, inventor, writer and eventually became ambassador to which country during the Revolutionary War?____________What musical instrument did Franklin invent?___________________ Franklin also started the first________________ and first___________________ in Philadelphia. Find the answers at this link:

Fun Facts about Ben Franklin

1. While swimming, young Ben used a kite to pull him along the water!

2. Young Ben used some money his parents gave him and went to the store to make a purchase.  He noticed a  young boy blowing a whistle and  asked if  he could buy it.  When he got home, his family laughed that he spent much more than he should have done. Later in life when Ben saw people overpaying for things, he said, “They  give too much for their whistles.”

3. As a young man, Ben  became a vegetarian and lived on potatoes, raisins and bread. With the extra savings and time, Ben purchased books and said he had more time to read.

Test your Knowledge on Ben Franklin: 
1. Ben Franklin is found on which US currency?
A. One dollar bill
B. Ten dollar bill
C.  Hundred dollar bill 

2. In addition to inventing bifocals, a device to reach for items using a  long wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end and an odometer, Franklin invented:
A. electricity
B. lightning rod
C. electronic calculator

3. Ben started the first volunteer fire department , the first free hospital and the
A: first public library in Philadelphia 
B. first pizza restaurant in Philadelphia
C. first public school in Philadelphia
Extension Activities:

• Have one student be Ben Franklin and another be the interviewer. Have students give a short news interview for the class by asking and answering 3 questions.

• If you could go back in time and meet Ben Franklin. What would be a question you would ask of him?  Explain why this question would be something you’d like to have Franklin answer.

* Discuss character traits such as honesty, helpfulness, trustworthy, etc. Ask the students to find 3 character traits about Ben Franklin. Find evidence from the activity to support the traits given to Franklin.  Have students make a list of 3 character traits they feel they have and why they selected the traits.

Check out the complete resource(9 web questions,more fun facts and additional extension activities):


Monday, January 4, 2016

Snow Factoids: Possible Interactive Notebook Activity


Get the free downloadable version at this link:

Snow Facts
Gail Skroback Hennessey
Fun/Informative Interactive Notebook Activity!

1. One inch of water is about six inches of wet snow or 12 inches  of fluffy snow.

2. The world's largest snowflake was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. It fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, on January 28,1887.

3. Snow can be colors other than white, including blue, orange, green, yellow, and purple.  Actually, snowflakes are clear.

4. Air pollution caused orange snow to fall over an area of Siberia, Russia, in 2007.

5. Mount Baker,in the North Cascades, of  Washington State, holds the record for the most snowfall. 1140 inches fell during 1998-1999.

6. The record for the most snow in one storm, within 24 hours, was in Silver Lake, Colorado. Back in 1921, Silver Lake received  76 inches of snow.

7. Heilongjiang Province, China,holds the record for the world's largest snow sculpture. In 2007, a snow sculpture 656 ft. long and 116 ft. tall was made.

8. Snow flakes have SIX sides.

9. On average, a snowflake falls to earth at 3.1 mph.

10. One snowflake contains about 10 quintillion water molecules(that's the number 10 with 10 zeroes).

11. Did you know that Valdez, Alaska, averages 326 inches of snow a year? That makes it the snowiest state.

12. Wilson A. Bentley studied snowflakes for much of his life and is probably the most famous snowflake researcher. He was nicknamed "Snowflake Bentley. 

13.According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world record for the most snowmen built in one hour is 2,036. The record set, on February 28, 2015, involved 1406 people. 

14. If you have  "chionophobia", you have a fear of snow.

15. Bethel, Maine, has the record for the largest snowman ever built. A 122 ft. snow-woman was built in 2008.

Extension Activities:

1. Illustrate one of the factoids.

2. Pretend you are a snowflake. Tell about a day in your life. What did you do? What did you see? Feel? Etc.

3. Do a paper cutting of a snowflake. Write a poem using each of the letters of the word snowflake.

4. Locate 10 NOUNS and 10 VERBS in the factoid statements.

5. Pronouns are NOUN substitutes. Can you spot 7 PRONOUNS  in the Factoid statements?

Check out this resource: 

If you live where there is snow, you have probably built a snowman. The snowman has been around for quite a while. In fact, the earliest drawing of a snowman was found in a book dating back to 1380! The book,"Book of Hours" was found in a library in the country of the Netherlands. This resource has four snowmen reading passages:
1. Famous sculptor, Michelangelo, was hired to make a snowman for a wealthy person in Florence, Italy.
2. A snow man is used each April,to help predict the weather during a festival in the country of Switzerland.
3. One of the earliest written comments about snowmen dates back to 1690. Two snowman were left to guard Fort Schenectady, in New York, during a blizzard with very tragic consequences!
4. The world's record for the largest snowman, Olympia, was constructed in 2008. 13 million pounds of snow were used to make the amazing snow-woman! As of 2015, the record still stands.

Each short reading passage includes following directions to identify answers. There are also several extension activities and a Did you Know? section.

Note: Illustration from