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, February 26, 2017

World Book Day!
Click here for the Free Interactive Notebook Activity on Amazing Book Facts!

Did you know that March 2nd is World Book Day?  The day was established 17 years ago and was designated by UNESCO, as a worldwide celebration of reading books.  Over 100 countries participate World Book Day as a way to share the joy of reading books.

Personally, I love to read. Books are a way to visit the Taj Mahal, the pyramids, climb Mt. Everest, travel back through history or rocket into the future, all without living home.  

To, me, the public library was an awesome idea. Just think, before a library, you had to purchase anything you wanted to read,limiting assess to those that couldn’t afford to make such a purchase.

I was saddened to read that according to a  2014 study, posted at, one out of five kids asked said that if a friend found them reading a book, they’d be embarrassed! The study also found that of those kids responding, 54% said they prefer to watch television than read a book. How can we turn such poll numbers around?

I grew up on Nancy Drew books, I eagerly awaited the next published adventure of Nancy and her friends. I read biographies on women including Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony and more.  Kids need to see the wonderful world of books.  Perhaps, the next time you need to get gifts for your child, niece or nephew, include a book as one of you gifts.

Each child should have a library card. As educators, ask your students if they own a library card and if,not, try and encourage them to get one!

Whether you read traditional books that you can hold in your hand or ebooks, it doesn’t matter, just grab a book and read!

Book Facts:

1. Did you know that the Chinese invented paper around 105 AD?

2. Each second, 57 books are sold. Someone figured that in one day, you’d need 78 miles of book shelving to store that amount of books. 

3. Each year, the main library at Indiana University sinks about one inch from the weight of all the books!

4. Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, worked as a boy, at Cadbury, as a chocolate taste tested! Shows you never know how your childhood may shape what you do as an adult!

5. A new book by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr.  Seuss, was found in 2013. The books is called What Pet Should I Get? and was published in 2015.

6. Another fun fact about Dr. Seuss was that he was challenged to write a book using only 50 words. The result, Green Eggs and Ham. Here are the 50 words he used: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

7. Did you ever read, Where the Wild Things Are, written by Maurice Sendak? He originally wanted the book to be called Where the Wild Horses Are, but couldn’t draw horses and told his editor, he could draw…things.

8. The author of Frankenstein was Mary Shelley. The monster was NOT Frankenstein, he had no name. Frankenstein was the scientist who created the monster!

9.  The author of  Alice in Wonderland ,Lewis Carroll, is credited with introducing 21 made-up words to the Oxford English Dictionary.

10. Someone calculated that Charles Dickens used 4.6 million different words in his writings. Also, a new treat, the lollypop was featured in a couple of Dicken’s books!

11. Books helped to build a road! 2.5 million books were shredded and added to the road asphalt for part of the M6 road in England.

12. The world’s first library was built by Ashurbanipal(668-627BC) in Assyria.

13. In 2012,  998 people, in Sydney, Australia, set a record for the most people balancing books on their head!

14. Sadly, worldwide, 1 in 5 adults can not read or write.(as of 2014)

15.Did you know that people in the country of India take the title for the most reading done each week? On average 10.7 hours a week is spent reading.

16. 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).

17. The first book printed on the printing press was the Bible, in 1450. It was done on Johann Gutenberg’s press. The Bible is also the largest-selling non-fiction book in the world!
18. A library in Charleston, South Carolina, opened its doors in 1698, making it the first public  library in America.
19. As of  2014, the handwritten,The Codex Leicester, by Leonardo da Vinci, which sold for a whopping $49.4 million dollars,in 1994, is still the most expensive book ever sold. The buyer was Bill Gates.
20. According to the Pew Research Center, 1 out of 4 Americans said they didn’t read even ONE book in the past year!

Quotes about Reading and Books:

1. “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.  Richard Steele

2. "To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."  Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

3. "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."  Walt Disney  

4. “ A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb

5. "The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." Abraham Lincoln

6. “A house without books is like a room without windows.” Heinrich Mann

7. "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss

8. "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." Harry S Truman 

Extensions Activities for Kids:

1. Illustrate one of the quotes.
2. Illustrate one of the fun facts about books.
3. Which quote do you like the best and why? Write a paragraph explaining what you think your favorite quote means.

Additional Resources of Interest for World Book Day.
1.  World Book Day would also be a great opportunity for kids to learn about Charles Dickens: Have your students learn about Charles Dickens,one of the most famous writers of all times! 8 informative web questions. Additional activities/links,too. It is said Dickens used an amazing 4.6 million different words in his writing!

2. World Book Day-have kids learn about William Shakespeare with this Reader's Theater Script: 
Considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, learn about William Shakespeare with this fun/informative play. Shakespeare introduced about 3000 words to the English language . It is said that next to the Bible, his works are the most quoted!

3. World Book Day would be a great time to read about one of the most famous fairy tale writers, Hans Christian Andersen. Did you know that Andersen said that the story, The Ugly Duckling, was a story about him? He was bullied as a kid, called "scarecrow" because he was tall and skinny. Once to avoid kids chasing him, a young Andersen climbed a tree(and then got stuck!). His father had to get him down, only making for more taunts! This reader's theater play introduces kids to fairy tale writer,Hans Christian Andersen. Grades 4 and up.Comprehension questions, discussion questions, extension activities and resources are included.

4. Check out my web quest on the Library of Congress, our Nation's Library! The Library of Congress, 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 informative webquest.(Grades 4/ up) Great informational text/research skill activity!

Clipart from:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lawmakers would like a Statue of Harriet Tubman at the U.S. Capitol(In the News/Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Using the News in the Classroom:
This week,Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, and co-sponsor Senator Ben Carin have introduced a bill to have a statue of Harriet Tubman placed in a “prominent location” in the U.S. Capitol. In 2012, a commission was set up to raise money to pay for a statue of Harriet Tubman. In oder for such a statue to be in the Capitol, lawmakers much accept the money collected and agree to the statue being displayed in the Capitol. Although Tubman spent much of her life in New York, she was born on a plantation in the state of Maryland where she spent much of her life until she escaped to freedom.
Did You Know?
1. In 2016, the Treasury Secretary announced that the $20 bill will be updated with the face of  Harriet Tubman. The current face on the $20 bill is President Andrew Jackson.

2. Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849. She continued to return about 13 different times bringing slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Her last trip was in 1860. It is believed that Tubman helped over 300 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

3. Probably the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, a bounty of $40,000 was offered for Tubman’s capture! In today’s world, that would have been approximately $600,000!  Other conductors on the Undergroud Railroad included John Fairfield, Frederick Douglass and Levi Coffin.

4. Harriet Tubman’s nickname of “Moses” was given by Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

5. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked as a nurse,, spy and soldier!

6. Harriet Tubman worked with James Montgomery and helped lead an armed expedition during the Civil War. The Combahee River Raids helped free hundreds of slaves in South Carolina.

7. After the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked for women’s rights.  She also worked to establish African Americans’ rights and set up a home for elderly African Americans.

8. Having been a soldier during the Civil War, it took thirty-four years for Harriet Tubman to receive a small veteran’s pension.

9. Did you know that there is an asteroid named in Harriet Tubman’s honor?

10. The SS Harriet Tubman was launched in 1944, by the United States Maritime Commission. It was the first liberty ship named for an African-American woman! 

11. In 1978, the United States Postal Service honored Harriet Tubman with a stamp.

Your Turn:
1. Do you think Harriet Tubman should have a statue in the Capitol Building? Write a paragraph explaining your position.
2. Illustrate one of the facts about Harriet Tubman.
3. Write 3 facts you know about the Underground Railroad.


Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on Harriet Tubman: The fun/informative play uses the format of Harriet Tubma being a guest on Ms. Bie Ografee's talk show and the studio audience asks questions about her life and contributions. There are comprehension questions and extension activities.

Photograph from

Monday, February 13, 2017

Presidential Trivia For Presidents' Day(Interactive Notebook Activity)


1. Dogs, cats and birds  have often found a home in the White House. 

2. There have also been some unique pets such as John Quincy Adams’ pet alligator,Martin Van Buren two tiger cubs and James Buchanan’s elephant. President Coolidge had a wallaby and a pygmy hippo and Theodore Roosevelt had a lion, hyena, five bears, a piebald rat, and a zebra. Only Presidents Arthur, Fillmore and Piece had no pets.

3. President Washington was an avid spelunker,enjoying exploring caves. 

4. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president to be elected  four times.The constitution was later changed to allow only two four-year terms.

5. President Theodore Roosevelt named the Executive Mansion or President’s House, the White House.

6. Only President George Washington did  not live in the White House. It was opened in 1800.

7. The Star-Spangled Banner became the National anthem under President Herbert Hoover.

8. President William Henry Harrison only served one month after taking the oath of office, dying from pneumonia.

9. President Van Buren is said to have started the expression OK, signing paper with his “Old Kinderhook” nickname.

10. Left handed President James Garfield  could write with both hands at the same time and in different languages such as Greek and Latin.

11. President John K. Kennedy was the first president who had been a Boy Scout in his youth.

12. President George W. Bush was appointed President in 2000 by Supreme Court after the election results gave him more electoral votes but his opponent, Al Gore won the popular vote. John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. hayes and Benjamin Harrison also won the presidency without the majority of the voters. 

13. The teddy bear was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. 

14 .President Richard Nixon was the first president to resign his presidency over a scandal called Watergate.

15.President Taft became chief justice of the Supreme Court after leaving the White House, saying he preferred this job to that of being President of the United States 

16. Gerald Ford was the only president of the United States to not be elected by the people. He was appointed vice president by President Nixon and later assumed the office of president when President Nixon resigned.

17. President John Quincy Adams liked to swims naked in the Potomac River the early morning.

1. Pretend you are the President of the United States. Write a diary entry about a day in your life. Who did you meet in the Oval Office? What issue do you address? Etc.

2. Which president would you like to meet and why? What would you ask of this President?

3. What are FOUR characteristics you feel that someone who is President should possess? Why are these characteristics important?

Extension Activities:
1. Try this free web quest on the Presidents of the United States:

2. Have students illustrate a Presidential Factoid.

3. Have students share some of their responses from YOUR TURN.

You may wish to check out these resources:

The Election Process! (A Webquest/Extension activities)Students will learn about the election process including who the candidates are, requirements to run for office, requirements to vote, the Succession Act, the Electoral College and more. There are 12 web questions, a Did You Know?Comprehension Questions, Teacher page with extension activities, key, links.

Do YOU Know Your Presidents is a series of three challenges. Each challenge worksheet has 25 questions(with 3 choices). The first challenge is the easiest with the third, the hardest.There is also a Presidential Did You Know?

Did You know that President John Quincy Adams had an alligator? Martin Van Buren had two tiger cubs and President McKinley's pet parrot could whistle, "Yankee Doodle". Did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt served HOT DOGS to the King of England? Did you know that President Garfield could write with both his right and left hand at the SAME time? Presidential Webquest/Extension Activities:

Learn about the White House with 10 informative web questions, comprehension and discussion questions and several extension activities.NEW:Check out all my resources(summaries) in one place:

Gail Hennessey

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Valentine's Day and the Heart Factoids(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Valentine’s Day and the Heart Factoids
Possible Interactive Notebook Activity
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Click here for the free downloadable version:

1. At one time, Valentine’s Day was also the day to celebrate Groundhog Day! 

2. Ever wonder why lace is associated with Valentine’s Day? Seem the word comes from a Latin word, “laques”meaning “net.” Someone tries to capture  someone’s heart on Valentine’s Day.

3. Because blood is red and people once thought the heart was the center of feelings, red became the color of Valentine’s Day.

4. The first Valentine’s Day card dates back to 1415. It was in that year France’s Duke of Orleans send a love message to his wife while a prisoner in the Tower of London. He was captured in the Battle of Agincourt.

5. It is believed that Valentine’s Day began around 270 AD in ancient Rome.

6. One of the legends of Valentine’s Day says that the Roman emperor, Claudius 11, banned marriage during war time.  A priest named Valentine(some say a Bishop) continued to marry and was arrested and jailed for his “crime”.  While in prison, he sent the jailor’s daughter a note and signed it “from your Valentine.” He was eventually sentenced to death on February 14th.
7. Did you know that over 8 billion candy hearts are made each year for Valentine’s Day?

8. In 1537, King Henry VIII, of England, made February 14th, an official holiday.

9. On Valentine’s Day, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented his idea of the telephone!
10. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Italy, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, France, Great Britain, Australia and the United States.

11.Back when most people couldn’t write, people often signed their name with an X. Another person would witness their “signature”. The person would then kiss their X . Today, people sign notes with Xs to stand for kisses.

12. Have you heard the expression, “to wear your heart on your sleeve”? This saying dates back to the Middle Ages when men and women would draw a name and wear their  “valentine” on their sleeve for a week.

13. Did you know that the human heart is about the size of a fist?

14. In a lifetime, a person’s heart pumps about 1 million barrels of blood! That’s about 2,000 gallons each day or 5 quarts a minute!

15. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart throughout the body. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart.

16. People used to believe that your heart stopped when you sneezed. That’s why people started saying “bless you”. Actually, the heart does NOT stop. It just isn’t pumping blood as well. 

17. The heart is a MUSCLE. It is found in the MIDDLE of your chest, between your two lungs. 

Extension Activities:
  1. Illustrate one of the facts.
  2. Make a chart showing 3 of the countries which celebrate Valentine’ Day. Write 2 facts about each country.
  3. Pretend you are a human heart. Write a day in your life. What are you doing today? What are you thinking? Include 2 facts about the human heart in your story.
Teacher Page:
  1. Have students watch this short video and write 3 facts learned about Candy Hearts:
2.  Show the nutritional information of Candy Hearts:



10 Candy Hearts contain 60 calories.
Have students bring in a candy wrapper and discuss the nutritional information.
3. Have students review the heart diagram at this link:

4. Check out my webquest on Valentine’s Day and the human heart:

5. Check out my activity, The Red Game(also included in my Webquest activity):

6.  Show kids that everything has a history with my web question on the History of Candy:

Always appreciate feedback!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A "Grade Bank". What Do You Think? Possible Bell Ringer Activity

A Unique Type of Bank:A "Grade Bank"-What Do You Think?  

Saw this news story and wanted to share. It might make for a possible In the News Bell Ringer activity:

Imagine if you didn’t do well on a test. Did you ever wish you could get a few more points onto your test so you’d have a passing grade? A school in Nanjing,China, has opened a “grade bank. Yes, a grade bank! The idea is that students could withdraw or borrow a few points from the bank to bring their score up to a passing grade.  In return, students that make withdrawals must repay the “grade bank"...with interest.  The student would return some points from their next test score to the “grade bank". Additional ways to return your loan include doing public presentations or extra credit. For those students that borrow points and do not return them, the bank bars them from future withdrawals. Currently, the concept is only being used by students in the top ranking in their class.

Your Turn:
1.What do you think of such a grade bank?
2. Would you participate in such a program?
3. Do you think such a grade bank makes students more or less likely to prepare for a test? Why?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Black History Month Factoids(Possible Interactive Notebook Activity)

Black History Month:
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.”

*  Click here for the free Interactive Notebook download:

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?

  • It is said that an important question we should each ask ourselves is: “ What is something you have done for someone else this week?

“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 Thirteen 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:

Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on Katherine Johnson:
Learn about Katherine Johnson, a physicist, space scientist and mathematician, who played a very important role with NASA’s early space missions. The movie Hidden Figures highlights the role of NASA's "computers" such as Katherine Johnson.

Check out my Reader’s Theater Script on George Washington Carver: