Category Archives: Henningsen Blog

Rubber Band Contest

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Design and create a working invention/artwork that incorporates at least one (1) rubber band.

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Go to to download the official rules guide and entry form. All entries must be postmarked by March 16, 2016. Contact the EY coordinator in your building if you need assistance with this project.

Money Confident Kids Writing Contest

Learn about spending, saving, and setting smart financial goals by participating in this Money Confident Kids Website

Essay Prompt:

Discover and describe a true story of a time when your parent or guardian set a financial goal and then Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 8.20.36 PMachieved it. Include: the goal; a description of the spending and saving choices that were made to achieve the goal; and lessons that you can apply to your own future financial decisions

Here’s how it works:
1. Read an issue of Money Confident kids- Click here for an issue of Money Confident Kids

2. INTERVIEW a parent or guardian about money

3 . ASK about a time when he or she set a financial
goal and then made saving and spending choices to
achieve it.
4. WRITE a 200 – to 250 -word essay (based on your
interview) that describes the true story of achievement,
and what lessons you can apply to your own future
financial decisions.
Optional: Consider including a photo or drawing
with your essay!

5. ****CONTEST CLOSED*******
Submit to the EY coordinator in your building by  October 1st,  2015

Click here for more information about the process, prizes and to find the entry form for the contest.

If you read the magazine, conduct an interview, and write an essay and would like to enter it in this contest, please fill out the entry form and send it to the EY coordinator in your school by Oct 1st. If you need help with getting the permission form printed out, or any part of this contest, please contact the EY coordinator at your school.

Contest Presented by T. Rowe Price

Welcome back!

The beginning of the school year is always busy-but I have met with all of the students. I am so looking forward to spending time with them in the classrooms, in small groups, and at seminars.

Seminars-There will be seminars offered throughout this school year. The seminars topics  offered can be found at this link. These will be 1/2 day or full day events held at the Westside Community Center.  We will transport to that event and back to school.  If your child is interested in participating, he or she will need to complete the ticket and submit it by the due date. There will be some seminars where we have a more interest than spots, so please  encourage your child to turn in his/her best work on the tickets and to get them in by the due date.

Seminar ticket posted for a coding seminar ticket-click for info

Ticket posted for the invention convention ticket-click for info

All tier 2/3 students will be attending a seminar on Sept 3. The students will be creating his/her online portfolios.  This is a 1/2 day event and will be held at the Westside Community Center.

Reading-We are creating accounts in Storybird and the student have started making an “All About Me” book. This resource  is amazing, and we will be using it this year to create projects.  Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.27.37 AM

Math-We are dusting off our khan accounts and spending time exploring the resources found here. please encourage your child to spend time working at khan during the school week. Khan is lovely, since can children work at his/her own pace. Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.28.11 AM





Please contact me with any questions




Student Created Wonderopolis Pages

The grade 4, 5,  and 6 studentScreen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.48.18 PMs have spent the last several weeks creating Wonderopolis pages to share. Each student picked a topic, came up with question to answer, researched this topic in great detail, and set out to work on creating an informational product.

This is the link to find the projects– > EY WIKI

Please check out these projects. They turned out wonderfully!


Wonderopolis has a Online Summer Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.09.21 PMEnrichment Program  that I am going to check out for my own kids

We have many children who will be invited to attend the Extreme Math Day on May 13th.

Look for invites towards the end of this week. It will be a fun day of math puzzles!

If you are looking for some math problem solving, Noetic math has a few free online math contest practice resources @,

If you like those you could consider subscribing to the sumScreen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.24.17 PMmer program @

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns

Astronomy Day

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Astronomy Day is a free event for all ages sponsored by NASA Solar System Ambassadors, the Omaha Astronomical Society, UNO OSTEM and UNL Astronomy.  You’re sure to have a “Stellar” time participating in a variety of hands-on activities and celebrating Astronomy Day at the nighttime Star Party!

When: April 25, 2015

Where: Glacier Creek Preserve in Bennington, NE

Click here for a flier!

Highlights from BOTB 2015

bookworm_red  Recipe for Sharing Your Love of Reading & Writing
  • 20 Books
  • Over 150 Authentic Book Projects
  • 3 Authors
  • 1 Playwright
  • A Dash of Competition
  • A Little Free Library
  • A Sprinkling of our Favorite Neighborhood Bookstore

Yields:  120 students receiving a message of inspiration, perseverance, and hope!


Battle of the Books took a different spin this year at Westside Community Schools.  The morning started off with kids arriving and putting their book projects on display.  For each book read, students chose one project to complete.  There were 3-5 project choices for each book ranging from dioramas, to writing a letter to the author, to doing further research on a topic in the book.

Drew, 4th grader at Swanson said:  I loved doing the Battle Of The Books activities, and reading the books! Most of the books were amazing! :)

Check out some of the student projects submitted!

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Next, Omaha Playwright (and Westside graduate, parent and community member) Ellen Struve talked about her profession and love of reading & writing.  Not only did she talk about her personal journey to becoming a playwright, but Ms. Struve also involved the students in creating their very own play!  Throughout her presentation, Ellen embedded information about characters, dialogue, conflict, scene, and setting.  Based on the engagement level and questions asked by kids, there will most likely be additional play writers emerging from Westside in the future!

We found 3 BOTB authors on Twitter and they graciously agreed to Skype with our students!  Katherine Fitzmaurice, author of A Diamond in the Desert was up first.  She emphasized all the research that went into writing the book and even showed us pictures of the real characters.  She also showed students a pile of rejection letters and the numerous changes suggested by her editor.  Her advice for students wanting to write a book:  “You have to really like what you’re writing about.  Believe in yourself and like your story!”  

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Our next Skype call was with Valerie Hobbs, author of Sheep.  Many students chose to write Ms. Hobbs a letter for their book project and she graciously wrote letters back to all of them!  Talk about making a personal connection!  Several students read Sheep and fell in love with Jack, the border collie who tells the story.

Many students were excited when Ms. Hobbs shared information about the newly released sequel to Sheep.  At the end of Sheep, Jack finds Luke at the Good Shepherd Home for Boys.  Together, they are adopted by a couple and the sequel Wolf continues Luke and Jack’s story at their new home, a sheep ranch in Northern California.  Ms. Hobbs’ writing advice for the students: “Do a whole lot of reading of the type of book you’d like to write.”


Our final Skype call was with W.H. Beck, author of Malcolm at Midnight.  In addition to being an author, Ms. Beck is a school librarian.  Her advice for students was, “Make sure to set aside time each day to write.  You can make a list, write a short story, or just write down your random thoughts.”

Click Here for a Portion of our Skype Call With W.H. Beck



We didn’t forget the competition portion of Battle of the Books.  Students worked in teams to answer questions about all 20 books.  They used their iPads and participated in a Kahoot! created by Mrs. Lusero.  Students also took an individual test on a Google form.

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At the end of the day, Marla Fries shared her love of reading by telling the students about her Little Free Library.  Marla is a WCS community member, retired administrator, and volunteer at Westgate Elementary.

After the event, one student was so inspired that she wanted to build her own Little Free Library!  Check out Ava’s work!

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Ellen Scott from our neighborhood bookstore, The Bookworm, also shared her personal story and love of reading with the students.  She presented the kids with an opportunity to be on The Bookworm’s Kid Advisory Board.  We are so fortunate to have a family-owned bookstore in our Westside community!

Friday, March 13th was truly a wonderful day to celebrate many accomplishments!  To all the students who participated, Thank You for all your hard word and willingness to try something new.  The EY Team learned a lot throughout the process and we look forward to hearing your feedback!

If you attended Battle of the Books this year, please consider leaving a comment and letting us know your favorite part!  Also, click here for a quick survey about the day.

Science Olympiad Recap

Question: What do you get when you gather 110 students interested in science and allow them to think creatively, problem solve, experiment and collaborate?
Answer: Learning at its best!

The 2nd Annual WCS Elementary Science Olympiad was a huge success!  Throughout the day, students participated in a variety of events that challenged their thinking.

The Zoo School facilitated a Wildlife Safari event where students practiced their observation and inference skills.  The Barge Building event challenged students to create a foil structure that would float in water and support the most pennies.  Mystery Powders had students identifying substances based on their reactions to different liquids.  Other events included Rock Hound, Straw Tower, Mystery Boxes and Edible Vehicle.

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It was a great day thanks to the organization of Sheree Person-Pandil and John Thomsen from ESU #3.  We also had 9 amazing WHS students who shared their love of science by helping out at each event and facilitating a Science Bowl.


It’s so great to offer these types of opportunities to our students.  Seeing the level of engagement and enthusiasm from the students is what makes our job so rewarding!  Thank you to everyone involved in making this day a success!  Click on the link below to watch a short iMovie trailer of the day.

Click Here to Watch the Video


WELCOME BACK! It was great to see the kids this week! The cold day was a great chance to get caught up on some planning (and blog posts). Please take a minute to read about what we have planned for EY.


As we begin the second semester, we are working to complete our Superstars of History projects.  This is an exciting project based on a book purchased for us from the Scholastic Book Fair. The students have been researching, looking for connections, causes and effects, and how events developed during their chosen time period of history. Students then  began writing about the superstar of his/her choice. Here is a link to the book we are modeling if you want to take a peek. I am eager to have the students share them with you.  I am hoping to have these done and  ready to share by mid January.  We will be setting due dates at the next EY meeting day.


Upon completion of this unit, we will focus on Science.  We will be exploring  Wonderopolis and the endless resourcScreen Shot 2015-01-08 at 12.47.37 PMes found there. The student’s  culminating project for these studies will be to choose a science question, become an expert  in that area, and create a multimedia Wonderopolis page answering that question.

Math Olympiad Competition

We will continue with the Math Olympiad Competition in 2015.  These are the math tests that we take each month, November through March.  The meeting after the test is a great learning opportunity for the students. It is interesting to see how they approached the problems and to see the light bulb turn on as we discuss how to arrive at the correct answer using various methods. We will go over our first Olympiad during our next EY time.

Science Olympiad

The Science Olympiad is coming up on January 27th.  Please ask your child if he/she is planning to submit a plan for an edible car for a chance to attend this Science filled day.  Their plan is due on January 14th.  Here is the link to the activity Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this project. Your child will be notified if they are chosen to attend. We will be looking at effort and creativity to determine attendees.

Math opportunity

There are math minutes posted weekly through early March for students to check out.  The EY team is planning an extreme math day for those students who participate in these activities. Check it out at

Battle of the Books

We will keep working on Battle of the Books during E/I time through the end of January. Encourage your child to read as many of the 20 books as possible. We have a exciting event planned for those student who complete at least 10 books and activities. Invitations for the event will be out in early March.

I  wish you all a very happy and safe 2015!  I look forward to the second semester working with your children  and their teachers to enrich their educational experience.



EY updates

Hello! We area all working on our second quarter project-Superstars of History and I love to see the students researching and finding out about his/her specific time period. This week, the students will begin to research a specific event/person and begin to create the Superstar page. We will share these on the blog when complete! Continue reading for more information.

Events and Contests-There are tons and tons of events and contests for students on the EY blog. Check them out @

Geography Bee- If your child is participating in the school be please encourage him/her to check out for resources

For all children who love learning about our world-We have access from Nov. 10-Dec. 10 to a website which contains several resources. Scroll down to the “Books” section and look for “How to Ace the National Geographic Bee Official Study Guide,” and the “Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live.”

Quiz Bowl-The EY team sponsored a quiz bowl at Underwood Hills on Nov 7th.  Each of the 10 buildings sent two teams.  The questions were quite challenging and I was prouf of the teams that attended-link to the event and pictures!

Math Contest Practice– Our first Math Olympiad contest is coming up next week.  If your child likes to work on math contest problems, check out Math Stars

The purpose of Math Stars is to challenge students beyond the classroom setting. Good problems can inspire curiosity about number relationships and geometric properties. It is hoped that in accepting the challenge of mathematical problem solving, students, their parents, and their teachers will be led to explore new mathematical horizons. Math Stars are in sets for Grades 1-8 and include commentaries for teachers. All Math Stars Newsletters are ready for classroom use and available for downloading as PDF files.  Link to newsletters

Engineering Learning Center-Mrs. Spady has put some info about engineering opportunities for children @

Battle of the Books-The students are doing a great job with the book checks.  I am reading slides, helping with goal setting, and offering suggestions on how to improve projects. The students will have to read ten books and complete ten activities to attend the book celebration in the spring- but many of the students are almost to this point and it is mid November! Way to go readers!!!

Please email me with any question or concerns