Raspberry Red Goodness from Mother Earth

Raspberry1The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I notice a few wild raspberries blooming among the shrubbery, and it reminds me of walking with my children happily collecting and eating the berries as we ambled through the countryside. Today we don’t find nearly as many bushes growing untamed along the roads as more construction and fewer farms are seen in my area. Still I wondered where did these berries come from and how did they get here.

There is some archaeological evidence that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. Red Raspberry, or Rubus idaeus, is native to Turkey and was gathered by the people living in Troy as early as the first century B.C. Rubus idaeus means bramble bush of Ida named for a nursemaid and the mountains on which they grew in Crete. During the Hellenistic Age they were associated with a Greek fertility myth that the berries were white until Ida, the nursemaid of Zeus, pricked her finger on one of their thorns and stained them red. Later on the Romans conquered vast territories and spread the seed of raspberries throughout their empire as evidenced in archaeological ruins of buildings and forts. These berries are mentioned in the fourth-century writings of Palladius, first Christian bishop of Ireland. During the Middle Ages raspberries were used for food and medicine. Artists employed their red juice in paintings.Only the rich could afford them until King Edward I in England encouraged their cultivation and made them popular in the late 13th century.Raspberry2,pic

The red raspberry may have originally come to North America with the prehistoric peoples crossing the Bering Strait. Explorers arriving in North America found Native Americans eating berries of all kinds. They dried them to use while traveling. European settlers brought seeds and new species of hybrid plants. In 1737 William Prince established the first plant nursery on the continent in Flushing, Queens, NY, and raspberry plants were listed for sale. Estate records from George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, dating from 1761, reveal raspberries being cultivated there. One hundred years later, more than forty varieties of raspberries were known throughout America.

Luther Burbank introduced many raspberry hybrids to Americans. He produced a multitude of crosses providing an unlimited variety of qualities. These raspberry plants may be a bush or a vine that grows up to three feet high. Their fruits are ready to eat right off the stems and separate easily by using your fingers, as long as you are careful of the prickly thorns. Wild berries supply food for birds and small animals. Many useful products are gleaned from raspberries: jam, jelly, juice, pies and ice cream. Health benefits are limitless. Raspberries contain high amounts of antioxidants that are believed to fight cancer and heart disease. The high content of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, and Vitamin C, and Niacin keep our bodies strong. In addition the minerals of calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium benefit all.

Today more than 70 million pounds of raspberries are sold within one year. So take a walk this spring to see if you can find some of these tasty and healthy raspberries.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

February 29, 2016

GrassNow that we are approaching March, most of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere are dreaming of warmer weather as we start to see patches of green sprouting up around us.

I sat down to think about the words “everything green” and was amazed at the number of images brought to mind. Some are associated with facial expressions: You look green, meaning one who has lost color and looks ill or “green with envy, one who is sneering with jealousy over another’s possessions. Then there are those phrases that apply to something or someone new, inexperienced or untested. New lumber is “green lumber”; a newcomer to a job is called a “greenhorn.” Not surprisingly, the word green is applied in the plant world. If you have a gift for gardening, you have a “green thumb.” When told to eat her vegetables, a child may be told to “eat your greens.” There is another set of words referring to places. A greenbelt is an area of land that is left largely undeveloped to conserve the environment. A “green room” is a lounge where performers wait before going on stage or television. Even the White House has a green room in which guests gather before a formal state affair begins.

In mid-March our attention turns to St. Patrick’s Day and the “wearing of the green.” Actually, blue waShamrocks the color originally associated with St Patrick. The term “wearing of the green” came from an Irish ballad written in the 18th century. Because the country of Ireland has more than 400 shades of green within it and became known as the “Emerald Isle,” green seems more appropriate. Also, St. Patrick is alleged to have used the green Irish shamrock to explain the Trinity. The Irish flag contains the color green. Over time the color associated with him became green. Today cities like New York and Chicago dye street lines and rivers green for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

What I find especially interesting is the story of the “greenback.” In 1862 after fighting the Civil War for one year, it became evident that war would be long and costly. State banks had already placed paper money in circulation, but the federal government issued gold coins only, which were rapidly disappearing as the war continued. So on February 25, 1862, the United States government approved the issue of paper money not backed with precious metals but with “full faith of the government” to be valid for all public and private debts. To avoid counterfeiting this paper, a patented ink which was difficult to erase and strictly guarded as a secret formula, was used on one side of these notes. The green color was difficult to photograph or copy. Because of this green color, Union soldiers who received them as pay began calling them greenbacks. Soon everyone else followed suit. Similarly, the gray or blue paper money issued by the Confederacy were known as bluebacks or gray backs.Greenback

Throughout the rest of the 60’s and 70’s the federal government issued approximately three to four million of these greenbacks not backed with gold. The increased amounts of cash was attractive to southerners and westerners who did not want to rely on the national banking system of the east which limited their ability to expand. Many of these proponents known as Greenbackers who sprang from agrarian, Jacksonian roots distrusted banking and big business. The debate continued until the Greenback party could not agree on other issues and their opponents succeeded in returning to the gold standard in 1879.

We find ourselves in the same controversy today asking questions about how much money should be in circulation,and how it should be controlled. In any case, the greenbacks are here to stay.

Enjoy the green that is popping up all around us. Happy Spring!

Barbara Ann Mojica

Let Students Tell Their Story with Adobe Voice

Wowza! I was so excited this week to happen across a new tool (new to me, anyway) called Adobe Voice.  Adobe Voice is a free app for the ipad that will make it easy peasy to do any kind of digital storytelling or report presentations with your class. In about 8 – 10 minutes you’ll have a digital story complete with text, music and images. What I like about it most, is that it’s fast and easy to use. Kids  and teachers need that!  Here’s a quick guide on how to use it:

  1. Download the free app onto your ipad.
  2. Hit + Create a New Story. It will prompt you to give a name to your project. Just type it in.
  3. Then it will give you a variety of story structures to choose from: Share an invitation, Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Explain Something, Follow a Hero’s Journey, Show and Tell, Teach a Lesson, or Make Up Your Own. Just click on one to get started.
  4. Now you see a screen that lets you add an icon, a photo or text, or any combination ( by clicking on layout at the top you can add more than one). You can choose a photo from your ipad gallery, take a picture, use dropbox, or search for royalty photos on the internet right from the app. Make your choice to add it to the slide.
  5. Then hold down the record button and speak your narration for the picture. There’s a playback button to hear the results. If you don’t like them, just hit record again and try again. It records over your first attempt.  It won’t take long to get it right.
  6. That’s it! That’s all there is to making a slide. The app automatically puts a blank background and background music behind with your slide, but you can easily change all, if you like, by clicking one of the features at the top: Layout, Themes, Music.  All are easily customized with simple clicks.
  7. You are done! Now you can share to Facebook, twitter, etc. or download to the cameral roll to save it to your PC for sharing. It’s just that easy!

Here’s a sample Voice Story that I made in about 10 minutes:

What a powerful tool in teacher’s hands! Now you can have students tell their story in a matter of minutes, use this to create lessons, or modify materials for students. (I can think of so many applications for this app!)

If you’d like to see more tutorial on this, you can find a great one here: How to Tell Your Story with Adobe Voice

Hope this is helpful.

As always, if you have questions, I’m here.



Flipped out over Flippety! Simple Flashcard Review Tool

I just learned about this awesome review/flash card tool called FLIPPETY that I am flipped out for and excited to share with you!  Let me explain.

FLIPPETY  is a tool that let’s you convert a simple Excel doc. into “flippable”—I’m not sure that’s a word, but I’m using it anyway— online flashcards, in a flash!  The tool is a fast easy way to create a review for test, new vocabulary, or any content that you want to go over with students. Here’s how:

  1. Go to
  2. Read the simple instructions, which are basically:
    1. Make a copy of the template, change the questions and name them.
    2. Go to file ->publish to web ->publish. Then copy the link.
    3. Click on “get the link here” tab. Paste the link into the light blue cell (you’ll see the tab at the bottom of your flippety doc), to get the link to your flashcards.
    4. Click on the link to view your cards.  Be sure to bookmark or post the link, so you can access them easily in the future.
    5. Wallah! You are done.  You can share the link with parents, collaborative teachers, or your students so they can access the review from any device.  Cool, huh?

I made this review for my class in about 5 minutes.  It was easy and fun.

The Rocky Mountain Region Review

You can even color code the flash cards according to question type, or just add color for interest. Check it out!

One final bonus? Flippety also generates a printable list of the questions/answers, a word cloud, and a printable quiz! And… if you prefer to make it into a Jeopardy type game board, instead of just flashcards, you can! Great just got better! Here’s the link with instructions: Flippety Quizshow Link

This tool is now on my list of “Most useful” for the classroom. I hope you find it useful in your classroom, too!

Sharing is caring! If you found this post useful, please share, like or tweet about it! And before you go, be sure join our weekly newsletter so you’ll never miss another post. Newsletter subscribers also have exclusive access to fabulous freebies.  Each week I give away new resources for your classroom, absolutely free! Sign up to get access to these freebies each week!



Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Let the Holidays Begin!

Macys-Thanksgiving-Day-ParadeIt’s beginning….that magical, mystical, bustling time of the year generally referred to as “the holidays.” You have seen evidence spring up long before now, but for me, the holiday season officially begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

The first parade sponsored by the US chain store Macy’s occurred in 1924; the American Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit originated that same year. One holiday parade, today known as 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Parade, began in Philadelphia four years earlier in 1920. Macy’s first parade was known as Macy’s Christmas Parade. It extended from 145th Street to the store at 34th Street. The employees marched in costume. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. Santa Claus arrived at the end just as he does today. But in that first parade, a jolly elf was enthroned and crowned “King of the Kiddies.” An estimated quarter of a million people watched it.

A few years later, Macy’s asked Anthony “Tony” Frederick Sarg, who worked with marionettes, to prepare a window design of a parade. His animal shaped balloons made by Goodyear replaced the live animals in 1927. The Felix the Cat balloon made its debut in 1928. Originally filled with air, balloons with return addresses were released at the finale of the parade. Anyone who returned one was given a free gift from Macy’s. After an incident of balloons bursting, they were fitted with safety valves and filled with helium instead of air.

Popularity of the New York parade continued to grow; the parades were broadcast on radio in the thirties. There were suspensions from 1942-44 because helium could not be spared during World War
II. This parade gained international notoriety when the film, Miracle on 34th Street, was released in 1947, and in 1948 it was broadcast on television for the first time. Today approximately forty-four million people tune in to watch the three-hour spectacle.

Most spectators look forward to the balloons. Actually, there are three types of balloons. Novelty balloons are the small ones that might fit on a performer’s head. There are the full-size balloons that depict larger than life popular culture characters. Lastly, there are “Blue Sky Gallery” balloons that transfer real life contemporary works of art into balloons. Some balloons are float based known as Falloons and others are self-powered vehicles called Balloonicles. New balloons for 2013 include Finn and Jake, Toothless Dragon and Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary, but there are plenty of old favorites like Popeye, Betty Boop and Rocky and Bullwinkle.

If you tire of looking at balloons, there are marching bands and cheerleaders from high schools all over the country. They spend many hours training just for the chance to be chosen to march in the parade.
The Radio City Rockettes perform one of their sparkling holiday dance routines, favorite singers of adults and children alike lip sync songs at the end of the route, which now extends from 77th Street to the Macy’s store on 34th Street. Casts from several Broadway shows perform a number for those who can’t attend the theater. Many performers from popular TV shows also make an appearance. Yet, the whole parade continues to build up to one climatic event—the appearance of Santa and his sleigh as he officially ushers in the holiday season.

Maybe we are all children at heart!

Barbara Ann Mojica

Bringing History Alive for Students!

Babs4BackCover (1)Some people  just have a gift for teaching and sharing new information in unique ways. This week, I want to introduce my readers the author of the Quest Teaching weekly book reviews, Ms. Barbara Ann Mojica.  Barbara definitely has that gift! She is the author of the award-winning Little Miss History Series and I feel so fortunate to feature her wonderful contributions on the Quest Teaching site each week. As you read her bio, I know you’ll be as impressed as I am with her ability to bring history alive!

Barbara’s Bio:  I have always been passionate about history, and during my lifetime have been fortunate to have the opportunity to visit thirty countries and more than half of the states in the USA. Now a retired teacher and school administrator I can go back to my first love, history. I began doing so in 2011 by writing biweekly historical articles for a local news magazine, The Columbia Insider.

I saw an opportunity to make history come alive for children when I married a talented artist and author. He designed the Little Miss HISTORY character, featured in my books, based on my younger self. I then combined my passion for history and extensive travel experience to write picture books that will make learning history fun for children, and as it’s turned out, fun for adults too!

I love watching the faces of children when they first open my books. The illustrations appeal to children as young as age two. The older children immerse themselves in the text, as well as the illustrations, as they learn more about history while having fun traveling with Little Miss HISTORY. Writing the Little Miss HISTORY series has also allowed me to connect to other writers, parents, and teachers via my blog and online media sites like Quest Teaching.

At Quest Teaching, we are proud to  feature Barbara’s thoughtful, honest, and insightful book reviews on Thursdays.  Watch for them so you won’t miss the opportunity to share some great new reads with your class!  At the end of each month, Barbara also provides commentary as to the historical development of present-day customs, events, and practices.  These articles provide interesting input for student discussion and will be of great benefit in any social studies classroom! Her snippets of history are sure to keep your students engaged and spark their interest in learning history!

To check out her prior posts click on the reading coin for book reviews and the social studies coin for the history features. Enjoy!

You will find more of Barbara’s work on her blog

Book Review – Aztecs at a Glance

Legends of History: Fun Learning Facts about the Aztecs

Written by Matt Curtis


This was my first time reading a book in this series. Other books in this series discuss civilizations such as the Vikings, Egyptians, and Celts. Quite a bit of knowledge packed into thirty-four pages. Curtis uses a conversational approach in discussing what peoples made up the Aztecs, where they originated, who were their leaders, and how they got elected. He includes descriptions of the cities they lived in, the pyramids within them, and their controversial religious views which involved human sacrifice. One of the sections that I found most interesting was Curtis’ explanation of the social stratification system and the erratic system of justice they followed.

Curtis gets down to everyday life when he talks about children, the games they played, their pictograph language, and the type of ornate artwork and clothing worn and displayed, especially among the noble classes. Of course the empire came to a swift end once the Spaniards landed and the welcoming Aztecs realized that Cortes and the Spaniards intended to deplete their economy and rule their lands with an iron fist. Two years later in 1521, the Aztec Empire had been conquered.

These books are targeted for ages five through fifteen. While the text is clearly written, I feel it most appropriate for readers in the eight to twelve age range. The photos included are small but relevant. Parents, teachers, students and librarians will appreciate having this book on their shelves for reference and a good starting point for further exploration of the topic. I look forward to checking out others in the series.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

The History of Household Pets

Humans seem to have a need to bond with animal friends. In my own household, we have had experiences with a myriad of pets. Some of these are common choices like dogs, cats, and birds while others are a bit unusual like seahorses and hermit crabs. I thought it would be interesting to explore how the types of pets in households evolved over time.

Most Americans love their pets. Our first settlers came here with dogs, cats and farm animals. During the early days of our country, most pets were both farm workers and pets. They were often known as favorites. By the 18th century, the settlers had also begun to tame wild animals. Visitors to America were shocked to deer wearing fancy collars and kerchiefs walking the streets and even meandering through homes. Ironically, many Americans saw no problem in hunting the very same kinds of animals they kept as pets.

Squirrels on leashes followed their owners and sat placidly on their shoulders. If they were caught when very young, they were easy to tame. Squirrel nests were frequently robbed of their young babies which were sold in the city markets. Because squirrels gnawed wood, tin cages with metal bars were developed. The fact that squirrels liked to run led to cages with mills and waterwheels. Does this sound remarkably similar to pet hamster cages used today? Children particularly loved flying squirrels. The well-known painter, John Singleton Copley painted a portrait of his half-brother, Henry, playing with his pet squirrel in 1766.

Wild songbirds like cardinals and mockingbirds were frequently sold in the city markets for use as pets. Wealthy citizens could be observed playing organs and flutes while standing in front of caged wild birds trying to make them sing songs to classical music. Many owners believed songbirds could be taught to sing to a tune. If a song were played over and over, birds would imitate the music. Peter Kalm, a Swedish-Finish explorer of the 18th century writes in his accounts that turkeys, wild geese, pigeons, and partridges were often let free in the morning being so well tamed that they flew back home in the evening.

Kalm talks about other wild mammals as well. He says beavers were tamed to bring home their fishing catch to their owners. Some otters were observed to follow their masters. When the master went fishing in a boat, otters were seen jumping into the water and coming up with a fish for him. Kalm remarked that raccoons appeared domesticated, yet at night continued to kill poultry. Owners needed to carefully hide sugar and sweets from them. Kalm mentions a deer in New Jersey so tame that it runs into the woods for its own food, but at night brings wild deer home to its master providing him the opportunity to hunt deer at his doorstep! Indeed, the deer was a very common pet in the early to mid 18th century. A 1730 painting in the New York Historical Society depicts a young boy from Manhattan with a pet deer wearing a collar. In Virginia, the Revolutionary War hero, Dr. Benjamin Jones kept more than one hundred deer to amuse the family children and grandchildren. As time went on, Americans learned that as they become older, deer became troublesome. Increases in population and traffic particularly the invention of automobiles led to the elimination of deer as pets.

Today we are attached to more domesticated pets such as cats, dogs, and birds. It is hard to imagine the energy it must have taken to tame the wild mammals most of us now view as animals to hunt or nuisances in the 21st century.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….children’s book series