September 11, 2014
Love these Student Notes!
Last night, several of those students posted notes when they got home. Boy, did these make me smile! Here’s what Catie wrote:I loved reading your books today in my class so much that I made my Mom read them with me when I got home from school. My sister wants to be awriter when she grows up. I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up yet. Thanks for writing such awesome books for us to read. I hope when I get older I can write stories just like you.
Catie in Mrs. Akers/Ballisteri’s 1st grade class
A second student wrote:
Hi my name is Jacklyn. I really really like your panda books. Book 2 gave more info.
Thank you, Catie and Jacklyn, for your wonderful notes. You made my day!
September 10, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Reading about Pandas
It’s Writing Wednesday, and we’ve had some really good comments posted by first grade classes at an elementary school in Bryant, Arkansas.
They have been reading a story about PANDAS that I posted last year. I asked readers to compare two different books about giant pandas—- an illustrated book by Susan Bonners, and a photo essay book by Caroline Arnold. Here is a link to click if you would like to read about pandas, and perhaps you will share your ideas, too.
Thank you for writing, Bryant students! Everyone can check out their ideas by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of the pandas blog post.
September 9, 2014
Cool Photo: A Flock of Goldfinches
On Tuesdays, we usually share a "Cool Photo of the Week."
Since Seymour was writing last week about how much he loves to watch American Goldfinches at his birdfeeder, I thought I’d share this photo, taken by Kevin Raymond in Stevensville, PA.
How’s that for a flock of goldfinches?!
September 4, 2014
Love the American Goldfinch!
I love watching American Goldfinches at out bird feeder during the spring and summer months. They’re smaller than sparrows and their colors range from bright gold to pale yellow depending upon the season and whether they’re male, female or young birds. They are usually in groups of anywhere to a few to more than a dozen. This is a photo of a juvenile goldfinch at our feeder (notice the spiky pinfeathers).
I think what I love best is the way they fly and sing as they fly. They swoop down from nearby trees to the feeder in a kind of rising and falling flight, singing as they fly. Their song sounds like a series of "per-chick-a-rees" that rises and falls along with their flying. In other words, they sing the way they fly. Amazing!
We use thistle in our bird feeder to attract them and they seem to love feeding on that seed. They feed all summer long at the feeder and also on the seeds that fall on the ground below the feeder. They are migratory birds and fly south in the fall and north in the spring. And I know that I for one will miss them when they depart for warmer climates in the fall.
September 3, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Thinking about Your Senses
It’s a new school year, and today is Wednesday…..so it’s time for a new WRITING WEDNESDAY!
Today, we’re going to look at a Seymour Simon book that is an old favorite.
It’s called PROFESSOR IQ EXPLORES THE SENSES.
As you read the pages below, about our sense of sight, think about all the different ways that Seymour Simon and illustrator Dennis Kendrick provide information to the reader.
If you need to, go back and read again, and then write several sentences about which features of this particular informational text you think are most helpful to understanding more about your sense of sight.
When you have finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to paste in your writing for others to see.
As Professor IQ would say, "Every day is a good day to explore!"
Note for Educators: Seymour Simon’s book is part of the affordable, streaming, narrated eBook collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.
August 25, 2014
OUR SOLAR SYSTEM: Brand New!
Today HarperCollins is publishing the updated edition of one of my favorite books: OUR SOLAR SYSTEM. And for the first time, it is available not only in hardcover, but also as a paperback and an eBook.
As a science writer, the one thing I can be absolutely sure of is that the "facts" as they are known at the time I write a book are sure to change. So although many of my readers are familiar with this book, you’ll find plenty of new information here (like adding a section about the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, in Russia in February 2013, injuring nearly 1,000 people).
And, we’ve added many, magnificent photographs in the new edition - I’m very excited for my readers to see and read this book again.
Thank you to my editor, Nancy Inteli, for all her hard work and guidance on Our Solar System. I’m very proud of it.
July 25, 2014
Plan a Perseid Midnight Picnic!
We are re-running this blog post, which was originally published in August 2010.
Every summer we are treated to the Perseid Meteor Shower in the Northern Hemisphere. This year the peak viewing nights are late July and early August, since the full moon on August 10 will make it very hard to see the meteors. If the skies are clear where you live, you will be able to see dozens of meteors per hour——and you’ll see more after midnight than before. It’s about the most satisfying amateur astronomy experience you can have.
One August when my daughter was in elementary school, we planned a middle of the night Perseid party for her friends and their families. Everyone was invited to come at 3:30 am, with pajamas being acceptable attire! We asked them to bring a pillow for everyone and quilts that they didn’t mind laying in the dewey grass. I guided everyone via flashlight to the pitch dark meadow behind our house, and we laid together in the dark, ooh-ing and ah-ing as if it were a fireworks show. Then at 5am, as the rosy-fingered dawn started to illuminate the horizon, we brought everyone up to the house for a middle-of-the-night brunch. It was a memorable evening.
Of course, the trick to serving brunch in the middle of the night is to prepare everything in advance, so that you can sleep until the very last minute before guests arrive. I have a favorite quiche recipe which can be made in advance and quickly heated up in the oven or microwave. Cut up a fruit salad, set up the coffeemaker before you go to bed and you’re ready to go. For anyone who would like to try it this week, here’s my recipe. Enjoy it under the meteor shower!
PERSEID BREAKFAST QUICHE
1 box pie crust mix 1 cup (1/2 pt.) Light Cream
8oz. Gruyere or Swiss Cheese (.5 lb) Nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten Salt & pepper to taste
½ c. bacon, mushrooms or other fillings as you wish 1 TBL butter
½ c. nonfat Milk
Preheat oven to 450º. Cut the cheese into small cubes. Pre-cook any meat that you plan to put in the quiche and crumble into small pieces. If you are using vegetables (scallions, mushrooms, etc), cut them up and sauté in butter until they are nice and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make a single piecrust, put it into a pie dish and prick all over with a fork (so it doesn’t blow up into a big balloon!). I usually put some tin foil over the top edges to hold it up against the sides. Cook the piecrust alone for 5 minutes at 450 degrees.
After the piecrust is pre-cooked, sprinkle your fillings (bacon, scallions, etc) on the bottom and cover them with the cubed cheese.
In a bowl, beat three eggs. Add cream, milk, dash of nutmeg, sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pour over the cheese.
Bake 15 minutes at 450º. Then, turn oven down to 350º and bake 10-15 minutes more, til knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let it cool...read more
May 22, 2014
Talking with Students about Cichlids
I received many notes from students in New Jersey several days ago. They asked about the Rift Lake cichlids that I keep in an aquarium in my bedroom. The questions were great and I enjoyed reading them. You can read all of them in their entirety in the comments section of the original story, My Cichlid Tank.
Here are some things they asked and said:
Francesca wrote: "Wow!!! Those cichlid fish are the coolest fish that I have seen!!! They are so many colors and are really cool different patterns. I think that it is awesome that they react to their surroundings. I also agree to the fact that they are beautiful! I would also love to have a cichlid fish as a pet."
Kevin wrote: "I like that they swim with purpose unlike schooling fish, could you also tell how big they get and what they eat in the wild?"
Nehal asked, "how many eggs?"
Liam asked, "how many do you have?"
Here is my answer to their many questions:Cichlids swim individually and with purpose. They don’t school with each other and each seems to react to its surroundings. That’s why I like looking at them; each is an individual. I just went upstairs to take a new photograph for this story, and this fish swam right over to see what I was doing!
These cichlids are all from the African Rift Lakes in the middle of the continent. They are hundreds of different Rift Lake species and they are found nowhere else in the world. Cichlids are egg layers and lay anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of eggs. Many species of Rift Lake cichlids are very colorful and they come in a variety of colors and patterns. In their native lakes cichlids eat a variety of smaller aquatic animals and insects.
Cichlids are often belligerent and you wouldn’t want to keep them in a normal community aquarium, so I keep them in a separate cichlid tank. They sort of pick on each other but not so terribly. I purchased these six cychlids at Eddie’s Tropical Aquarium near Albany, NY when they were about an inch or so long and now some of them are three to four inches long. If they grow too large for my aquarium I will have to bring them back to the aquarium store in which they were purchased and they will place them in much bigger tanks. They are not the easiest fish to keep in a home aquarium, but for me at least, they are definitely worth it!
April 10, 2014
A New Book about The Moon
Seymour Simon’s new book, EARTH’S MOON: A SHIPMATE’S GUIDE to OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, has just been published by StarWalk Kids Media. It is available as an eBook right now, and we hope to publish it as a print book in the next year.
The Moon is our closest shipmate in space, and as Seymour Simon writes in the book, we travel together on our journey through the Milky Way galaxy. This fascinating book answers questions like: Why does the Moon change shape in the night sky? Why does it look as though there is a face on the Moon’s surface? And will we ever visit there again?
This is the second installment in Seymour Simon’s important new space series, A Shipmate’s Guide to Our Solar System. The first book, EARTH: A SHIPMATE’S GUIDE came out last year, and received an excellent review from Kirkus.
You can view a video trailer of Seymour Simon’s newest book and find out how the Moon was formed - it was a dramatic event!
April 10, 2014
I noticed that a whole group of students from Buffalo, Illinois commented on various stories yesterday. Thanks for stopping by - I’m glad you are enjoying my blog! Would someone like to comment on this post, tell me about your school, what grade you are in, and what you are studying in science? I’d love to hear from you.