March 27, 2015
Meet the Ili Pika
Look at this cute, tiny animal. It is called an Ili Pika (pronounced "illy PEEK-ah" or "Pika" for short) and it lives in the mountains in China. The pika is very small, measuring just 7 inches (20 centimeters) long. That is about the same length as a 3-year-old’s foot.
The Ili Pika is an endangered species, with less than 1,000 known to be in existence. They live on rocky mountain slopes and eat the grasses there, but as global warming leads to rising temperatures, the mountain glaciers are shrinking, forcing the pikas to gradually retreat to mountain tops to find the cool moisture that nurtures the grasses that they eat.
Ili Pikas also tend to live alone and they are not as vocal as other pika species. So if predators are near, Ili pikas are not able to call out and alert each other. Because of these threats, scientists in China are working to establish an organization to study and protect this animal.
Some people think that this tiny animal inspired the famous Pokemon character, Pikachu. What do you think?
February 24, 2015
Colors in Nature
Even after all these years of writing science books for children, I’m still thrilled when I get a good review. This one is particularly meaningful, because it’s from Kirkus (who are notoriously tough reviewers) and because it’s of a book that I co-authored with my wife, Liz Nealon.
The narrated version of this eBook is part of our StarWalk Kids streaming eBook collection. I hope that you will try it with your students.
October 31, 2014
Happy Halloween from the misunderstood animals in my book ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES!
October 29, 2014
Seymour Simon’s New Halloween Book
Seymour Simon and Dennis Kendrick have teamed up again for a new "Silly Jokes and Riddles" book, and this one is perfect for Halloween! If you are a StarWalk Kids Media subscriber, the narrated eBook is already in your collection. If not, it is available on both Amazon and BN.com.
October 8, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Animals Affected by Climate Change
There was a disturbing story in the news last week, when a satellite survey discovered that 35,000 walruses had hauled themselves up on a beach in Alaska.
In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 27, 2014, provided by NOAA, some 35,000 walruses gather on the shore near Point Lay, Alaska. (AP Photo/NOAA, Corey Accardo)
Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist and leader of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific walrus research program, said: "The area’s summer sea ice vanished by mid-September, leaving the walruses with nowhere in the Chukchi Sea to rest between their dives to the seafloor for food." These animals usually rest on ice floating in the ocean, but if there is no ice available, they head for land. This huge gathering, larger than any seen before, is most likely due to the loss of sea ice in the summer due to the warming climate.
Since today is Writing Wednesday, we’ve decided to re-run a previous story about the effect of global warming on another Arctic animal, the polar bear.
This week, we are asking you to read an excerpt from Seymour Simon’s book GLOBAL WARMING, research your own facts and explain in your own words the point that he is making.
From GLOBAL WARMING, by Seymour Simon:
Global warming has changed the feeding patterns and behaviors of polar bears, walruses, seals and whales. It may even impact their surval.
Polar bears live only in the Arctic. They are completely dependent on the sea ice for all their life needs. In the winter, females give birth to cubs. The mother polar bear eats little or no food during the winter.
As spring approaches, the bear family makes a run onto the sea ice to feed on seals, their main source of food. If the ice melts, their food supply will be cut off and this will impact their survival.
Your assignment: Can you find facts to support what Seymour Simon is saying on this page? Use other books in your library, articles about global warming from Seymour’s blog, or other Internet sources to learn about the melting of the Arctic ice. Write a few paragraphs that use your own words and information that you have found to either argue for or against the idea that the survival of polar bears is threatened by the melting of the Arctic ice.
When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing!
Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Writing Anchor Standard #1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
October 8, 2014
Halloween is in the Air!
Look at this great photograph that I just received from Tamie Williams, the School librarian at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Neosho, Missouri. Those are two of my books, and one by my friend and fellow StarWalk Kids author Caroline Arnold.
Thanks for including me in your Halloween decorations, guys!
October 7, 2014
Autumn Leaves from Space!
Those of us who live in the Northeastern U.S. are very lucky in the Autumn, because the mix of deciduous trees in our forests and countryside make for a magnificent show as the leaves turn in August.
The change is so distinct that it can even be seen from space! This is our Cool Photo of the Week, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite, which is orbiting about 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth. You can see the Great Lakes in this photo, along with the changing autumn leaves.
Have you ever wondered why the leaves turn colors in the fall? Leaves stop producing chlorophyll when the days get shorter and the temperatures are colder. Chloropyll, which enables plants to turn sunlight into energy, has a green tint. So, when the chlorophyll is gone, the other colors in the leaves become visible. That’s why we see what is know as "fall colors."
Photos: Mary Terriberry/Shutterstock, NASA
October 1, 2014
The Cutest Animal: Writing Wednesday
Seymour heard from many of you on Twitter (@SeymourSimon) yesterday about the adorable photograph of the Western Pygmy Possum that he posted on his blog.
So today, for Writing Wednesday, let’s do some descriptive writing. Look at this photograph and think about everything that you see. Use all your senses. What does this little critter’s fur feel like? Can you feel its little heart beating when you hold it? How does it move? How does it look at you?
Of course, since you can’t actually see or touch a real Western Pygmy Possum, you will have to imagine all these things, and that’s ok! You also might want to do some additional research on your own, either in your library or on the Internet, and learn more about this animal. Or you could read yesterday’s blog post to learn more.
When you’ve studied the photograph thoroughly, and done whatever reseach you want to do, write a paragraph or two describing this animal with as much detail as you can. Help your reader imagine what it would be like to encounter a pigmy possum in a field.
If you would like to post your writing for other students to read, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post, copy and paste in your work.
September 30, 2014
Cool….no…..ADORABLE Photo of the Week!
Meet the Western Pygmy Possum, the subject of our Cool Photo of the Week. This tiny marsupial lives in the dry countryside in various parts of Australia. Its body is just 3 inches (7.7 cm) long and its tail is as long as its body. Like most marsupials (kangaroos, for example), the females in this species carry their young in a pouch until they are ready to live on their own.
This photograph makes me want to say: Can I have one, please?!
Photo: Amanda McLean
September 26, 2014
Finishing my Week in Blue Springs, Missouri
I’ve had a great time in the Blue Springs, Missouri elementary schools this week. I’d like to share just a couple of notes that have come in from students.
One thing I talk about when I visit schools is that I wrote and illustrated my first book, Space Monsters, when I was in second grade. That prompted this note from a Kindergarten class:
Dear Mr. Simon-Thank you for visiting our school yesterday and for sharing so much about being an author and a scientist. We are also writing our first books in our kindergarten class, just like you did when you were little. We can’t wait to check out your books and eBooks.We think you are cool!
Mrs. Jennings’ Kindergarten Class
I also talk with students about the fact that since we are citizens of the Universe, we need to know how to write our entire address. That prompted this note, from two students named Ryleigh and Khloie who are using our StarWalk Kids eBook collection:
Hey, we love your books and pictures. Ryleigh’s favorite book: funny space monster riddles and jokes. Khloie’s favorite book is: earth quake !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU
Location: USA Earth
Thanks, Blue Springs students. I have enjoyed my week with you, too!
If I haven’t been to your school yet, don’t worry. I will be back the week of October 13!