Label: Animals

July 5, 2016

Happy Publication Day to @Seymour Simon for his new book, INSECTS!

Cover of Seymour Simon's book INSECTS

The photographs are amazing, and you will learn some fascinating things in this book:

  • All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. 

  • There are at least four times more kinds of insects than all other animals combined.

  • The number of insects alive at any given moment is approximately 10 quintillion (that is 10 followed by 18 zeros!)

    Available on Amazon



    Posted by: Liz Nealon

    (0) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animals, Animal Books, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    January 27, 2016


    Did you see the video that the Smithsonian’s National Zoo captured after last weekend’s blizzard? When male giant panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) woke up to a lot of snow, he was pretty excited about it.

    Unlike you and me, Tian Tian did not need to bundle up to be comfortable in the snow. Giant pandas have thick woolly coats that keep them warm in the snowy mountains of China.

    Since it is Writing Wednesday, let’s take this opportunity to do some descriptive writing. Watch this video of Tian Tian in the snow, and imagine all the sensations he is feeling. Describe what he was smelling, seeing, feeling, tasting…..all the things that made him want to roll over and over in the big white stuff!

     Be patient while the video loads below. If you are using a tablet you may not be able to see this video. Try viewing it on a desktop computer. 

    When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your work with others. Happy Writing! 


    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Video, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    October 30, 2015

    I know that I have many cat lovers among the readers of my blog, so I’ve been saving this adorable photograph to share today! 

    If you and your friends are planning to trick or treat tomorrow, please remember these simple rules:

    1. Wear bright costumes and put reflective tape on your costume or trick or treat bag, so that it is easy for drivers to see you if you are out at dusk or after dark.

    2. Only trick or treat at houses that have their porch lights on, signalling that they are welcoming trick or treaters.

    3. Never go into a stranger’s house - stay on the front porch.

    4. Travel in a group - there is safety in numbers.

    5. Don’t eat any candy or treats that are not wrapped and sealed. 

    6. Be a helper for younger children who might be scared of the dark or the scary costumes. Little kids might be feeling shy or nervous and you can help them make their way up to the door and let them know that you are kind, not scary, no matter what your big kid’s costume looks like!

    That’s it - simple rules that make the evening fun for everyone. Happy Halloween to all my readers!

    - Seymour 


    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (3) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cats, Halloween   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    October 29, 2015

    Are you as fascinated by bats as I am? I love to watch them come out just after the sun sets and begin to feed on insects on summer nights. I have not seen as many in recent years because we have a fungus called "white nose syndrome" endangering the Brown Bat here in North America. Scientists are still trying to find a way to protect our native bats. 

    A different species, a large fruit bat known as the Spectacled Flying Fox, is facing its own challenges in Queensland, Australia.

    It turns out that the problem for these bats is ticks, which dig into the bats’ skin and inject a paralyzing poison. Once their feet are paralyzed, they can no longer hang upside down from tree branches to sleep, and they die. 

    The time of year when the ticks are most plentiful is also the time when most baby flying foxes are born, so rescuers realized a number of years ago that they needed to come up with a plan to save these orphaned baby bats.

    Veterinarians in Queensland set up the Tolga Bat Hospital, and hundreds of orphaned baby fruit bats are being rescued each year and raised at the hospital until they can be released into the wild. 

    Isn’t is good to see these magnificent wild animals being cared for by humans?


    Photo: Jurgen Freund / 

    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (4) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Conservation, Halloween   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    October 14, 2015

    A baby seal who adopted a wildlife cameraman is the subject of today’s Writing Wednesday.

    The Story:

      Cameraman Raymond Besant’s job on a nature documentary was to spend three weeks filming a colony of grey seals. He built a “blind”—a hiding place that looks like it belongs in nature, with a peek hole for the camera to shoot through—so that he could work without disturbing the animals. 

    One morning he showed up for work and found the blind had been damaged. At first he thought it was because of a storm the night before, but when he looked inside, he found a sleeping seal pup (baby). 

    "I gently shook the blind and eventually he shuffled out. He had wrecked the place and he was molting so there was fur everywhere. It smelled pretty bad, like a wet dog."


    He tried building all kinds of barriers with driftwood across the entrance to stop the seal pup from getting in, but every morning he would come back to work and find a little head poking out of the blind.


    Eventually, he decided to stop trying to block the seal, and started sharing the space. "He was just a clever seal that had found somewhere warm and dry to stay," said the cameraman.

    Your Assignment:

    Tell the story of the baby seal pup in your own words. Use details from what you read and from the photographs to make your story come alive for your readers.

    When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your work. Happy Writing!


    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (15) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    September 30, 2015

    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.

    Happy writing!


    Posted by: Liz Nealon

    (2) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    March 27, 2015

    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?

    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    September 30, 2014

    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 

    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (5) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    September 11, 2014

    I posted yesterday about the excellent comments posted by two first grade classes about one of my Writing Wednesday exercises, called Pandas.

    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.

    Sincerely Jacklyn 


    Thank you, Catie and Jacklyn, for your wonderful notes. You made my day!


    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

    September 10, 2014

    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.

    Posted by: Seymour Simon

    (0) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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