Label: Common Core

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)

December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday is all about Pandas this week!

Below, you will find excerpts from two different books, both titled Panda. In each of these excerpts, the author is writing about the first days of life for a newborn panda cub.

The first, by Susan Bonners, is an illustrated story. The second, by Caroline Arnold, uses photographs as illustrations.

But those aren’t the only differences between these two books. As you read these passages from the two different books, we want you to think about the differences in the styles of the two authors, and write a paragraph about how they are different.

Things you might think about as you are reading: Why would you choose one Panda book over the other? Would you use these books for different purposes (and what purposes)? Why do you think each author chose her style of presentation? What reaction were the authors trying to get from their readers?

When you have finished writing about the differences between these two pieces of writing, click on the "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your writing with others. 


Note for Educators: Both of these books are part of the streaming digital 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.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

December 4, 2013

We would like to begin today’s Writing Wednesday by welcoming Mr. Gredder’s
5th Graders from Land O’ Pines Elementary School. We’re looking forward to hearing from you all!

Are you ready to write about FOG?

Science News Story:


Park rangers and tourists alike at the Grand Canyon were treated to a rare sight over Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone rushed to see as word spread that the massive canyon, the longest in the world, was full of fog.

Normally air gets colder with altitude. In other words, the temperature drops as you go up in the atmosphere. Occasionally, an "inversion" happens. An inversion means that the cold air stays close to the ground and the moisture condenses into droplets of fog. That is what happened at the Grand Canyon last weekend, filling the huge gorge with a mighty river of fog.

"Much better than Black Friday!" National Park Service Ranger Erin Whittaker posted on the Grand Canyon’s Facebook page. "Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!"

Your assignment:

Explain this unusual weather event in your own words. Use details from both the photographs and the news story in your description of this Thanksgiving treat.

Happy Writing!


Photos: Erin Whittaker, National Park Service 

Note for Educators: Did you know that we have more than 50 Writing Wednesday topics archived on We strive to make these posts evergreen so that you can use them whenever the topic suits your lesson plan. Check out the Writing Wednesday Archive today!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Cool Photo, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 23, 2013

Today’s Writing Wednesday is about a newly discovered planet far from our solar system, and it is different than any other we have ever seen. We want you to read this science news story and then come up with a better name for this new planet based on what you have learned from the story.

The Facts: Eighty light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered a planet that is six times bigger than Jupiter, floating all alone without a 

sun to keep it warm. Scientists have seen free-floaters like this before, but we have never been sure whether they were planets or stars that had died. This time, we have enough information to be sure it is a planet similar to the "gas giants" in our solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These planets are very low in density and consist mostly of hydrogen and helium gases. If you tried to land a spacecraft on Jupiter, for example, it would keep sinking down through the gas, until it would be crushed by Jupiter’s gravity.

The new planet is named PSO J318.5-22, and it is near a group of young stars called the Beta Pictoris moving group, which formed about 12 million years ago. One of the stars in that group is circled by its own gas-giant planet that’s about eight times bigger than Jupiter.

"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this," team leader Michael Liu said. "It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."

Your Assignment: I don’t think that PSO J318.5-22 is a very good name for a planet, do you? Write a paragraph telling your readers what you would name this planet, and why. Support your idea with information from the news story (above). When you are finished writing, you may post your writing for others to read by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post.

Happy Writing!


Image: An artist’s rendering of PSO J318.5-22 by V. Ch. Quetz / MPIA

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Astronomy, Exploration   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 10, 2013



It is time for a new contest! Seymour Simon is visiting the Cider Mill School in Wilton, Connecticut later this month, and this Writing Wednesday contest is for all the Cider Mill students to enter. Three lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s new book LIGHTNING NEVER LIES, from the Einstein Anderson: Science Geek series of science mysteries.




Here is how you enter. First, read this excerpt from LIGHTNING NEVER LIES

Once you have read this, here is what you do to enter:

  1.    Think about what these pages and the illustration (at right) tell you about the characters of Einstein and Paloma. Based on what you have read, make a list of each of their likes and dislikes, as well as their characteristics (their appearance and their personalities). Give specific examples from what you read to support your list.

2.    Then write at least one paragraph telling us about an interest or characteristic that you share with one of these characters, either Einstein or Paloma.

3.    To enter the contest, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog entry and share both your list and your writing.

4.    When you enter, be sure to also tell us your name (first name only), your grade, your age and your teacher’s name, so that we can find you if your entry is chosen. Allow 24 hours for your comment to show up online, because all comments by people under 13 years old are reviewed by a moderator and approved before they appear on the website. Be patient if your writing doesn’t appear right away!

5.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight on Wednesday, September 25th. The contest ends then.

6.    One winner from each grade will be chosen randomly from all the complete entries.

7.    Students who do not attend Cider Mill School may also enter this contest. The rules are the same as above, but for #4, please include your first name, your grade, your teacher’s name, the name of your school, and the city where your school is located. If we have at least 20 entries from other schools, we will randomly choose an extra prize winner from the non-Cider Mill entries. 

All winners will receive copies of LIGHTNING NEVER LIES, personally autographed by Seymour Simon. So, get to work and send us your entries today!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(55) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Contests, Kids Write, Einstein Anderson   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 7, 2013

Seymour Simon is pleased and honored that two of his books, VOLCANOES and HORSES, are included in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as English Language Arts Text Exemplars, Grades 4-5 Informational Text. Now, we are providing extra resources to help you make the most of these two popular books!

   Seymour has created detailed Teacher Guides for both of these books, and they are available as free downloads to anyone who is registered as a member of this website. The reason that you must register to become a member of in order to access the free teacher guides is that children also use the website and these materials are not for them. We do not share, sell or use personal information for any other purpose other than to register parents and educators for access to this area of the website.

You can become a member by simply clicking "Sign Up" at the right hand side of the yellow bar at the top of the page. Once you have registered, be sure that you are logged in and visit the "Educators and Families" section of Seymour Simon’s website to download individual copies of the Guide. 

While you are exploring the website, you may also want to try some of the many other free resources that we offer for classroom use on The website offers extensive classroom resources designed to expand students’ understanding and exploration of his books, and also to encourage and reward their efforts as growing readers and writers. In particular, the Seymour Science blog is widely used by schools and classes who are studying his books and looking for opportunities to publish student writing. We have also had very enthusiastic participation by classes in our weekly "Writing Wednesdays," which began again at the beginning of September. 

Best wishes to all the educators who use this website for a smooth and productive start to the new school year!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Volcanoes, Teacher Guides, Teachers and Librarians, Horses   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 29, 2013

We are so pleased and proud to report that the first two books in Seymour Simon’s new series, EINSTEIN ANDERSON: SCIENCE GEEK, have won GOLD (!!!) in the Mom’s Choice Awards!

Also honored by this award is the amazing illustrator, Kevin O’Malley, whose work on the series has been so important in bring the characters and stories to life.

We also want to thank the exceptionally talented StarWalk Kids editor Miranda Barry, who has worked tirelessly to bring Seymour’s "Fiction Meets Nonfiction" vision to life. Each of the five science mysteries in every book is accompanied by a real life project or experiment which allows readers to try out the science for themselves. Kids love the stories and educators appreciate the fact that these books are a perfect fit for Common Core activities.

Have you tried this great series yet? The books are available as both eBooks and paperbacks, and the first five volumes are now available in the StarWalk Kids Media collection of streaming eBooks. Click here for more information.

Congratulations to all for a job well done!  

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, New Books, Einstein Anderson, Awards   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 17, 2013

Today, for the Writing Wednesday before Earth Day, we are thinking about biodiversity (bye-oh-dye-VERSE-it-tee). This means that we are thinking about Earth and how many different, or diverse, kinds of living things are present on our planet. We can help to preserve biodiversity by making sure that our human presence does not destroy crucial habitats that support all the different life forms living here.


Experts think that Madidi National Park, in northwest Bolivia, may be the most biologically diverse place on Earth. More than 200 species of mammals, 300 types of fish and more than 12,000 plant species live in this single park. They range from the huge, 660-pound (300 kilograms) lowland tapir down to the tiny Spix’s disk-winged bat (right), which weighs just 0.14 ounces (4 grams) - about the same weight as a kidney bean that you would find in a bowl of chili. Record numbers of leopards live in this park, and so do more than 60 species of hummingbird!

How do human activities threaten the survival of all these fascinating species? Logging and stripping away forests has a huge impact by taking away habitats and reducing air quality, as trees remove harmful CO2 from the air and turn it into oxygen. Building highways, planting farmland and other human development also takes away critical animal habitats. In other locations, warming ocean temperatures are causing the death of whole reefs of coral, which are invertebrate animals living under the sea. Water pollution can also make animals and plants sick, or cause them to be trapped in nets, plastic and other debris. And unfortunately, many animals and plants are hunted by humans for food, trophies, fur, and other "collectibles."

Your Assignment: Write a letter to your fellow humans, helping them to understand why it is important to think about our impact on the environment around us. Make your letter as persuasive as possible by giving concrete reasons why people should change their behavior. And write a powerful conclusion that will help your readers understand the importance of your point of view.

When you are finished writing, you can post your letter for other to read by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the end of this article.

Photo: Kelley Miller / National Geographic

Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise supports Common Core Writing Standard W1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Conservation, Earth Day 2013   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2013

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a magnificent shot taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been sending us photographs from Saturn for almost nine years. This one is particularly beautiful because we can see Venus - a tiny, bright speck - shining in the distance.

We often see Venus in the early morning here on Earth, shining like a bright "morning star." This is an entirely different view, since Venus is seen here from a distance of 884 million miles (1.42 billion kilometers) away from Saturn.  If you want to try to imagine how far 884 million miles is, it is TEN TIMES the distance our planet Earth is from the sun. That’s quite a camera on the Cassini probe!

The early Romans named the dazzling white planet Venus, after their goddess of love and beauty. Gazing at this lovely image, you can certainly see why.

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI

You can read more about both VENUS and SATURN in my newly updated eBooks, which are part of the StarWalk Kids streaming collection of digital books for schools and libraries. These "Read and Listen" books have top quality, professionally-recorded narration and come with "Teaching Links" to support Common Core use in the classroom. Educators: Click here to sign up for a free, 30-day trial for your school.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, eBooks, Cool Photo, Solar System, Exploration, Saturn, NASA, Venus   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 20, 2013

This is Banana Joe. He is the top dog in America this week - the first affenpinscher to ever win ‘Best in Show’ at the historic Westminster Dog Show.

  Some people think that the affenpinscher’s face looks more like a monkey than a dog. What do you think? 




For today’s Writing Wednesday, we want you to write about whether you think Banana Joe’s face looks like a dog or like a monkey. Give reasons that support your opinion, and if you can, use linking words like because, since, or for example to help explain your opinion.

Have fun!


Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Writing Standard #1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Dogs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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