Label: Kids Write

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 26, 2014

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!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Kids Write   •  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)

May 22, 2014

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!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(19) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Pets, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 21, 2014

Earlier this week I posted a photograph of a blade of grass as seen under an electron microscope. The structure of the cells looks like smiley faces. This prompted a number of my readers to wonder how this could be. Or as Josephine from Shanghai put it:


I wanted to ask you that why are there smiley faces on the blade of grass and how?


It’s simple, Josephine. I told a joke to the blade of grass just before it went under the microscope.


They really aren’t smiley faces, of course. This is just how a the cellular structure of a blade of grass looks under a microscope. But when we humans see it, based on our own experiences and what we know, we see a smiley face. 


I wrote a book called OUT OF SIGHT that is all about amazing things that are too small to be seen by the human eye. The photographs are quite extraordinary and you can see them because the eBook is a free sample book on StarWalk Kids Media - that’s the website for my eBook company. You can try out the book and see lots of these kinds of fascinating microscopic photographs at this link:  Out of Sight. I think you’ll be amazed by what you see!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Photography, Plants, Photomicrography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 20, 2014

I want to welcome the fourth graders from the Shanghai American School in China. I am so pleased that so many of you are reading and commenting on my blog!

I love it that your comments are full of questions, because that is how a scientist learns. We explore by asking questions, finding answers (or not), revising the question based on what we learned, and continuing to ask new questions. What we know about the world around us is always evolving and changing. That’s what I love best about science.

I would enjoy it very much if you would write to me about what you are studying in science this year and what you like the most about it. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 5, 2013


Thank you to the students and faculty at Altamont Elementary School - I enjoyed my visit to your school yesterday! We talked about everything from paper airplanes to outer space, and lots of animals, too.



  Congratulations to everyone who entered the Moth or Butterfly? contest. We had many good entries; each of you observed, did research, came to a conclusion and then wrote about it. Nice work!

As promised, there are two randomly selected winners - one individual student and one K-2 class. Each one of the winners will receive an autographed copy of my book BUTTERFLIES. Check with Mrs. Ahearn to pick up your prizes!

Here are the winners and what they wrote about which of these animals is a butterfly, and which is a moth:

Emily, age ten, from Mr. Whiteman’s Class, is the individual winner. Emily wrote:

I believe that insect A is a moth. I think this because a moth’s wings are to the side of his body, and it has very dull colors.

On the other hand, I think that insect B is a butterfly because, firstly, a butterflies wings rest upright on its back, and secondly, it has straight, clubbed antennae.

Mrs. Critelli’s Kindergarten Class were the classroom winners. They wrote:

We think that picture A is a moth because we learned that moths are nocturnal and picture A looks like it was taken at night. We also think it is a moth because it is smaller than the  insect in picture B. We learned that moths are smaller than butterflies. We also learned that moths don’t have knobs on the ends of their feelers and in this picture we do not see any knobs. These are the reasons we think picture A is a moth.

We think that picture B is a butterfly because we learned that butterflies have knobs at the ends of their feelers and in this picture we see knobs. We also learned that butterflies are larger than moths and the insect in picture B looks larger than the insect in picture A. Picture B looks like it was taken during the day so we think it must be a butterfly because butterflies are out during the daytime. These are the reasons we think picture B is a butterfly.

Thanks we had so much fun learning about butterflies and moths.


Mrs. Ahearn, Altamont’s school librarian, did a beautiful job of organizing everything for my visit this week. Thank you very much, Betty! Your kids were well-prepared and wonderful to work with.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Butterflies, School Visits, Contests, Kids Write, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 27, 2013

Seymour Simon is preparing to visit the Altamont Elementary School next week, and we are happy to see comments from many new readers on the Seymour Science blog. Students in Altamont Elementary - this contest is for you! 

Two lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s BUTTERFLIES. Here is what you have to do to enter:

1.    Write a comment on this blog post and tell Seymour whether each of these photographs is a butterfly or a moth.

2.    Tell him how you identified it. Give at least two reasons for each insect.

3.    Tell us your name (first name only), age and teacher’s name. Don’t forget your teacher’s name, because that is how we will contact you if you are selected as the winner.

4.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, October 4. The contest ends then.

Two winners will be chosen randomly from all the correct entries. Older students may enter individually, and we will pick one winner. Students in grades K-2 may enter as a class and work with their teacher to enter the contest; there will be one classroom winner.

What if you don’t know how to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth? You can find the answer right here on the Seymour Science blog. Look at all the entries under the label "Butterflies." We guarantee you that you will find the answer there!

So, get to work and send us your entries today. Your comments will be invisible until everyone has a chance to enter. Once the contest is over, we will post everyone’s writing.

Good luck!

READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(38) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Contests, Kids Write, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 25, 2013

Today I want to share some of the great writing submitted by the kids at Cider Mill School after they looked and the photographs and read what I wrote about the red fox who visited my house. What I particularly like is that you looked closely, observed, and wrote about fresh details in the photographs. You found your own words for describing what was happening in the scene, using imaginative words that engaged all of our senses. And some of you created wonderful new scenes and even let us in on what the fox was thinking. Nice job!


We had many entries from students in Mrs. Bosch’s fifth grade class at Cannondale House, with good use of dialogue* (imagining what the fox is thinking or saying) to describe the scene. 

Ben wrote:

The sleek, sly, soft orange fox stared into the cold autumn breeze waiting, hoping for a midday snack to come. The leaves howled and the grass shivered. The rocky surface beneath him stung like ice with a layer of frost. The sun glimmered as if in need of a coat.

Chris: What I imagine is that that the fox was just sitting in this refreshing autumn breeze and thinking about how nice this sunny day is. It was just chilling on those rocks thinking, "my friends really have to try this, they sure are missing out." What I saw was a cool red fox laying down on the little pebbles, with its big fluffy tail flapping in the wind. Its giant ears were probably picking up every little sound around him/her. The face was so pointy, it could probably be used as a butcher’s knife.

Pearson: The orange and red fox sits lazily on the rocky ground as the wind blows gently on its silky fur. He looks up to see birds fluttering their wings looking for a worm. The fox gently lays back down. He is sunbathing. "Ahhhhhhh," he thinks, "this is nice." After some time he gets back up and trots to another nice spot with some food.

Mrs. Froehlich’s Kent House fifth graders used some great adjectives and compound descriptors to describe the fox. Look for compound descriptors like "Autumn-colored fur".... ""sun-colored".... "newly-formed dew." 

Mikey: As I gaze out my window, I see a lonely fox licking his autumn-colored fur. He stretches his hind legs and slowly lowers himself to the ground. He stifles a yawn, and shuts his eyes as he starts to bask in the warm autumn sun. He lies there, and I continue to watch him. After a while, he opens eyes and stretches again. Then, he trots off back into the shadowed depths of his kingdom.

Kayla: I can see the sun-colored fox laying on rocks that have been heated up by the bright sun. The fox is sun bathing, but also pretending to be asleep for a possible mid afternoon snack. It is a bright and beautiful autumn day in late October and the fox is startled by the rustling of some leaves, but it is nothing. So, the fox settles down in a nice warm and cozy comfy spot and drifts off to sleep like he’s sitting on a cloud. "Nothing could wake me up now," he thought, but not long after that, a quiet little bunny...

read more

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, School Visits, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 19, 2013

I received this interesting question from two of the readers of this blog:

We have been reading about the Alaskan brown bear and polar bears.  Both claim to be the biggest bear. Could you answer this question? Which bear is bigger, the Alaskan brown bear or the polar bear? Thank you very much! You have a wonderful site and books! Thanks for doing what you do. We really do appreciate it very much!

Kaitlyn and Jacob, Minnesota

Dear Kaitlyn and Jacob,

  One of the things that I’ve learned over years of exploring and researching my books is that sometimes it is impossible to find the answer you are looking for until you figure out what is the right question! I’ve often started out researching a subject and as I learn along the way, I end up adjusting the question, sometimes more than once. 

This is one of those times, so let’s think about what you really want to know. What does "biggest" actually mean? Do you mean the heaviest? Or do you mean the longest?

As you found, the Alaskan, or Kodiak brown bear and the polar bear are the two largest members of the bear family. The Kodiak bear is the longest (or tallest), while the polar bear is the heaviest (on average). The Library of Congress website has this excellent chart which illustrates the differences between these two kinds of bear:


You can see why it is hard to say which is the "biggest" bear. But you can clearly distinguish between the heaviest and the longest/tallest.

Thanks for writing, and for giving me a chance to write about the importance of finding the right the question!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

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