Label: Kids Write

March 5, 2012

I am going to visit a school in Menands, NY later this week, and in preparation for my visit, Ms. Sposito and her first grade class have been reading my books. What a nice surprise to find the lovely photographs and notes that they have been uploading today!

Abbi and Sabrina wrote: We loved your KILLER WHALES book Seymour Simon. We liked the part about the blowhole.  The picture of the pod looks like a group of whales huddling together to have a meeting. How did you get the photo under the water?

 

Toby and Varun are fans of AMAZING BATS: We like how you added all the facts about the different kinds of bats. How do you know this much about the gigantic flying fox?

 

Leilah and Mady learned some surprising things from BABY ANIMALS: We loved your Baby Animals book. We were amazed when we read that a humpback whale is 12 feet long at birth.  We were also surprised to find out that baby garter snakes don’t live with their mothers. 

 

 

Alicia, Roshni and Brody wrote: We read your book AMAZING BATS. We loved it! There were some parts we really liked. We thought it was disgusting but cool when we read that the ghost bat eats rats. We wondered, does the little brown bat’s stomach hurt when it eats 600 bugs an hour? We think it is silly to sleep upside down!

 

 

LaTrell and E-Sonne wrote: We loved your book KILLER WHALES. Whales are cool because they swim really fast and are so huge! We learned that killer whales eat fish. 

 

 

Jayden, Lyam and Alyssa liked the same book: We think the Killer Whale book was amazing! We did not know that whales can breathe on top of the water. We think it is cool that whales use flippers to steer and turn. How did you make the book? 

 

Alexa and Reem wrote: Hi Seymour Simon. We are glad that you are coming this week because we love your Seymour Simon books! We love to read your BABY ANIMALS book. We liked learning about ducklings. We hope you make more books. See you on Thursday. 

 

 

Aditi, Shafe, Alexis and Kamellia like BABY ANIMALS, also. They asked: How do you know so much about baby animals? We are so amazed by your books! We want people to read your books. We found out that baby animals are surviving all over the world. They are living things. Have a nice trip coming all the way to Menands. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(8) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, School Visits, Kids Write, whales, SeeMore Readers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2012

Students in Springfield, Illinois and their teachers are preparing for my visit next week. They sent me a number of questions which I decided to answer here, so that everyone can read.

Tommy W. asked: Have you ever been diving before?

(SS) Yes, I used to love scuba diving, seeing the fish and collecting shells. It is an amazing world under the sea! In fact, my next book, which is coming out this summer, is about CORAL REEFS. 

Izzy wants to know: How many dolphins are there in the world?

(SS) This is a hard question to answer, since there are at least 45 different dolphin species, and they live all over the world. Some species are declining or endangered, other species are growing and doing well. Scientists estimate that there are about 170-million dolphins currently living on Earth. You can learn a lot more about dolphins in my book about these magnificent creatures.

Tyler C’s question: How long have you been a discovering all this knowledge? (SS) I have loved nature since I was a little kid. Although I grew up in the Bronx - a very crowded part of New York City - the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

Maddie R.: How do you get all of the pictures in your books? Have you ever
been bitten?
 Sydnee wondered much the same thing: How do you take pictures of sharks without getting bitten?

 

(SS) I am asked this a lot because photographs are such a big part of telling the stories in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. 

Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film. 

These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This distance keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

Thanks for writing everybody. Although I am happy to answer your questions, I am really more interested in hearing your thoughts about science, nature and fascinating animals. Please come on my Seymour Science blog regularly and use "comments" to tell me what you are discovering as you are reading here.

I am looking forward to meeting you all very soon!


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: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Sharks, Author Study, Dolphins, Kids Write, Seymour Simon, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 2, 2012

One of the really special things about being a children’s author is that you receive many letters and notes from readers who love your books. Yesterday I received a note that was so sweet and wonderful, I decided to publish it here for others to read. Thank you, Lilly in third grade!


Hi. i’m Lilly. I am nine and in third grade. I love your non-fiction books especially BIG CATS. My favorite animal is a big cat, it is the cheetah. I am kind of obsessed with cheetahs. I would love if you could answer some questions I ask you…what’s your favorite animal, How many pets do you own, What city do live in. Could you please send me a few pictures of animals. Have you ever encountered a cheetah? You are so inspiring to me… you inspire me to do what i love. You say we should protect wildlife which i agree. I have an acrostic just for you…

 

Spectacular

Eccentric

You have a beautiful heart

Marvelous

On my mind every time I see an animal

U r awesome

Rescuing animals in words

 

Somebody to know

Inspiring

Magnificent

One of my favorite authors

Notice how wonderful you are at writing

 


Thank you SO much for your lovely letter and wonderful acrostic. I’m so touched and pleased at what you wrote, Lilly. Cheetahs are great big cats and they are fascinating. I’ve only seen cheetahs in zoos and I’m afraid that I don’t have pictures of the animal to send to you. I only use photos of wild animals that are taken in the wild (not in zoos) in my books, so I get the photos from scientists who study the animals in nature.

I’m not sure I have a single favorite wild animal, but I do enjoy reading and writing about them. The first book I wrote and that was published when I was an adult was a book about animal behavior and I’ve written dozens of books about all kinds of animals since then. 

I live near New York City, and although I don’t have pets any more, I do miss my dog Nova and my two cats, Mittens and Newty Fruity. In fact, I have been reading about aquariums all week. I always used to keep and breed fish, and I think I’m going to start again because I miss it!

Thank you, again, Lilly, for making my day very happy, indeed. 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Cats, Kids Write, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 24, 2012

On a recent blog post about Snakes, I received this very smart comment from one of our readers:

Dear Seymour Simon,

I read your SNAKES book and I found a mistake! Snakes are venomous, not poisonous. Venomous means to inject venom and poisonous means to touch or absorb it. I learned this at Lake Pleasant in Arizona. It was my field trip. My name is Jack R. I’m a student at Wildfire Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. I still love snakes and reptiles.

Thank you, Jack, for taking the time to write. You clearly learned a lot on your field trip!

In fact, I have received several letters lately because one of my old favorites, a book called POISONOUS SNAKES, has just been re-published. Since it is a book for kids and almost all kids (as well as adults) refer to snakes as ‘poisonous’ or ‘non-poisonous’, we decided to use that term in the title of the book when I wrote it years ago. These are also the words used in searches by kids. So, my intention was not to deceive anyone or use incorrect words, only to make the book easier for kids to fine, and to plainly label what the book is about if they were to look it up.

Jack is correct, though. Venom is injected by snakes and other animals, and poison is ingested (eaten), like when birds eat some kinds of butterflies. So technically, snakes are not poisonous or non-poisonous….they are either venomous or non-venomous.

Here are two examples, to help you understand the difference.

 

 

 

This is such a beautiful photograph of a lionfish, but you can’t always trust your eyes. This lionfish is venomous and dangerous to humans as well as other marine animals, because it uses those sharp spines to inject paralyzing venom.

 

  

A monarch butterfly, on the other hand, is poisonous because its larva eats milkweed, which contains a poisonous chemical. If a bird or other predator eats a monarch, it eats the poison. But you can touch a monarch without any danger - you’re safe as long as you don’t swallow it!

 

 

 

Notice that both the lionfish and the monarch have bright colors and patterns on their bodies. These are known as "warning colors," which keep predators away.

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animals Nobody Loves, Kids Write, snakes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 29, 2012

One of Seymour Simon’s first books, THE PAPER AIRPLANE BOOK, is still one of his most popular, with kids AND adults. A few years ago, when we were designing his website, we came up with the idea of making a paper airplane pattern - a piece of paper with folding instructions - for readers to download. "Let me take a picture of you dressed up like an aviator, flying a paper airplane," I said to Seymour. "We can put the photograph on the pattern so that when kids fold it, your photo will be on the wings. It will be a Seymour Plane!"

 

You have seen the drawing of Snoopy when he’s pretending to pilot a fighter plane, right? I thought that was exactly the right look for the Seymour Plane! I dug through my drawers and pulled out a white silk scarf, and found a pair of swimming goggles on the shelf in the garage. Seymour, always willing to be silly for the sake of science, put it all on, folded his airplane and we snapped this photograph. 

When Seymour visits schools, like he did this week, he always talks about paper airplanes and shows kids his silly photo.

 

After his visit to the elementary school in Center Moriches, NY, we received this letter from a mother named Christine Buff. Christine wrote:  

My twin sons, Spencer and Stephen, LOVED your visit. Thank you for making such an amazing impression on two 5-year-old boys. They are in Mrs. Engelhardt’s Kindergarten class.  Spencer came home telling us all about your paper airplane book and that we could go onto your dot.com and visit you on FACEBOOK!  We made our airplanes last night.  We have airplanes flying all over my house and Spencer wanted me to write you to tell you his did a loop-de-loop! He also wanted to know why we did not have your train book!!  They are BIG train fans.  Off to borrow from the library! 

  Today was Biography Day and they both wore scarfs, googles and brought their airplanes to school to pretend they were you.

Don’t they look just like Seymour?! That is Stephen on the left and Spencer on the right. How great to see them with their paper airplanes, scarves and goggles! We now declare Spencer and Stephen official members of the Paper Airplane Club!

If you’d like to try folding your own "Seymour Plane," with his silly photograph on the wings, you can download the pattern here. Send us your picture with your paper airplane, dressed up like Seymour, and you’ll be in the Paper Airplane Club, too!

Students also often ask where they can see the YouTube video that Seymour loves, of a paper airplane being flown from a skyscraper and traveling down through New York City. You can see that video by clicking here.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

January 11, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules: 

  1. Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!
  2. Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.
  Ready? Let’s go! Today, we want you to describe one of the amazing-looking animals found living under the sea as part of the Census of Marine Life.  Scientists have spent the past ten years searching for and cataloguing the huge diversity of life found in Earth’s oceans.

This is one of the new species they found. It is called a VAMPIRE SQUID, and it lives in Monterey Bay, off the coast of Northern California. Click the "Comments" button below and take five minutes to write about what you see in this photograph. Use descriptive words and strong verbs to describe the animal and the dark waters where it lives. You could use a comparison to help your reader imagine this creature….or appeal to the reader’s emotions to set the scene (how does it make you feel when you look at a Vampire Squid?).

 

What you write is up to you. Have fun with it!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Oceans, Kids Write, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 3, 2011

 

This week we ran a contest called BUTTERFLY or MOTH? for students in the Niskayuna, NY school district, where I was visiting. We showed two photographs, side by side, and asked you to tell us which was a butterfly and which was a moth…..and give three reasons why. We had 256 students and classes leave comments on the blog with their answers. Wow!

How did we come up with a winner among the many correct answers? The winner was randomly chosen by a true random number generator on the website www.random.org. First we listed all the entries on page after page, in order of when they were received. We had 256 entries, so there were 16 pages of entries with 16 entries on each page. Then we used the random generator, first to pick a page number and then to pick a number on the page. The winning pick was Alexandra L. in Class 4V at Glencliff Elementary School.

Alexandra wrote:

Insect A: moth

 

1. Moths rest with their wings open.

 

2. They do not have a club on their antennae.

 

 

 

Insect B. Butterfly

 

1. They rest with their wings closed.

 

2. They have a little club on their antennae.

 

The class pick was a little different. We put each class entry on a small slip of paper, put all of the class entries into a paper bag and then I put my hand into the bag and picked up one of the slips of paper without looking. The winning slip of paper was Mrs. Robitaille’s 2nd grade class in Hillside Elementary School. They wrote:

Insect A is a moth. We know this because the moth’s wings are dull, the moth’s wings fold back, and the antennae are feathery. Insect B is a butterfly. We know this because its wings are folded up, its wings are colorful, and it has a bulb at the top of its antennae.

Congratulations to both winners. You will receive your signed copy of BUTTERFLIES in the mail this week. More than that, congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! All of your entries have been posted as comments on my blog. Look for your name and your entry on my website, www.seymoursimon.com. Some of you put your comments on stories other than the contest story, so if you don’t see it there, you’ll probably find your comment under another blog story.

Keep in touch by telling me what book of mine you’re reading and what subjects you like the most!

I had so much fun talking to you last week; did you enjoy my speaking? Tell me one thing you remember from what I said!

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

November 30, 2011

Wow! After I spoke at the morning assembly at Craig Elementary School here in Niskayuna, NY, Ms. O’Sullivan’s third graders went back to their classroom and started writing. At the end of the day, they presented me with an envelope full of writing and drawings. These were lovely thank you notes, which I appreciated very much, but they were more than that. Each student wrote a full page about animals, space, science, my books and my presentation. What a bunch of good writers!

Here are some of their drawings and samples of their writing.

 

Ben set the scene with a drawing of me in the assembly, holding the little ball that I use to talk about space.

 

 

Dear Mr. Simon,

You were very enthusiastic! I like The Paper Airplane Book best.

- Grace

 

Every word you said sounded so interesting. I want to read a lot of books.

- Cyrus

 

I know how hard it is to write all the time and make sure your facts are right. But I bet you take a lot of time online first before you start writing a book. I also bet you love astronomy!

-      Paige

 

Cat drawing by Andy.

 

Here is a fact about the gray wolf: Their only predator is Man.

- Shae

 

Mars drawing by Ava

 

 

I read more than 30 of your books and want to download your digital books on my iPad.

- Your favorite little book kid, Chris.

 

 

 

Now I know more about nonfiction, and maybe I can make a book myself and it might be nonfiction just like you.

- Abby

 

Fun fact: every man who has ever walked on the Moon was an Eagle Scout.

- Ethan

 

Olivia’s drawing of me flying a paper airplane  

 

I like space books too. I will try looking for the Space Monster book and read it.

- Bhaya

 

And perhaps best of all, the letters were all gathered together in an envelope that included their full return address, right down to the zip code for the universe! Do you know how to write your return address so that it includes your location in the universe? Click here to find out.

 

Earth and Moon by Michael

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

November 16, 2011

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a wonderful shot of a "volcano cake," which a parent made when I visited a school several years ago. Isn’t it wonderful?!

The photograph reminds me that I recently received a letter about volcanoes from Andrea G., a fifth grade student at Witch Hazel Elementary School in Oregon. "I love how you wrote the Volcano story.  I love how you added all those different kinds of volcanoes.  I wish you will come to my house and write a story, have an adventure, or go to a restaurant.  It’s very cool that you wrote two hundred books in thirty years.  Do you know a lot about the moon?  How do you know a lot about volcanoes? Thank you for your time."

One of the things that I love about Andrea’s letter is that she called the book my "Volcano story." 

That is exactly how I think about writing my books. Even though they are about real (nonfiction) subjects, I always try to write a story that is fun and exciting to read. It makes me very happy that Andrea sees it that way.

Over the years, both while teaching Science and writing my books, I have indeed come to know a lot about both the moon and about volcanoes. Of course, I studied science in school, both at New York’s Bronx High School of Science and continuing on into college. But it takes more than that. Being interested in science means that you are always learning. There are new discoveries being made all the time, and scientists are constantly testing theories to keep increasing our knowledge and understanding of our planet and the universe in which we live.

So, when I write a book, I have to do research and find out as much as I can, just as you would if you were writing a report for school. For VOLCANOES, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Hawaii, where I talked to vulcanologists (scientists who specialize in volcanoes), as well as observing and photographing active volcanoes. 

In fact, the subject is so interesting to me that I’ve written TWO different books about volcanoes! I think they are one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful sights in our natural world, don’t you?

                         

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Volcanoes, Becoming a writer, School Visits, Cool Photo, Kids Write, Earth Science Books, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 21, 2011

I recently received a letter from Mrs. Koller’s 4th/5th Grade Language Arts Class in California, asking a question that I’m often asked when I visit schools. So, I thought I would answer it here, for everyone to read. 

 

 


Dear Mr. Simon,

  We loved your book VOLCANOES!! After reading it in our Houghton Mifflin readers, we read the section, "Meet the Author." The students wanted to know - what made you decide to retire from teaching and become an author? Do you ever miss being in the classroom?


In answer to your questions, I loved teaching, particularly working with smart, interesting kids and exploring subjects together. It doesn’t even have to be Science. I also taught Social Studies, English and Creative Writing while I was a teacher. Whatever the subject, I just loved being a teacher!

I finally stopped teaching after I had written about 100 books. There simply wasn’t enough time to write all the books that publishers were asking me to do and have a teaching job, also.

I always say that I don’t feel that I have ever really stopped teaching, because I visit schools year round and "teach" students all over the country. As long as I continue writing and speaking, I don’t think I will ever really have stopped teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Photographer: Michael Zamora. Reprinted with permission.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Teachers and Librarians, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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