Label: Kids Write

April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day to all my readers! Thank you to all who have written in to tell everyone what they are doing to help our environment. Your stories show that you know this is important, and that you are willing to do your part. 

Take a moment today to enjoy the beauty of our Earth. Listen to the birds chrirping to each other overhead, marvel at all the trees leafing in the warmth of spring, look at the stars and drink in the cool, evening air. As far as we know, we are the only planet with life. Our planet is the home of billions upon billions of living things. We are the Planet of Life. Let’s celebrate our Planet; Let’s celebrate Earth Day.  

Since many schools have been on spring vacation this week, we are going to continue to collect your writing for another week. Please click on the "comments" link at the bottom of any Earth Day story, and tell us how you are going to make a difference…..not just today, but every day. Then, next Friday, April 29, we are going to publish a special article here on the Seymour Science blog, with all of your Earth Day promises. So write in by clicking "comments" as soon as you can, and be included in our big list of Earth Day promises, for all the world to see!

Welcome aboard. I am proud to have you all as shipmates on our planet, Earth.

- Seymour Simon 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(14) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 20, 2011

I received a letter yesterday from Ashley C, who is ten years old. She wrote:

"For my project for Earth Day, I’m going to go around my

park and pick up trash. Also, I’m going to go around the house in the

morning, afternoon, and at night and look at the faucets and turn off all of the dripping water.

 

Do you think that would be good?" 

  Checking for dripping faucets (and fixing them) is a very good idea. You can actually calculate (not exactly, but roughly) how much water a dripping faucet wastes with this simple calculator created by the US Geological Survey.

I used their calculator to estimate what would happen if your home had 3 faucets dripping every 3 seconds. That would be 86,400 drips every day, which comes to about 5 gallons of water wasted every day. And if you waste 5 gallons a day, that is almost 2,000 gallons a year!

 

Click here to read other stories that I have written about the importance of conserving water. While it’s true that our planet Earth looks like a big blue ball because 75% of it is covered by water, a lot of that water is not usable in that form, either because it is salt water (in the oceans) or because it is frozen (in glaciers and the polar icecaps).  Water, which all life needs to survive, is a limited resource that we must conserve and protect.

 


What are you doing this Earth Week to contribute to the global effort to pledge a Billion Acts of Green? Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are doing. We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Conservation, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 29, 2011

A 12-year-old sixth grader named Meeps, from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, sent me this original poem after I Skyped with a class there. Hasn’t Meeps done a good job of capturing the feelings of numbness and loss that we have seen in the faces of people in photographs of the recent earthquakes in Japan and Christchurch, New Zealand? This is a very good piece of writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: Aftermath of 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California courtesy of U.S. Geological Service/C.E. Meyer

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earthquakes, Kids Write, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 21, 2011

A reader named Sam uploaded this picture over the weekend, and asked some good questions about dogs. Here is what Sam wrote:

 

Hi, Mr. Simon, 

I found this and I thought IT was the cutest thing ever!  It reminds me of your book DOGS.  My favorite book of yours is DOGS.  How many types of dogs are there?  What is the most dog bought?  If you can answer these, you’ll be my life’s (favorite) answerer!   Hope you like it!      - Sam T.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists 185 official dog breeds. This does not account for the many mixed breeds (some people call them "mutts") that exist, and many of those are beloved companions and great pets.

As to which dog is the most popular, the AKC rankings of most popular dogs (determined by which breed is registered most often) has had the same number one for the past twenty years - Labrador Retrievers.

This puppy appears to be a toy breed - perhaps a Maltese, or a Shih Tzu. Anyone out there able to identify it?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Dogs, Kids Write, Puppies   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 13, 2011

Noah from Hamilton, Ohio, wrote recently with a good question. He asked: "What is the biggest shark?"

 

I told Noah that the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest shark in the world. In fact, it is the largest living fish species.

Then, I suggested to Noah that he do some research and come up with some more interesting information about the whale shark. Here is part of what he wrote:

"I found a lot of good facts about Whale Sharks. One is they have no known predators. Another fact is they use their stripes and dots as camouflage through disruptive coloration." 

Noah is correct. "Disruptive coloration" is a common type of camouflage that we see in nature. The mix of different patterns (in the case of the whale shark, both stripes and dots) is thought to hide the overall shape of the animal’s body, making it more difficult to spot in the water.

When I say that a whale shark is big, I mean really BIG! The whale shark can grow as long as 41 feet and weigh as much as 15 tons.

 To understand just how large that is, look at this drawing from Wikipedia, which shows the size of a Whale Shark compared to the size of an adult human. These huge fish are found in tropical and warm water oceans, and have been known to live as long as 70 years.

There is no reason to be afraid of whale sharks. They are not predators; rather, they are slow-moving filter feeders.  Animals who are filter feeders simply open up their mouths and take in whatever food happens to be in the water, while filtering out the undesirable debris. Whale sharks feed mainly on tiny bits of food like plankton, as well as microscopic plants and animals.

If you want to read more about sharks, you can probably find one or more of my books in your school library. There is a Smithsonian book called SHARKS and a SeeMore Reader called INCREDIBLE SHARKS, which is also available en Español: TIBURONES FABULOSOS. Some of you may have ordered my book SHARKS: 3D from the Scholastic Book Club.

If you are wondering why I have written so many books about sharks, it’s because they are fascinating to me, just as they are to you!

Note to Parents, Teachers and Librarians: There is a free, downloadable Sharks Teacher Guide on my website, which I invite you to use to enhance the reading experience of students who are reading these books.

Whale Shark Photo: Zac Wolf

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Sharks, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 8, 2011

       

When I speak in schools, I usually tell the story of writing my first book, called SPACE MONSTERS, when I was in second grade. Since I have been in a lot of schools recently, I have been hearing from students who love writing, and are asking for advice on how to become authors.

A dog-lover named Natalie wrote:

Ever since I was in 1st grade, I have wanted to be a writer to express my deep imagination. I have written fantasy books like you wrote Space Monsters. Every time I start a book I want to start a new one with a complete new idea. How do you stick to one book topic at a time?

Or this note, from Marissa:

I want to become an author when I grow up. I write every day. I just wrote a few stories in my writer’s notebook at school! I tried to write a chapter book, it has a few chapters.

Dina, whose school I visited this winter, asked:

What do you think I should do to be a good writer like you? You already told us to start writing while you are a kid but I want to know more. I’m very interested about you and writing! 

I’m so glad to receive letters like these from fellow writers! I think that writers begin their life as a writer when they are young, just as you are. It’s important to keep writing as much as you can. I’ve written many books and usually work on several books at the same time. I do research on a number of topics and write about one of them. I think you might like to do the same.

While you are working on a book or story, keep the ideas for future books coming. Keep a notebook or journal where you jot down your story ideas, and any details that seem important to you. That way, you can stick with the one story that you’re working on until you are finished, but you are still keeping track of ideas that you might want to write about later. Sometimes I go back and write a book from a scrap of an idea that I jotted down years before. So don’t be shy about writing down your thoughts. You never know when they might come in handy!

Finishing a book is always much harder than starting a new book. But like everything else that you want to learn to do well, writing takes practice. The more you write, the better you get at it, and the easier it becomes.

I wish you well with all your writing projects!

Your fellow writer,

Seymour

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, Kids Write, Space Monsters   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 25, 2011

I had a great day today at Churchville Elementary School in Pennsylvania. Students there have been VERY engaged with the website and my blog for weeks leading up to this visit, uploading a poll that they conducted about their favorite dog breeds, posting pictures and stories about their favorite animals, doing research and answering questions to enter contests in order to win personally autographed photos and books. 

 

So, I was very pleased to arrive today and discover that the students had continued to write about their favorite animals on this wonderful bulletin board display! Nearly 50 kids used pictures, drawings and their own writing to tell the world about animals that they love. It is great to see a school full of active, confident writers.

When I got back to my hotel tonight there was yet another lovely posting, from a Churchville student named Megan P. Her note is titled simply, MY DOG. 

Dear Seymour,

 

This is my neighbor’s dog. Her name is Nicci.  She is a boxer.  I love her, it feels like she is my own dog.  I loved the presentation that you did today at Churchville. 

I was very interested.

Your Friend,

                  Megan

 

 

 Thanks, Megan. I loved today, too, and look forward to returning to Churchville Elementary tomorrow!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

February 10, 2011

       

 

We’ve had many comments this week on the blog entry where I asked readers to tell me their favorite kind of dog. A lot of you have dogs (or know dogs) and you really love them!

Jackie took it even further, uploading a photograph of herself and her dog with this note:

"Dear Seymour. I wanted to tell you that my favorite dog is a Hungarian Puli, a sheep dog. This is a photo of her and me when I was little. Her name is Choulie! (pron: CHEW-lee) My mom said our dog is a rare breed! I didn’t know that until now!!!!"

 

Hungarian Pulis were bred to be sheepdogs, and were used for both herding and guarding livestock. As a family dog, they make good security dogs and faithful family guardians. They see their family as their "flock," and do not like strangers until they are sure that person is not a threat to the family. I first learned about Hungarian Pulis because my neighbor had one. I needed to be introduced to their Puli and let him see the family showing me affection before it was safe to walk into their yard!

The Puli’s coat falls in long, tight curls, almost like dreadlocks. With that thick coat a Puli can even fight off a wolf, because it is so hard for the wolf’s teeth to penetrate the curls to bite the skin. Those long locks also make a Puli virtually waterproof, which is probably why many European canal boat owners used Pulis to guard their homes.

These dogs are a lot of fun, because they are highly intelligent and keep a sense of puppy-like playfulness all their lives. However, if you are considering having one as a pet, you should know that Pulis need a lot of exercise. You’ll be happiest if you both enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Jackie, your Mom is right that you don’t see too many Hungarian Pulis in the U.S. these days. But, did you know this is an ancient breed that has been around for a long time? There is historical evidence of Pulis in Asia at least 2,000 years ago!

Thanks for uploading your photo and telling us about your best friend!

Photo: American Kennel Club

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Dogs, Kids Write, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 24, 2011

       

We are always so pleased when Seymour is out visiting schools and students comment on his blog. It is exciting to know that kids, parents, and educators are using this resource, because we create it for YOU!

Interacting with Seymour on his blog is also a great way to practice Internet safety. We’ve noticed recently that some kids are leaving comments with both their first and last name - not a good idea if you are under 13 years old. We thought we would take a moment this morning this morning to remind students about five important "Internet Rules of the Road." You should follow these rules if you are writing a comment, uploading a photo, or uploading a video to the Internet.

1.    Never give your full name. Use just your first name, or your first name and last initial (like our environmental correspondent, 11-year-old "Alana G").

2.    Never give your exact address. If you want to say where you are from, keep the answer general. For example, "Alicia N. from Texas." Or "Jeremy S., from Southern California." 

3.    I bet you have already figured out that you should never give your email address or telephone number to anyone you meet on the Internet. That is a BIG no no!

4.    DO practice kindness when you interact with other kids on the Internet. Treat people you meet with respect, just as you would want to be treated. If something is too mean to say directly to someone’s face, then it is too mean to write on the Internet. 

5.    Your parents and teachers can and should be able to see what you are doing on the Internet. Share your activities with them when they ask, and let them help you with learning the Internet Rules of the Road. 

Teachers and librarians, this is also a chance to remind you to get parental permission before you send us any photographs of your students.

We are always glad to hear from you here at SeymourSimon.com, and we want to keep everybody safe!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

January 14, 2011

       

 

 

What a great surprise arrived in the mail this week - three big envelopes full of thank you cards from every 3rd and 4th grader in San Antonio’s Highland Park School. I am absolutely delighted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was lots of excellent artwork, like this drawing by Ashley A. It pictures our entire Solar System, even the Asteroid Belt. This is a very accurate, detailed drawing.

 

 

Many writers asked about how I get the photographs that are in my book. Sarah wondered, "Were you nervous when you took pictures of volcanoes?" Alejandro (who drew the cover of my BIG BUGS book) and Wesley (who drew this scary black widow spider!) both wanted to know if I take all of my own photographs. In fact, Wesley asked, "How do you not die while taking these pictures?"

 

 

 Good questions. I take some of the photographs in my books, but not all of them. Great spider shots like these are taken by photographers who are also arachnologists (that’s what you call a scientist who specializes in spiders). They use a special lens on their camera that allows them to get a very close-up picture of a spider without getting bitten (and without scaring the spider away). I did take many of the volcano photographs myself, but only from safe spots that were nowhere near hot lava!

 

 

 

 

Look at this great drawing of a volcano and the hot lava by Jasmin.

 


And finally, some of you Highland Park writers wanted to know how I feel when I write all of these books. "Do you feel happy or excited?" Analisa sounds as though she worries that it might be a lot of work. "Do you enjoy writing all these books?"

 

The answer is: I LOVE writing my books! It is a lot of work, because I have to research each subject very carefully, be sure that I am getting all the facts right, find great photographs, and work with my editor, who corrects my work just as your teacher does with yours. But the subjects are so interesting that my work is fun every day. And yes, I do feel very happy and excited when a new book comes out, after all that work.

Thank you again to every student, teacher and librarian who took the time to send me all the beautiful cards. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

- Seymour Simon

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

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