Label: School Visits

March 4, 2011

I’ve been speaking in schools in Corpus Christi, Texas this week, which means I have had a chance to walk near the salt marshes and see the huge numbers of birds - many, many species - which live here at the Gulf Coast.


We drove out to Portland, Texas ("over the bridge," as they say in Corpus Christi) and in short order saw a Great Egret, standing on one leg in the salt marsh, a White Ibis (given its name by the Ancient Egyptians, who considered ibis to be sacred birds), an American Avocet (sweeping its long bill through the shallow muddy water in search of food), an endangered Wood Stork, many Royal Terns (dapper in their black and white plumage, these elegant looking birds are cousins to the common gull), and a whole colony of Roseate Spoonbills. When we first saw this mass of pink birds, my wife and I thought they must be flamingoes (we’re from New York City, so we don’t know what we are seeing when it comes to Gulf Coast wildlife!). A very smart sixth grader told us what kind of birds these were.

And of course, we saw many brown pelicans, one of the most common birds of the Gulf Coast. I have always loved to watch pelicans feed in the ocean. They start by hovering high over the water, scanning the waves for fish. When they spot food, they make a steep, hard dive, sometimes from as high as 50 feet (15 meters), and explode into the water - it is like a bomb going off when they hit. I learned something new about pelicans this week. The reason they can dive that way without being injured is that they have air sacs in their shoulders and neck that act like air bags in a car, and protect them from the impact when they hit the water.

In order to identify and learn about all these birds, we bought a laminated bird identification folder with pictures and descriptions of typical bird life on the Gulf Coast. You can do this wherever you travel - hotel gift shops and souvenir stores almost always have them, to use for identifying local birds, fish, or wildlife. It is a great way to learn about nature wherever you go.

Thanks to all the students, teachers and librarians in Corpus Christi for sharing your great city with me. It has been a fun week! 




Sun rising over Corpus Christi Bay




Roseate Spoonbills photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Estatuary  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, birds, School Visits   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 27, 2011

What a great time I had at Churchville Elementary School last week! The flurry of reading, writing and sharing by the students - which happened before, during and after my visit - was just wonderful!


Look at this great bulletin board done by sixth graders. They read my GLOBAL WARMING book, used a Carbon Footprint Calculator to determine their own impact on Earth’s atmosphere, and then wrote EARTH PLEDGES about their promises to change their own behavior to be better environmental citizens. Wonderful!


A student named Taylor F. wrote today to tell me that she has read almost all of my books that are in her library - FIFTY-SEVEN (57) books. Wow! Taylor!! You must be one of my biggest fans!

The comments and photographs are still coming in, including this one from a teacher and her son (a third-grader in the school).

Hi Mr. Simon!

Thank you so much for visiting Churchville! I am one of the third grade teachers there, and my son is a third grade student at Churchville as well!  When we got home, we were so excited to talk about your visit!  We love your books and enjoy reading them!  

On a side note, yesterday was our dog’s 10th birthday!  Ethan wanted to share this picture of our dog, Maveric, with you! 

Thank you again,

Tara and Ethan


Maveric is a beautiful dog, isn’t he?

I also received this letter from Mrs. Gorgol. Gail is the librarian at the school, and it is largely due to her efforts, along with Library Assistant Leslie Mulreaney, that the kids and I had such a great time exploring to the ends of the universe and learning about the animals that we each love the most!! Here is the beautiful letter she wrote.

Dear Seymour,

Your engaging website has been a rich resource for our students to learn about science. They have been reading your blog posts at school and at home and many have made personal connections to what they read. As a result of those connections, they were inspired to write comments of their own, send you photos, ask you questions and enter your contests. They did research and conducted a survey. They were excited to see their work published so quickly on your website and shared with a wide audience of readers across the country. This experience has been invaluable for our students as readers, writers and learners. We look forward to continuing to use your website to enrich our exploration and understanding of the fascinating world of science.

Sincerely, Gail Gorgol / Librarian / Churchville Elementary School 


I think that I am the one who should say "thank you" to everyone at Churchville Elementary. You really know how to make an author feel welcome! I loved spending time with you all.

Seymour Simon






Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Dogs, Teachers and Librarians, Kids comments, Pets   •  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,




 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 15, 2011

A Pennsylvania student named Marissa wrote this week with an unusual question. "I was wondering, what is your favorite fish? Mine is the Blobfish."


I happen to love fish. My favorite fish is known as "The Ram." Its scientific name is Epistograma ramarezi, and it is a dwarf cichlid. Cichlids (pronounced SIH-clid) are freshwater fish found in the tropical Americas, Africa and Asia, somewhat similar to our North American sunfish. The ram is a beautiful little fish that swims around with a great deal of determination. It is gorgeous when it is in breeding condition - a sparkly blue and red. I used to have tropical aquariums and I bred these fish and sold them. So now you know that I really like fish!

If you want to see Marissa’s favorite, the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), you can find a photo in my Science Dictionary under the definition of DEEP.....which might tell you something about where these very unusual creatures live!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, School Visits, Oceans, Kids comments, Science Dictionary   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 3, 2011

I’m in Round Rock, Texas (outside of Austin) all week, and it is very cold! It is not snowing here so far, but it is very cold for this part of the country - 19 degrees as I write this! There have been rolling power outages throughout the state, as the grid tries to cope with the amount of electricity required to heat homes and businesses. The Round Rock school district has decided to do their part to take some pressure off the grid, so we’re starting two hours late this morning.

Several kids in the schools have asked me to remind them how you write your entire address as a citizen of the universe. Here is how you can do it yourself:

Your name

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code


Planet Earth

Milky Way Galaxy

The Universe

Who can tell me what the symbol after "The Universe" means, and why it is the perfect zip code for the universe? The first person to comment on this blog and give the correct answer will get a signed, autographed photo! I will mail it to you, using your "whole" address, because you are truly a citizen of the universe.

Stay warm!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

February 1, 2011


Wow! We see lots of activity going on in Churchville, PA classrooms, where I’m going to visit later this month. Thanks to Mrs. Schleyer’s 4th grade class, and other individual kids for writing. We have posted your comments on my blog, and I can’t wait to meet you all!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 26, 2011


I’m going to be speaking later in February at Churchville Elementary School in Pennsylvania and it sounds like they have been doing lots of preparation! Today I received a "favorite dog breed" survey from Gail Gorgol, the librarian at the school. The student’s in Mr. K’s 5th grade class chose my book DOGS to read and share with the class, and then they decided to survey the class to find out the favorite dog breed of their classmates. My favorite breed is the English Springer Spaniel, because that’s what my dog Nova was.



Here’s what the kids had to say about their favorite dogs. Nice work creating the graph!







I’d be curious to see if the results are similar across the country. Write and tell me: which is your favorite dog breed? Maybe you would like to send me a photo of your dog in an email? Be sure to send me the name of your dog and anything that makes him or her special!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(14) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Dogs, Kids comments   •  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, 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 24, 2011

Atascociata ESI so enjoyed speaking in Houston area schools last week. On Wednesday, January 19th, I spoke in Meadows and Juan Seguin Elementary Schools in Fort Bend. Shelly Puckett and Denise Waterbury are the librarians in those schools and the children were wonderfully prepared for my visit. On Thursday and Friday, I spoke in Eagle Springs, Bear Branch and Atascocita Elementary Schools in Humble. Donna Smalley, Derry Summer and Anna Codon are the librarians in the Humble schools and they also wonderfully prepared the children for my visit. I am indebted to the librarians for inviting me and making my visit possible, but more than that, I am so pleased to become friends with such wonderful education professionals.

In each of the schools, I spoke to children in large groups from K-5  and I’m pleased to say that I think that my audiences both enjoyed my presentations and learned a lot about science and writing.I invite students, teachers and parents to tell me what they thought about my presentations.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

January 21, 2011


I had a great time at Eagle Springs Elementary school in Humble, Texas yesterday. Donna Smalley, the librarian at Eagle Springs Elementary school was so quick - click here to see the video full of great photos from our day together. Her note read:  "So many positive and enthusiastic comments (from the students)!"

Thanks, Donna. Your kids were obviously well prepared, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Eagle Springs!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Video, Animoto   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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