Label: School Visits

January 19, 2011


There’s a new video that showcases Seymour Simon’s books as you’ve never experienced them before - animated to a Breakbeat music track!

Shelly Puckett, the Library Media Specialist at Meadows Elementary School in Meadows Place, Texas, wanted to get her kids excited about Seymour’s visit to their school.  So she used Animoto to make this very hip animation. Click here to view and dance along to beat of Seymour Simon’s world. Wonderful!

(Music track: "Montreal" by Seattle drummer KJ Sawka).

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(9) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Video, Animoto   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 17, 2011



I received this charming note from a San Antonio 4th grader named Alicia. She had been reading my book BIG BUGS, and did this drawing on which she wrote that the insect was supposed to be a cricket, but “I don’t know how to draw a cricket.”

Actually, Alicia, you’ve made a pretty good start. Although we casually refer to “bugs,” bugs actually include two different species – insects and spiders (Arachnids). All insects have 6 legs, but spiders have 8 legs (they are not insects). A cricket is an insect, and you have definitely drawn an insect.

To make it look even more like a cricket, you could give it very long back legs, as you see in this photograph. Crickets use their four front legs for walking, and their two back legs are long and strong, so that they can make big leaps.

The very regular chirping of crickets is a common night sound in many places. As the temperature drops, their singing becomes slower and the pitch of the chirp gets lower. Some people use the chirp rate of crickets to estimate the temperature. I wrote about this in my book ANIMAL FACT, ANIMAL FABLE. Crickets are pretty interesting insects!














Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

December 21, 2010




Teachers and Librarians were so welcoming when I was speaking at schools in San Antonio just before the holidays. I was even taken to the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center one day after school. This beautiful, 1200-acre bird haven provides science education for local K-12 schools with a special emphasis on 4th grade. As you can see, “winter” in San Antonio is a little chilly, but nothing like the snow and frigid temperatures that are associated with winter where I live in New York! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

November 12, 2010

        Rainforest Collage

The kids at Starrett Elementary School in Arlington did wonderful art projects and book displays for my visit this week. Look at this great collage which they made to represent my latest book, TROPICAL RAINFORESTS. It was made with translucent tissue paper and placed in front of a window, where all those rich greens glowed as if we were in a real rainforest! It was very beautiful, and I liked it enormously.

I’d also like to say a special thanks to librarian Nancy Allmon for all the great work you and your colleagues did. 

Nancy and Seymour with 'Welcome' signIt really made for a memorable visit. And of course, we’ll remember all the great weather and Tex Mex food when we’re back in chilly New York.

I will be back in Texas to speak in San Antonio schools the week of December 13, so kids in SA-Town, get ready for a journey to the end of the Universe!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

November 10, 2010


I am speaking in schools throughout the Dallas/Arlington area this week, and as always, I am delighted to be with the kids, and to meet such dedicated teachers, librarians and principals.

I know fellow authors share my view that a school gets the most out of an author visit when the kids have been prepared by reading my books, going on my website, even doing research on topics that interest them. I’ve seen some great examples of that this week.

At Christ the King School in Dallas, librarian Leslie Garnett had all the fourth graders do research projects based on my book, ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES

Leslie told me that she was amazed to see every kid dive into research about the animal they had chosen. I guess that’s what a book about gross, yucky, and misunderstood creatures will do for you!

Another librarian, Jennie Jackson at Lynn Hale Elementary School in Arlington, had arranged for two kids in every class (chosen randomly) to win a copy of my book EARTHQUAKES. I loved what she said to the kids before the drawing started. "Now, no groaning. I want you all to share in the happiness of the people who win." And indeed, every winner was loudly applauded by these students, who were also very enthusiastic participants in my talks - many hands in the air and great answers, all around!

I am also pleased to see that both educators and kids had prepared by coming to my website and using the resources that we have created here. As long as people keep using the free Teacher Guides, Project Ideas and other supplemental resources to extend the learning from my books, we’ll keep putting them up there. It is all free, so if you haven’t already, register as a member of the website in the Educators & Families section. We respect your privacy and will never sell or misuse your personal information - we simply ask you to register to ensure that it is adults - not kids! - using these educator resources.

People often ask as I miss teaching, and my answer is always that I’ll never stop teaching, as long as I’m writing for and speaking to kids.  And I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. It’s too much fun!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

September 30, 2010

This is something that I have been meaning to post for awhile. When Seymour spoke at the Literacy Conference at  San Angelo State University earlier this year, he was introduced by district education specialist Dedra Carter. Dedra had been up very late the night before making this wonderful "animoto" slide show - complete with text and music - to introduce Seymour. It is very touching, and the emotion reflects the way we felt about our week there. Lots of love right back at you, San Angelo! 

CLICK HERE to view Dedra Carter’s animoto video introduction to Seymour Simon’s speech. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

August 25, 2010

In many ways, my year begins with the school year which for me as a student and then a teacher began the first week in September. All the rhythms of my year are tied in with school. I recall how excited I was to meet with the students in my new classes (I usually taught science to either 9th or 7th graders and also had a class with seniors in what the school called “creative writing.”) I remember that by the end of the first week, my voice was hoarse and it would take the weekend to recover. By the second week of school I had learned how to modulate my speaking enough to last through the five teaching periods a day and the teacher interaction that took place during lunch period and my “free” periods. (Teachers know that there is no such thing as a “free” period; you just do things other than direct teaching.}

So as the summer is winding down and as school approaches or has already begun in some places, I want to reach out to teachers and say hi and good luck. I’ll be writing on my blog during the school year about all kinds of things including my speaking in schools across the country. I hope you’ll drop me a note from time to time, telling me about something interesting that is happening in your class in science or in nature or just about using my books with kids (and be sure to look at the free teacher guides for my books which you can easily download). From time to time, I’ll be awarding a free Skype session with a teacher and the class that is working with my books. Be sure to be in touch!

Photo: Seymour speaking in San Angelo, Texas, Spring 2010




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Teacher Guides, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Seymour Simon, School   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 24, 2010

Today we thought we’d share some of the feedback from the In-School testing which is underway on the prototype Teacher Guide for Seymour’s EARTHQUAKES book. This testing is happening in conjunction with the creation of thirty Teacher Guides to be used with his books. They will be available online for free teacher downloads by the time schools resume in the autumn of 2010.

For those interested in the anecdotal highlights of the in-school testing, here is feedback from fellow science writer Jordan Brown, who is collaborating with us on both the writing and testing.

 Highlights of the 3rd grade class testing:


* Kids enjoyed having "Why I Wrote this Book" from Seymour Simon read aloud. One of the teachers shared her story about experiencing an earthquake in Seattle.

* As you might expect, any opportunity for children to share personal stories captured group interest. One boy told about visiting California recently and experiencing his first earthquake.

* The 3rd graders really liked the "Make a Quake" website. We did this online activity several times, changing the variables to see how damaged the building became.

* Many kids were very surprised to learn how frequent earthquakes are.

* They also enjoyed when I passed around the hard-boiled egg with the cracked shell still on (like cracked plates around Earth). Spontaneously, I had all kids press their palms together forcefully, then have one of the hands push upward, so they could imitate the motion of faults sliding passed each other.

* For the building activity, I made the challenge a bit tougher for the third graders. I told students to build a building as tall as they could—but also try to stabilize it. Otherwise, I feared they would just make long, flat structures. All but one of the buildings they made held up when, as a group, we tested them out by shaking a plastic plate beneath each model.

From the Kindergarten Testing:

* Kids loved looking at the dramatic photos when I flipped through the book—but some of the kindergartners got a little scared. I made a point of reassuring them that the chances of a big, dangerous earthquake in our area was very rare.

* Class was fascinated by the map on page 12 (in which every small red dot represents where an EQ has occurred).

* When talking about why scientists can’t predict precisely when an EQ will occur—one child made the comparison to a balloon being blown up. If you keep blowing, eventually it will pop—but you don’t know exactly when.

* Building activity was a big hit - The teacher commented that she really loved watching the groups of children having to work together to figure out a possible solution. When some of the groups had trouble coming up with a self-standing building (I only provided a small number of materials, so they had to think creatively), they got inspiration and ideas by looking at each other’s work.

If you are interested in giving us feedback on this prototype, we would LOVE to hear from you. You can download a free copy of the Teacher Guide for Seymour Simon’s EARTHQUAKES by clicking on this link.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Earthquakes, Teacher Guides, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 13, 2010

It’s so much fun speaking to kids! This is a group of middle-graders at a school in Saddle River, New Jersey. They’ll all raising both hands (along with me) so we can see what the number 250 looks like in reality.  Why 250? The kids know. They also know viscerally how far the moon is and how much further are the planets. Not to mention the stars. The kids knew the answers to almost all the questions that I asked during my presentation. They knew the symbol for infinity and guessed that it would make a good zip code for the universe. The only question that they couldn’t guess the answer to was: What was my favorite planet (other than Earth)when I was in 2nd grade? This was even after my telling them that the first book I ever wrote (in 2nd grade)was SPACE MONSTERS! You (of course) know the answer to that question, right? 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

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