Label: Sharks

May 22, 2013


We seem to be having an early "Shark Week" here on the Seymour Science blog! And since it is Writing Wednesday, we thought that we would share this poem, called SHARK TEETH, and ask you to write about what you think is happening in the poem.




About the Teeth of Sharks

By John Ciardi

The thing about a shark is - teeth,

One row above, one row beneath.


Now take a close look. Do you find

It has another row behind?


Still closer - here, I’ll hold your hat:

Has it a third row behind that?


Now look in and…Look out! Oh my,

I’ll never know now! Well, goodbye.


Read this poem several times. After you have read it silently to yourself, try reading it aloud. Then, listen as a friend reads it aloud.

When you have read or heard it several times, think about what happens at the end of this poem. Is it funny? Sad? Surprising? Think about looking into the mouth of a shark. What would you see? How would it feel?

Notice that the poet uses the word "I." Who is talking in the poem? What is he or she doing? Is there one person talking? Or two?

Once you have thought about all these things, click on the yellow "Comments" button at the bottom of this blog post and write your own story of what happened in the scene described by this poem.

Happy (gulp) writing! 


John Ciardi, "About the Teeth of Sharks" from You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962). Copyright © 1962 by John Ciardi. 


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(8) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Sharks, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 18, 2013

Though we picked our winners at random, we want to recognize some of the other very strong research and writing by the students of Lower Gwynedd Elementary School (and kids from other states, too) as part of the Three Fascinating Facts about Sharks contest. Some of the information that you all found is simply too good not to share! 

Helen, a third grader in Mrs. Salvitti’s class, wrote:

1. Some sharks remain on the move for their whole lives. This forces water over their gills, delivering oxygen to the blood stream. If the shark stops moving then it will suffocate and die.

2. A pup (baby shark) is born ready to take care of itself. The mother shark leaves the pup to fend for itself and the pup usually makes a fast get away before the mother tries to eat it.

3. Not all species of shark give birth to live pups. Some species lay the egg case on the ocean floor and the pup hatches later on its own.

Photo: Gills of a nurse shark 

And how about these interesting facts from Shelby:

1. Sometimes they will take a bite out of their prey or just sink their teeth in to get a taste before they start really feeding.

2. A shark attack on a human usually occurs in less than 6 feet 6 inches of calm water, and within a relatively short distance from shore.

  3.The Megamouth shark is one of the rarest of the shark species. It was discovered in 1976. 

Photo: Megamouth Shark 

We loved all these great comparisons from Zac:

1. Every shark has tiny sensors at the tip of its snout to help it find food like a metal detector finding treasure.

2. Sharks have teeth all over their body. Their skin has really tiny spikes, like a prickle bush.

3. A shark’s teeth are in rows like a roller coaster ride. If a shark looses one of its teeth, one will grow back right away and move forward to take the place of the old one. Just like when a person gets off a roller coaster, a new person will take their place for the next ride.       


Andrew, from 3Go, managed to come up with three unique facts that no one else submitted:

1. Nurse sharks are nocturnal predators.


2. Dogfish are a type of shark.

3. Horn sharks are oviparous.

Photo: Horn Shark


And finally this from fifth grader Cassidy S. This is practically an essay - your information is fascinating, indeed!

1. In New Zealand, there is a shark that barks like a dog. It is called the Swell Shark. It is a catshark of the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found in the subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean.

2. Most sharks give birth to their babies. Only a few sharks lay eggs. Most sharks have six to twelve babies at a time, but a Tiger Shark and Hammerhead can have as many as 40 babies at a time.

3.  The Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the world. It has more than 4,000 teeth, but each is less than 1/8 inch long.  A shark may go through 1,000 sets of teeth during its lifetime.  When a shark loses a tooth, one replaces it. A Whale Shark weighs about 40,000 pounds.


We also had two excellent entries from students who do not...

read more

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Sharks, Oceans, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 18, 2013

Thank you to everyone from Lower Gwynedd Elementary School who entered the THREE FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT SHARKS contest. We enjoyed seeing the choices you made and reading your writing using those words. 85 people entered this contest - that is a lot of excellent research and writing!


As promised, we have selected two winners of this contest, and both will receive an autographed copy of the new edition of Seymour Simon’s EXTREME OCEANS, from Chronicle Books. We chose the winners at random, using a very cool random number generator website called

Are you ready? Here are the winners of Seymour Simon’s SHARKS contest:



Individual Winner: Nathan, from Class 4-O. Nathan’s three fascinating facts were:

1: About 90% of the people who are attacked by sharks survive.

2: If sharks stop moving they start to sink.

3: More people are killed by bee stings than shark attacks.


Classroom Winner:  Mrs. Stapp’s Kindergarten Class. They wrote:

Our Favorite Shark Facts:

1.Sharks lived before the dinosaurs

2. Sharks can smell a drop of blood a mile away.

3. Sharks don’t chew their food.


Congratulations to everyone who entered. Be on the lookout for another blog post, because we enjoyed the work you did for this contest so much, we are going to publish some of your writing for everyone to read.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

May 2, 2013

It is easy to see that there is a big Seymour Simon school visit week coming up - we have been getting so many comments from new readers on the Seymour Science blog. Students in Lower Gwynedd Elementary School in Ambler, Pennsylvania - this contest is for you!

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

1.    Write a comment on this blog post and tell Seymour three fascinating facts about sharks.

2. Tell us your name (first name only), your grade, and your teacher’s name. This will let us contact you if you are the winner.

3.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, May 17, because 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.Students who are not in the

Students who do not attend Lower Gwynedd Elementary may also enter this contest. The rules are the same as above, but for #2 please include your first name, your grade, your teacher’s name, the name of your school, and the city where your school is located. If we have at least 20 entries from other schools, we will randomly choose a third prize winner from the non-Pennsylvania entries. 

What if you don’t know any cool facts about sharks? You can start right here on the Seymour Science blog. Look at all the entries under the label "Sharks." We guarantee you that you will find some fascinating information in these stories! It is also ok if you use other sources for your information, such as books in your library, or a reliable Internet source like an encyclopedia, National Geographic Kids, or the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week website.

So, get to work and send us your entries today! Seymour will see you soon, and then you can all talk about sharks and Extreme Oceans together!



Posted by: Liz Nealon

(85) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, School Visits, Sharks, Contests   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 12, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday!


  For this Writing Wednesday, we’re going to use a photograph that was taken when Seymour Simon visited a school in Pennsylvania yesterday. This class built a model of a shark that was so big it needed to be hung out in the hallway!

Your Assignment:

In 50 words or less, tell me about what animal model you would build if you could, and why. Use as many descriptive words as you can to tell me about your model. Some of the things you might describe: What animal would you choose? What would it look like? What color would it be? How big would it be? How would other students feel when they saw it? How long would it take you to make it? 

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this post to add your writing. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Sharks   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 23, 2012



I had such a good experience with Mrs. Klott’s second grade class at Scanlan Oaks Elementary School in Sugar Land, Texas last week.





They did a big research project and assembled all their writing and photographs into a book that they called SWIMMING SHARKS. This kind of book - where words and photographs work together to tell the story - is called a "photo essay." Many of my books (like my SHARKS book) are also photo essays.

Here is what they wrote on the first page:

About the Authors:
Mrs. Klott’s class is taking a bite out of learning every day, and loves to research science topics. They have already learned about sharks, wild weather, and plants. They have an aquarium full of fish for their class pets. They will continue to grow and learn together for the rest of this school year. They all love to read nonfiction books!

This sounds like my kind of class!

The whole book is wonderful, but I only have room to show you a couple of pages. These are both great ones.


Thank you, everyone, for making this lovely book for me. It is right here in my office, on my desk.

I also thank you for your excellent Writing Wednesday work last week. You can read more excellent writing by these second graders by clicking here to see how they analyzed the humorous writing in SILLY SPACE MONSTER JOKES AND RIDDLES. Their writing is at the bottom of the post - click on the yellow "comments" button to see.

Great job, Mrs. Klott’s class! It was a pleasure to meet you.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

May 23, 2012

Good morning, and welcome to Writing Wednesday, where every week there is a new opportunity to publish your creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read an excerpt from Seymour Simon’s book ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, and then do your own research about sharks!

From ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, by Seymour Simon



The shark is the most feared animal in the sea. Some sharks are large and dangerous. Others are just a few feet long and eat small fish. Sharks come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Hammerheads, tiger sharks, and mako sharks have powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth. Some sharks can bite three hundred times harder than a human.

         The most dangerous shark is the great white shark. It usually swims in the open sea. But sometimes a great white shark may attach and kill swimmers with no warning. It may even attack small boats. Its large, saw-edged teeth can rip through wood and even metal. The great white shark has a huge appetite and will eat any animal or person that it finds in its path.

Your assignment: After reading about this misunderstood animal, do some research of your own. Decide whether you agree or disagree with the author’s point of view. Go to the library or use the Internet to find other sources that will help you learn about sharks. Are these animals worthy of love, or are they just a menace? Give details and solid evidence to support your opinion.

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing!


Photo: Al Giddings

Note to Educators

Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS standards RI.8: Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text; W.1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons; and W.7: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(9) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Sharks   •  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, Kids Write, Dolphins, Seymour Simon, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 25, 2011

I very much enjoyed my Skype session this morning with some of the students at Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. They have been studying non-fiction writing, and 20 students were well-prepared with good questions. Nice job, and a great way to start my day!

I thought I’d share one of the answers with you. A student asked me: if I had not become a writer, what would I have done?


Thinking back to my studies, I always loved science. I fell in love with space first, and then animals. In college, I studied Behavioral Psychology, which is really the study of animal behaviors. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have become a marine biologist. This is probably why I have written so many books about whales, sharks, dolphins, and even keeping saltwater aquariums!


I like doing Skype sessions because they allow me to connect with more students. I get many more requests for school visits than I can accept, as I need to spend at least some time at my desk, researching and writing books! If you are interested in booking me for a Skype session with your school, click on this link on my website to put in your request.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, School Visits, Sharks, Oceans, Dolphins, Kids comments   •  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)

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