Label: Summer Vacation Science

July 18, 2013



I spotted a beautiful animal when I was eating my lunch today. This butterfly (or is it a moth?) was fluttering against the window. I grabbed my phone and used the camera to take this picture. Then I sat down to fill out my SeeMore Explorers Observation Log to help me figure out what it is.








This is really quite unusual. Everything about it (no furry antennae, no knobs at the end of its antennae, awake during the day) says that it should be a butterfly, but it looks like a moth.

I take a good look at the photograph, and then type into Google: black moth white brown spots

I click on "Images" and a lot of different pictures come up, but none of them look like my photograph.

I decide to try again. I look hard at my photograph, and decide to be more specific in my search. Back to Google, and this time I type:  black moth white brown spots pointy butt

BINGO! Sure enough, there are many photographs that look just like my animal. It is an Anania funebris, or a White-spotted sable moth. I know for sure that I am right when I read that its caterpillars feed on goldenrod. We have fields full of goldenrod in the late summer around where I live.

So that’s what I found today. A very delicate, very beautiful, day-flying moth. Nice.

If you want to try to identify animals or plants that you see outside this summer, you can fill out your own SeeMore Explorer Observation Log. Click here to download. Print it out, grab a pencil or pen, and write the most specific notes you can about what you see. Then, go to the library or onto the Internet, and use your clues to find out what it is!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 3, 2013

It’s so important to keep kids reading all summer, and to support this goal, I’m giving out FREE access to all the great eBooks in my digital publishing company, StarWalk Kids Media.

That’s right. For the entire month of July any child (or teacher or parent, for that matter), can read all of our eBooks, as much as they like. Like a frog popping its head our of the pond, or a mushroom popping through the ground into the light, it’s a Pop-Up Library! You never know when it might appear.

Here is the link where kids can go to read. Just click and get started. And be sure to let me know what you think of our eBooks. I’m very proud of them.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: eBooks, Summer Vacation Science, StarWalk Kids   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 11, 2013


We offer a multitude of resources (most of them free) to help stave off summer reading loss. Click here to download the list and to start accessing these great activity ideas for kids! (Note that you must be a member of to access these free educator resources. Membership is also free: simply click "sign up" at the top right on the website).



My digital publishing company, StarWalk Kids Media, is also offering a summer reading special. Schools and libraries that subscribe by June 30th get a fifteen-month subscription for the price of 12, which covers a summer reading program! Here’s the link to sign up for a subscription to this exceptional digital collection, which is affordable and simple to use, works on all devices with Internet connections, can be used by multiple children simultaneously, and has "Teaching Links" that support Common Core activities with every eBook. Don’t delay - you must sign up by June 30th to take advantage of this special offer!

I participated in a terrific Twitter chat last night, lead by Cornelius Minor (@MisterMinor), who is a Staff Developer at Columbia Teachers College Reading & Writing Project. Educators were sharing ideas for encouraging summer reading and learning, and there was a lot of great information exchanged. If you are interested in learning about what people were suggesting, read the Twitter thread #tcrwpcoaching.  

People were asking last night what I do in the summer. It’s a mix of things. I relax during the summer by doing many of the same things that I do all year long - read books, write books, get out and photograph nature. We also fish, walk in the woods, try to learn bird calls, watch bats at night, read poetry. How about you? I’d love to hear about your summer plans, for your students and for yourself.

Whatever your plans, happy summer to all! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Teachers and Librarians, Summer Vacation Science, Science Projects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 24, 2012


I just received this great photo of Finn R. from his dad, who reached out to me on Twitter (@seymoursimon) to say that this book is right up Finn’s alley! ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES has always been a favorite of many of my readers.


My niece, Annie N., wrote to me recently that she read my book GHOSTS right before bed, and although she liked it, that timing might have been a mistake. Next time, she’s going to read it in the morning!

What have you been reading this summer? Click on "Comments" at the bottom of this post and tell me about it. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Summer Vacation Science   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 16, 2012

Here is a great Summer Vacation Science moment from reader Jennifer J:



Two Oklahoma children enjoying their beloved grasshopper, Hopsters. Dad fetched it from the pool and they thought he saved the insect from drowning. Summer is best with jars and bugs.




I was curious about what kind of grasshopper this is. Jennifer also sent this close-up photograph, so I decided to fill out my Summer Vacation Science Observation Log, to see if I could identify the grasshopper. Here is what I wrote on the log:





It was very difficult to identify this insect strictly by doing an image search on the Internet. Too many choices came up, none really looked like this grasshopper, and I realized that it would take too long to do it this way - there are 11,000 known grasshopper species worldwide. 

One thing I find helpful to do when I am stuck like this is to ask myself: "What else do I know?" I decided that the important thing I know is that this grasshopper is found in OKLAHOMA. Surely, that should narrow things down.

I did another Internet search, this time searching for the words "Oklahoma grasshopper." One of the first things that came up on the list was titled: Grasshoppers  of Goodwell and Texhoma,  OK on a website run by a researcher named Kurt Schaefer at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. It lists each local grasshopper species with a link that lets you see a photograph. I clicked on the link next to each grasshopper name until I found one that looks like "Hopsters."

Based on what I found on this website, I have concluded that these children found a WRINKLED GRASSHOPPER.

Isn’t it fun to try to figure out what you are seeing? It is like being a Nature Detective!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Insects, Exploration, Observation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 12, 2012

My wife, Liz, tends to get a little grouchy about the deer that nibble on the plants and flowers in her garden. I understand how she feels, but we live in the country, after all, so we need to share our space with the wild creatures who live there.

Last week, I spotted not one but two baby deer, also known as "fawns." They settled in to munch some grass right next to the garden gate. It is hard to be mad at anything that is this cute, don’t you think?

What are you seeing in the outdoors this summer? Even if you live in a big city, like I did when I was growing up, there are still animals, plants and weather all around you. As you come to my blog this summer, you will find me posting photographs and writing about what I see in nature. It won’t be on a regular schedule during the summer months, but I will post photos whenever I see something that I think my readers will be interested in.

I love to hear from you all, too. If you take a photograph of an animal, plant or cool weather that you want to share, click on "SEND US PHOTOS/VIDEO" (in yellow at the top of every page on this website) and send it my way.

Don’t forget to download and print out copies of my free "Summer Vacation Science Observation Log." This simple form helps you write down all the details of what you see, so that you can figure out what kind of animal, plant, or weather you are watching. Click here to see an example of how I identified the beautiful Rosy Maple Moth using the observation log.

It’s summer, a great time both for reading and for exploring the outdoors!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(9) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Summer Vacation Science, Seymour Photographs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 3, 2012

Look at this amazing animal that I found on my kitchen door a few days ago! This is a Rosy Maple Moth (scientific Latin name Dryocampa rubicunda). It is called a Rosy Maple Moth because its caterpillar (called the green-striped mapleworm) eats the leaves of maple and oak trees.

When you walk outside in the morning, you will find sleeping moths all around you. Look at leaves, screen doors, the side of your house, tree trunks. Most moths are nocturnal ("nocturnal" means that they are awake at night and sleep during the day), so you can find them and photograph them during the daytime.

How did I know the name of this moth? I have studied animals all my life and know a lot about them, but that doesn’t mean I automatically know the name of everything that I see. However, if I look at all its different qualities and observe very carefully, I usually have enough information to look it up and find out what it is. You can do that, too, by using my Summer Vacation Science Observation Log. It is a sheet that you can download here, and when you answer all the questions and fill it out, you will usually be able to figure out exactly what wild creature you are observing.

Here is my observation log for the Rosy Maple Moth. Look at all the information I got, just by looking and observing carefully.


Download your own copy of the Summer Vacation Science Observation log, print out a bunch of copies, and see how many cool things you can observe this summer. I bet it will be a lot!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 29, 2012

Aren’t you glad to be on summer break? We are too, here at the Seymour Science blog. That doesn’t mean we stop writing altogether, though. Instead, we switch over to SUMMER VACATION SCIENCE!

I am always looking around me when I am in the outdoors, observing the clouds and thinking about the weather, watching animals busily going about their work, admiring the fields of corn that have sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere, in the last few weeks.

I usually have my camera with me, and I am often taking photographs of what I see. So as you come to my blog this summer, you will find me posting photographs and writing about the magnificent nature that I see all around me. It won’t be on a regular schedule (we’re on vacation, after all!), but I will write whenever I see something that I think my readers will be interested in.

I always love to hear from you all, too. If you take a photograph of an animal, plant, rock or cool weather that you want to share, click on "SEND US PHOTOS/VIDEO" (in yellow at the top of every page on this blog) and send it my way!

Happy Summer!
- Seymour 


Photo: Michael A. Simon 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 31, 2012

Get out your hiking shoes, because Saturday, June 2 is the 20th annual NATIONAL TRAILS DAY, sponsored by the American Hiking Society. Join your fellow nature lovers on the trails on Saturday, and celebrate the beginning of summer in the outdoors.

There are events planned all over the country. Click on this link to find an event near you. There is an interactive map, and if you click on your state, up pops a whole list of National Trails Day events. Some require pre-registration, so check today.

We live in New York State, so we are thinking about being part of the Riverkeeper Sweep, a day when people from New York City to Albany volunteer to help take care of the Hudson River. We drive and walk often along its shores, watching the wildlife and being inspired by its beauty.

I also plan to drive over to Stissing Pond, a place that has inspired me since I first saw it depicted in a diorama at the American Museum of Natural History when I was a kid. I love to photograph there.

How are you going to celebrate National Trails Day?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Hiking, Outdoor Education   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 26, 2011


If you live on the East Coast of the United States, you have been hearing warnings for the last several days to get prepared for Hurricane Irene. There are lots of things that need to be done that kids can help with. Hurricane preparation is a family affair!

Here are some things you can do:


  • Walk outside and look for anything that might be blown around in a strong wind - an innocent toy or lawn chair can become a missile that breaks windows or causes injury when it’s caught up in an 80 mile per hour wind! Things that should be brought inside include: bicycles, skateboards, toys, garbage cans, sprinklers, watering cans, toys, garden tools, lawn furniture, umbrellas, recycling bins. Anything that can fly around should be brought indoors.
  • Help your family locate all the flashlights in the house, and put them all in one place, so you can find them easily if the lights go out. Check each to see if they are working, or if the batteries need to be replaced. Make a list of what kind of batteries each one needs, and how many. (You should buy double that number, so that you have backups).
  • Your family is going to need to do some extra food shopping. You can help to carry the bags and put the food away when you get home.
Pick out a favorite "read aloud" book, and put it in the "safe room" (the basement or interior room, with no windows) where your family will all gather together during the storm. When the electricity is out and there is no television or computer, it’s a great time for the whole family to read a story together, by flashlight! 
  • If your family lives in an area that may be evacuated, pack your backpack with a set of clean clothes and three sets of clean underwear. Put in your favorite toy or book, your toothbrush and a comb or brush. That way you are ready to go when the time comes.
  • FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a very good website with a checklist for preparing for a hurricane. Go to that website and print out the list, so that you can help your family to know everything that they need to get ready for the storm. 

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL KIDS: After the hurricane passes, the area where you live may be flooded. Don’t go out and play in the water. Flooded areas are dangerous. Rapidly moving water even less than a foot deep can sweep you away. And, water may also be electrically charged from downed or damaged power lines. If you are in the street and see water, turn around and go the other way!

FOR FAMILIES WITH PRESCHOOLERS: It can be very difficult to explain big events like hurricanes to very little kids. My friends and former colleagues at Sesame Street have a great "hurricane toolkit" that includes video, and it’s free for any family who wants to use it. Click on the graphic to find these excellent materials.



Being prepared makes big storms less scary, and helps to keep people safe. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Summer Vacation Science, Weather, Hurricanes, Hurricane Irene   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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