Label: Writing Wednesday
January 8, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Think Like an Eagle
What does it mean to "think like an eagle"? Author Kathryn Lasky’s book is a vivid portrayal of the life of a nature photographer and the many strategies (including patience!) that he uses to capture photos of wild animals’ lives.
To become a wildlife photographer, Jack Swedberg spent many years studying animal behavior so he could figure out how to be at the right place at the right time without disturbing the animals. For today’s Writing Wednesday project, read the section of the book below in which Swedberg is preparing to photograph a bald eagle.
After you have read it, think about the language author Kathryn Lasky uses to bring the scene to life, and write about the words that she chooses. How does a sentence like "The big talons extend and appear like splayed stars as the wings scoop the air in front of them" both accurately describe and help the reader to feel the power of the eagle as it comes in to feed? What other powerful language does she use and what is she describing?
Once you are finished writing, you can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to share you writing with others. Have fun thinking like an eagle!
Note for Educators: Kathryn Lasky’s book is part of the streaming digital collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.
December 18, 2013
Writing Wednesday: A Clever Baby Seal
A baby seal who adopted a wildlife cameraman is the subject of today’s Writing Wednesday.
The Story:Cameraman Raymond Besant’s job on a nature documentary was to spend three weeks filming a colony of grey seals. He built a “blind”—a hiding place that looks like it belongs in nature, with a peek hole for the camera to shoot through—so that he could work without disturbing the animals.
One morning he showed up for work and found the blind had been damaged. At first he thought it was because of a storm the night before, but when he looked inside, he found a sleeping seal pup (baby).
"I gently shook the blind and eventually he shuffled out. He had wrecked the place and he was molting so there was fur everywhere. It smelled pretty bad, like a wet dog."
He tried building all kinds of barriers with driftwood across the entrance to stop the seal pup from getting in, but every morning he would come back to work and find a little head poking out of the blind.
Eventually, he decided to stop trying to block the seal, and started sharing the space. "He was just a clever seal that had found somewhere warm and dry to stay," said the cameraman.
Tell the story of the baby seal pup in your own words. Use details from what you read and from the photographs to make your story come alive for your readers.
When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your work. Happy Writing!
December 11, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Pandas
Writing Wednesday is all about Pandas this week!
Below, you will find excerpts from two different books, both titled Panda. In each of these excerpts, the author is writing about the first days of life for a newborn panda cub.
The first, by Susan Bonners, is an illustrated story. The second, by Caroline Arnold, uses photographs as illustrations.
But those aren’t the only differences between these two books. As you read these passages from the two different books, we want you to think about the differences in the styles of the two authors, and write a paragraph about how they are different.
Things you might think about as you are reading: Why would you choose one Panda book over the other? Would you use these books for different purposes (and what purposes)? Why do you think each author chose her style of presentation? What reaction were the authors trying to get from their readers?
When you have finished writing about the differences between these two pieces of writing, click on the "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your writing with others.
Note for Educators: Both of these books are part of the streaming digital collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.
December 4, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Fog!
We would like to begin today’s Writing Wednesday by welcoming Mr. Gredder’s
5th Graders from Land O’ Pines Elementary School. We’re looking forward to hearing from you all!
Are you ready to write about FOG?
Science News Story:
Park rangers and tourists alike at the Grand Canyon were treated to a rare sight over Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone rushed to see as word spread that the massive canyon, the longest in the world, was full of fog.
Normally air gets colder with altitude. In other words, the temperature drops as you go up in the atmosphere. Occasionally, an "inversion" happens. An inversion means that the cold air stays close to the ground and the moisture condenses into droplets of fog. That is what happened at the Grand Canyon last weekend, filling the huge gorge with a mighty river of fog.
"Much better than Black Friday!" National Park Service Ranger Erin Whittaker posted on the Grand Canyon’s Facebook page. "Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!"
Explain this unusual weather event in your own words. Use details from both the photographs and the news story in your description of this Thanksgiving treat.
Photos: Erin Whittaker, National Park Service
Note for Educators: Did you know that we have more than 50 Writing Wednesday topics archived on SeymourSimon.com? We strive to make these posts evergreen so that you can use them whenever the topic suits your lesson plan. Check out the Writing Wednesday Archive today!
October 29, 2013
A Ghostly Writing Wednesday
Good morning and welcome to a special Halloween Writing Wednesday (which includes a ghostly Halloween treat at the end of this post)!
Today, we would like you to read a part of Seymour Simon’s book GHOSTS. As you read the page below, notice shades of meaning in the vocabulary. How does Seymour’s use of the adjectives "cold" and "damp" instead of just writing "castle" affect the mental image you create? As you read, look for other examples of vivid words that Seymour Simon uses, and tell us about how it enhances the selection. Write two or three sentences and tell us about which adjectives and word choices he makes to create a spooky feeling as he tells this story.
When you have finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" link below to post your writing for others to read.
Calvados Castle is a gloomy-looking castle in France. It was built hundreds of years ago in the Middle Ages. Cold and damp, the castle hardly looks like a place in which anybody would want to live. If you saw it, you might think it was a perfect place for a ghost. And you would be right. Calvados Castle is haunted.
The first record of ghostly happenings came in 1875. The family and the servants that lived in the castle were disturbed night after night by mysterious sounds. They decided to place threads across the open doors. They hoped that the threads would be broken so that they could learn where the intruders came in. The sounds continued, but the threads were never broken.
The owner began keeping a diary of the strange events. The diary tells that on the night of October 13, 1875, a teacher employed by the family was alone in his room.
Halloween Treat! Seymour Simon had this book recorded by a narrator who has a famous "haunted" voice (he used to be a narrator for The Twilight Zone television series). Click below if you would like to hear this selection read aloud. But we warn you, if you are someone who is easily scared, you might not want to press play!
October 23, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Lonely Planet
Today’s Writing Wednesday is about a newly discovered planet far from our solar system, and it is different than any other we have ever seen. We want you to read this science news story and then come up with a better name for this new planet based on what you have learned from the story.
The Facts: Eighty light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered a planet that is six times bigger than Jupiter, floating all alone without a
sun to keep it warm. Scientists have seen free-floaters like this before, but we have never been sure whether they were planets or stars that had died. This time, we have enough information to be sure it is a planet similar to the "gas giants" in our solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These planets are very low in density and consist mostly of hydrogen and helium gases. If you tried to land a spacecraft on Jupiter, for example, it would keep sinking down through the gas, until it would be crushed by Jupiter’s gravity.
The new planet is named PSO J318.5-22, and it is near a group of young stars called the Beta Pictoris moving group, which formed about 12 million years ago. One of the stars in that group is circled by its own gas-giant planet that’s about eight times bigger than Jupiter.
"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this," team leader Michael Liu said. "It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."
Your Assignment: I don’t think that PSO J318.5-22 is a very good name for a planet, do you? Write a paragraph telling your readers what you would name this planet, and why. Support your idea with information from the news story (above). When you are finished writing, you may post your writing for others to read by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post.
Image: An artist’s rendering of PSO J318.5-22 by V. Ch. Quetz / MPIA
October 15, 2013
Writing Wednesday: CROC!
Jim Arnosky’s exciting story about running into a dangerous crocodile while paddling in the Florida mangroves is the focus of today’s Writing Wednesday.
Jim is a wonderful science writer - a true naturalist who writes and paints from what he experiences in nature.In the excerpt below, from his new book WATER STORIES: ADVENTURES AFLOAT, Jim tells about a day spent exploring in a kayak with his wife, Deanna. He describes the boat as sitting very low in the water - just a couple of inches off the surface - which makes it ideal for sliding under branches hanging over the water. It is not so ideal, however, if there is a dangerous animal in the water. Here’s how Jim Arnosky describes the moment when they came upon what appeared to be a floating, rough-barked log:
For your Writing Wednesday activity, I want you to imagine that you are in that kayak and come upon a dangerous croc. What are you thinking? How would you feel? What would you DO? Look closely at all the details in Jim’s painting, and describe the scene as powerfully as you can.
When you are finished, you can click on the yellow "comments" button below to post your writing for others to read.
Happy (scary!) writing!
Note to Educators: Jim Arnosky and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time, and I am so pleased that he has written this new book, WATER STORIES: ADVENTURES AFLOAT for my digital publishing company, StarWalk Kids Media. If you have not checked out our exceptionally high quality and very affordable streaming eBook collection, I hope that you will soon.
October 9, 2013
Writing Wednesday: My Dog Nova
It’s Writing Wednesday and today we would like to hear from readers about what they named their pets, and why.My first dog was a Springer Spaniel named Nova. Nova means "a new star" and that’s what NOVA was: a new star in our family. I loved her so much that years ago, when I did a book called DISCOVERING WHAT PUPPIES DO, I asked the illustrator Susan Bonners to come to my house to use Nova as a model for one of the illustrations in the book! I was looking at the book today for the first time in a long time, and smiled seeing the dedication I wrote back then: "For Nova. Always a Puppy." She was a great dog and faithful friend.
My stepdaughter Jules had a Golden Retriever whom she named "Lyra," after the adventurous female character ‘Lyra Silvertongue’ in a book that she like very much, called The Golden Compass.
What did you name your pet, and why did your choose that name? Does it refer to something you love, like I love science or like Jules loved that fictional character? Or does it have something to do with the way your pet looks? How it behaves?
Write a paragraph or two about your pet, what its name is, and why you named it that. Include details that will help us understand why you love that name and how you feel about your pet. You can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this page if you would like to share your writing for others to read.
September 18, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Now YOU Write about the Fox!
Yesterday, Seymour Simon spotted a fox in his front yard and wrote about watching, photographing, and imagining what it would be like to be that magnificent animal, basking in the sun.
Today we would like you to look at this photograph of the red fox and write a paragraph about what you see (or imagine) in this scene.
Use strong adjectives to describe the animal and your reaction to observing it. Set the scene by describing the autumn day, and use all your senses to help this photograph come alive for your reader.
Click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post if you would like to publish your writing for others to read.
September 10, 2013
CONTEST! Einstein Anderson
It is time for a new contest! Seymour Simon is visiting the Cider Mill School in Wilton, Connecticut later this month, and this Writing Wednesday contest is for all the Cider Mill students to enter. Three lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s new book LIGHTNING NEVER LIES, from the Einstein Anderson: Science Geek series of science mysteries.
Here is how you enter. First, read this excerpt from LIGHTNING NEVER LIES.
Once you have read this, here is what you do to enter:1. Think about what these pages and the illustration (at right) tell you about the characters of Einstein and Paloma. Based on what you have read, make a list of each of their likes and dislikes, as well as their characteristics (their appearance and their personalities). Give specific examples from what you read to support your list.
2. Then write at least one paragraph telling us about an interest or characteristic that you share with one of these characters, either Einstein or Paloma.
3. To enter the contest, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog entry and share both your list and your writing.
4. When you enter, be sure to also tell us your name (first name only), your grade, your age and your teacher’s name, so that we can find you if your entry is chosen. Allow 24 hours for your comment to show up online, because all comments by people under 13 years old are reviewed by a moderator and approved before they appear on the website. Be patient if your writing doesn’t appear right away!
5. Be sure to post your entry by midnight on Wednesday, September 25th. The contest ends then.
6. One winner from each grade will be chosen randomly from all the complete entries.
7. Students who do not attend Cider Mill School may also enter this contest. The rules are the same as above, but for #4, 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 an extra prize winner from the non-Cider Mill entries.
All winners will receive copies of LIGHTNING NEVER LIES, personally autographed by Seymour Simon. So, get to work and send us your entries today!