Label: Writing Wednesday

October 23, 2013

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.

Happy Writing!


Image: An artist’s rendering of PSO J318.5-22 by V. Ch. Quetz / MPIA

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Astronomy, Exploration   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 15, 2013

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.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Exploration   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 9, 2013

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.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(17) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Dogs, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 18, 2013

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.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(41) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 10, 2013



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!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(55) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Contests, Kids Write, Einstein Anderson   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 4, 2013

Zebras are the topic of the first Writing Wednesday of the new school year. The writing below is an excerpt from ZEBRA, a lovely book by my friend and StarWalk Kids author Caroline Arnold.

Here is what we would like you to do today. Read the section below from Caroline Arnold’s book and as you read, jot down the main ideas on this page. Then think about which one of those points is the MAIN IDEA. Look at the other thoughts you have written down. Are these "supporting details" that help to explain the main idea?

Finish up by writing a short summary (one or two paragraphs) of what you think Caroline Arnold was trying to say on this page - you can use the main idea as your first sentence and your supporting details as evidence to back up your thinking.

We would love to read what you write! You can publish your writing for others to read by clicking on "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Animal Books, StarWalk Kids   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 3, 2013

Science fans, are you ready for a great, new school year? We are back from our summer break and have so many exciting things to share with you!

If you are new here, this is what you can expect from us (nearly) every week.

MondayScience News. There is always something new and exciting being explored, explained or discovered. We try to share the latest with you.

TuesdayCool Photo of the Week.

WednesdayWriting Wednesday. Your chance to publish your own writing on the Seymour Science blog!

Thursday: Wild Card. Sometimes we publish your reviews of Seymour Simon’s books, sometimes we share cool videos….check in with us on Thursdays to see what is happening!

Friday: A New Animal Joke or Riddle on the front page of Seymour’s website.

Also, any time you want to drop by, we have built up several hundred stories about topics you may be interested in. On the left hand side of Seymour’s Blog page, there is a list called "Labels." This lets you find previous stories about subject you are interested in. So if you like "Animals," click on that link and you can explore 173 previous stories about animals. Fascinated by "Space"? There are lots of stories there, too.

If this sounds like fun, please visit and write often by clicking on "Comments" at the bottom of any blog story! This is a community of kids who are explorers, and we love hearing from you!


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing Wednesday, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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 15, 2013

Using Rich Vocabulary is the goal of today’s Writing Wednesday. Look at this funny-looking creature, commonly known as the "piglet squid."

Could I have used richer vocabulary to describe this photograph? What if I described it as a "roly poly, rubber-nosed Cephalopod"? Do you hear the difference in these two descriptions, "funny-looking creature" and "roly poly, rubber-nosed celephod"? Both describe the animal in this photograph, but the second description uses much richer vocabulary to help the reader understand what I am seeing.

Click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog and write your own description of this cute animal. Take your time and come up the richest vocabulary you can to help your reader imagine the animal in this photograph. Happy writing!


Photo: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium/Gary Florin

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 8, 2013

Have you looked recently at all the different shades of green around you? If, like me, you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the seasons change, you are enjoying Spring right now. The thing I love best about Spring is that the landscape has come alive and it is splashed with many, many different shades of green.

Do you think that you know what color "green" is? When you look hard, especially in the springtime, you’ll see that green comes in many variations.

For today’s Writing Wednesday, I’d like you to look at this photograph, tell me how many different shades of green that you see, and describe three of them. Look hard - I bet you will find more than you ever imagined!

When you are finished writing, you can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post if you would like to share your writing.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Seasons   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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