Label: School Visits

February 11, 2012

This week we ran a contest called 3 CHEERS FOR PLUTO! for students at schools that I visited in Wayne, New Jersey, Skillman, New Jersey, and Newtown, Pennsylvania.  I asked students to do some research about Pluto, and write three facts about the dwarf planet. 163 students and classes left comments on the blog with their answers. Wow!

How did I come up with a winner among the many correct answers? The winner was randomly chosen by a true random number generator on the website www.random.org. First we listed all the entries on page after page, in order of when they were received. Then we used the random number generator, first to pick a page number and then to pick a number on the page. The winning pick was Ainsley, in Mrs. Rodgers’ Class, at Sol Feinstone Elementary School.

 

Ainsley wrote: 

1. The region of its orbit is known as the Kuiper belt.smile

2. Puto’s distance from the sun is about 3,670,050,000 miles [5,906,380,000 kilometers] smile

3. Pluto’s surface is one of the coldest places in our solar system. smile

 

The class pick, for Kindergarten through second grade, was a little different. We put each class entry on a small slip of paper, put all of the class entries into a paper bag and then I put my hand into the bag and picked up one of the slips of paper without looking. The winning slip of paper was Mrs. Doheny’s 2nd grade class at Sol Feinstone Elementary School. They wrote:

smileOn August 24th, 2006 Pluto’s status was changed from planet to dwarf planet. 

smilePluto is the only planet named by a kid.

smilePluto has three moons.

 Our second grade class had so much fun researching facts about Pluto this afternoon.  The children can’t wait until Seymour Simon comes to visit us tomorrow!!! 

See you soon,

Mrs. Doheny’s Second Grade Class 

Congratulations to both winners. Ainsley will receive an autographed copy of OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, and Mrs. Doheny’s class will receive an autographed copy of PLANETS AROUND THE SUN.

Now, some of you very advanced planet studiers may have noticed that just a few months ago, astronomers identified a fourth moon orbiting Pluto. For now, it is just being called P4 - it is so new that it has not been given another name yet. Since it is so new, we did not disqualify any entries that said that Pluto has three moons, Charon, Nix and Hydra.

 

For those of you who are interested, here is a recent diagram from NASA, showing Pluto’s satellite system, which includes all four moons.

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! All of your entries have been posted as comments on my blog. Look for your name and your entry on my website, www.seymoursimon.com. Some of you put your comments on stories other than the contest story, so if you don’t see it there, you’ll probably find your comment under another blog story.

Please keep in touch by telling me about what book of mine you’re reading, and what subjects you like the most!

I had so much fun meeting you all last week. Thank you for your enthusiasm for paper airplanes, strange mysteries, and Pluto!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Contests, Pluto   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 1, 2012

It is easy to tell that another Seymour Simon school visit week is coming up -  we have been getting so many comments from new readers on the Seymour Science blog. Students in Wayne, New Jersey, Skillman, New Jersey and Newtown, Pennsylvania  - this contest is for you!

Two lucky winners will receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s OUR SOLAR SYSTEM (grades 3-6) and PLANETS AROUND THE SUN (grades K-2).

 

Here is what you have to do to enter the 3 Cheers for Pluto Contest:

1.    Seymour is thinking about writing a book about Pluto. That means he is starting to research information about the dwarf planet.

2.    He would like you to add your own research about Pluto. Click the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post, and tell Seymour 3 facts about Pluto.

3.    You can find your facts on this blog, in Seymour’s books about the solar system, or using other resources, like the library and the Internet. Any fact is ok (as long as it is true!)

4.    Tell us your name (first name only), school and email address. If you do not have an email address, tell us your teacher’s name, so we can contact you if you are the winner.

5.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, February 10. 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.

Do you need some help getting started? You can find facts about Pluto right on this blog. Look at all the entries under the label "Solar System." We guarantee you that you will find information there!

So, get to work and send us your entries today. Your comments will be invisible until everyone has a chance to enter. Once the contest is over, we will post everyone’s writing.

Good luck!


   

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(131) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Contests   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 31, 2012

The students at James Fallon Elementary in New Jersey have been doing a Seymour Simon Author Study, and they finished it up with a virtual author visit (also known as a Skype session) with Seymour Simon on Monday. These are his interviewers - fourth and fifth graders who had lots of questions for him, especially about his newly re-published and always popular book, STRANGE MYSTERIES.

 

Some students wondered whether he knew what happened to the  "ghost ship" Marie Céleste, found abandoned but steaming ahead in the Atlantic Ocean, even though the weather was good and her crew was experienced. But of course, if he knew the answer, it wouldn’t be a famous mystery!

Their teacher, Lorrie Maggio-Huber, wrote after the session: The students at Fallon had a great time concluding their author study with a super discussion with Mr. Simon!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(44) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 29, 2012

One of Seymour Simon’s first books, THE PAPER AIRPLANE BOOK, is still one of his most popular, with kids AND adults. A few years ago, when we were designing his website, we came up with the idea of making a paper airplane pattern - a piece of paper with folding instructions - for readers to download. "Let me take a picture of you dressed up like an aviator, flying a paper airplane," I said to Seymour. "We can put the photograph on the pattern so that when kids fold it, your photo will be on the wings. It will be a Seymour Plane!"

 

You have seen the drawing of Snoopy when he’s pretending to pilot a fighter plane, right? I thought that was exactly the right look for the Seymour Plane! I dug through my drawers and pulled out a white silk scarf, and found a pair of swimming goggles on the shelf in the garage. Seymour, always willing to be silly for the sake of science, put it all on, folded his airplane and we snapped this photograph. 

When Seymour visits schools, like he did this week, he always talks about paper airplanes and shows kids his silly photo.

 

After his visit to the elementary school in Center Moriches, NY, we received this letter from a mother named Christine Buff. Christine wrote:  

My twin sons, Spencer and Stephen, LOVED your visit. Thank you for making such an amazing impression on two 5-year-old boys. They are in Mrs. Engelhardt’s Kindergarten class.  Spencer came home telling us all about your paper airplane book and that we could go onto your dot.com and visit you on FACEBOOK!  We made our airplanes last night.  We have airplanes flying all over my house and Spencer wanted me to write you to tell you his did a loop-de-loop! He also wanted to know why we did not have your train book!!  They are BIG train fans.  Off to borrow from the library! 

  Today was Biography Day and they both wore scarfs, googles and brought their airplanes to school to pretend they were you.

Don’t they look just like Seymour?! That is Stephen on the left and Spencer on the right. How great to see them with their paper airplanes, scarves and goggles! We now declare Spencer and Stephen official members of the Paper Airplane Club!

If you’d like to try folding your own "Seymour Plane," with his silly photograph on the wings, you can download the pattern here. Send us your picture with your paper airplane, dressed up like Seymour, and you’ll be in the Paper Airplane Club, too!

Students also often ask where they can see the YouTube video that Seymour loves, of a paper airplane being flown from a skyscraper and traveling down through New York City. You can see that video by clicking here.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Paper Airplanes, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 27, 2012

Thank you, Center Moriches students, for all your thank you notes and great comments after my visit this week. I loved meeting you all, too.

Makayla, Claire K., Richie and the kids in Room 30 all wrote to ask the same question, so I thought I would answer it here. The question is: WHAT IS MY FAVORITE OF ALL THE BOOKS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN?

I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300! I can never say which is my favorite book - it is like a parent picking his favorite child. If I say which one is my favorite, all the other books will be mad at me!

Actually, whatever book I am working on at the moment is my "favorite," because I get caught up in how fascinating each topic is. I’ve just finished a book on CORAL REEFS, and I learned so much about these busy "cities under the sea" - you would be amazed at the diversity of life that thrives in a coral reef. So at the moment, that is my "favorite book."

If you click on "play" in this photograph, you can see a little bit of video of all the living creatures in a coral reef. Isn’t it magnificent?

Makayla added a few other questions which I will answer for you here, too.

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?  Since I was a kid I have had two favorite colors, and they are both the colors of nature. One is almost indescribable - the warm, pumpkin-like, mix of orange colors that you see in autumn. My other favorite color is the deep purple that you sometimes see in sunset clouds.

2. DO YOU HAVE ANY CHILDREN?  My two sons are both grown - one is a television director, and one is a college professor, in Computer Sciences. My stepdaughter is still in college, studying Literature and History. And I have four grandchildren whom I try to visit as often as I can.

3. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE AN AUTHOR?  I read a book called THE SEA AROUND US, by Rachel Carson. She is a wonderful writer, I absolutely loved the book, and by the time I finished it, I had realized that I wanted to write about the natural world. I started writing for children because that is where my area of expertise was - I was a middle school science teacher for many years.

Thank you to all the book lovers at Clayton Huey Elementary School for your very warm welcome. I loved your caution to "Drive Safely!" when I left. What a warm, caring group of students and teachers. Keep reading, and please click on "Comments" and write to me any time to tell me what you are reading and thinking about.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Becoming a writer, Coral Reefs, School Visits, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 23, 2012

 

 

I’m preparing for my upcoming visit to Clayton Huey Elementary School in Center Moriches, New York this week. I understand that it is W.A.R.M. ("We Are Reading More") Week at your school. What a great time to visit!

Center Moriches Red Devils - click on the yellow "comments" below so that you can write and tell me what you are reading. Which one of my books are you interested in learning more about? I’m looking forward to meeting all of you on Wednesday!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(27) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 12, 2012

 

 

Educators who are considering inviting Seymour Simon to speak in their school district may be interested in this note that we received from elementary school media specialist Donna McAndrews following his weeklong visit to schools in Niskayuna, New York.


Last week Seymour Simon visited our elementary school to speak about his science writing.  Our students were thrilled to meet him, and I was so proud of their enthusiasm and intelligence during his presentations. 

To prepare the students for this visit, we spent a few weeks looking at as many of his books as we could.   The students noticed the story-quality of Seymour’s books, and they found that learning a new science concept was easier when Seymour made a comparison to something they already knew.  So much like their own classroom teachers would do! 

In one fourth grade class we needed a model for writing our nonfiction paragraphs on the Iroquois.   Even though our subject was not science-related, each student was able to find a page in one of Seymour’s books that illustrated a good nonfiction paragraph with an introductory sentence and supporting examples, as well as other details like using comparisons to explain new concepts.  Not only did these students write really solid paragraphs, but they checked out the books they used because they wanted to read more!

In addition to looking at the books, all of our third, fourth and fifth grade classes explored the Seymour Science Blog on the website.  They had a blast learning about science topics from each blog post.  We asked them to respond by posting a thoughtful comment that included something they learned from the post as well as something they wonder about after reading that blog.  This was a really good first step in learning how to use blogs in an educational setting to further your own learning, not just to react to something some else posts. 

More excitement was generated when Seymour and Liz created the "Butterfly or Moth?" contest for our students.  Classes in grades K - 2 and individual students in grades 3 - 5 all participated in this endeavor!  Again, the expectation was that their online comments should reflect their learning and should be clear and easy-to-understand.  The students worked hard to research the differences between moths and butterflies, and they articulated their answers clearly in their blog comments.  I think they would have worked hard even if there wasn’t a prize at the end.  They really enjoy learning something new and sharing what they know.  It’s as simple as that!

I am hopeful that in the near future we will find a way to add Seymour’s many digital books to our library’s catalog so our students can borrow them for use on their own devices. 

Thanks, Seymour, for bringing science and writing to life for our Niskayuna students!


Thank you, Donna, for your very kind words. Your students were indeed well-prepared for Seymour’s visit, and when educators like you and your colleagues do advance preparation, it is always a more successful experience for both the children and the author!

When Seymour Simon visits a school district we try to maximize the payoff for the students by showcasing their research, writing and artwork on SeymourSimon.com. These interactions are designed to create an opportunity for each student to have a personal, relevant and satisfying experience reading, analyzing and writing nonfiction text (very important in these early days of implementing the Common Core Standards).  

We encourage educators who use this site to give us feedback on how you are using the materials we create with your students, and in particular, how we can do it better. We love to hear from you! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 8, 2011

Niskayuna, New York is a wonderful mix of rural farmland and urban history. I drove around photographing on a very chilly but beautiful December morning, when Seymour Simon was in town to visit the Craig, Rosendale, Hillside and Glencliff Elementary Schools.

We hope that all the great students and teachers in Niskayuna enjoy this video, but we think others might like it as well. Have you studied the Erie Canal in school? It runs right through Niskayuna and you can see pictures here.

The great music in this video, by the way, is from the NBC Television show THE SING OFF, performed by the University of Rochester Yellow Jackets.

Click Here to view this video, which is called "NISKAYUNA: A BRIGHT DECEMBER MORNING." Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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

December 3, 2011

 

This week we ran a contest called BUTTERFLY or MOTH? for students in the Niskayuna, NY school district, where I was visiting. We showed two photographs, side by side, and asked you to tell us which was a butterfly and which was a moth…..and give three reasons why. We had 256 students and classes leave comments on the blog with their answers. Wow!

How did we come up with a winner among the many correct answers? The winner was randomly chosen by a true random number generator on the website www.random.org. First we listed all the entries on page after page, in order of when they were received. We had 256 entries, so there were 16 pages of entries with 16 entries on each page. Then we used the random generator, first to pick a page number and then to pick a number on the page. The winning pick was Alexandra L. in Class 4V at Glencliff Elementary School.

Alexandra wrote:

Insect A: moth

 

1. Moths rest with their wings open.

 

2. They do not have a club on their antennae.

 

 

 

Insect B. Butterfly

 

1. They rest with their wings closed.

 

2. They have a little club on their antennae.

 

The class pick was a little different. We put each class entry on a small slip of paper, put all of the class entries into a paper bag and then I put my hand into the bag and picked up one of the slips of paper without looking. The winning slip of paper was Mrs. Robitaille’s 2nd grade class in Hillside Elementary School. They wrote:

Insect A is a moth. We know this because the moth’s wings are dull, the moth’s wings fold back, and the antennae are feathery. Insect B is a butterfly. We know this because its wings are folded up, its wings are colorful, and it has a bulb at the top of its antennae.

Congratulations to both winners. You will receive your signed copy of BUTTERFLIES in the mail this week. More than that, congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! All of your entries have been posted as comments on my blog. Look for your name and your entry on my website, www.seymoursimon.com. Some of you put your comments on stories other than the contest story, so if you don’t see it there, you’ll probably find your comment under another blog story.

Keep in touch by telling me what book of mine you’re reading and what subjects you like the most!

I had so much fun talking to you last week; did you enjoy my speaking? Tell me one thing you remember from what I said!

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Contests, Teachers and Librarians, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 30, 2011

 Nice. Thanks for the warm welcome, Rosendale!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

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