Mintz Elementary

Mintz Elementary
LOVED visiting Mintz Elementary to share Science Magic and the adventures and true story that have inspired my books. Click on this photo for a free activity MARKLE'S BOOK SAFARI ADVENTURE on SANDRA MARKLE SPEAKS!

Thursday, November 5, 2015


I'm a redhead 

And I'm proud of it. In fact, being a redhead is a big thing in my family. I have redheaded cousins and a redheaded son. We trace our family red hair roots proudly back to my great grandfather John Wesley Haldeman and we enjoy this shared bond. So I'm happy to announce that November 5, 2015 is National LOVE Your Red Hair Day. 

To my surprise, this isn't the only calendar day set aside to appreciate redheads. There is even a festival held each year in Breda, The Netherlands. That event started in 2005 when Dutch painter Bart Rouwenhorst decided he wanted to paint 15 redheads. He advertised for models and had 150 replies. Over time the festival has grown and now attracts around 5,000 redheads each year.

Of course, people aren't the only redheads. There are redheaded animals too. In fact, a few animals are red all over. So try these activities to have fun getting to know some of the redheads of the animal world.

2015 Redhead of the Year 

Invite kids to join in electing one of these three red haired animals to hold this title. Here's a snapshot of the candidates.

Red Panda: This animal is not a kind of panda. It's a unique kind of mammal (hairy, warm-blooded animal whose mothers nurse their young). Its red hair helps it blend in with the red mosses growing on the trees where it live.

Orangutan: In the swampy forests where this ape lives the muddy orange water casts an orange-red light into the trees. So it hides in plain sight thanks to its red hair.

Golden Lion Tamarin: This monkey's red hair makes it stand out. That may help it find other golden lion tamarins in its forest home. 

Scientists believe its hair is red at least partly because of the chemicals (carotenoids) in the fruit it eats. 

Now pick one candidate to support.  

Click on one of the names below to go to websites and find out more about your favorite candidate for REDHEAD OF THE YEAR.

Next, write a paragraph to share with others to convince them to vote for your candidate.

Also make a campaign poster. And think up a slogan--a catchy phrase--for why others should vote for your candidate.

Hold an election and count the votes to find out who is the winner.

Don't forget to celebrate the election of the 2015 REDHEAD OF THE YEAR!!!

How The Woodpecker Got Its Red head

Another of my favorite wild redheads is the red-headed woodpecker. 

There is a Cherokee legend about how the red-headed woodpecker came to be.  Here is my retelling of this legend.

Long ago, there was a cabin way off in the woods. A man who was a wood carver lived there with his beautiful red-haired wife. One day, while the man was away and the woman was home baking, an old Cherokee man came to the cabin. He had been travelling a long time and was very hungry. He asked the woman to give him something to eat. But she sent him away.

The old man was surprised because the Cherokee would never send anyone away hungry. He went back the next day. The woman in the cabin still would not give him any food to eat.

Now the old man was able to work magic. So he decided to teach the woman a lesson. The next day he went to the cabin yet again. When the woman still would not give him even a slice of the bread she was baking, he cast a spell on her. He said, “From this day on, you will spend every day searching for food and have to work very hard for what you eat.”

As he walked away, the woman began to change. The black dress she was wearing, her white apron and her bright red hair changed to feathers. She became a woodpecker. To this day, the woodpecker must fly from tree to tree and peck very hard to get food to eat.      

Another telling of the "Ta-la-la" story is found here. "Ta-la-la" is the Cherokee word for redheaded woodpecker.

Now, just for fun, make up a story of your own for how the woodpecker got its red head.

Save A Redhead

Finally, don't miss reading the true life story of how people worked very hard to save one of my favorite red-haired animals. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015


It's officially BAT WEEK!  In fact helping out bats is so important this celebration is continuing.  It's the perfect time to find out about bats. You could even build a bat house to help out your local bats. Check out these sites to learn more.
Organization for Bat Conservation
U.S. Department of Interior Bat Week
Care2 For Bats
Bat Conservation International 

Then share how science detectives tracked down what's been killing a great many bats. So many that little brown bats that were once among the most common kind of bat are in danger of becoming extinct (no more exist). You’ll also discover what's being done to try and save bats of all kinds--even how you can help save your local bats.

Then put what you discovered in this book to work and dig even deeper 
to tackle these activities.

What If You Could HIBERNATE?  

You know what it's like to be asleep. You do it every night. So what if you could hibernate for an entire season the way little brown bats do during the winter? Read about how a bat's body changes during hibernation (read over pages 10 and 11). Then look at this list. Which describes how your body would work if you were hibernating.

1. Your body stays its normal temperature--about 98.6F.
2. You become active sometimes to pass liquid wastes.
3. You become active sometimes to get a drink of water.
4. You eat at least three times a day.
5. Your heart rate drops to a much slower rate than the usual resting rate of 100 beats per minute. 
6. Your immune system isn't nearly as strong in fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

If you could hibernate, which of the four seasons would you choose to skip: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter? Why would you like to miss that one?

What Should We Do?

Here are three ways scientists are trying to help bats survive. Choose the one you believe has the best chance of working. Prepare to tell others why you think this effort is the one to focus on.

*Winifred Frick and her team hope to find bacteria or fungi that could just naturally stop the growth of Pd, the fungus causing the problem. Then bats could be swabbed with this to help them resist infection. (Check it out on pages 38-39)

*David Blehert and his team are trying to find ways to change the temperature and humidity inside hibernation sites. Their goal is to make those sites less likely to encourage Pd to grow. (Check it out on pages 34-35)

*DeeAnn Reeder and her team is working on developing an implant that could be inserted into the bat's bat. It would slowly release a protective chemical into the bat's blood over the winter. (Check it out on pages 36-37)

Once Upon A Field Trip

Find out more about little brown bats. Go online. Use these keyword phrases as you search for information:

1. Little brown bat diet
2. Little brown bat echolocation
3. Little brown bat nursery colonies


Now use your research to write a one-page story.  Pretend you’re on a field trip (during the day or at night). Tell about watching this bat. Work something you learned about this bat’s life into your story. 

And don't miss checking out these sites for ways you and your family can help bats survive!

Organization for Bat Conservation

Bat Conservation International

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Wow! Who knew we could have an excuse to have fun exploring dinosaurs. But October is it!

Dig In
Here are some sites where you can find lots of fun things to do and ways for children to investigate.

Science Made Fun
This site is packed with info about dinosaur record holders. For example do you know which dinosaur is the smallest when fully-grown? Or which kind was the first ever to be discovered in North America? You will once you visit this site.

Can you make up a story about what's going on in this picture?

Child Care Lounge: Dinosaur Activities
Songs and crafts add fun and games to learning about dinosaurs.

Enchanted Learning: Dinosaur Quizes

Ten questions, word unscrambles, crosswords and name hunts. There's lots of dino-fun here. 

And don't miss the jokes! You'll find the answers to these and more.

Why did the Archaeopteryx catch the worm?

What do you get when dinosaurs crash their cars?

Breaking News: Dinosaur Egg Discovered

Check out this latest discovery of dinosaur eggs. Also, take a look inside my book to see how the latest technology let scientists study baby dinosaurs. And learn what they were like and how they developed.
See a real baby dinosaur on page 35

 Encourage children to imagine dinosaur eggs were discovered at their school or at home in their backyard. Have them become reporters to bring this breaking news to the world.

South Pole Dinosaurs
Dr. Christian Sidor with fossil

Hard as it is to believe, during the Age of Dinosaurs the world's climate was very different. In fact, it was a time of Greenhouse kind of warming. So there were forests in Antarctica where the land is now covered with thick ice sheets. Scientist Dr. Vanessa Bowman reported that the rainforests of New Zealand with their fern trees show what the Antarctic forests were once like. In fact, Robert Falcon Scott found fossilized plants there in 1912. Since, explorers have discovered fossilized, bush-sized beech trees and remains of ginkgos, another ancient kind of tree. And dinosaur bones have also been discovered.
What's fascinating about these dinosaur remains isn't that they lived in Antarctica. It's that they had to deal with the polar night. Though the climate was clearly warmer in that ancient time, there still would have been the long period of dark. Professor Thomas Rich has found several of the now eight known species (kinds) of Antarctic dinosaurs. And the only complete skeleton found was for Leaellynasaura. This provided a big clue as to how the dinosaurs managed. Its skull had extra big eye sockets so it probably had big eyes--what it would have needed to see in the long night. 

[Don't miss the sweet story of how this dinosaur got its name.]

So what kinds of dinosaurs once lived near the South Pole? Here's the names of three. Click on the name of each to link to a site where you can begin learning more about that dinosaur. If you're interested go online to discover more about one or more of these dinosaurs. And create a 12-page mini-picture book about the dinosaur.

 Antarctopelta, meaning “Antarctic shield.” Discovered in 1986. Believed to be an ankylosaurus type of armored plant eater.


Cryolophosaurus, means “coldcrested lizard.” Approximately 20–26 feet (6–8 m) long, this massive creature must have required a hefty diet, including other dinosaurs.

Glacialisaurus, meaning “frozen lizard.” The entire dinosaur must have been 20–25 feet (6–8 m) long and weighed an estimated 4–6 tons.

Now, imagine that you have travelled to Antarctica. And you're part of a team that has found the fossil remains of a brand new kind of dinosaur. Read this story about someone who lived that exciting adventure. Then make up a story about being along on this expedition.

Have Dino Dreams

Dinosaurs are also perfect for launching all sorts of creative thinking. Let children look at this picture and:
1. Imagine living in that city.
2. Draw another kind of dinosaur that's hosting a city.
3. Dream up a class pet dinosaur. 

And enjoy some of these fun reads:
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

Dinosaur Dig

Dinosaurs Love Underpants

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Open this book and set sail.
The E-book is as close as Amazon
Enjoy these activities and don't miss the give-away chance to win one of 3 autographed copies of WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH!?
Get in the drawing for this gift give-away by emailing me before October 21st at

What if Columbus was planning his voyage today? 

Would you laugh and say, "How silly!"

Would you stand on the dock and shout, "Good luck?"

Or would you say, "Sign me up! I'm going with you."

Hi Ho It's A Sailor's Life For Me!

Pretend you've heard Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain are funding a voyage of exploration.  

An Italian chap named Christopher Columbus claims he's figured out a sea route to the faraway lands that produce spices and silk. It's an exciting idea because trekking overland to those places is expensive and dangerous. 

Make a list of pros and cons for why you should or shouldn't sign up to join Columbus's crew. Make sure the pros win. 

Then write a letter to your parents--or your best friend--telling you're going and why.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.1b Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

What animals sailed with Columbus?

If you have the book or E-book, read pages 16 and 17. Don't miss the info in the Red Box!

Look at this picture to see one of Columbus's ship getting ready to sail. List all the 
animals you see? Which were stowaways, meaning they weren’t wanted?

This cat looks like my cat "Tiger". But he hates to travel. 

Write a short story about getting ready 
to set sail with Columbus from the ship 
cat’s point of view.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Anybody Want A Biscocho? (say biz-KOH-choh)

A common sailor's fare onboard was what the Spanish call Biscocho or biscuits. 

Sailor's also called it hardtack. Bake up this recipe and you'll know how this biscuit got it's name.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Be sure and check with an adult that's it's okay to whip up this recipe. Have your 
adult partner take the hot tray out of the oven.

In a bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the water and stir until it's a stiff dough. Then 
knead (push the dough, turn, and push again). Add more flour if necessary to make a 
very dry dough.

Press the dough out so it is only about 1/2 inch thick. Use a bread knife to cut into 
squares. Place the biscocho on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes. 
Remove from oven and cool. Then enjoy! (or at least try)

In Columbus's time, sailors often ate biscotto with sardines or bean soup. 

What do you think about that?

Watch Out For The Sargasso Sea!
If you have the book or E-book, read pages 20 and 21. Don't miss the Sargasso Food Chain.

Columbus's ships sailed into what looked like a gold and green meadow of floating weeds, an area that is now called the Sargasso (sar-GAS-oh) Sea.  Why do you think the sailors thought this meant they were almost to land?  Look at this map to find out where Columbus and his crew really were.
The arrows show sea currents. Why do you think sailors could be trapped in this part of the ocean?

Now, dive in and explore some of the animals living in the Sargasso Sea--the ones in the picture. Next make a mini-book with a little information about any four of these animals: Mahi Mahi, Mako Shark, Dolphins, Baby Eels, Baby Loggerhead Turtles.  You can find information on-line or in books. Add pictures to bring your mini-book to life. And don't forget to give it a title.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W. 4.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

What An Adventure!

Reaching the New World was just the beginning of the adventure.  Read pages 28 and 29 to discover some of the events Columbus and his crew shared.  Next, pretend you were there--part of Columbus's crew. Tell your story about being part of one of those adventures.

CCSS. ELA-Literacy.W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

And, in honor of featuring animals for this Columbus Day event, I'm giving away 3 autographed copies of WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH!? Get in the drawing for this gift give-away by emailing me before October 21st at