Tuesday, November 12, 2019


WHAT A THRILL to share with Benjamin Grant in having our book OVERVIEW, A New Way of Seeing Earth, The Young Explorer's Edition honored by being chosen for Amazon's Best Books of the Year Nonfiction list. 

If you haven't seen it, don't miss discovering Earth at its most amazing!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


This month let children wonder WHAT IF I HAD ANIMAL EYES!?

AND help them discover how special eyes help animals thrive where they live.

Chameleon Eye Spy

For this activity, scatter several objects to find around the classroom. Next, choose two students to team up. Have that pair stand side-by-side. Give each child in the team one empty toilet paper tube. (Or use paper towel tubes for an even bigger challenge.) 

Have the team close their eyes while someone places three colorful objects, such as red apples, somewhere in the classroom. 

Now, have each child use a hand to cover the eye on the side next to their partner. And hold the tube up to their uncovered eye. Only looking through the tubes, each member of the team can look in any direction. However, as soon as one team member spots an object that person must guide their partner to home in on the object. And together they must point out the object.

Then repeat to find the other object.

Let other teams try the challenge. Discuss how having eyes that can look in more than one direction is a useful adaptation. And why it's key that both eyes can also focus in the same direction. 

Also share that chameleon bodies (feet and tail) are designed for getting a grip on their habitat and hanging on tight. Why might chameleons have different eyes if they could move their bodies quickly?   

Bullfrog Eye Spy

Often, there's so many interesting facts it's tough to choose just what to share in the "What If You Had?!" info-burst. That was true for the Bullfrog. So here are some cool facts I didn't share:

*It's a good thing a bullfrog can see nearly all the way around itself because, unlike people, it can't turn its eyes in its head. 

*Bullfrogs are nearsighted.

*Their eyes are extremely sensitive to movement. However, if prey, such as flies, don't move, a bullfrog doesn't see it.

Now, follow the directions on one the following resource sites to make periscopes. Then let children experience peeking over things to spy like a bullfrog. 

Have children write a short story or poem about being a frog hiding underwater while watching their world.

Making A Cardboard Periscope 1  

Making A Cardboard Periscope 2


Once your class has read all the What If You Had?! books, have them create a picture of themselves with all the animal adaptations they wish they had.


You and your students are sure to think of even more ways to have fun with WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES!?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019



I love this season! Whether you live where autumn brings lots of changes or only a few, it's still a great time for seasonal fun. So let's jump in and get started.


There are thousands of kinds of apples. However, only the most popular are grown and harvested. Even that changes as new varieties emerge. Today, the top ten are most often listed as the following:

Pink Lady 
Golden Delicious
Cox's Orange Pippin
Red Delicious

Collect samples of any three then compare. 
Do the apples look different? 
Check color. 

Now wash and slice. Then taste one sample. Rate it from 1 to 4 on crispness with 1 being the softest and 4 being the crispest.
Also rate it on sweetness with 1 being the least sweet and 4 being the sweetest.

It's estimated each person in the U.S. eats about 50 apples each year. So take a bite to be on your way to eating your fair share!

RIDDLE: What kind of fruit do ghosts like?

RIDDLE: What's a vampire's favorite fruit?


To bob for apples, fill a large plastic storage tub or child's plastic wading pool nearly full of water. Wash the apples--one for each contestant. Set these afloat. To play each person, in turn, bends over the tub with their hands behind their back. Have someone time each person working to snatch an apple in their teeth. The fastest snatcher wins. Only each person wins a tasty apple snack.

*Write a short story about a bobbing-for-apples contest. 

RIDDLE: What kind of horses do ghosts ride?

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Kids love to make music!
Making their own musical instruments is a great way to explore what creates sounds-- and what changes the pitch. 

Start by letting children explore how air vibrating produces sound. Then explore how varying the amount of vibrating air changes the pitch--how high or low the tone sounds.

What you need: plastic straw, scissors.

What to do:
1. Snip off one end of the straw to form a V-shape. Nip off the point. Flatten the cut end by pressing it against a table top with a thumbnail.

2. Blow on the V-shaped en of the straw. That acts like a reed in a wood wind instrument and make the air blowing through the straw vibrate. PRESTO! A sound. 

3. Snip off the straw to change its length. Blow again to hear the new sound this makes.

Now, get together with a group of friends. Have each make a Next, make each a little shorter than the one before. And tape all five together so they are side-by-side. 

Try making up a tune to play with your straw instrument that's a different length. Toot sounds together and one-after-the-other. Just for fun, make your own tunes.

Start by letting children explore how different amounts of air vibrating produces different sounds. 

What you need: 3 glass quart jars, a metal spoon, water--food coloring just for fun.

What to do:
1. Fill one jar half full of water. Tap it with the spoon. It should make a deep sound. If it does not, add a little more water. Keep testing and adding a little more water till you hear a deep sound. This is Bell 3.

2. Fill the second jar a little less than half full. Tap it. The sound should be higher than the first jar. If it is not, pour out a little water. Keep testing and pouring till you the sound is a little higher than the deep sound. This is Bell 2. 

3. Fill the last jar with just enough water to cover the bottom. Tap it. The sound should be higher than the other two jars. This is Bell 1.

You can play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" by tapping the jars in this pattern.

1, 2, 3, 2---1, 1, 1
2, 2, 2, ---1, 1, 1
1, 2, 3, 2---1, 1, 1
1, 2, 2, 1, 2, 3

Now, experiment. Make up your own music to play on your Water Bells.


This time, it's rubber bands that get air moving and make sounds.

Go as wild as you want to let kids make their own guitars. What counts is having different thickness--or differently stretched--rubber bands.

In fact, almost anything that will let you stretch the rubber bands will work!

What you need: cereal box, tape, scissors, BIG rubber bands--best to use different thicknesses. Or something, such as a pencil or crayon, to change stretch.

What to do:
1. Be sure cereal box is empty and tape top shut. 
2. Cut a hole as big around as a drinking glass on just one of the flat sides of the box.
3. Stretch rubber bands over the box, across the hole.

Pluck the rubber bands to make sounds. Push the pencil or crayon under one or more of the rubber bands to change how much it's stretched. Check how that changes the pitch.  

Here are some websites  to explore for more musical instrument HOW-TO
GET kids being movers, shakers, and music makers!!!


What great school visits!
check out the FUN!
Next week I'm heading to Michigan for more science and reading time together!!!

Thursday, September 5, 2019


I'm BATTY for BATS! Bet by the time you finish these activities you will be too!

Besides Halloween is coming so it's the perfect time to go totally batty! 

I've written 4 books about bats...so far. Check them out!
About the biggest and littlest bats...and bats with really big or little features that help them thrive.

The "true" story of how an orphaned baby bat is adopted by a new mother. Mexican free-tailed bats really do adopt orphaned babies. 
All about bats and how their bodies are amazingly built for flight.

Why some bats are in trouble--plus how scientists are working to help bats survive.

Of course, that wasn't enough bats for me. So I also put bats in two of my Scholastic WHAT IF YOU HAD!? series. Look inside these to find the bats! 

NOW have some batty fun!

Visit My Cave

What's it like to live like a bat? FIND OUT!  

Cover a table on three sides with a blanket or paper to create a cave.  Have your family or a group of friends crawl inside your pretend cave with you. While you're there with this group, think about these questions.

  1. Why is a cave a good home for small bats, like Mexican Free-tailed Bats? 
  2. Why do you think big bats, like Grey-Headed Flying Foxes, camp in the open in trees instead of in caves?
  3. What are some problems to sharing a cave with other bats?

What Good Are Bats?

Check out the hand-like structure of a bat's wings.

Try this to find out.  

Take a large bowl of popcorn kernels to the gym or outdoors to a paved area of the playground.  Scatter 50 popped kernels on the floor or ground.  Count to ten. Then have people dash around placing two more popcorn kernels next to each original kernel.  This is as if the insect pests have multiplied.  

Now pretend you are an insect-hunting bat. Have four others pretend they are too.  While someone counts to five, have each “bat” pick up all of the insects (popcorn) they can carry.  Then have other children place two popcorn kernels next to each remaining kernel.  

Repeat these steps two more times, having “bats” collect “insects”.   Then have the remaining “insects” multiply.  

  • How much of an effect did the “bats” have on the “insect” population?
  • What limited how much of an effect the bats could have on the insects? 
  • What do you think would happen to populations of insect pests if there weren’t any bats?

Bats for Good Measure

Again, here's a good chance to see the arm and hand-like structure of a bat's wing.

The wingspan of the largest flying foxes can be up to 6 feet. Now, measure each of these things.  Find out how much longer or shorter each is compared to a large flying fox’s wingspan. 

  • Your bed
  • Your height
  • Your armspan (from fingertip to fingertip with both arms stretched out)

The wingspan of the Bumblebee bat is 6 inches.  Take a piece of string that length.  Find out how much longer or shorter each is compared to a Bumblebee Bat’s wingspan.

  • Your pencil
  • Your foot
  • Your right hand span (from thumb to little finger with your hand spread wide).  Draw around your hand span on a piece of paper. Then compare to your bat wing measuring string.
And to wrap up the batty fun. Here are a few bat riddles.  

Q: Which circus performers can see in the dark?
A: The acro-bats.

Q: What is the first thing a bat learns at school?
A: The alphabat.

Q: Where to young bats go potty?
A: In the batroom.


WHAT A THRILL to share with Benjamin Grant in having our book OVERVIEW, A New Way of Seeing Earth, The Young Explorer's Edition hono...