Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014

Seymour Simon

Award-winning author's books come to life with online science content

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
2-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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5 images

Pros: Seymour Simon's experiments and fun, vivid images incite curiosity.

Cons: Without Seymour Simon’s books to accompany the site, kids may miss out on what makes the experiments interesting.

Bottom Line: For teachers already using his books, Simon's website can help get kids excited about non-fiction science reading.

The Common Core English standards require students to make sense of non-fiction science text, and Seymour Simon's site can be yet another resource to help your students master this skill. As an author, Seymour Simon creates texts that help achieve this goal while also capturing kids' attention. The experiments on the site move beyond just reading about science, encouraging kids to actually do the science that Simon describes in his books.

The Seymour Simon site also has plenty of other tools to help get kids excited about science. Beyond scientific-reading projects, you could use the science joke and riddle section as a daily class opener. The Summer Resource Sheet could be a great reference to share with parents.

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Seymour Simon is a website about the work of this renowned non-fiction science author of the same name. The site has free resources to accompany the author's books, including an online science dictionary, teacher's guides (for some of the books), resources to engage kids in summer science learning, and video previews of his books.

Standouts include Experiment: Light at the End of the Tunnel, which helps kids conduct an investigation of light's influence on worms; The Impossible Shrinking Machine, a free e-book that includes experiments kids can do along with the main character; and Butterfly Observation Log, which has students print out a log, get outside, and observe butterflies in their backyard and beyond.

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The site includes a letter to educators from Seymour Simon himself -- he emphasizes the importance of inciting a passion for science over studying only scientific facts, as facts can and will change. This ever-fluid nature of science is highlighted throughout the website, as students are encouraged to explore, not memorize.

It's important to recognize that the site itself is designed to promote and sell Mr. Simon's books. However, these books are award-winning non-fiction texts that many students would do well to read. Nevertheless, some of the site's resources could be expanded a bit. The site says it provides book report help for kids, though at the time of review this link simply took users back to the author's biography. There are also some science news updates, but the most recent post was over 4 months old. Nevertheless, the site's blog -- arguably one of its most popular resources -- is updated often and maintains an active following.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The experiments and blog posts are intriguing and student centered. However, it can take some digging on the site to find exactly what you're looking for.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students are encouraged to explore and collect their own observations in the real world. The site's tools are meant to help Seymour Simon's books come to life.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Kids themselves can submit questions to the author. While some of Simon's books are available in Spanish, the site itself is only in English.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Jennifer K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Great Science Blog

Seymour Simon's webpage has many different opportunities to offer. It goes beyond the typical author website offering more opportunities to interact with Seymour Simon. I really like the science blog section of his website. There are lots of science based resources you can use to support your classroom. I like there is an option to Skype with him. The for kids sections offers students some fun eBooks to read as well as fun trading cards that supplement his books. I think this is a very kid welcoming website that will continue to spark student's interest in science.

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