Slime Power!

Velvet worms shoot nets of “super slime” to snare their prey. The more a spider or cricket struggles, the more the slime net hardens. There’s no escape. Scientists recently discovered the amazing properties of velvet worm slime, which solidifies into strong threads when exposed to force. More remarkable, these threads can be dissolved in water […]

World’s Coolest Reptile?

Three rows of teeth. A third eye. A “chill” nocturnal lifestyle. The tuatara is unlike any other reptile in the world. Easy to mistake for a lizard or an iguana, the tuatara is neither. This Extreme Survivor is the last living Sphenodon, a diverse and ancient order of reptiles that slithered around with the dinosaurs […]

A Swell Shell

Ancestors of the nautilus were “the great white sharks” of the prehistoric seas. They evolved an edge that made them efficient hunters: a shell that allowed them to float—and stalk other ancient creatures still stuck crawling around on the ocean floor. Today’s nautiluses are smaller and more mild mannered than their ancestors from 500 million […]

Spectacular Sponges

What “sneezes” even though it doesn’t have a nose, comes in many shapes and sizes, and is probably the most ancient animal on Earth? Drum roll: the sponge! Scientists recently discovered that sponges “sneeze” to eject irritants from their body cavities. It takes a sponge about a half hour to sneeze. Ah-ah-ah choo………. Gesundheit! I […]

Surprise! A Writer’s BFF

What could possibly be interesting about a sponge? As I researched this ancient animal for Extreme Survivors, I remembered something I learned long ago as a magazine writer: There’s no such thing as a boring subject. There are only bored writers. How do you break through boredom in your own writing and in the classroom? […]

Three Magic Words

I was standing in front of 150 kids when a second-grader asked me a science question I couldn’t answer about an animal in my book The Secret Pool. “Why are a spotted salamander’s spots yellow?” he asked. Panicked, I spluttered, “I don’t know.” Then, it dawned on me. “Let’s see if we can find out,” […]

How to Find Water Bears

Does moss or lichen grow in your schoolyard or park? If so, you probably have water bears! These endearing and hardy micro-animals are fun to hunt for and easy to observe with a dissecting microscope at 40x magnification. Also known as tardigrades, water bears resemble gummy bears with eight legs. Don’t let their cuteness fool […]

Science Poem Quilt!

Students in grades 3 and 4 at Lubec Consolidated School created this wonderful quilt of cinquains inspired by Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot. Writing cinquains is a fun way to integrate science and writing. A pattern for this five-line poem is one noun (the subject), two adjectives describing it, three verbs, a phrase that […]

Terrific Timelines

Whiting Village’s tiny, three-room school bustles with creativity. Stephanie Higgins used Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot to create this great timeline with her students in grades 2 through 4. Check out the way Stephanie brought together geologic time, the ancient animals in my book, and clear learning goals: “I understand that complicated life forms […]

From STEM to STEAM: Tunnel Books

A big joy of visiting schools is seeing how teachers integrate the Arts to ignite learning in fabulous STEAM-inspired projects. Beckery Renaud used this approach with her fifth- and sixth-graders at Pembroke Elementary School, who made these beautiful tunnel books inspired by Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot. This project brings together Science, Technology, Engineering, […]