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Judith Jango-Cohen

Nonfiction Author and Photographer

Science Snippet: Wild & Kooky Critters


Author taking photos on Playa Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island
Author taking photos on Playa Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island

The Galapagos Islands are home to such bizarre beasts that they seem to have escaped from a Pixar movie. On a recent trip to this volcanic archipelago, my husband and I walked and snorkeled among its quirky creatures, who were unfazed and unflustered by our curiosity  . . . and our cameras.

Here’s a selection of some of the dazzling characters we encountered.

Blue-footed Booby and Napping Nestilings
Blue-footed Booby and Napping Nestilings
Male Great Frigatebird Displaying Gular Sac to Attract a Mate
Male Great Frigatebird Displaying Gular Sac to Attract a Mate
Marine Iguana Crawling from the Sea
Marine Iguana Crawling from the Sea
Nazca Boobies Bill Clacking Mating Ritual
Nazca Boobies Performing Bill Clacking Mating Ritual
Flycatcher Checking Out Concave Lens as Possible Nesting Cavity
Flycatcher Checking Out Concave Lens as Possible Nesting Cavity
A Curious Sea Lion Investigates Our Guide
A Curious Sea Lion Investigates Our Guide
Fishing Flamingo
A Flaming Orange Flamingo

When it comes to the Galapagos inhabitants, it’s hard to tell fact from fiction!
See how YOU do in detecting the truth on the quiz below.
Directions:
1. Select the letter of each true statement below.
2. Put the letters (in order) into the blanks.
3. The completed word is the animal whom the islands are named after.
(This animal’s Spanish name is “galapagos.”)
4. Click on the link at the bottom to check your answer.

______   O  _____  T  ______  I  ______  ______


1. RED-FOOTED BOOBY

Red-footed Booby on Nest
Red-footed Booby on Nest
Red-footed Booby Feet
Red-footed Booby Feet

I catch fish by plunging head-first into the water. For protection I

Always wear a helmet. <S>

Have air sacs in my skull to soften the blow. <T

2.  MARINE IGUANA

Marine Iguana Looking Like Movie Monster, Godzilla
Marine Iguana: A Godzilla Look-alike
Marine Iguana Sunning Near Surf
Marine Iguana Sunning Near Surf

When I build up too much salt in my body from snacking on seaweed, I

Switch to a salt-free diet. <Q>

Snort clouds of salt spray from my nostrils. <R>

3.  GIANT TORTOISE

Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Galapagos Tortoise Mid-Meal
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Galapagos Giant Tortoise

I live a long life. So I may have been plodding along when

The first Hersey bars were invented (1900). <O>

Stegosaurus feasted on ferns.  <P>

4. SEA LION

 Sea Lion Floating
Sea Lion Floating
 Sea Lion Pup
Sea Lion Pup

For excitement, I

Play tag with the sharks. <R>

Body surf on the waves. <S>

5. SALLY LIGHTFOOT CRAB

Sally Lightfoot Crab on Lava Rock,
Sally Lightfoot Crab on Lava Rock,

If someone bothers me I

Make like a water pistol and squirt them. <E>

Get crabby and put out a DO NOT DISTURB sign. <F>

PUZZLE ANSWER

To see more Galpagos photos you can visit  my husband’s and my photography website at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

View my program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

Read or download my school program/author visit brochure at:


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_138AUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

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Science Snippet: Elephantheads & Horsetails


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_123
A red and gold firecracker “pops” amidst its green foliage.

As blue hydrangea blooms are making way for golden oak leaves, I wanted to share another “look-alike” plant post with you. Previous Post.

As before, six “look-alike” plants are pictured below. After studying their shapes and colors, try to guess their names. Then click on the photos for the answers–and for information about these intriguing plants.

NAMES

Trumpet Creeper   Elephanthead

Horsetails   Pitcher Plant

Fairy Duster   Monkshood

White pitcher plant, Crimson Pitcher Plant, Crimson Pitcherplant, Sarracenia leucophylla, Sarracenia drummondii,

Elephanthead Lousewort, Elephant's Head, Pedicularis groenlandic

Baja Fairy Duster, Red Fairy Duster, Calliandra californica

Horsetails, Equisetum sp.

Columbian Monkshood, Aconitum columbianum

Trumpet Vine, Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans

Here are two other fun activities:

  1. Write a fairy tale that explains one interesting fact about a “look-alike” plant.
    For Example:
    Perhaps the trumpet creeper was once a small girl who annoyed a wicked witch. Every morning she would wake the witch up by blowing her horn, so the witch turned her into a trumpet creeper flower. The spell can be reversed if a hummingbird comes and drinks from her blossom. (Hummingbirds are attracted to trumpet creepers because of their red color.)
  2. Make up your own “look-alike” flower.
    Name it after one of the following:
    favorite dessert, favorite pet, or favorite sport
    Draw a picture.
    Label the different plant parts: roots, stems, leaves, flowers.

To see more exquisite flowers you can visit  my husband’s and my photography website at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

View my program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

Read or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

Science Snippet: Silver Swords and Fairy Slippers


If you had a silver sword and a fairy slipper, what would you do with them? They sound like magical objects in a fairy tale. But you could plant them in your garden . . . because they are both flowers.

Indian blanket, Indian Blanketflower, Sundance, Firewheel, Gaill
Firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella

Six of these “look-alike” plants are pictured below. After studying their shapes and colors, try to guess their names. Then click on the photos for the answers–and for information about these interesting plants.

NAMES

Shrimp Plant   Rattlesnake Grass

Silver Sword   Bleeding Heart

Paintbrush   Fairy Slipper

Bleeding-heart, Bleeding Heart, Venus's car, Lady in a bath, Dut

Big Quaking Grass, Great Quaking Grass, Large Quaking Grass, Qua

Fairy Slipper, Calypso Orchid, Venus's slipper, Calypso bulbosa

Haleakala silversword Argyroxiphium sandwicense macrocephalum

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_110

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata

Here are two other fun activities:

1. Chose one or two of the plants above and write a fairy tale about magical “look-alikes.”
2. Make up your own “look-alike” flower. Draw it and name it. Then tell where it lives and give three interesting facts about it.

To see more exquisite flowers you can visit  my husband’s and my photography website at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

View my program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

Read or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

Student Nonfiction Websites


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_105

Here’s an innovative way to delve into nonfiction writing. Have your students create their own websites. After my visit to a third grade class, the inventive teacher, Mrs. Braham did just that.

Her students drew on their own experiences, choosing topics from sewing to soccer to computers to cats. Then, with the technical support of their media specialist, Mr. Pirollo, the children got going on their websites. Their results are showcased on http://weebly.com .

I was amazed at the great work of Mrs. Braham’s  students! They honed their nonfiction writing techniques, exercised their creativity, and as Mrs. Braham says, learned how to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Congratulations, children! Thank you for sharing your work! Below is a brief note for each of you. Hope you have lots of reading and writing time this summer.

Zachary: Thank you for teaching me about Chromebooks. 
Vincent: Hope you and your Dad have fun wrestling this summer.
Katie: I love your video about the homeless dog who was rescued.
Maeve: Excellent advice about not overfeeding and not tapping the fish tank–common mistakes.

Alligator Gar
Alligator Gar

Nadia: Great job: narrative opening, lots of cat information, fun captions, and adorable videos.
Caroline: Hope you and your “gaga” have fun “sewing with compassion” this summer.
Richard: What an exciting opening to your homepage. I see you’re a soccer whiz.
Lauren: I loved the section about emotions and the picture of the retrievers hugging.

Canoeing with Pet Dog
Canoeing with Pet Dog

Maeve: Great simile for explaining how to hold the violin bow. Have fun practicing this summer.
Joseph: Thanks for teaching me about all those wrestling moves. But I will take your advice and not try them at home.
Jonathan: I’m glad you didn’t give up after your first year playing basketball. Keep having fun.
Elizabeth: Great job with the Do’s and Don’ts of cat care.
Ismael: Now I know why dogs sniff so much. Have fun with your two pups this summer.
Hayden: You created an interesting introduction, with your narrative and steam train video.

Jupiter Locomotive, Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah
Jupiter Locomotive, Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah


Rebecca: I loved your photos of the snow monkeys hugging and the baby eating the banana. 
Hawa: Wow! After reading about hero dogs I was “blown away.”
Morgan: I hope you keep “doing your best” practicing gymnastics and writing stories.
Paul: That was a hilarious video of the black lab chasing the bubbles.
Vanessa: Excellent job explaining about gymnastic clothing and equipment. 
Christopher: Great simile–comparing the wrestler, Triple H, to a bulldozer.

Thanks again, children and Mrs. Braham. Maybe one day I will be reading your books!

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_14

You can view my school program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

View or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

“Exciting Writing” with Mrs. Cimini’s Class


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_46.jpg.

National Poetry Month is a perfect time to highlight some of the lyrical and lively writing that Mrs. Cimini’s fourth grade students have created. After attending my “Exciting Writing” program, children practiced techniques provided in my follow-up materials to “make music” and “paint pictures.” These techniques apply not only to poetry, but also to prose. ( For related activities, see Teacher Pages: Making Music with Alliteration and Invigorating Vocabulary. )

Below are some the the wonderful writing samples that Mrs. Cimini sent me.

Students “made music” by generating phrases using alliteration:Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_104

Wreck it Ralph
Magnificent Minecraft
Noisy Nancy
big band
puny pig
loud lunchroom
chattering children
stubborn staples
naked noodles

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_106Then they combined phrases to make sentences:

The Noisy nerd threw pumpkin pie at the Big Bad Wolf.
My mom makes marvelous meals.
The Wicked Witch had a puny pig and some chocolate chips.
The Big Bad Wolf played Magnificent Minecraft and then went out for french fries.

Children “painted pictures” by using vivid verbs.

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_105

The loud, fat Chihuahua trudged over to me.
The wide horse trotted to his hay and gobbled it down.
The huge pet devoured dinner.
I crunched my food.
The plump Chihuahua nuzzled the other dog to get up.

Notice the descriptive adjectives they used too:
loud, fat, wide, huge, and plump

Another way students “painted pictures” was by creating clever similes:

The cat was as sneaky as a shadow.
The man’s belch was as loud as a BOMB!!!
The kitten is as cute as a toy.

Thank you to Mrs. Cimini and her students! To see more of the exciting things they are up to, visit their classroom blogAuthor_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_107

You can view my school program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

View or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

Science Snippet: The Perfect Pizza


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_101

Ahhh! Picture the perfect pizza slice: steamy and sizzling, with stretchy cheese dripping from the edges as you lift it from the pan. Its savory scent entices you, as your mouth waters to welcome that first bite.

I LOVE pizza. (Bet you do too!) So I was intrigued when Scholastic asked me to report on the science behind pizza cheese for March’e SuperScienceAuthor_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_103

My research brought me to materials engineer Bryony James, who is investigating the properties of pizza cheese. In her lab, at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, James has eight pizzas simmering. Each is topped with a different cheese. She wanted to find out what physical properties give pizza cheese those golden patches of toasty bubbles.

When James’s results were in, they explained why mozzarella is the pizza cheese champion. Mozzarella has just the right amounts of moisture, oil, and stretchiness to create that bubbly top that appeals to pizza lovers.

Here’s how the mouth-watering magic happens. When the pizza heats up, moisture evaporates to form steam. The steam expands the stretchy mozzarella to form bubbles. As the bubbles grow, oil slides off, allowing the bubbles to brown.

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_102Scientists like James have been studying pizza cheese for more than a century, because cheese makers are always seeking out improved varieties. For example, when U.S. cheese makers shipped mozzarella across the country, it spoiled. So scientists engineered a drier mozzarella that stays fresh longer. When faster pizza ovens were invented in the ’80s, cheese needed to be tweaked so it wouldn’t melt quickly and burn. Today, scientists are experimenting with making pizza cheese with less fat and sodium. Their challenge: make a healthier pizza that also tastes good.

If you want more historical information to chew on, read The Power of Pizza.

Here’s a question to whet your appetite:

Cultural historians believe pizza became popular in the United States after World War II because:

1. American G.I.s grew to like it while serving in Italy.
2. It was easy to eat in front of the newly invented TV.
3. Lots of cars enabled take-out, delivery, and road food.
4. 1, 2, and 3

See paragraph nine for the answer.

Still hungry for more cheese information? Click on James’s picture above to watch a video of her describing her experiments and/or read the NPR story.

You can view my school program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

View or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

Craneville School Salute!


The snow was swirling on a blustery day in the Berkshires. But despite the frosty weather, I received a heartwarming welcome from the teachers, principal, custodian, and students at the Craneville School. Thank you all for a rewarding and exciting day. Thanks also to Rob Difazio for a skillful job organizing the visit and to Sascha for her colorful and cheery poster! 

Beautiful work Sascha!
BEAUTIFUL WORK, SASCHA!

I hope to hear from you again soon, when you send along your “Exciting Writing.” Please do!
P.S. How did your class’s alliteration and similes activities go, Mrs. Cimini?

You can view my school program/author visit video at:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_100

You can view or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

Author Program/School Visit Video


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_46.jpg.

Previewing a program before an author visits is not always possible. In order to give teachers and parents a better idea of my programs, I am adding a short movie to this blog. So break out the popcorn and hope to see you soon!

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

You can view or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

Science Snippet: Gotcha!


Prowling predators is the subject of the story I wrote for this month’s SuperScience magazine. [SuperScience]

Gharial
Gharial

Contrary to what you may see in horror films, all predators are not jagged-jawed giants like  sharks, grizzlies, or crocodiles.

Alligator
Alligator

Predators come in all sizes, shapes, and species.
And they use a variety of  tactics to bag their lunch.
Some trick, some trap, some shoot, and some smash.

Want to test your prowess at identifying predators?
Then take the quiz below.

For answers and intriguing videos, click on the link beneath each question.
Good luck nabbing the correct answers!

Dew Drops on Spider Web
Dew Drops on Spider Web

SPIDERS

Which spider clutches its web in its legs and flings it over prey?
1. Trapdoor Spider
2. Net-casting Spider
3. Tarantula
ANSWER and VIDEO

Fiddler Crab, Uca pugilator

CRUSTACEANS

Which crustacean punches through its prey’s shell with club-shaped claws?
1. Spiny Lobster
2. Red King Crab
3. Mantis Shrimp
ANSWER and VIDEO

Alligator Gar
Alligator Gar

FISH

Which fish shoots down insects by spitting at them like a water pistol?
1.  Archerfish
2. Airbreathing Catfish
3. Armored Searobin
ANSWER and VIDEO

Fence Lizard
Fence Lizard

REPTILES

Which reptile launches its sticky tongue like a slingshot at insects, lizards, and even small birds?
1. Crocodile
2. Komodo Dragon
3. Chameleon
ANSWER and VIDEO

Great Blue Heron Eating Fish
Great Blue Heron Eating Fish

BIRDS

Which bird outwits fish by forming its wings into an umbrella? This fools prey into thinking the shadow is cast by a protective log or stone.
1. Black Heron
2. Pelican
3. Flamingo
ANSWER and VIDEO

Hope you had fun and learned a lot!

Below is a link to a short author visit video:

SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO

You can view or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Bo
AUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE 
See my husband’s and my photography at: http://www.agpix.com/cohen

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The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

Mrs. Jennifer Cimini, M.Ed.

Positively passionate 4th grade teacher, mom, being myself and helping others!

Sam Kane's Corner

Educating for an interconnected world one story at a time

NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger

A service of New England SCBWI. All opinions expressed belong to the individual bloggers and commenters who are solely responsible for their content.

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