Category Archives: books

New Salamander Defenders: School Visits!


We have legions of new salamander defenders!

Lucky me: I have had the chance to visit several schools since the launch of Salamander Sky in March, from pre-kindergarten to grade 6.  Kids big and small love learning about mysterious creatures that come out at night in their own backyards.

Last month I headed down to three schools in the Middlebury area. I met 400 new friends at the Mary Hogan School. The gym was full of kids excited to learn about these secretive creatures, to see recent pictures of the crossing, and to meet herpetologist Jim Andrews and Audubon salamander crossing guard Carol Ramsayer.

Then I headed to Beeman Elementary for a a inquistive group of about 60 kids ready to learn about salamanders. They were treated to Carol’s mini salamander crossing set up and helped me take care of Sky, my pet (fake) spotted salamander.  Thanks so much to Susie Snow for hosting us, and for writing up this blog post about the event! Continue reading

New Tools for Teachers (for Salamander Sky and beyond)

I had the lovely opportunity to present to an inspiring, passionate group of educators and children’s book authors yesterday morning at the amazing Bear Pond Books. They came out to my workshop called Picture Books and Project Based Learning. It focused on how teachers can use picture books as a launching pad for engaging, exciting project based learning experiences with their students.

For the workshop and beyond, I created two new resources. One, is an Educator’s Guide to Project Based Learning. This resource details the science themes and the Next Generation Science Standards that can be met from the concepts presented in Salamander Sky, and a discussion guide with activities for pre-reading, during reading, and post reading, as well as additional media that can support learning.

For those teachers focused on project based learning, I created this website that features each stage of project based learning with ideas for how Salamander Sky can guide and inspire these projects. There are so many ways students can share their learning, tell a science story, and create original works that benefit the community and world.

Please feel free to be in touch with questions, ideas, or to share what you are up to with students!


Big Night: The Salamander Sky is here!

All day I could not wait for the sun to go down. The rain was pouring and pouring in sheets. The ice on the pond was melting. The mud was growing soft. The world felt like it was waking up from a very long nap. We ate an early dinner, and headed out before the sun went down in our rain jackets, mud boots, and ball caps. I found some eastern newts already making their way across the dirt road in front of our house, in fact, since it was commuting time, 3 had already been hit by cars.

The sun finally dipped and was gone, and we were out and patrolling the road in front of our house. Within minutes, a car driving blessedly slow pulled up. Is there where the salamanders cross? They asked. That was the beginning of what was seemed to be a secret salamander society out that night. This slow driving, salamander society held flashlights, wore reflective vests, and smiled a great deal.

Within moments we found our first spotted salamander crossing (see the moment here: First spotted salamander). Just listen to the joy as we quickly move the gorgeous creature across the road. There is nothing like that feeling, as April describes in Salamander Sky, there is a warm glow in our chests. We have done something good.

We spend the next several hours helping spotted salamanders (11!), numerous wood frog, and eastern newts cross safely. We marvel at tiny fingers and toes, long tails, and spherical, glossy eyes.  Great Horned owls call to each other over our heads.

We meet up with other members of the salamander society and chat for a bit, noting the most active areas for migration on the road. Great Horned owls call to each other over our heads. Wet and tired, but happy, I put the girls to bed and go out one last time just before midnight. I find this spotted salamander moving across our driveway.

The last one of the night, under this Salamander Sky.  Nature astounds me. Please drive slowly, keep an eye out for these late night travelers, and help them cross safely if you can.