Ellen Senisi Author Visit Details
Ellen Senisi is a nonfiction author and photographer of 18 books for young readers. Her books show children from toddlers to teens sharing secrets, counting pumpkins, making friends with an iguana, creating color and art from nature, living with special needs, or performing at the Apollo theater. They include awards from the National Council of Social Studies, the Children’s Book Council, and the Children’s Book Committee of Bank Street College.
Science, ELA, Media Arts, Creative Writing, Visual Arts, At A Distance
Ecology, Conservation, STEAM, SEL (Social Emotional Learning), Inclusion, Diversity, Biodiversity
School Visit Fees
Virtual Presentation 30 minutes: $250 / 45-60 minutes: $350
Multiple Presentations, same day, same school: inquire about discount
In-Person Presentations: $800-$1,300 (no travel expenses within 60-mile radius of NYS Capital Region)
1834 Lenox Road, Schenectady NY 12308
Program 1 – Ecosystems Connections
The Ecosystems Connections program is structured around Ellen’s book, All in a Rainforest Day. The book highlights diverse plants and animals and how their needs are met in the rainforest ecosystem. Ellen drew on her experiences from multiple visits to rainforests to create this program. She has a rich library of photos and videos taken there to share with students. Ellen’s media and those of one of the world’s best rainforest photographers (her collaborator, Thomas Marent) show a variety of amazing plant life and wildlife. Her presentation covers NGSS concepts, particularly those related to ecosystems. All in a Rainforest Day was shortlisted for a 2015 Revere Award (Association of American Publishers). Preliminary and follow up materials are provided.
Program Themes: Conservation, Ecology, Biology, Biodiversity, STEAM, ELA
The first part of the program provides background knowledge of the rainforest ecosystem to deepen understanding of the book when it is read. After the reading, students are invited to interact about what they saw or heard in the book. They review a graphic organizer and a brief video summing up the ecosystem theme. Students are then encouraged to write their own rainforest day story.
For primary students, if time allows, she reads her story with photo illustrations about a mother and baby orangutan who find all they need in the rainforest ecosystem. Rainforest conservation is covered for the intermediate grades. Students view a brief video about rainforest destruction, hear about conservation efforts, and learn specific steps that they can take to support rainforest preservation.
Resources for teachers include a copy of the book for the school library and PDFs with photos to introduce Ellen and her work to students (one for primary grades and another for intermediate grades). Downloadable follow up materials include the ecosystems graphic organizer used in the presentation and discussion questions. Six hands-on ecosystem-themed hands-on activities (one for each grade from K-5) are also available. Depending on availability, up to 6 relevant posters will be given. Documentation is provided on NGSS and ELA standards addressed.
Digital EPUB with author reading audio and print versions of the book are available for purchase.
Program 2 – Writing Steps and How a Book is Created
How is a book created? How can kids get motivated and organized for writing? These questions are answered with the help of a spunky special needs child, an iguana, and lots of photographs as Ellen reads from and shows the book creation and production history for her title All Kinds of Friends, Even Green.
The theme of the book aligns with the theme of the presentation. In the book Moses, a boy with spina bifida, struggles with how to write about a friend for his teacher. Readers learn how he overcomes the challenge of getting started on a writing assignment by thinking through his various personal relationships to find the one special friend he feels is important to write about. The book is a natural springboard for social emotional learning discussions and follow up. Relevant SEL topics include relationship skills, social awareness, inclusivity, and animal awareness. This title received a Skipping Stones Honor Award in the category of Multicultural and International Books and was also licensed by McGraw Hill for a Social Studies program. Teacher resources with pre-visit and follow up materials are included.
Program Themes: Social Emotional Learning, SEL, Creative Writing, Inclusion, Special Needs, ELA
The storyline of All Kinds of Friends about a student working through a writing assignment parallels the process of book creation. The eight steps of the suggested process to encourage students in their own writing are shown in a graphic that gets added to one-by-one as the presentation progresses. The eight steps include idea generation, getting organized for writing, the importance of editing, and final copy or publication. Photos and video clips “show and tell” both processes, including a visual history of All Kinds of Friends and two of Ellen’s other books from scratch paper to finished book. Sub-themes are drawn from the book and include creativity, special needs awareness and pets as friends and inspiration.
The presentation ends with a reading of the book, Q&A, a mini-show set to music of kids reading, and an encouragement for students to make their own book using the eight-step process.
Resources for teachers include a copy of the book for the school library and PDFs with photos to introduce Ellen and her work to students (one for primary grades and another for intermediate grades).
Downloadable follow up materials include the Writing Steps graphic organizer used in the presentation and suggested relevant writing assignments. One assignment has an animal-relationships theme and the other is on special needs and inclusivity. The teacher is provided with suggestions and research on these subjects to help jump start the assignments. Primary- and intermediate-grade versions of each are available. Documentation is provided on ELA standards addressed in the program.
Digital EPUB and print versions of the book are available for purchase.
Program 3 – A Primary Source Diary of a Journey to an Amazonian Rainforest
What is it really like in an Amazonian rainforest? Ellen has been there and documented her journey with journal notes, photos, and videos. She made the journey with her son, Steven Senisi, a professional videographer. Their work together shows and tells the story in this primary source account of a visit to Tambopata Research Center. Tambopata is considered one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world.
In addition to biodiversity, the program covers important STEM life science concepts including ecosystems, structure and function, adaptation, natural resources, and human impacts on earth systems. This program provides an excellent opportunity to introduce students to primary source material in the sciences. Teacher downloadable pre-visit and follow up materials are included.
The program begins with an author introduction, a discussion of primary sources, and prior knowledge about the rainforest ecosystem. Details of the journey are then shown in chronological order and are rich with media and life science information. There are many opportunities for student interactivity throughout the program. Different versions for primary and intermediate grades have been created.
Ellen is a curriculum developer as well as an author and photographer of children’s books. She led a team of educators to create a K-5 life science curriculum program called Rainforest Journey. The Diary of a Journey presentations are based on her experiences and are primary source documents created for Rainforest Journey.
Program resources for teachers include PDFs with photos to introduce Ellen and her work to students. Downloadable follow up materials include discussion questions from the program, a set of graphic organizers on animal classification and diversity, and a scientist interview lesson pack. Each lesson pack has text interviews with two scientists (a primary source), related information (a secondary source), an end-of-lesson activity, and educator suggestions for using primary sources. Depending on availability, up to 6 relevant posters will be given. Supplemental documents are available in age-appropriate versions. Documentation is provided on NGSS and ELA standards addressed.
Digital PDF versions (one primary, one intermediate) of A Primary Source Diary of a Journey to an Amazonian Rainforest are available for purchase.