mystery The answer to the clues may be found at the bottom of this column.    Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom. It's fun and easy!
Just read the clues below. They describe an aspect of nature—a plant, animal, mineral, habitat, or natural process.
When you're ready to make your guess about who or what I am, click ENTER NOW.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I make a home for some small sea animals called mollusks.
glass1 Clue 2:  I protect a sea animal with a hard covering.
glass1 Clue 3:  People often like to look for me on sandy beaches. When they find me, there's usually no animal inside.
glass1 Clue 4:  A favorite tongue-twister says that "Sally sells [ME] on the seashore."
Do you think you know who I am? ENTER NOW.
Entries should be submitted no later than noon on Friday.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced at the end of September.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
The answer to last week's mystery was: PUFFIN Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same! Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.  

The Only Constant is Change

changeChange is afoot for this blog.

This is the final posting for the Inside Outside Nature blog, and next week begins a brand new blog—Common Core: Making the Connection.

My main goal for Inside Outside Nature has been to provide you with book suggestions, lessons, and resources to help you connect your children to the beauty and wonder of nature, while at the same time helping you meet your science curriculum needs. Most of the lesson suggestions I’ve shared with you have been activities I’ve used successfully in my own classroom!

But Inside Outside Nature is now two years old, and a major change has swept through education since this blog began—namely the Common Core State Standards! These English and Math standards have been adopted by 46 states, leaving teachers scrambling to figure out how Common Core standards can be implemented into their existing curriculum.

Many teachers are wondering,  “How do I need to change my teaching to meet the standards? What resources can I use?” And parents ask, “What are my kids going to be learning now? How is it different than before?”

My new blog, Common Core: Making the Connection, will answer these questions. Each week I’ll be featuring a picture book that aligns with Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. The featured books will also align with Dawn Publications’ mission to help you encourage children to bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation.

220x220xthree-legged-stool.jpg.pagespeed.ic.8EDi0sAj95Think of a 3-legged stool.

One leg of the stool is Common Core standards—helping a child learn through reading.

The second leg is Next Generation Science standards—helping a child understand and explore the world.

The third leg is picture books—helping a child to learn new information about the world and  be inspired by creative words and beautiful images.  A book that reaches children’s hearts as well as their minds.

I hope to make your life a little easier by giving you suggestions and lessons you can easily implement in your classroom—ways to engage your students and inspire them to connect with nature.



Nature Booster

CARDS_SHOPReduced stress, better sleep, improved immune function, and relief from depression—these are just a few of the many proven benefits of spending time outside in nature. But what if you just can’t be outside regularly? Do you need a quick “nature booster”?

That’s why my husband and I created the new Nature Portals Card Deck just for you! Using it can help you maintain a connection with nature—with nature’s peace, energy, goodness.

One side of each card features a stunning photo, carefully selected not only for its beauty, but also because it evokes a feeling. The flip side recommends a way to expand on that feeling to experience a deeper connection with nature.

This versatile 52-card deck can be used indoors or out!

INSIDE: Relax and Renew Yourself

nc12balanceGive yourself the special treat of connecting with nature even if wintery weather keeps you inside. Go through the cards in the Nature Portals Card Deck, looking at the photos and feeling yourself immersed in the natural world.

Read the uplifting messages and quotations on the back of the cards and follow some of the suggestions, most of which can be followed inside as well as outside. For example:

This  cards shows a Great Egret balancing on a branch in the river. Excerpt from the flip side:

 Turn to nature to find balance. The first step in regaining balance is realizing that you’re out of balance. Imitate the egret and stand on one foot. Did you wobble? Did you feel yourself adjusting your weight and posture to bring yourself back into balance….”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”~John Burroughs


OUTSIDE: Make a Connection

nc7allthingsunfoldTake the card deck with you as you step outside. Draw one card and follow the suggestion.  And remember: nature is not just wilderness—the cards can be affectively used in a city park, backyard garden, or apartment balcony.

This card shows a young maple seed clinging to a branch. Excerpt from the flip side:

All things unfold in perfect timing. It takes time for the seed to become the tree, but nature is in no hurry. Look around and notice the different stages of develpemtn in nature…Take a moment to appreciate the perfection of each stage. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu.


Meet The Mouse and the Meadow

MOUSE_COVER2Get ready to experience the meadow at “ground level” through the eyes of an adorable mouse who is venturing out into the meadow for the first time in The Mouse and the Meadow.

Young readers will delight in Mouse’s adventures as they learn about the relationships and interconnectedness of the plants and animals in the meadow.

In dramatic scenes, a sinuous snake and a fearsome owl come close to harming the little rodent. But there are tender, rosy-hued moments in which he shares a furry rabbit’s burrow and wondrous ones in which the mouse first discovers a group of fireflies. —Kirkus Review

Check out Dawn Publication’s homepage to read about a FREE book app that makes the meadow creatures come alive as Mouse scurries across the pages.


INSIDE: Rhyme Time

MOUSEB1The Mouse and the Meadow is written in rhyme, with the last word in each pair of lines rhyming, such as when Mouse meets a Box Turtle:

The mouse gave his attention to the turtle’s candid words,/Which warned the mouse of hidden snakes and predatory birds. / So far he was fond of all the dwellers in this ’hood, / That is until he came upon a patch of rotting wood….”

In this Rhyme Time activity students will listen for the rhyme and brainstorm a list of additional rhyming words.



photoThis week’s OUTSIDE activity isn’t outside in nature, but it is outside of the classroom.

I’d like to suggest that you visit an independent book store. I know what you might be thinking, “Ordering books online is so much more convenient and cheaper than going to a bookstore.”

Nevertheless, by going to a bookstore you give yourself the luxury of time to browse shelves of books and actually flip through the pages. What’s your closest indie bookstore? Mine is The Book Seller.

Author James Patterson believes so strongly in the importance of independently owned bookstores that he’s giving away $1,000,000 to small bookstores all across the country. He said,

We’re in a juncture right now where bookstores as we have known them are at risk . . . and getting kids reading is at risk. —James Patterson