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'm a member of the "dog family."
glass1 Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
glass1 Clue 3:  You might hear me howling at night to communicate with my pack.
glass1 Clue 4:  Don't let me trick you—I am NOT a wolf.
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: SEASHELLS 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.  


Where Does the Snow Go?

Most of North America is experiencing dramatic weather effects that are tied to the water cycle—snow, rain, sleet, or drought. That makes this a perfect time to study the WATER CYCLE.


In the book Pitter and Patter, two drops of rain (Pitter and Patter) fall from a gray cloud and take different routes as they travel through the water cycle. In this activity, students write a story about a snowflake, or another raindrop, named PLOP. The story should answer the question, “Where does the snow (or rain) go?”

It’s easy to expand your lesson using the additional information and activities from the back of the book, including states of matter, watershedshabitats, and human impacts.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3



  1. Read aloud the story about Pitter and Patter.
  2. Referring to the two pages titled “Explore More—For Kids,” follow Pitter and Patter through the water cycle beginning and ending with the gray cloud.
  3. Using the handout, instruct students to write a story about Pitter and Patter’s friend PLOP! The reverse side of the handout can be used for an illustration. Younger students can begin with the illustration and add a short narrative.
  4. Invite children to share their finished stories with the class or in small groups.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)

  • Reading: Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
  • Writing: Text Types and Purposes (K.3, 1.3, 2.3, 3.3)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)

  • PS1: Matter and Interactions—A: Structure and Properties of Matter; B: Chemical Reactions
  • ESS2: Earth’s Systems—C: The Roles of Water in the Earth’s Surface Processes
  • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics—A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Pitter and Patter meet lots of fun critters during their water cycle journey…here are a couple of them:



Building a Prairie

Building a Prairie—Under, Over, and In



At first glance a prairie may look flat, but if you look closer you’ll discover layers of life. In the book The Prairie that Nature Built, children are introduced to three levels of prairie life—creatures living under the ground, in the prairie grasses, and flying over the prairie in the sky.

In this activity, students “build a prairie” by creating a mural of prairie animals and their homes at all three levels.

Suggested Grade Level: 1-3

Materials Needed:

  • The book, The Prairie That Nature Built
  • Roll of newsprint taped to the wall–long enough to accommodate pictures of prairie animals
  • Crayons
  • Index cards and pen
  • Non-fiction resources about prairie animals


  1. Read the book, emphasizing the different levels of a prairie—under, on, and below.
  2. Explain to students that they will create a mural on the newsprint by drawing the prairie animals and their homes on the prairie, above the prairie, or below the prairie.
  3. Use the illustrations in the book to review the animals in the story, writing their names on index cards. Sort the cards into three piles: UNDER, OVER, ON. Have each student choose one card making sure that an equal amount of students pick from each pile.
  4. Give students time to use resources to find out three facts about their animal. Have them write their facts on the back of their index card.
  5. Provide students with pieces of newsprint the appropriate size for their animal, and ask them draw a picture of the creature and its home. Tell them to draw their picture so it fills up their entire piece of paper, which will keep the animals in the correct proportion.
  6. When finished, have them cut out their animal and give them to you to tape to the newsprint on the wall. Some pictures will overlap. If some students finish early (probably those with small animals), have them choose a second animal to illustrate.
  7. Once everyone is finished, “build the prairie” one student at a time, beginning underground and working up to the sky. Have students, one by one, identify their animal, read three facts about the animal, and describe its home.
  8. Conclude by asking students which level would you most like to live on and why? Which creature would you most like to be and why?

Common Core Standards (ELA K-2)

  • ELA Writing: Research to Build and Support Knowledge K.7, 1.7, 2.7 3.7

Next Generation Science Standards (K-3)

  • LS1.A: Structure and Function
  • LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.

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.