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.  

Monthly Archives: June 2012

See You by the Seashore

Sun and sand, shells and swells…it’s time for the beach! Wherever you are in the North America, you can probably find a beach or shoreline to explore. Your thoughts may first turn to the beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts or the Gulf of Mexico. But you can also get a great shore experience along lakes and rivers, both large and small. My explorations this week are taking me to the Monterey Bay in California.

I can already feel my toes sinking into the wet sand! I love to walk for hours scanning the shoreline and sky for birds. Water birds are some of the easiest birds to identify because they are relatively large and they tend to stay in view for a longer period of time than other birds (especially songbirds that flit and hide in the treetops).

The legs, feet, and bills of water birds give you great clues about what the birds eat and how far out in the water they search for food. Sanderlings have short legs and bills. They peck for food at the water’s edge. Willets, with their longer legs, can go farther out into the water. Whimbrels probe in the sand with curved bills that are the same shape as a crab’s burrow.

If you can’t get to the beach to see shorebirds, I invite you to get your feet wet with The BLUES Go Birding at Wild American Shores. “It takes kids to exotic locations on the hunt for the continent’s most amazing seabirds, all served up with a nice dollop of humor.” (Scott Weidensaul)


Inside: What’s Your Wingspan

This activity, What’s Your Wingspan, gives children an experience about the relative sizes of different birds by comparing their wingspans. Although the directions are for a classroom setting, this is a fun activity to do at home on a rainy day—all you need is string. The same directions can apply to all of the books in the BLUES Go Birding series.
Source: The BLUES Go Birding Clubhouse


Outside: Shell Sorting

Looking for shells is another favorite beach activity. I suggest using Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes to help children learn to identify the shells they collect. Once they have an assortment of shells, spread them out on the sand and sort them by size, shape, or color. Or, they can divide their shells into two major groups—univalves and bivalves. “Uni” means one, and univalves are mollusks that move on one foot and have one shell. Examples are periwinkles, olive shells, and whelks. “Bi” means two, and bivalves have two shells hinged together. The mollusk lives between the two halves, which snap shut when danger threatens. Oysters, mussels, and scallops are bivalves.
Source: Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes


More Beach Fun and Facts

  • Say, “She sells seashells by the seashore,” ten times really fast. Could you do it? Try more tongue twisters for kids.



Summertime is Nature Game Time

When I asked one of my 7th-graders what her plans were for the summer, her eyes sparkled with excitement, “Camps!” she squealed. “I’m going to scout camp, 4-H camp, leadership camp, and church camp. I can hardly wait.”

My mind flooded with memories of my one and only summer as a camp counselor. I grew up in the city and didn’t have a clue about what to do with a cabin full of kids in the woods. But what I lacked in experience I made up for with enthusiasm, and somehow I made it through the entire summer without losing a camper…or getting lost myself.

Many years later I participated in a nature program led by Joseph Cornell, the author of Sharing Nature with Children. The program was packed with nature games—each giving me a different type of experience. To name just a few, we played “Noses” as a fun way to focus our attention, “Camera Game” to sharpen our awareness, and “Expanding Circles” during a quiet moment on a mountaintop.

Oh, how I wish I had these games when I was camp counselor—I know my campers would have loved them, just as my students do now. And the games aren’t just for kids. They’re for anyone who wants to explore a connection to nature through playful fun and laughter. My husband and I have some favorite games we always use when we’re out hiking together, and the adults in our nature workshops say the games open their eyes to a new way of experiencing nature.

I invite you to try them out as end-of-the-year activities with your class or share them with your family this summer.


Inside: Noses

This is a fun guessing game that also helps children focus their energy.

  • Tell children that you’re going to read a list of clues (7-10) that describe an animal. Clues should get progressively more obvious.
  • Instruct them not to yell out their answer when they think they know the identity of the animal, but instead to put their index finger on the tip of their nose.
  • If they change their mind about who the animal is, they can just move their finger off of their nose.

Here are sample clues for a common animal:

  1. I can run and jump very fast.
  2. I do not have a stationary home, but sleep under bushes.
  3. My paws are very furry.
  4. I am about the size of a small cat.
  5. I have flat teeth with two bigger ones in the front.
  6. People hunt me for my soft warm fur.
  7. People consider me to be cute and imitate me at Easter.
  8. Part of my name comes from my tail that looks cotton.

Answer: Cottontail Rabbit

Noses Clues for a list of more animal clues. Children also have a lot of fun making up their own clues for their favorite animals.
Source: Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Cornell


Outside: Camera Game

This game creates a bond beyond partners—great for an older child and younger child to play together as well as a parent with a child.

  • Have players pair off. One player is the photographer (who keeps his/her eyes open) and the other is the camera (who closes his/her eyes).
  • The photographer guides the camera to beautiful and interesting images—perhaps a close-up of a flower or a panoramic shot of a mountain view.
  • The photographer points the camera’s shutters (his partners eyes) at the object or scene he wants to “shoot” and then presses the shutter button to take the photo.
  • How to press the “shutter button”—tap the camera’s shoulder once to open the camera’s shutters (eyes). Tap the camera’s shoulders twice to close his shutters. The photographer should close the shutters after 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Try creative shots: different angles, close ups, panorama shots, etc. While taking photos, it’s best to talk as little as possible.
  • Give photographers about 10 minutes to take at least three photos. Then have the pairs switch places.
  • When everyone is finished, give each child an index card and pencil to draw one of the photos they took as the camera. Share the photos with one another.

Source: Sharing Nature with Children II by Joseph Cornell


More Nature Game Fun and Facts