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.
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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: December 2012

Happy Holidays

Along with schools and classrooms across the country, this blog is taking a holiday break. I’ll be back in time for the new semester on January 6th.

Until then, I’d like to share these words from John Ruskin:

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“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.”

My wish for you during this holiday season is that you enjoy the gifts of beauty that nature offers you.

 

May your heart be filled with the special joy that comes from spending time in nature. And when you get warm and cozy inside, I invite you to enjoy the following books with the children in your life:

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The Christmas Bird Count is happening all across the America, and you can enjoy birds, too, in The BLUES Go Birding Across America. This books is informative and fun…mostly fun!

 

INSID_StoreInside All by Margaret Mason is a comforting bedtime book that will reassure little ones that they—every one of them—are connected to the world both physically and mystically. They belong, and are part of something meaningful.

 

AMY_StoreThe poetry in Amy’s Light by Robert Nutt follows the pattern of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, making this book a wonderful read-aloud. The photo-illustrations of the author’s daughter are lifelike yet dreamy.

 

BRIAN_CoverBecause Brian Hugged His Mother, written by David Rice, shows that kindness IS contagious when young Brian starts a chain reaction that brings a bit of joy to people he doesn’t even know. It all starts out one morning when Brian wakes up and gives his mother a hug.

 

BFB_COVER2For Baby, For Bobbie is a picture book illustrating a song about unconditional love by John Denver, featuring families and animals from around the world. It’s a wonderful teaching tool for young children of how parents—both human and non-human—love their children in very much the same way all over the world.

‘Tis the Season

There are a lot of traditions associated with this holiday season—lighting candles, giving gifts, singing songs, and eating special foods, just to name a few. In the 1800’s, many people engaged in the holiday tradition known as the “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

imagesFortunately, by the turn of the 20th century, people were becoming more aware of conservation practices. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, Frank Chapman, an ornithologist and officer in the newly-formed Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition he called the “Christmas Bird Census.” He suggested that people count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

The Audubon CBC is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world—this year is its 113th year!

CBC Circles

CBC Circles

 

Tens of thousands of participants will be counting birds in prescribed areas (circles) throughout the U.S. and Canada. The data that’s collected will be used to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.

 

Inside: Gifts FROM Nature

During this season of gift giving, you can help your students think about the gifts they receive from nature all year long. images-2Working in small groups, ask your students to brainstorm responses to the question “What has nature given you?” You may want to prompt them with a few ideas to get them going, and don’t forget the obvious gifts of fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink. Give groups a time limit of 3-5 minutes and then compile responses from each group to create a master list. Students may get even more ideas as they see what other groups have said. My students really got into the flow of brainstorming! Then we sorted the gifts into various categories, such as food, shelter, clothing, and enjoyment.

 

Outside: Gifts TO Nature

images-1This will be my 3rd year participating in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. I consider it my gift to the birds.

I wanted my students to give a gift to nature, too. But the CBC is held during our winter vacation, so last week we made bird feeders in class, and they took them home to hang in a tree or bush. I hope some of them will count the birds they see on their feeders over the holidays.

I invite you and your students to give a gift to nature and wildlife this season. You can find suggestions and get links to many ideas at The National Wildlife Federation website.

 

More Fun Over the Holidays

Just as most schools take a holiday break, so will this blog. I’ll be back in time for the new semester on January 6th. Until then, I’d like to recommend a few books that I think are especially appropriate for this time of year.

BLUE1_COVER2Even if you don’t participate in the Christmas Bird Count, you can enjoy birds in The BLUES Go Birding Across America. This books is informative and fun…mostly fun!

 

INSID_StoreInside All by Margaret Mason is a comforting bedtime book that will reassure little ones that they—every one of them—are connected to the world both physically and mystically. They belong, and are part of something meaningful.

 

AMY_StoreThe poetry in Amy’s Light by Robert Nutt follows the pattern of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, making this book a wonderful read-aloud. The photo-illustrations of the author’s daughter are lifelike yet dreamy.

 

BRIAN_CoverBecause Brian Hugged His Mother, written by David Rice, shows that kindness IS contagious when young Brian starts a chain reaction that brings a bit of joy to people he doesn’t even know. It all starts out one morning when Brian wakes up and gives his mother a hug.

 

BFB_COVER2For Baby, For Bobbie is a picture book illustrating a song about unconditional love by John Denver, featuring families and animals from around the world. It’s a wonderful teaching tool for young children of how parents—both human and non-human—love their children in very much the same way all over the world.

 

 

 

Kids Love Animals

Keeping students focused at this time of year can be a real challenge. Fortunately  animals are up to the task!

My students were totally engaged by an amazing PBS Nature video about ducks called “The Original DUCKumentary.” They could hardly believe their eyes as they watched a baby Wood Duck  jump from its nest (a cavity in an oak tree) to the ground 70 feet below.

Only a day old and weighing less than ounce, the duckling fell  through branches and leaves to finally bounce in the leaf litter on the forest floor. The whole class let out a sigh of relief when the little duck popped up just fine.

Then, in rapid succession, duckling after duckling made the leap—about a dozen in all. Following their mother’s calls, they waddled to the pond and took to the water like “ducks to water.” Then the ducklings had their first look at their  father in his colorful plumage! Wow!

There’s something delightfully captivating about watching animal behavior, and even my most reluctant learners were totally engaged. Check out the animal books below— kids will like them because they’re fun and interesting. You’ll like them because they offer meaningful teaching opportunities.

 

Inside: The Blubber Glove Test

 

Brrr…it’s cold! How does Granny’s Clan stay warm in their cold ocean environment? In this activity students take on the role of  scientists to make predictions and conduct an experiment to learn about the important role blubber plays in keeping orcas warm.

 

Materials Needed:

The book Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas by Dr. Sally Hodson, 2 half-gallon Ziploc freezer bags, Crisco, rubber glove,  duct tape, stopwatch, bucket of water & ice, “Staying Warm with Blubber” worksheet (page 3 of this pdf), 1 per pair of students

Preparation:

  1. Make blubber glove by filling one Ziploc bag with about a cup of Crisco. Turn another empty Ziploc bag inside-out and attach to bag with Crisco. Zip inner bag to outer bag so Crisco is sealed between. Squish Crisco around evenly. Seal edges with duct tape.
  2. Fill bucket with water and ice.

Procedure:

  1. Read aloud Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas. Ask students how orcas stay warm in the cold ocean water. Take their responses.
  2. Tell students that they can conduct an experiment to find out how blubber keeps orcas warm. The experiment is called the Blubber Glove Test!
  3. Divide students into pairs. One student will test the glove while the other records time and test results. Then they will switch roles. (Depending on the size of your class, you may want to have another activity for the rest of your students to do while the pairs do their testing.)
  4. Give each student pair a copy of the “Staying Warm with Blubber” worksheet. Have them record their predictions.
  5. Have pairs work together to conduct the following Blubber Glove Test:
  • One student places a bare hand in a bucket of ice water and removes it when it’s cold. The other student records the time on worksheet.
  • One student inserts one hand in the blubber glove and places hand in a bucket of ice water and removes the hand when it’s cold. The other student records the time on the worksheet.
  • One student wears the rubber glove, puts hand in ice water until it’s cold. The other records the time on the worksheet.

6. Continue until all student teams have tested the gloves. Then have students share their results and draw conclusions about how well blubber insulates orcas.

Extension: Use the Blubber Glove technique to make other types of insulating gloves with materials such as bubble-wrap, cotton balls, foam packing balls.

 

Outside: Colorful Snow Painting

When there’s snow on the ground, it’s the perfect time for Snow Painting!

Materials: Spray bottles filled with water and colored with a few drops of  food coloring. One spray bottle per student is ideal, but you can use fewer bottles and have students share.

Procedure:

  1. Read aloud Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow by Marianne Berkes.
  2. Discuss the behavior of the arctic animals. Then compare their eyes, toes, tails, and noses to animals that live in warmer climates. Identify which animals migrate to warmer climates in the winter.
  3. Turn through the pages of the book and ask students to notice the habitat. Does it look cold? Do they see snow and ice.
  4. Take students outside and demonstrate how to “paint” on the snow using the spray bottle.
  5. Give students time to create their own pictures. If possible, take photos of their creations and create a slide show of their artwork.
  6. Follow up with one of Marianne Berkes’ other books about animals.

 

More Fun and Facts About Animals

Discover some of the most unusual animals in the world through There’s a Babirusa in my Bathtub. Then do one of the suggested activities at the back of the book.

 

 

 

Do Animals Have Feelings Too? David Rice answers this question by sharing fascinating anecdotes about animals and their relationships with other animals and people.

 

 

 

For very young children, read aloud If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby. Each page depicts an animal mother taking care of her baby. Not only does it introduce children to animal behavior and the differences in appearance between adults and babies, it touches the heart with warmth and reassurance.