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: February 2013

Making the Most of Your School Grounds

imagesThe good news is that I’ve got grass and trees on my school grounds. The bad news is the entire area is very manicured. There is one large grassy area that is mowed like a lawn surrounded by a wall, a sidewalk, and some trees—not the ideal environment for nature discovery and exploration.

I’m sure that many of you face this same situation or worse, but I encourage you not to give up on incorporating nature experiences into your classroom. Many weeks I’ve felt sorry for myself because of my limited natural setting. However, I’ve always been able to find something to do outside that engages my students and connects them to nature. And in the process I’ve been stretched out of my comfort zone.

Good resources are essential in any classroom, and the nature classroom is no exception. Last week I used a resource that I’m very excited  to share with you because it’s adaptable for so many classroom and school ground situations—Audubon Adventures. Read below to find out how to use Audubon Adventures both inside and outside.


Inside: Audubon Adventures Magazine

action_aan_cover-1Audubon Adventures consists of class sets (32 of each) of 4 separate magazines especially for grades 3-5. They’re high-quality magazines filled with vibrant photos and lively illustrations. Each magazine comes with a stand-alone Teacher Guide, which includes lesson plans, vocabulary words, and review questions and activities. The nonfiction information, written by National Audubon Society experts, captures students’ interest and is correlated to Common Core Standards. One of magazines I’ve recently used was entitled The Power of Plants. It introduced words like herbivores, carnivores, photosynthesis. The kids had fun reading about very unusual Plant Record Setters like the Titan Arum, the plant with the biggest flower—9 feet tall and 3 feet across. These magazines can be used with whole class, individually, or in small groups. And they make a great kick-off for individual  research projects!

You can order Audubon Adventures for an entire class for for a homeschooling situation.


Outside: Treasure Hunt

playatgroundwork_casestudyphoto2600x480The supplementary teaching materials include descriptions for various hands-on projects, some more in-depth than others. Last week was one of those weeks when I wanted something quick and easy, so I used one their reproducible handouts called Treasure Hunt. The objective of the activity was to help students notice the natural surroundings and practice sketching.

You can replicate the Treasure Hunt sheet using plain white paper. Fold it into thirds vertically and horizontally creating 9 squares. At the bottom of each square write a “treasure” that can found on school campus. Here are some suggestions from the Audubon Adventures handout: something yellow, something that flies, something this is older or younger than you are, something pointed, and something at your feet.

  • I gave my students about 15 minutes to make their sketches. I added an additional element of challenge by telling them that filling the 9 squares with sketches was  like playing Tic-Tac-Toe, and they were to try to get at least one line horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. (Most of them got a “black out” by filling every square.)
  • Then they chose one of their sketches to re-draw, adding more specific detail. I instructed them to draw their item so that someone else would be able to recognize it. I was truly amazed by the details they added! And more importantly, they experienced the difference between making a quick sketch and drawing for details. Now they’re ready for the nature journal project we’ll begin next week.


More Facts and Fun with Nature

When you can’t get outside, images-1bring the outside in with some of these Audubon Adventures Tips For Bringing Nature Into the Classroom.