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: March 2013

American Grown

9780307956026Michelle Obama’s book American Grown: The Story of the White House Garden started a conversation among parents and teachers about childhood obesity, healthy eating, and exercise. In this book the First Lady invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its inspiring story. You’ll read about her worries as a novice gardener—would the new plants even grow? And learn from the White House Garden team about how you can help plant your own backyard, school or community garden.

Studies show that kids are more than twice as likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they grow them. This past month I’ve featured three of Dawn Publications’ picture books that support gardening with children.

The underlying message in each book is, “It’s fun to grow your own food—and it’s delicious.” Did you know that Dawn’s website has downloadable lesson plans on their website for these and other books?


Inside: Have a Plant Part-y

Parts-of-a-PlantIntroduce your students to the six parts of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds) and make a yummy salad together using one of these lessons from Molly’s Organic Farm or What’s in the Garden?



Outside: Let’s Move

pyfp-logoMichelle Obama’s suggestions for raising healthy children include not only eating healthy food, but also doing getting more exercise. Read more about kids and exercise, and get your kids (and yourself) moving with these suggestions from the President’s Challenge.


More Facts and Fun with Food and Exercise

  • Fruit or Vegetable—Does it feel like spring or winter where you are? No matter…now is a good time to begin thinking about planting a garden. What will you grow in your garden…a fruit or vegetable? Do your students know the difference? Explore the difference with these two lesson plans from Molly’s Organic Farm and What’s in the Garden?
  • Smart Moves—Another way to support healthy eating and physical activity comes from NASA’s Train Like an Astronaut program. These science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities are correlated to the National Education Standards.



Jane and the Cranes

images-1Most people know Jane Goodall as the “chimp lady.” Her ground-breaking research with chimpanzees at the Gombe Preserve in Africa in 1960 revolutionized the way scientists view animals. Jane’s mission has expanded beyond Africa, and since 1986 she has worked tirelessly to support worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

One of Jane’s favorite species is the Sandhill Crane. Every year she goes to Nebraska to watch the cranes gather along the Platte River during their annual spring migration. With over half a million congregating at one time in mid-March, this is the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes in the world (80% of the world population). Jane calls it one of greatest natural wonders in the world.

This year I joined her, along with a dozen other people, as part of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Crane Viewing Tour. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch hundreds of thousands of cranes fill the sky at dawn and dusk. As their rattling trumpet-like calls echoed over snow-covered fields, it was easy to imagine that this prehistoric bird species has been taking this migration route for 2.5 million years.


Inside: Chimps and Cranes

images-2Although Jane Goodall’s work began with chimpanzees, she sees similarities between cranes and chimps. They’re both highly social animals, form tight family units, have suffered habitat loss, and rely on human intervention for protection.

Have your students find the similarities between two different species of animals, including their behaviors and habitats.


Outside: Do It For Yourself

Jane Goodall watching cranes along the Platte River in Nebraska.Jane Goodall travels over 300 days a year, speaking to large groups and sharing her message of hope, peace, and conservation. Her yearly trip to Nebraska to watch the crane migration is a time for her to “recharge her batteries.” She told me that her spirit is renewed as she listens to the sounds of the cranes returning to the river each evening. As teachers and parents, we need to find ways to renew and recharge ourselves, too, so we have the energy to share our inspiration with children. This week, renew yourself in nature doing an activity that recharges you.


More Facts and Fun with Jane and the Cranes

  • Jane Goodall’s youth organization is called Roots & Shoots. Find out how you can organize a group at your school.
  • According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish. Children of all ages enjoy making origami cranes. Follow the directions provided by the International Crane Foundation.
  • Read stories about Jane Goodall’s life in Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals.

Home is Where the Heart Is

What do you notice first when you open a picture book? The pictures, of course. That’s why finding the right illustrator for a story is so important. This week’s Guest Blogger is illustrator Trina Hunner! She explains how she was inspired to tell Molly’s story through pictures…and also words in Molly’s Organic Farm . (It was a real pleasure for me to collaborate with Trina in telling Molly’s tale.)

The TRUE  Story of Molly—by Trina Hunner

OMOLLY_COVERn a cool spring day in 2005, a little orange cat showed up at a small organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in northern California. She was an unusually small cat, most probably because she didn’t get proper nourishment when she was a kitten. But despite her wild start, she loved to be around people and instantly bonded with the owners of Mountain Bounty Farm. They named her Molly.

As the weather warmed, more and more farmers arrived to work in the fields. Each and every one of them fell in love with her. Molly spent her days frolicking in the chard, zooming through the broccoli, and chasing after all the many farm creatures. In the evenings, she’d curl up on one of the farmer’s laps, purring contentedly.

I stopped by Mountain Bounty Farm—one of our local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms—every week during the growing season to pick up a box of organic vegetables, and with each visit I got a special greeting from Molly. I was as excited to see her friendly face as I was to receive my produce.

MOLLY1The summer days passed, fall came, and the farmers began to prepare for winter. Fields were planted with cover crops and tools were packed away. The farmers headed off to other places. But what was to become of Molly? I could almost see the concern on her face as she watched her good friends leave.

My husband and I lived in a small cabin right next to the farm, and we were asked if Molly could spend the winter with us. We jumped at the chance. That first winter was really special. Molly went on long walks with us—even in the snow! In the evening, she spent hours curled up by the fire or snuggled in our laps. And when the first spring crops began to sprout, Molly headed back to the farm.MOLLY3

So it was for four seasons—Molly socializing at the farm in spring and summer, then spending a quiet fall and winter with us. This book is written in loving memory of Molly, a homeless cat that found not one but two homes.

Inside: Sampling the Seasons

Wednesday is the Vernal Equinox, marking the first day of spring! This activity (downloadable pdf) from Molly’s Organic Farm, by Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner, reinforces concepts about the seasons by having students make watercolor sketches of seasonal vegetables.

Outside: A Speck of Soil

MACG_COVER2As Molly discovered on the farm: Healthy soil grows healthy plants for healthy food! What’s in soil? Children use observation and several scientific tools to examine garden soil in this activity (download pdf) from Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum.


Mollys Organic Farm -Earth Day Event (Small)

Trina Hunner (right) at an Earth Day book signing in 2012.

More About Trina Hunner

    Trina loves to eat organic fruits and vegetables, especially kale. For several years she lived adjacent to an organic community farm near Nevada City, California. That’s where she met Molly, the star of her book, Mollys Organic Farm. She and her husband Nikos began to “mark our lives around the cycles and rituals of the farm.” She even spent a few spring days planting with the farmers and developed an immense respect for them and the hard work farming takes. The quality of the food itself convinced her that healthy, fresh food has transformative powers and made her passionate about eating and promoting local, organic foods. She can often be found riding her bike to the elementary school where she teaches, skiing in the mountains near her home, or cuddling her cat Charlotte.