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: April 2013

Zip, Hover, and Zoom

This week’s blog continues the theme of Popular Pollinators with the hummingbird! (see previous blogs for Bees and Butterflies)

images-6A hummingbird zips up to a bright red flower and hovers there. The tiny bird darts its bill inside the flower, quickly sipping up sweet nectar at a rate of 10 licks per second.

Zoom! Flapping at over 50 times a second, the bird’s wings are a blur as it zooms to another blossom. Traveling from flower to flower a hummingbird carries pollen on its chest, throat, and the top of its head. Some of this pollen will trigger the growth of seeds, which is why the hummingbird an important pollinator.

Source: Audubon Adventures, an excellent classroom resource available from the National Audubon Society.

Inside: Flower Power

images-7Pollinators are attracted to flowers by their color and shape, and sometimes by their scent.

  • Hummingbirds are especially attracted to red, orange, purple, and pink flowers that have a tubular shape.
  • Bees tend to be attracted by sweet-scented flowers that are yellow, white, blue or purple. The flower also needs to provide a bee-sized “landing platform.”
  • Butterflies like sweet smelling flowers that are red, orange, yellow, pink, blue, or white. The best shapes are flat and wide or tubular.

Write the above information on the board. Give each student a 3×5 card and ask them to use their imaginations to draw a flower that would appeal to one of these pollinators. When they finish their drawings, have them write the name of their flower on the tip of the card and the name of the pollinator on the back. Then have them exchange their flower pictures to guess the pollinator that would be attracted to it. They can checking for accuracy by turning the card over.

Outside: Zip in for a Sip

CT  CTH HOME CULTIVATING LIFE 0308Give your students an opportunity to get an up-close look at hummingbirds by making and putting up a feeder. (Don’t worry, a feeder won’t prevent hummingbirds from visiting and pollinating the plants in your area, but it will supplement their energy needs.) Choose one of the easy-t0-make feeders from the sources below:

Be sure to hang your feeder in a spot outside where you can easily watch hummers  zip in for sip.

More Facts and Fun about Hummingbirds


Anna’s Hummingbird

Become a citizen scientist with Audubon’s newest project: Hummingbirds at Home.

Did you know that 30% of a hummingbird’s weight is its flight muscles? Get more interesting hummingbird facts.

There are 17 hummingbird species in North America. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is one of the most common in the eastern half of the U.S. and the Anna’s Hummingbird is common in the west and southwest.



Earth Day and Birth Days

Time for celebrations! This week marks Earth Day and the birthdays of two important naturalists.

images-2Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, in San Francisco. Now over 100 countries celebrate Earth Day, making it the largest environmental event worldwide. It’s a special day to appreciate nature and learn ways to protect our environment. Find Earth Day activities for your students at the EPA website, and read about kids protecting a rainforest in Forever Forest: How Kids Saved a Tropical Treasure.

john-muirJohn Muir was born on April 21, 1838. His passion for nature took him on a range of adventures, including a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida. Thanks to him, large areas of wilderness were protected that all of us can enjoy today, including Yosemite Valley in California. Learn more about his fascinating life in Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness. He reminds us to “keep close to nature’s heart.”

imagesJohn James Audubon was born April 26, 1785. Through his lively and realistic paintings he inspired people to appreciate the beauty of birds. Introduce your students to the amazing world of birds through The BLUES Go Birding book series, illustrated by artist Louise Schroeder.


Inside and Outside: B-earth-day Party

This week I’ve chosen a variety of games and activities you can use for an Earth Day Birthday Party.

images-4Front if By Land, Back if by Sea (inside or outside)

Arrange children in a circle facing outward. Call out words that either relate to earth or water, telling them to step forward for “earth” words, and backward for “sea.” Whoever steps in the wrong direction is out. Play until one person is left. Earth words might include: land, mountain, desert, dirt, hill, ground. Sea words could include: water, rain, ocean, river, pond, or stream.

Recycling Relay (inside or outside)

images-5Line up children in two teams. Have each team face two empty bins (one for paper and one for plastic). Give each team an equal pile of recyclables such as empty plastic bottles, cereal boxes, etc. Tell each child as they step to the front of their line to toss an item into the appropriate bin for paper or plastic. The team that finishes with the most items making it into the correct bin wins.

Recycling Construction (inside)

After the relays are over, divide the children into teams. Give each team a large roll of packing tape and half of the recyclables used in the relay. Challenge each team to build the most creative structure they can using their materials. If they need ideas, you can suggest towers, buildings, tunnels, arches, cars, etc.

Earth Day Paper Quilt (inside)

Use the directions to make a paper quilt using images related to Earth Day. Be sure to discuss each piece that the children color, such at wind power, solar energy, and recycling.

Read Nature’s Patchwork Quilt: Understanding Habitats and do any of the activities suggested by the author on the Dawn Publications Downloadable Activities page (scroll down to the book title).

sunflower_sproutSunny Party Food (inside)

Every party needs food. Follow these directions at to grow sunflower spouts in just a few days.




Fluttering By

Pollinators are nearly as important as sunlight, soil, and water to over 75% of the world’s flowering plants.

Monarch_Tithonia2_BudHensleyAlthough bees are the best-known pollinators (see last week’s blog), other insects also contribute to pollination—especially butterflies. Master Gardener, Candace Hawkinson states, “Though butterflies may not be as efficient as bees in pollinating plants and crops, butterflies certainly do their fair share in bringing about seed and fruit production—and definitely are more pleasing to watch.”

Many native plants are exclusively pollinated by butterflies rather than bees. And unlike bees, which are generally restricted to a local area, many butterflies migrate over a wide area, cross-pollinating as they go. This improves the genetic mix in the plant community.


Inside: On One Flower

FLOWR_COVERA single flower hosts butterflies and a whole lot more. In On One Flower: Butterflies, Ticks, and Few More Icks by Anthony Fredericks, children not only learn about a butterfly, but about an entire “community” of plant and animal life that live on a single flower.

Use this Picture Perfect activity (pdf) to help students make observations, ask questions, and discover facts as they create their own stories.


Outside: Plant a Butterfly Garden

butterfly-garden-aIf there was a beauty contest for insects, butterflies would win by a landslide! Plant a garden to attract these beauties of the insect world using common flower varieties, such as asters, daisies, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, lantana, marigolds, purple coneflowers, and zinnias.

For more information about butterflies and how to use native plants in your garden, go to NASA’s Climate Kids website.


More Facts and Fun with Butterflies

BUG_SHOP-1(1) Noisy Bug Sing-a-long by John Himmelman celebrates a joyful chorus of bug noises. Listen to some of the sounds at the Dawn Publications website. The Clouded Sulpher Butterfly offers a contrast to the many other bugs. Its page reads, “A Butterfly flutters by in complete silence.”

(2) Have your students connect with classrooms in Mexico and across the U.S. as they become “citizen scientists.” They can track the Monarch butterfly migration each fall and spring with Journey North.

(3)Kids are entranced as they watch a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis as a mature butterfly. You can order a butterfly kit to get a first-hand experience of this transformation from many online sources, such as the Nature Gifts Store.