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: November 2013

Fire and Ice

While most of us were celebrating Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah on Thursday, an icy comet named ISON was making history as it swept about 730,00 miles over the sun’s fiery surface—that’s close!

Comet_020613-617x416Comets are like giant “dirty snowballs” of frozen gases, rock and dust that can be several miles in diameter. When they get near the sun, they warm up and spew some of the gas and dirt.


It is this burning off of dust and gas that reflects sunlight and gives the comet its radiance as it passes by the sun, creating a tail that can stretch for thousands of miles.

Most comets are in the outer part of our solar system. When they get close enough for us to see, scientists study them for clues about how our solar system formed.


INSIDE: Make a Comet

comet_smHave your students build a physical model of a comet using common items following the directions on this pdf.

This lesson, from Dark Skies, Bright Kids, can be adapted for all ages.

For younger students or limited time/space, the instructor can build a single comet to show everyone else.


OUTSIDE: See for Yourself

CometChallenge your students to get up early to spot ISON.

The Goddard Space Flight Center reports, “Skygazers can plan on seeing the comet come Dec 1. “It would be low in the sky early in the morning,” Young said. “Each day it will go higher in the sky and be visible earlier in the morning, closer to midnight. By the 17th it will be up or around the Big Dipper and should be visible closer to midnight.”

The BBC advices, “Binoculars are probably the best way to locate the comet at the start of December but take care to make sure the sun is below the horizon when sweeping around. NEVER observe the sun through any form of optical instrument. Permanent blindness can result.”



Most comets are in the outer part of our solar system. When they get close enough for us to see, scientists study them for clues about how our solar system formed. Discover more about the formation of the Universe in Born with a Bang by Jennifer Morgan. It’s the first in a trilogy! Book 2 is From Lava to Life and Book 3 is Mammals Who Morph.









Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell endorsed these books, “When returning from the Moon, I experienced directly and emotionally the personal connection to the Universe described by Jennifer Morgan.”




Appreciating Turkeys

Turkey is usually the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals. The question is, “What role did it serve in the ‘first thanksgiving’ in 1621? According to historians, the answer is, “While there’s no question that a harvest meal was held in Plymouth Colony, there’s no direct evidence that a turkey made the menu. The one surviving document that mentions this feast suggests that the bird on the table (or probably many birds) was likely goose or duck.”

GOBBL_COVER2Turkeys are certainly an important of our current Thanksgiving celebration and, more importantly, of our environment. These unusual birds have made a successful comeback due to conservation efforts throughout the U.S. Find out more at Audubon Magazine.

If there was ever a perfect children’s book for this season it’s Gobble, Gobble. The main character, Jenny, is a young backyard naturalist who follows a flock of “funny-looking birds with big strong feet”—Wild Turkeys! She learns about these amazing birds and your students can learn about them, too, through rhyme and illustrations.


INSIDE: Thankful Thoughts

T225px-Male_north_american_turkey_supersaturatedhere are lots of cool facts about turkeys. Read some of these to your students to give them a new appreciation for this amazing bird. Afterwards, invite your students to create a collage (as in Gobble, Gobble) to illustrate an aspect of nature they’re especially thankful for—a tree, flower, river, or maybe even a turkey!

Get collage ideas (and LOTS more) in this activities packet.


OUTSIDE: The Flour Trick

Turkey_trackAll kids can be like Jenny discovering tracks when they use the “Flour Trick.” It’s a great activity for parents to do with children at home over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Near your home, sift flour onto the ground where you suspect animals pass by. Scatter seeds (or appropriate food for the animals in your community) on and around the flour-dusted area. Come back the next day to see if any animals have visited. Are there tracks? Can you identify them? What story do they tell?


More Facts and Fun with Thanksgiving

la-tradeHistory books often focus on the Pilgrim story and omit Wampanoag history. Find out more about the indigenous people at the first Thanksgiving at the Boston Children’s Museum.



Learning about nature is often the first step in appreciating nature. Visit the Dawn Publications website for inspiring nature books. There are many books on sale right now!




NECTAR: A Honey Bee Quest

imagesWhat did you eat today? About every third bite of food you took is either directly or indirectly the result of pollinating bees.

Soon your students will be able to learn about the lives of honey bees and  appreciate the vital role they play in our world through a game called NECTAR: A Honey Bee Quest.

With a finger on an iPad, smartphone, or other device, kids will guide “their” honey bee to scout for nectar-rich flowers, do the all-important waggle dance, avoid ambush bugs, feed baby bees, defend the hive from bears, and perform other bee-tasks. And most important: build the hive to survive the winter!

The Kickstarter fundraising campaign for NECTAR has a goal of $6,000. Dawn Publications has pledged to match cde2c12a9cf7da1e501026e6dceecf98_largethat amount if the campaign successfully reaches its goal. Once the bee game is flourishing, developers Malachi and Chad have pledged to donate part of their profits to Earth Train, an environmental group that helps young people make a difference in creating a healthier planet.

I invite you to support NECTAR at Kickstarter. With a pledge of only $15 you will receive a FREE game.

INSIDE: In the Trees, Honeybees!

BEES_StoreDid you know field bees have to collect nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey? Use this lesson plan, Sweet Treat, to make honey butter with your class.

Discover more great introduction to bees in the book In the Trees, Honeybees! by Lori Mortensen. Her rhyming verse will engage a young child, while sidebars with fascinating information satisfy the somewhat older child. In the back of the book, Lori shares information about how bees make honey and how beekeepers harvest it.


OUTSIDE: Bee Dance

Meet Bella, the main character of NECTAR

Bella, a main character in NECTAR, finds a flower patch.

Scout bees locate places rich with flowers. When they find a good flower patch, they return to the hive and perform a “waggle dance” to tell others where to find them. Use this lesson plan to have your students make up their own bee dance. This is a great activity to do outside, but you can also do it inside the classroom.



  • Download eight more lesson plans about bees for free from the Dawn Publications website. (scroll down the page to the title In the Trees Honeybees)
  • Play this video to see NECTAR creators Malachi and Chad explain more about their game.