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: January 2014

What’s With the Weather?

cold+weather+personRecord cold temperatures in the Midwest. Record snowfall in the East. Record low rainfall in California.

What’s going on with the weather?

Many scientists believe the change in our weather is caused by a change to the jet stream—the fast-flowing river of air high above the Earth.

In recent years, the movement of the jet stream has changed significantly bringing “weather whiplash with strange, out-of-season weather events more frequently than in the recent past.

Why is the jet stream changing? Because the Arctic is changing!

Due to climate change, there’s been a dramatic decline over the past 30 years in the amount of sea ice, which is probably responsible for the jet stream’s increasingly odd behavior. Find out more about the link between the Arctic and the rest of the planet at the National Geographic Global Warming website.


INSIDE: How Do We Know?

CLIMT_COVER2In How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate your students will learn about our earth’s changing climate in an age-appropriate manner, with clarity and hope.


CLIMTG_StoreIf you teach grades 5 to 8 you can choose from a dozen lessons and activities in  A Teacher’s Guide to How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate.

Suggestions are provided to differentiate instruction and conduct project-based learning.


OUTSIDE: Cool Tools

anemometerMeteorologists use tools to gather weather information, such as anemometers to measure wind speed, barometers to measure air pressure, and thermometers to measure temperature. Using simple materials, your students can make these tools and use them to  collect data and/or conduct experiments.

Get complete directions for building and using weather tools at the Scholastic website.



dvd363_largeI used Hippo Works DVD “Simon Says, Let’s Stop Climate Change” to introduce my 3rd-4th graders to the key concepts related to global warming and climate change. They loved this 30-minute animated adventure with its quirky characters. They were totally entertained while they learned key vocabulary terms, and after watching the cartoon we had a great discussion about concrete actions they could take. Adults like this cartoon too!



I Have a Dream

images-4Martin Luther King is probably best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech and the Civil Rights Movement, so why am I writing about him on an environmental blog?

Because I agree with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder when he said: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in addition to his many other achievements, helped ‘plant the seeds’ for what would become our nation’s now-thriving ‘environmental justice movement.’”

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” —   Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

OUTSIDE: Celebrate Urban Birds

When he was reflecting on the eventuality of his own death, Dr. King said he didn’t want his eulogy to focus on the Nobel Prize or the other high honors he was awarded. “I’d like somebody to mention that day [at his eulogy] that Martin Luther King tried to give his life serving others…”

CUB11-760x300How might you and your students serve your community? One way is by participating in a citizen science project called Celebrate Urban Birds. When your class joins the project, you will get all the materials you need to observe 16 target species of birds and report your findings. The data your students compile will help scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Despite its name, Celebrate Urban Birds isn’t just for city kids. The target birds are found in habitats all over North America. However, one goal of the project is to bring citizen science to communities of color—the very same communities Dr. King served.

OUTSIDE: An Alphabet of Ideas

Not only is it Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it also happens to be the beginning of a new year—a time when many people make resolutions about improving their own lives and the lives of others.

NewYearsResolution_MoreFunOutside_OrangeOne of the best things you can do to help your students improve their lives is help them get outside!

Visit the National Wildlife Federation website for 26 activities that will get kids outside. There’s one idea for each letter of the alphabet: “A” is for “Animal Homes” and “B” is for “Bugs at Night.” Find out what “Z” is!

Do a new activity every two weeks for a year-long connection with nature. Many of them can be adapted for both home and school.




Happy Birthday Aldo Leopold!

Celebrate Aldo Leopold’s birthday this week! He was born January 11, 1887.

AL&tree_duo_smWho’s Aldo Leopold? He’s the “Father of Wilderness Conservation,” founder of the science of wildlife management, and author of the classic environmental book A Sand County Almanac. He was the first university professor to teach about “ecology”—a commonly understood concept today, but a revolutionary new idea in the 1930s when he began teaching about food webs and the importance of habitat preservation.

Because his interest in the natural world began at an early age, Aldo Leopold is a wonderful role model for children. As an elementary school student, he spent hours outside in nature observing, journaling, and sketching what he saw. He even used his grandmother’s opera glasses to go bird watching because he didn’t have any binoculars.

As an adult, his ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement. He has inspired many to see the natural world “as a community to which we belong.”

INSIDE: Icy Experiments

images-3In A Sand County Almanac Aldo Leopold wrote about his observations of nature month-by-month. For many people, this month’s most significant nature experience is ICE. Get your students interested in the scientific properties of ice by amazing them with levitating ice cubes. Read a description and watch a demo of this icy experiment before doing it with you class. Then do these other icy science experiments.

OUTSIDE: Create an Almanac

AlmanacAn “almanac” is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information. For the month of January, Aldo Leopold wrote about animal tracks in the snow in his Sand County Almanac. In March, he wrote about the “music” made by returning geese. And in October he wrote down his observations of fall leaves.


Create an ongoing nature almanac with your students by taking a few minutes each day to write down observations of the natural world. Be prepared to “jump start” this process by providing your own observations. After a few days, they’ll get the hang of it. Be sure to encourage using a variety of senses: sight (snowflakes), sound (bird calls), and feel (cold wind).


Read about Aldo’s life in Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness. It’s written to engage middle school students, but many of the stories about his life are also entertaining when told to younger children.

Exploring the Outdoors with Aldo Leopold is a CD that features a hands-on activity guide for educators designed to teach observation skills, plant and animal identification, natural history, land stewardship, and outdoors skills. Each activity is based on an essay from Aldo Leopold’s classic book, A Sand County Almanac.