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.  

‘Tis the Season

There are a lot of traditions associated with this holiday season—lighting candles, giving gifts, singing songs, and eating special foods, just to name a few. In the 1800’s, many people engaged in the holiday tradition known as the “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

imagesFortunately, by the turn of the 20th century, people were becoming more aware of conservation practices. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, Frank Chapman, an ornithologist and officer in the newly-formed Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition he called the “Christmas Bird Census.” He suggested that people count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

The Audubon CBC is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world—this year is its 113th year!

CBC Circles

CBC Circles


Tens of thousands of participants will be counting birds in prescribed areas (circles) throughout the U.S. and Canada. The data that’s collected will be used to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.


Inside: Gifts FROM Nature

During this season of gift giving, you can help your students think about the gifts they receive from nature all year long. images-2Working in small groups, ask your students to brainstorm responses to the question “What has nature given you?” You may want to prompt them with a few ideas to get them going, and don’t forget the obvious gifts of fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink. Give groups a time limit of 3-5 minutes and then compile responses from each group to create a master list. Students may get even more ideas as they see what other groups have said. My students really got into the flow of brainstorming! Then we sorted the gifts into various categories, such as food, shelter, clothing, and enjoyment.


Outside: Gifts TO Nature

images-1This will be my 3rd year participating in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. I consider it my gift to the birds.

I wanted my students to give a gift to nature, too. But the CBC is held during our winter vacation, so last week we made bird feeders in class, and they took them home to hang in a tree or bush. I hope some of them will count the birds they see on their feeders over the holidays.

I invite you and your students to give a gift to nature and wildlife this season. You can find suggestions and get links to many ideas at The National Wildlife Federation website.


More Fun Over the Holidays

Just as most schools take a holiday break, so will this blog. I’ll be back in time for the new semester on January 6th. Until then, I’d like to recommend a few books that I think are especially appropriate for this time of year.

BLUE1_COVER2Even if you don’t participate in the Christmas Bird Count, you can enjoy birds in The BLUES Go Birding Across America. This books is informative and fun…mostly fun!


INSID_StoreInside All by Margaret Mason is a comforting bedtime book that will reassure little ones that they—every one of them—are connected to the world both physically and mystically. They belong, and are part of something meaningful.


AMY_StoreThe poetry in Amy’s Light by Robert Nutt follows the pattern of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, making this book a wonderful read-aloud. The photo-illustrations of the author’s daughter are lifelike yet dreamy.


BRIAN_CoverBecause Brian Hugged His Mother, written by David Rice, shows that kindness IS contagious when young Brian starts a chain reaction that brings a bit of joy to people he doesn’t even know. It all starts out one morning when Brian wakes up and gives his mother a hug.


BFB_COVER2For Baby, For Bobbie is a picture book illustrating a song about unconditional love by John Denver, featuring families and animals from around the world. It’s a wonderful teaching tool for young children of how parents—both human and non-human—love their children in very much the same way all over the world.