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.  

Igniting a Spark

Do you have a special pastime? Is your idea of fun taking photos, going hiking, or digging in the garden? Did a parent or teacher spark this interest when you were a child?

I’m always interested about how people have discovered their passions. Not surprisingly,  many nature authors had early childhood experiences that set them in the direction of learning about specific aspects of nature.

BUG_SHOPI got my first look at  Noisy Bug Sing Along this week. Reading about author John Himmelman I learned that he was just eight years old when he started his first “Bug Club” in a friends’ garage, and he’s been playing with insects ever since.

Jeannine Atkins was a girl who looked under rocks. Particular trees and stones outside her house were as familiar to her as her bedroom and made good spots to wonder. She now writes books about amazing women, including her book Girls Who Looked Under Rocks.BABY_Store

Fran Hodgkins’ mother taught her to love nature, and how to watch and “really see.” An early memory of Fran’s is watching for hours as a spider built a web on her tire swing. Fran’s books include If You Were My Baby, inspired by her daughter’s questions, and Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean.

Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini first connected her love of art with her concern for the rainforest when she wrote and illustrated A Walk in the Rainforest for her mom’s preschool class when she was a freshman in high school. Since then, she has written and illustrated The Forever Forest and four other environmentally-focused books for children.FOREV_Store

We never know when something we will say or do will spark a child’s interest and get them stated in a direction that will last a lifetime. It’s good to remember that books are our wonderful helpers for introducing children to a world of possibilities.


Inside: The Pages of a Book

Spark some interest about nature by reading stories in the Earth Heroes series. The early childhood experiences of these great naturalists shaped their lives and their contributions to the environment.

EHWAN_COVER41Roger Tory Peterson painted his first bird when he was in seventh grade. He credits his teacher, Blanche Hornbeck as giving him a start in his future career as the world’s preeminent bird illustrator.

As a little girl, Jane Goodall read The Story of Dr. Doolittle, which sparked her desire to talk to the animals in Africa. Her discoveries with chimpanzees changed the face of wildlife research.

EHOC_StoreOceanographer Sylvia Earle fell in love with the ocean when she was knocked down by a wave at the age of three. She was named by named by Time Magazine as the first Hero for the Planet.

After reading about a few earth heroes, ask your students what they wonder about, then bring in books to support their interests.


Outside: The Great Backyard Bird Count

Maybe this is the week one of your students will get interested in birds! It’s the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Snowy Owl, Jen Howard, ON, 2012 GBBC

Snowy Owl, Jen Howard, ON, 2012 GBBC

It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds. You simply tally the number of individual birds of each species you see over a 15-minute period on one or more days between Feb. 15-18. Then post your results online. These results will help scientists understand what’s happening with bird populations nationwide. Get more info about the GBBC for kids online.

Birders of all ability levels are asked to participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. My 92-year-old mother isn’t going any further than her window—she’s counting the birds at her backyard feeders.


Red-bellied Woodpecker on suet feeder.

Counting feeder birds is also a great way to involve children in the GBBC. They’re the easiest birds for children to identify because they’re somewhat stationary and kids can see them without binoculars. Use this recipe for Marvel Meal to entice the birds into your backyard or schoolyard and start counting!


More Fun Ways to Create a Spark

Go to to get suggestions to Spark A Child’s Interest in Science. The article includes a list of classroom materials to invite scientific investigation.

images-3“Children in the earlier years are already deciding what they have a passion for, and in some ways are making an emotional commitment to it,” says Lisa Henson, chief executive of The Jim Henson Company, which produces “Sid the Science Kid,” a PBS science program for 3- to 6-year-olds. Check out the Sid the Science Kid website.