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.  

Forest Critters

Kids love animals—so do adults! And the forest is home to a wide variety of critters.

canopyFrom the treetops to the ground, the layers of the forest determine what kinds of animals you’ll find. The canopy layer is the topmost layer of the forest. The treetops are like an umbrella that receives light from above and shades the layers below.  The understory layer is below the treetops and includes smaller trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, mushrooms, and wildflowers. The forest floor, the bottom layer, is the soil and also dead plants and animals waiting to rot away.

Involve your students in creating a bulletin board of the forest layers. Cut out pictures of common forest animals from magazines to place in the appropriate layer. Birds can be found in all layers of the forest, but some animals live in just one layer. For example, an earthworm only lives in the soil of the forest floor and deer find their food in the understory.

Inside: Wild Animal Scramble

Before creating your bulletin board, play a game with the pictures. It’s called Wild Animal Scramble. images-2Use a clothespin to attach one of the pictures to each child’s back, clipping it on their shirt collar. Be sure to keep the picture out of the child’s sight as you pin it on. They must figure out “who” is on their back by asking only “yes” or “no” questions, such as “Do I live in the canopy layer of the forest?” Do I have fur?” “Am I a carnivore?” Children find a partner and get to ask one question each. They  continue with different partners until they guess their animal. Then they pin the picture to the front of their shirt and continue playing by answering other children’s questions. Expect a little bit of chaos and lots of laughter! (Source: Sharing Nature with Children)

Outside: Take a Micro-Hike

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 2.15.07 PMExplore the critters on the forest floor by having children create a miniature nature trail. All you’ll need is a 18-inch piece of string, a magnifying glass, and some open ground.

Ask children to lay out a “trail” for the hike with the string. Instruct them to use their imaginations to shrink down to the size of an ant. They shouldn’t look higher than one foot above the ground. Using a magnifying glass, a jagged rock looks like a formidable mountain, a sandy spot is a dessert, and a tiny puddle becomes like a lake. In the process of creating their trails, they’ll discover the tiniest critters of the forest.When finished, have children pair up to guide each other on their nature trails. (Source: Sharing Nature with Children)

More Facts and Fun with Forest Critters

OVERF_storeOver in the ForestChildren learn the ways of forest animals to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” as they leap like a squirrel, dunk like a raccoon, and pounce like a fox. They will also count the babies and search for ten hidden forest animals. (by Marianne Berkes)

FORST_COVER2Forest Bright, Forest NightSome animals are alert in daytime and sleep at night. Others are alert at night, and are sleepyheads during the day. You FLIP THIS BOOK from day to night and back—a nice hands-on way to show the same view day and night. (by Jennifer Ward)