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.  

Leaf it to Me!

fall_leavesAutumn officially arrived on Sunday, September 22nd. In my neck of the woods, the temperatures dropped and we had a brief  downpour…just enough rain to announce that FALL is here.

At the end of this week, I leave for my annual “pilgrimage” to the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’m looking forward to seeing the incredible autumn colors in the forest. But what makes leaves change from green to yellows, reds, browns, and purples?

It all has to do with photosynthesis—how trees make their food using sunlight and a pigment in their leaves called chlorophyll. It’s the chlorophyll that gives leaves their green color. As temperatures drop and the days become shorter, trees stop making food and the amount of chlorophyll inside of leaves decreases. With less chlorophyll, the other colors in leaves (orange and yellow) become visible. These colors were in the leaves all summer, but the green color of the chlorophyll covered them up. When the chlorophyll leaves, the leaves show their other colors.

Red, purple, and brown colors are the result of other chemical reactions that occur inside leaves when the temperature drops—leftover food (glucose) in leaves causes red and purple colors, and waste products in leaves cause a brown color.

LeafExperimentsInside: Discover the Hidden Colors 

See the hidden colors in green leaves by doing a simple experiment from Home Science Tools. Using just a few  ingredients, your students can separate ALL the colors in a green leaf. Although it’s simple enough for elementary students, even my middle school kids had liked seeing the results from this experiment.

leafmanOutside: Leaf Man

Collect an assortment of leaves and other natural objects from outside. Then use the whimsical illustrations in Leaf Man, written by Lois Elhert, to inspire your students to make their own leaf collages of animals and people. Both young children and older students enjoy using their creativity in this creative activity.

More Facts and Fun with Leaves

F alling temperatures
A utumn activities
L osing leaves
L eaving summer behind