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.  

Over in the Ocean

Marianne Berkes is June’s Guest Blogger, and all of the clues for this month’s Who Am I contest came from her book Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef. Marianne has spent much of her life with children as a teacher, children’s theater director and children’s librarian. Read more about Marianne at the end of the  blog.

By Marianne Berkus

I love the ocean—it’s an amazing place! I wrote Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef to open children’s eyes to some of fascinating sea creatures that live in a coral reef.

My idea for this book came to me when I was working as children’s librarian. I was reading and singing the classic Over in the Meadow to youngsters at a story time, and there was a “save ocean reefs” poster on the library wall. Aha! Putting a fresh twist on the old song, I used the same rhythm and rhyme but situated my story in an ocean habitat. I’ve used that same pattern to write five “Over in the . . .” habitat books, including my latest book Over in the Forest: Come Take a Peek.

Young children are naturally “wired” for sound and rhythm. And repetition and rhyme are a great way for kids to share in a story, especially if they are just beginning to read. Rhyme also gives the book a forward motion that you don’t always get with prose. I like to think I’m making music with my words!

I find ideas for my books all around me, especially in nature. My books are creative non-fiction, a combination of fact and fiction, that educate, as well as entertain—touching the head and the heart.

One of my favorite aspects of writing is doing the research.  It’s like a treasure hunt, because often I discover something new and exciting!  All of my books are carefully checked by experts in their fields; Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef  was vetted by the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.

Listen to the words and melody to “Over in the Ocean.” You might also enjoy a YouTube video that tells you more about how I use this book at story times.


Inside: Salt Water vs. Fresh Water

In this demonstration young children use their tongues and their eyes to notice the difference between salt water and fresh water. You will need the following items: two containers, one filled with fresh water and the other with salt water. Salt. Small paper cups. Plastic cups. Balance scale.

  • Make the seawater ahead of time by adding 1⁄4 cup of salt to every cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve the salt. When it has cooled, pour it into the container marked “seawater.” Prepare another container filled with tap water and mark it “fresh water.”
  • Explain to the children that although ocean water covers almost 3⁄4 of the earth, and many creatures live in the ocean, we can’t drink it. Let them discover why by pouring a tiny amount for each child into a small paper cup and let them taste it on their tongues.
  • Ask the children to predict which is heavier, salt water or fresh water. Have them observe as you pour some of the salt water into a plastic cup. Then pour from the freshwater container the same amount into another plastic cup. Take the two cups and put them on a balance scale. Children will see that the salt makes water heavier.


Outside: Clownfish Tag

Play a game to learn about the relationship between a sea anemone and a clownfish.

Before you begin, explain the relationship between anemones, clownfish, and other fish. Anemones are not flowers, but predatory animals that sting fish with their tentacles and then eat them. However, clownfish have special defenses on their bodies that prevent them from being stung, and they help the anemone catch other fish.

  • Designate boundaries for a “coral reef,” the playing area.
  • Choose groups of three children as “anemones.” They should stand specific spots with their feet planted on the floor. They can’t move, but they can reach out with their arms which are the tentacles of the anemones to wave back and forth.
  • Choose two or three other children to be clownfish that dart in and out of the anemones. Pin a piece of orange fabric or construction paper on the back of the clownfish so the players know who they are.
  • Choose two of three other children to be fish who will try tag the clownfish.
  • If a clownfish is tagged, it becomes a fish (removes the orange fabric) and tries to catch other clownfish. The clownfish can dart into the anemones for protection; but if a fish is tagged by an anemone, it becomes part of the anemone and can tag other fish.
  • The game ends when all of the fish are tagged and become part of the anemones.


More Ocean Fun and Facts


More about Marianne Berkes . . . She knows how much children enjoy brilliantly illustrated, interactive picture books with predictable text about real animals. She retired to write full time and visit schools, libraries and literary conferences. Marianne is the author of eleven (and counting!) published picture books for children.

Marianne especially enjoys writing books about animals and nature. She hopes to open kid’s eyes to the magic found in our natural world. Her verse is lyrical, reflecting the fact that music and theater have always been part of her life. To find out more about her school visits click here. She uses music and puppets in her interactive presentations with younger children. Marianne also presents workshops for older students and adults about the writing process and her publishing adventures. Marianne lives with her husband, Roger, near the ocean where she still picks up beautiful shells to add to her collection.

The eight books Marianne has published with Dawn Publications each have won awards and garnered exceptional reviews. She is also the author of Marsh Morning, about bird songs in the marsh, and Marsh Music, about the night songs of frogs in the marsh. Marsh Morning won a Florida Reading Association Award in 2004. Her eleventh book, Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek was released in January 2012, with another book scheduled for release later this year, and two in 2013.

To learn more about Marianne Berkes and her books please visit her website at