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.  

Open the Door…Go Outside

Thanks for visiting Inside Outside Nature! Summertime is vacation time, and this blog is taking a short vacation. I’ll be back again on August 27th with weekly nature activities and new Mystery Contest clues. In the meantime enjoy these ideas for summer fun in nature. All you have to do is just open your door and go outside.

And although reading is usually an inside activity, it doesn’t have to be. As a child, I remember curling up with a book under the branches of a leafy birch tree after a morning of swimming and playing.


Inside: Book Buddies

Ages 1-4

My First Hike by Catherine Maria Woolf. A reluctant child goes with Grandpa on his first hike – and to his surprise, discovers the vibrant world of nature. Birds! Frogs! A waterfall! Trees to swing on! “Can we come back tomorrow?”



Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver and Christopher Canyon. Sunshine This book celebrates friendship, sunshine and the simple joy of being together. Canyon’s illustrations abound with light, color and lots of humorous detail.



Ages 5-10

Discover the Seasons by Diane Iverson. This book is a wonderful tool, with exquisite illustrations, charming poems, simple text that will stimulate discussion, plus hands-on activities and seasonally-appropriate recipes.




Eliza and the Dragonfly by Suzie Caldwell Rinehart and and Anisa Claire Hovemann. The science about dragonflies is perfectly integrated into a story in which the dragonfly’s remarkable metamorphosis from a mucky nymph (“Eeeewww,” says Eliza) to a beautiful winged creature (“Magnificent!” is Aunt Doris’ refrain) is a metaphor for the magic of Eliza’s growing up.



Ages 10-14

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks by Jeannine Atkins and Paula Conner. This book portrays the youths and careers of six remarkable women whose curiosity about nature fueled a passion to steadfastly overcome obstacles to careers in traditionally men-only occupations. An excellent chapter book for preteen girls.



John Muir: My Life with Nature by Joseph Cornell. Written as an “autobiography” taken from Muir’s own words, it brims with his spirit and adventures. The book includes numerous “explore more” activities that help the reader to understand and appreciate Muir’s many wonderful qualities.



Outside:  Cricket Thermometer

Let a cricket help you estimate the temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster a cricket will chirp; the cooler, the slower the chirps. Count cricket chirps for 15 seconds. Add 40 to get the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit degrees.



Lots More Summer Fun

Choose from any of the following activities from nature authors: Joseph Cornell (Sharing Nature with Children), Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods), and David T. Sobel (Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators). I’ve also included related books.


  • Explore your neighborhood for special spots.
  • Take a day hike.
  • Take a night hike with a flashlight
  • Sleep outside.
  • Learn to rock climb.

Animal Allies

  • Watch birds. Put up a feeder and birdbath.
  • Build a bat house.
  • Collect lightning bugs at dusk. Release them at dawn.
  • Raise butterflies from caterpillar to chrysalis to emerging butterfly to egg back to caterpillar.
  • Discover animal signs. Look for footprints, mole holes, and other signs that an animal has passed by or lives nearby.

Special Places

  • Build a tree house, fort, or hut.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Set up a backyard weather station. Watch the clouds.
  • Find a favorite tree and visit it again and again throughout the year.

Small Wonders

  • Keep a terrarium or aquarium.
  • Find a hidden universe. Place a piece of scrap wood on bare dirt. Wait two days and lift the board. Find how many creatures have found shelter there. Identify them with the help of a field guide. Return once a month to discover who’s new.
  • Use a hand lens to observe bugs, leaves, and bark. Crawl under bushes to find what’s hiding there.

Search and Find

  • Make a leaf collection.
  • Play “Ten Treasures.” Go on a walk to find ten different “critters.” (mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, snails, other creatures)
  • Collect stones, rocks, shells, and fossils.

Family Fun

  • Find an adult nature companion. All of the Earth Heroes had an adult—their father, mother, or grandparent—who encouraged them to explore nature at an early age.
  • Establish a “green hour” as a new family tradition. Everyone does an activity outside. It may be just watching the stars come out.
  • Play “I Am Aware Of” with a partner. Go for a walk and take turns pointing out interesting sights and sounds.