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.  

Back to School!

January 1st marks the beginning of a new year. But not for me.  I’ve been a  teacher for over 30 years, so my “new year” is marked by the first day of school. This year I’m teaching a class called Nature Connections to a group of 3rd and 4th graders. (I also have two 7th graders who will be my “teaching assistants.”)

I’m looking forward to creating new classes, gathering new supplies, and most of all meeting my new students. Getting acquainted activities (like the one below) are at the top of list of priorities for the first few days of class.  And while we get to know each other, we’ll also get to know nature by exploring our schoolyard. Like the interdependence of a natural ecosystems we’ll be studying, I hope to make my classroom a “learning ecosystem” where we  support one another’s  interests, curiosity, and growth.

There’s so much to explore, both inside and outside!

Inside: Find Someone Who . . .

Create a handout of  experiences that is appropriate for your age group.  Students interview one another and  write down a name of someone who has had the experience. Students should try to use each person’s name at least once. Keep the activity moving quickly. When done, gather in a circle to share names and experiences.

Here are some possible experiences: Find someone who . . .

  • has a pet.
  • has a favorite outdoor activity.
  • can identify 3 birds.
  • has slept outside in a tent.
  • has helped an injured animal.
  • has climbed a tree.
  • has taken a swim in the ocean.
  • has hiked in the woods.
  • knows a story about a star constellation.
  • has read a book about that took place in the wild.


Outside: Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of natural items that students can find around the schoolyard. Include items that encourage students to look closely and think creatively. Assign teams to find as many items on the list as they can in a given amount of time. Students should only collect things that can be returned safely and without damage. Be sure to establish boundaries for the hunt. These are some of the scavenger hunt items suggested by the Glen Helen Nature Center in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

  • a leaf
  • a feather
  • three different kinds of seeds
  • something round
  • something sharp
  • something fuzzy
  • something white
  • something important in nature
  • something perfectly straight
  • something beautiful
  • five pieces of man-made litter
  • something that makes a noise
  • a piece of fur
  • part of an egg
  • exactly 100 of something
  • a smile


More Back to School Ideas

Help students  learn all about themselves and their classmates while collaborating with one another, the teacher, and their family members to complete an All About Me Poster and a Portrait of a Friend. Try these other Getting-to-Know-You activities.


A Final Thought

There will be a “Blue Moon” this coming Friday, August 31. What’s a Blue Moon? Find out at EarthSky. You won’t see another one until 2015. As I gaze up at the moon on Friday night, I’ll be remembering Neil Armstrong—the first person to walk on the moon. He died last Saturday. I’m old enough to vividly remember his walk, which took place on July 20, 1969.  Maybe someday one of our students will have the amazing experience of walking on the moon too.