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.  

Pumpkins!

Mary and her dog, Yoshi

Mary Quattlebaum is October’s Guest Blogger, and all of the clues for this month’s “Who Am I?” contest came from her book Jo MacDonald had a Garden. Mary is the author of eighteen children’s books, including picture books, poetry, chapter books, and middle-grade novels. Read more about Mary at the end of this posting.

By Mary Quattlebaum:

Many children know spring as a time for digging and planting but have much less experience with the autumnal tasks of harvesting and preparing local, seasonal foods.  After all, the grocery store provides a ready supply of fruits and vegetables that are available not only year-round but from around the world.

But most kids can recognize one particular green growing thing by sight.  And this time of year, in city community gardens and on large farms alike, these small knobs on huge tangled vines are growing bigger, thicker, and brighter. Pumpkins!

So, that’s where pumpkins come from, children often shout when they spot one on the vine.  As an autumnal treat, you might help kids learn more about this tricky vegetable – which is actually a fruit.  And in the process, they’ll develop a whole new appreciation for their Halloween jack-o-lantern!

 

Mary’s daughter at the Pumpkin Patch

Outside: Pumpkin Patch

Visit a pumpkin patch or community garden so children can actually see the pumpkins growing on the vine. Let them gently touch and smell the large leaves and vines and knock gently on the pumpkins. Choose one particularly fine pumpkin and bring it home or to classroom.

 

 

Inside: Tasty Pumpkin Treats

 Look Inside: Show an apple and a pumpkin. Ask which is a fruit. Explain that both are fruits even though the pumpkin is usually called a vegetable.  It is the edible fruit of the plant.

Cover table with newspaper or easy-to-clean covering. Cut apple and pumpkin in half and show kids the insides and seeds. What’s different?  What’s the same?

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Clean out and immediately wash the pumpkin seeds, letting the children help to remove strings and pulp. Dry seeds and place in single layer on oiled cookie sheet, stirring to coat with oil. Sprinkle with salt.  Cook at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes till lightly brown. Stir and flip seeds after first 10 minutes. Let seeds cool to room temperature and serve.

Baked Pumpkin: After removing seeds and stringy pulp, bake the pumpkin halves on cookie sheet at 325 degrees F for one hour or till tender. Cool and scrape from rind.  Mash the cooked pumpkin, adding one Tablespoon butter, one teaspoon salt, a dash of cinnamon, and sugar (optional) to taste.  Let kids take turns mashing with an old-fashioned potato masher.  Warm again on stovetop or in microwave. Serve.

Children will be so proud of their yummy Great Pumpkin delights!  And studies show that kids who grow and harvest their own produce and help to prepare food are more likely to eat it.

 

More Seasonal Fun and Facts

 

National Gardening Association’s children’s section includes classroom activities and recipes.

Preschool Parfait, developed by preschool teacher Jean Raiford, provides seasonal activities and recipes great for the playful enhancement of the early learning environment in science, math, reading and social and physical skills.

For more information about Mary Quattlebaum, please visit her website at www.maryquattlebaum.com. You’ll find information and activities related to her books, including Jo MacDonald Had a Garden and Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond.

In addition to Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, and Jo MacDonald Had a Garden, Mary’s  other most recent titles include Pirate vs. Pirate and The Hungry Ghost of New Orleans. Mary’s books have been selected for Delacorte/Random House’s Marguerite de Angeli Prize for first middle-grade novel, Parenting Reading Magic Award, Bank Street Best Books, Sugarman Award, Notable Social Sciences Trade Book, and a number of state children’s choice lists. Mary is a popular school and conference presenter and teaches at the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She publishes frequently in children’s magazines (Cricket, Spider, Babybug, Ladybug, Highlights High Five) and occasionally writes nonfiction for Gale/Cengage, an educational publisher. Mary reviews children’s books regularly for the Washington Post, Washington Parent, and online for the National Wildlife Federation. Mary lives in Washington, DC.