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.  

Mountain Stream Surprise!

I got a wonderful surprise while hiking in the Sierra Nevadas last week. I had gone to the mountains to catch the last glimpse of the yellow aspen trees before a windstorm stripped their branches bare. I wasn’t disappointed. The aspens glowed in the sun along Sagehen Creek. (I’ll be writing more about the biology of these magnificent trees in a couple of weeks.)

My surprise came as I walked across a plank that spanned the creek. There below me were dozens of bright red fish with green heads—male salmon! Looking around, I saw the females hovering over the gravel along the bank. They were spawning—laying their eggs that the males would fertilize.  Within a few months a new generation of salmon would hatch.

This annual ritual was not only a beginning, it was also an ending. Soon after spawning, both male and female salmon die. In fact, I watched a tired male make his final exhausted splash.  Many more fish carcasses floated nearby.

The salmon I observed were freshwater Sockeye Salmon known as Kokanee. However, most salmon live both in fresh and salt water and their life cycle is truly amazing. They overcome huge obstacles as they journey from the fresh water where they are born, to salt water where they grow, and then back to the fresh water where they will spawn and die. Salmon require healthy rivers, streams, and oceans for each stage of their development, so their story of survival is also the story of the environment. I hope you enjoy learning about salmon, their life cycle, and their habitat in the following activities.


Inside: Salmon Story Bracelet

In this activity, students will do a craft activity (make a beaded bracelet) as a way to remember and re-tell the story of the salmon’s life cycle.

Materials: various colored pony beads, 8-12/student (suggestions for bead colors); elastic cord, 12 inches/student.

Prep:Make a sample bracelet to show as an example.


  1. Read the book, Salmon Stream, by Carol Reed-Jones. It  follows the life cycle of the Pacific salmon. After the story, have students discuss each stage of the salmon’s life.
  2. Show the students the sample salmon life cycle bracelet. Explain that the bracelet forms a circle like the life cycle. The bracelet, which is a form of art, can be used to tell a story about the salmon. Throughout time people of all cultures have used art to tell stories and to teach.
  3. Have students create a salmon life cycle bracelet using eight to twelve different colored beads. Each bead represents a part of the cycle in a story they construct.
  4. When their bracelets are completed, have students practice telling the salmon’s story to a partner.


Outside: Salmon Life Cycle Relay

Play a relay game based on the salmon’s life cycle.

Prep: Print copies of the Salmon Life Cycle Cards, 1 set per team (source: from Rivers to Sea and Back again: A Salmon’s Life Story)


  1. Before playing the game, read the information in the back of Salmon Stream.
  2. Designate a “life cycle” area with a rope spread out along the grass. Divide the class into teams of 6 and have team members line up behind one another about 25 feet from the rope. Place a set of life cycle cards for each team face down in the life cycle area on the other side of the rope.
  3. At the signal, the first person in line runs to the life cycle area and finds the first phase of the salmon’s life cycle—the egg card. The student runs back to the team, who must agree that the card is the first stage. If the runner has chosen the correct card is correct, he/she keeps the card and goes to the end of the line, while the next student in line runs to the pool and finds the second stage card.
  4. Play continues until teams have collected all 6 stages of a salmon’s life cycle (egg, alevin, fry, smolt, adult fish, spawning adult). The first team to collect all of the cards has the privilege of reading their cards in order to the rest of the teams.

More Fun and Facts About Salmon

Find out fun facts about salmon at the Dialogue for Kids web site.

Get directions for having your students create a Salmon Pantomime to music from the Dawn Publications website.

Get Salmon Life Cycle Lesson Plans, including a Salmon Life Cycle Game, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.