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.  

A Look at Lifetimes

All of the answers for October’s Who Am I? contest came from the book Lifetimes by David Rice. When David was seven years old, he observed a small dog trying to wake its mother, which had been killed by a passing car. As he watched the grieving puppy’s vain attempts, he was struck by the depth of sadness and pain. The study of time, animal characteristics, and death as a natural process of life can offer powerful lessons in the classroom.

How long is a lifetime? If you’ve been participating in this month’s contest, you’ve learned that the lifetime for a dragonfly is only a single day. An elephant’s lifetime is 65 years, and a Saguaro Cactus lives for about 100 years. Twenty organisms—plants, animals, and even the earth itself—are featured in Lifetimes.

The book ends with the average lifetime of a boy or girl, which is about 85 years. David tells readers, “You are important because you are “one of the most creative living things on the earth. You have the ability to take information and ideas and use them to imagine new ideas. You also have the ability to be one of the most loving and caring creatures on Earth. By combining your ability to create and your ability to care, you can help make this ‘Spaceship Earth’ a better place for all us passengers.”


Inside: Lifetime Line Up

Click here for a pdf of a lesson plan that you can use to introduce your students to the concept of varying life spans. In this lesson you’ll make copies of line drawings of the plants and animals in the book using the Copy Master. Giving one drawing to each student, you’ll ask them to color their plant or animal. (Depending on the size of your class, some students will have the same drawing.) Then you’ll play a game called “Four Corners” to have students guess the life span of their plant or animal. Afterwards, students will line up in order as you identify the number of years each plant or animal lives. You may want to follow-up with an extension activity that gives students time to do one or more of the challenge activities about their plant or animal.

Source:  A Teacher’s Guide to Lifetimes: Lessons Plans for the book Lifetimes by Bruce and Carol Malnor (that’s me!)


Outside: Citizen Science Looks at Life Cycles

Life cycle changes are all around us. Children see a flower blossom and then scatter its seeds on the ground, a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis and spread its wings, or a bird hatch and grow feathers before leaving the nest. Journey North, a free internet citizen science program, explores the interrelated aspects of seasonal change and life cycles of plants and animals. When participating in a Journey North project, students share their own observations of migrations and other signs of the seasons with others. Their compiled data is used by scientists. Find out how your class can participate in Journey North.

Journey North’s Citizen Science projects include:

  • Hummingbirds
  • Monarch Butterflies
  • Sunlight & Seasons
  • Symbolic Migration
  • Tulip Test Gardens
  •  Whooping Cranes


More Fun and Facts with Animal Lifetimes

Do Animals Have Feelings Too? is another book by David Rice. It includes a collection of true stories of animal behavior. For example, a young antelope was being dragged into a river by a crocodile. A nearby hippopotamus saw what was happening and charged the croc, which released the antelope. The hippo gently pulled the antelope up the riverbank, comforting and protecting it until it died. Was this compassion? Not only are the stories in this book captivating and thought provoking, they’re also a terrific way for teachers and parents to help children consider feelings—whether animal or human.

Dawn Publications is exploring eco-literacy through a series of articles on its Homepage. Last week’s tip for developing eco-literacy was to “Ask Questions.” That’s just what David Rice does for each animal in Lifetimes. In fact, each plant or animal he presents is practically a lesson plan in itself, with “tell about it,” “think about it,” and “look it up” challenges presented on every page. Look at some sample pages.

Understanding the concept of a lifetime naturally brings up the topic of death and dying. Because various cultures and traditions deal with death differently, students may have conflicting views about what happens when something or someone dies. One of the messages in Lifetimes is that death is a part of the natural process of living. Students may want to talk about their own experiences of a pet, relative, or friend dying. For this reason, it is important for teachers to be prepared to the address the topic of death and the emotions that go along with it. Some excellent children’s books about death include: Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Grandpa’s Garden by Shea Darian, and On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.