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.  

Just Arrived!

Three new books just arrived at Dawn publications, and over the next three weeks I’m going to introduce them to you.

SWAMP_COVER2Look out! Gater’s hiding here! Where? In the swamp of course. It’s hot and humid. The water is covered with a blanket of green algae. And two eyes poke out of the ooze. It’s Gator, and he’s searching out his next meal. Will it be a duck, bullfrog, egret, snake, turtle, or some other unsuspecting animal? Alligators will eat just about anything!


Kids will have the fun of searching for Gator on each page of The Swamp Where Gator Hides. And they’ll learn about the swamp and it’s creatures.

Enjoy curling up with this book as you come in out of the snow or rain. I’m sharing two INSIDE activities this week.


INSIDE #1: Compare and Contrast

SWAMPB3The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a variation on The House that Jack Built. Both stories are written in cumulative verse, but there are lot of other similarities and differences. Read both stories to your students and then have them create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting them. Get directions from the author Marianne Berkes.


INSIDE #2: Chain of Events

SWAMPB2In The Swamp Where Gator Hides, the reader is introduced to ten animals that live in or near a
swamp. Your students can recall the story details by putting the animals in proper order using the sequencing strips at the end of this lesson plan.


Here’s a fun tale that introduces young readers to concepts of camouflage and predator-prey interactions. –Annie Oxarart, League of Environmental Educators in Florida


Counting Down to the Count

It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds! What is it? The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

NAS_GBBC_Posters_2014_r5_360pxThe GBBC starts in just two weeks! Everyone can participate—from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, between February 14th-17th. Involve your students in counting birds on your school grounds.

Why Count Birds? Scientists can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

People who care about birds can change the world. — Gary Langham, Audubon chief scientist.

Find out how to participate at the GBBC website. You’ll also find lots of suggestions and tips for counting birds with children.

INSIDE: Audubon Adventures

hummingbirds_cover_shot_2Get ready for the Count by introducing your students to birds. A great resource is Audubon Adventures. They’re high-quality magazines filled with vibrant photos and lively illustrations. A subscription consists of class sets (32 of each) of 4 separate magazines especially for grades 3-5.

The magazines capture students’ interest and are correlated to Common Core Standards. Each magazine comes with a stand-alone Teacher Guide, which includes lesson plans, vocabulary words, and review questions and activities.

OUTSIDE: The Top Ten List

image_previewStop, look, and listen and the chances are you will see one of the “ten most reported birds” from previous GBBC’s—Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, American Crow, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch, Black-capped Chickadee, and Tufted Titmouse.

Get your kids involved in birding with the following resources just for Educators:


BLUE1_StoreWant to inspire youngsters to appreciate birds? The BLUES books are the ticket. As one major reviewer said, it’s “a lighthearted romp with solid information on birds and bird-watching that could inspire future ornithologists.”


What’s With the Weather?

cold+weather+personRecord cold temperatures in the Midwest. Record snowfall in the East. Record low rainfall in California.

What’s going on with the weather?

Many scientists believe the change in our weather is caused by a change to the jet stream—the fast-flowing river of air high above the Earth.

In recent years, the movement of the jet stream has changed significantly bringing “weather whiplash with strange, out-of-season weather events more frequently than in the recent past.

Why is the jet stream changing? Because the Arctic is changing!

Due to climate change, there’s been a dramatic decline over the past 30 years in the amount of sea ice, which is probably responsible for the jet stream’s increasingly odd behavior. Find out more about the link between the Arctic and the rest of the planet at the National Geographic Global Warming website.


INSIDE: How Do We Know?

CLIMT_COVER2In How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate your students will learn about our earth’s changing climate in an age-appropriate manner, with clarity and hope.


CLIMTG_StoreIf you teach grades 5 to 8 you can choose from a dozen lessons and activities in  A Teacher’s Guide to How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate.

Suggestions are provided to differentiate instruction and conduct project-based learning.


OUTSIDE: Cool Tools

anemometerMeteorologists use tools to gather weather information, such as anemometers to measure wind speed, barometers to measure air pressure, and thermometers to measure temperature. Using simple materials, your students can make these tools and use them to  collect data and/or conduct experiments.

Get complete directions for building and using weather tools at the Scholastic website.



dvd363_largeI used Hippo Works DVD “Simon Says, Let’s Stop Climate Change” to introduce my 3rd-4th graders to the key concepts related to global warming and climate change. They loved this 30-minute animated adventure with its quirky characters. They were totally entertained while they learned key vocabulary terms, and after watching the cartoon we had a great discussion about concrete actions they could take. Adults like this cartoon too!