mystery The answer to last week's clues may be found at the bottom of this column. 

The winner of the February contest is Susan Braunstein of Holy Name of Jesus School in New Rochelle, New York.
She has won a classroom set of Dawn’s nature books for her school.

Teachers and Parents: I invite you to enter our weekly mystery contest. 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.

Winners are selected monthly. Please note, books are shipped only to US addresses.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I'm one of the four seasons.
glass1 Clue 2:  I begin when the sun is directly over the equator, which is called the Vernal Equinox.
glass1 Clue 3: When I'm in the Northern Hemisphere, it's Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
glass1 Clue 4: I'm the beginning of longer, warmer days.
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 drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced the first week of the month.
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: MOOSE

Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.

Spring Has Arrived!

FLOWR_COVER2The calendar says that spring has arrived. Even if it still feels like winter where you are, you can be sure flowers are on the way.
In celebration of spring, this week I’m focusing on flowers with the book On One Flower: Butterflies, Ticks, and few more Icks.

Plants are the basis of all ecosystems, and On One Flower is a creative nonfiction story that takes place in a very tiny ecosystem—a single goldenrod flower. This book is an effective read aloud to introduce the concept of “Relationships in Ecosystems” to younger children, or to introduce a unit on “Matter and Energy in Ecosystems” for older students.

This writing activity begins by having students look at the book’s cover illustration. Working in small groups, they write a first draft of a story based on the illustration. After listening to the book or reading it on their own, they identify the edits they would make to their stories.

Suggested Grade Level: Read Aloud: K-5; Independent Reading: 3-5

  1. Before reading the book aloud, use several pieces of paper to cover up the words on the cover of the book. Create a transparency of the cover illustration and project it for the entire class.
  2. Divide the class into several groups. Invite members of each group to generate three to five questions about the illustration. Afterwards, ask each group to write a story that has answers to the other group’s questions embedded in the story (one member of each group records the story that is contributed by all the other members of the group).
  3. After sufficient time, have the groups to share their completed stories with each other.
  4. Then read the book aloud. Ask students to pay attention to the details, facts, and information that is shared throughout the story as well as the information presented in the “Field Notes” at the end of the book.
  5. After reading invite each of the groups to return to their original “Picture Perfect” stories and to edit them in the light of the information they gathered from the book. What changes will they need to make in the next draft.
  6. Follow up with these discussion questions: Which of the creatures was the most amazing? How did the illustrations contribute to your enjoyment of this book? Which of the animals would you like to learn more about? How are so many animals able to live together in one place? What other animals do you think could be found on a single flower? If you could tell the author one thing, what would you like to say to the author.
Common Core Connection
~Reading and Literature: Key Ideas and Details (K.1,,1.1, 2.1); Craft and Structure (K.6, 2.4); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7)
~Writing: Test Types and Purposed (1.3,2.3, 3.3, 4.3, 5.3); Production and Distribution (K.5, 1.5,2.5,3.5)
~Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration (K-1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1); Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas—2.4, 3.4, 4.4, 5.4

Science Framework Connection
~Independent Relationships in Ecosystems (K, 2, 3)
~Inheritance and Variance of Traits: Life Cycles and Their Traits (3)
~Matter and Energy in Ecosystems (5)

Little Brother Moose

Seeing wild animals in towns and cities is not uncommon. Even New York City is home to all kinds of wildlife—raccoons, coyotes, opossum, deer, and hawks to name a few species.

MOOSE_COVER2In northern regions, wild moose sometimes roam into towns. As explained in the book Little Brother Moose, “They enter towns for a variety of reasons, including illness. Naturalists speculate that apparently healthy, young males enter town for a different reason: curiosity.”

Little Brother Moose tells the story of just such a curious young male. He’s lured into a town by the sights, sounds, and smells of civilization. And he gets lost! Eventually he  finds his way home by listening with his whole being to the promptings of nature.

LESSON PLAN: Listen, Listen, Listen

In this activity, students practice listening to sounds outside. Listening builds children’s awareness of the natural world, and it can also be a very calming activity for children. Some of the best months to practice listening to nature sounds are when birds are active, from February to June.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3

Materials: The book, Little Brother Moose

  1. Pre-select a suitable spot where nature sounds can be heard, preferably away from other loud
    sounds, such as traffic.
  2. Read aloud Little Brother Moose. Discuss the many things in the town that attracted Little Brother. Ask what things he misinterpreted. For example, he thought the loaves of bread in the bakery window were mushrooms.
  3. Explain to students that listening is one of the first skills young animals learn from their parents. Read the information about listening in the back of the book. Tell the children they are going to a special “listening place” where they can practice listening too.
  4. Lead them quietly to the spot you’ve chosen and have them stand in a circle.sounds Explain that everyone is going to listen for all of the different sounds they can hear, both natural and man-made sounds.
    For each different sound they hear they will raise one finger. Natural sounds include such things as different birds, the wind in the trees; man-made sounds include trucks, cars, or airplanes, and machines; and sounds close by such as the rustling of a coat.
  5. For Round One: Have the children close their eyes, listen, and raise their fingers for about a minute or more. Then have them open their eyes and ask individual children to name one of the sounds they heard.
  6. For Round Two: Explain that everyone is going to listen again, but this time they are only going to listen to nature sounds. Repeat the procedure.
  7. Ask children what they discovered about listening to nature sounds. Did they try anything that made it easier to hear the sounds? If children remain interested, repeat the process a third time. Did children increase the sounds they could hear?
[This activity is adapted from Sharing Nature With Children.]

From Snowflakes to Glaciers

Snow and ice covered 50% of the United States last week!

That got me thinking about John Muir’s trips to Alaska. Muir is probably best known for his dedication to establishing national parks, especially Yosemite. Geologists in the early 1900s believed Yosemite was the result of a violent convulsion of the earth. Muir stirred up a lot of controversy when he suggested that Yosemite was created by glaciers over a long period of time.

Muir had studied glaciers in Alaska, and his glacial theory proved to be correct.

LESSON PLAN: From Snowflakes to Glaciers
This lesson begins with a true story of one of John Muir’s Alaskan adventures. He became stranded  on a glacier with a little dog named Stickeen. Snow was falling, night was approaching, and the only way out was over a precarious ice bridge. It was dangerous for man, but almost impossible for a dog. The story leads into a 15-minute experiment that demonstrates how glaciers are formed when snowflakes are compacted.
[This lesson is adapted from Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears.]

Suggested Grade Level: K-5STKN2


  1. Read aloud Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog. Pay special attention to the illustrations. Christopher Canyon, the illustrator, traveled much of John Muir’s Alaskan route of 1880.Explain to students that they are going to conduct an experiment to see what happens when snow is compacted.
  2. Give students 3 marshmallows each. Each one simulates a layer of snow.
  3. Have them put one marshmallow on top of another and measure the height. Then ask them to push down on top marshmallow and measure the height. Have them add the third marshmallow, push down on it, and measure again.
  4. As students are smashing their marshmallows, ask the “Discussion Questions” below.
  5. Explain layers of snow lose their air much like the marshmallows.
  6. If snow is available, conduct a demonstration by filling a jar half way with snow. Ask for a volunteer to smash it down. Continue this until it becomes ice. Add more layers of snow. These additional layers can be tinted with food coloring before being smashed, which will show how they compact.
  7. For older students explain that the intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice is called firn. It is formed under the pressure of overlying snow by the process of compaction, recrystallization, localized melting, and the crushing of individual snowflakes. This takes about one year. Further compaction of firn at a depth of 150 to 200 feet results in glacial ice.
Discussion Questions: What happens to the marshmallows as you press down on them? What happens to the shape of the marshmallow? What happens to the height of the marshmallow tower?
For the demonstration with snow: Why does the snow turn into ice? (It loses its’ air and changes the shape of the crystal) What force did you use to change the snow into ice? (pressure) How is ice different than snow?

: There is evidence that climate change is causing glaciers around the world to shrink. How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate explains this and other climate changes for older elementary students.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-4)
Reading and Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7, 4.7, 5.7)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-5)
Earth and Space Science
2.A: Earth’s Materials and Systems
2.C: The Role of Water in Surface Processes

Coming Soon: National Wildlife Week

National Wildlife Week
, an event sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, is March 9-15.

Prep your students for a week of awareness about wildlife using  the book Lifetimes.

The book presents 24 “lifetimes.” Beginning with “A lifetime for a mayfly is about one day” and including a lifetime for an earthworm is about six years, for a giant sequoia is about 2,000 years, and for the universe is about 15 to 20 billion years.

LESSON PLAN: Same/Different
After reading about chimpanzees, students list similarities and differences between chimps and humans. They then expand the concept to other objects, both natural and man-made.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3

  • The book, Lifetimes, written by teacher David Rice
  • Paper and pencil for each student
  1. Read aloud Lifetimes. Then read again the page about chimpanzees.
  2. As a class, list the characteristics of chimps based on the information in the book. Add information they may know from other sources. Then list some of the  characteristics of humans.
  3. Using the lists as a starting point, ask students to identify similarities between chimps and humans by making statements that begin with the word “both.” For example: Both chimps and humans can learn to use tools. Both have forward facing eyes. Both are carried by their mothers when they are young.
  4. Have students state differences following these examples: A chimp usually sleeps in a tree, and a human usually sleeps in a bed.  A chimp doesn’t wear clothes, and a human usually wears some type of clothing.
  5. After compiling a long list, divide the class into small groups of 3-5 students and have them list similarities and differences for the “Other Pairs” (below). After about 15 minutes, have students choose their best ideas and share them with the whole class.
Other Pairs: submarine-fish, window-mirror, blade of grass-fully grown tree, sun-lamp, hand-foot, sky-ocean, orange-apple, lake-puddle, flashlight-candle, table-chair

Each plant or animal in the book is practically a lesson plan in itself, with “tell about it,” “think about it,” and “look it up” challenges.

Common Core ELA Standards (K-3)
Reading Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details: K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1; K.3, 1.3, 2.3, 3.3
Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration: K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI)
Life Sciences:
LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
Ls1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
LS1.D: Information Processing


Where Does the Snow Go?

Most of North America is experiencing dramatic weather—snow, rain, sleet, or drought. That makes this a perfect time to study the WATER CYCLE.


Pitter and Patter are two drops of rain that fall from a cloud and take different routes as they travel through the water cycle. In this activity, students listen to a read-aloud of the book Pitter and Patter, and then write their own creative story about one of Pitter and Patter’s friends, called PLOP—either a snowflake or another raindrop. Students’ stories should answer the question, “Where does the snow (or rain) go?”

It’s easy to expand your lesson using the additional information and activities from the back of the book about states of matter, watershedshabitats, and human impacts.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3



  1. Read aloud the story about Pitter and Patter.
  2. Referring to the two pages in the book titled “Explore More—For Kids,” review Pitter and Patter’s journey through the water cycle beginning and ending with the gray cloud.
  3. Using the Pitter, Patter, and PLOP handout, instruct students to write a story about Pitter and Patter’s friend PLOP! The reverse side of the handout can be used for an illustration. Younger students can begin with the illustration and add a short narrative.
  4. Invite children to share their finished stories with the class or in small groups.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)

  • Reading: Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
  • Writing: Text Types and Purposes (K.3, 1.3, 2.3, 3.3)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)

  • PS1: Matter and Interactions—A: Structure and Properties of Matter; B: Chemical Reactions
  • ESS2: Earth’s Systems—C: The Roles of Water in the Earth’s Surface Processes
  • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics—A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Pitter and Patter meet lots of fun critters during their water cycle journey…here are a couple of them:


Over on a Mountain

You can easily integrate science into different subject areas using cross-curricular activities. The following lesson connects language arts and life science, with some geography added through illustrations.

Animal Actions

Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World introduces children to various mountain animals and the continent where they live. In this activity, students match mountain animals with their behaviors.

[This lesson is also available as pdf download.]

Suggested Grade Level: K-3

Materials Needed
  1. Give a bookmark to each student. Read aloud Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World, ending after you read the page about the penguin.
  2. Ask children, “What actions to do remember the animals doing?” Tell them they can use their bookmarks as clues. Listen to responses, but don’t comment on accuracy.
  3. Tell students you’re going to reread the part of each verse that describes the animal actions. These actions describe their behavior. Invite them to listen carefully to the words that describe what the animal is doing. When they hear the behavior of “their” animal, they should hold up their bookmark. (Action words/verbs: roll, eat, climb, sleep, forage, leap, soar, pounce, huddle, and waddle.)
  4. Then reread the book from the beginning, but this time only read the second verses and don’t show the illustrations. For example, on the first page you would read, “Roll said the mother. I roll, said the one. So they rolled in the dirt, grazing in the morning sun.”
  5. Ask students why the animals behaved as they did. Find out by reading the additional information about each animal in the back pages of the book.

Optional extension activities

  • Younger children can sing the song “Over in a Mountain” to the tune of “Over in the Meadow,” acting out the animals’ behaviors.
  • Older children can list one or more synonyms for each of the action words. For example, soar=fly, sleep=nap, leap=jump. This would be a good opportunity to introduce an age-appropriate dictionary or thesaurus. Ask students, “What reasons do you think the author had for choosing the words she did?”

Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
Reading: Informational Text
~Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 2.1, 3.1)
~Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
~LS1: From Molecules to Organisms:
   A. Structures and Processes
   B. Growth and Development of Organisms
   D. Information Processing
~LS3: Heredity:
   A. Inheritance of Traits


Noisy Birds in Your Backyard

NBIRD_COVER2Whether you live in the city, suburbs, or rural area, birds are some of the most common wildlife you’re likely to see…and hear! So common, in fact, it’s easy to take them for granted.

The following lesson brings birds into focus for you and your students.

This lesson is a perfect tie-in to The Great Backyard Bird 2015GBBC_ChickadeeFlyer-231x300Count, a world-wide citizen science project. Next weekend, Feb. 13-16, people from 135 countries will be counting the birds they see in their own backyards and neighborhoods. The data they post online will be compiled by scientists to create a “real time snapshot” of birds in the world.

Even if you don’t participate in the GBBC, Noisy Bird Sing-Along will engage your students and get them interested in birds.

LESSON PLAN: Gotta Have a Habitat
In this activity, students use the book Noisy Bird Sing-Along to learn about 12 common birds. In addition to illustrating bird sounds, readers learn the basic habitat requirements of birds. They then go outside to discover what bird habitat is available on their school grounds.
Note: This lesson is available as a pdf on the Dawn Publications website. 

Suggested Grade Level: K-3

~The book Noisy Bird Sing-Along
~Habitat chart to write on board (click here and scroll down the page for the chart)
~Map of school grounds, one per pair of students

Teacher Prep
~Draw a simple map of the school grounds that shows the building(s) and roads. Make copies.

  1. Read aloud Noisy Bird Sing-Along. Students will have fun making the noises for each bird!
  2. Ask: “What do birds need to survive?” List their responses on the board.
  3. Then group their responses into four categories: food, water, cover (shelter) and space. “Cover” includes nesting areas, places to sleep or rest, and places to hide or escape. “Space” includes the amount and kind of area needed to hunt, feed, and live as well as migration routes. Tell students that a “habitat” is a place that gives birds these four things that birds need to in order to survive.
  4. Read aloud Noisy Bird Sing-Along again, having students listen for the four components of a habitat. Also look at the illustrations for habitat information. After reading each page, fill in as many categories as possible on the chart. Read additional info about each bird from the back of the book  (also available here) and add to the chart. Compare the kinds of food, cover, and space each bird needs.
  5. Divide the class into pairs. Give each pair a map and pencils. Have students spread out around the school grounds to draw on the map any sources of food, water, cover, or space for birds.
  6. Back inside, have students compare their maps. Ask students what kinds of birds might be attracted to the school grounds. Ask if there is anything they could do to make their school grounds a better habitat for birds. Follow through by doing as many habitat habitat suggestions as possible.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
Reading: Informational Text
~ Craft and Structure (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1)
~ Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
~ A: Structure and Function
~ B: Growth and Development of Organisms
~ C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
~ D: Information Processing
LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
~D: Biodiversity and Humans
ESS3: Earth’s Systems
~ A: Natural Resources

PenWoodpecker-iab-228x300 This lesson is adapted from Bird Sleuth’s Feathered Friends Activities, a collection of monthly lessons about birds. You can download an entire year of activities.

The title of this lesson is from a fun and lively song by the Banana Slug String Band.

Echoes Show the Way

A baby was born to J-pod—an endangered family of orcas (killer whales) that live in the San Juan Islands. They’re regularly seen in the waters between Seattle, WA, and Vancouver, BC.

The oldest member of the family is 103 years old! As the matriarch, people have named her “Granny” and her 78-member family is “Granny’s Clan.”
Read more about the birth.

Orcas travel with their families in a dark undersea world. Like other dolphins, orcas use sounds to navigate, find food, communicate, and stay together.
They use a special adaptation called echolocation to “see” with sounds. Interestingly, there have been recent news reports that humans can develop the ability to use echolocation, too.Read more.

Echoes Show the Way
In this activity, students simulate echolocation as they role-play “seeing with sounds” to find food and avoid obstacles in the ocean’s darkness. This activity is adapted from the author’s set of lessons on titled Seeing with Sounds.

Suggested Grade Level: K-4

Depending on the size of your class, write names on cards: at least one orca, a few salmon, a few rocks, many ocean

  1. Read aloud the book Granny’s Clan. You may ask questions such as: How does echolocation help orcas survive in a dark underwater environment? How do orcas “see with sounds?” Why is echolocation more effective than orca
    eyesight in locating fish in dark waters?
  2. Have students draw a card to determine their roles for the game. Have students tape their cards on the front of their shirts.
  3. Explain that the object of the activity is for the blindfolded “orca” to use echolocation to find the “salmon” while avoiding the “rocks.” When the orca tags a salmon by touching it, the salmon is caught and leaves the ocean circle.
  4. Begin by having the “ocean” students form a large circle. The ocean boundary keeps the orca inside. Blindfold the orca and ask him/her to wait outside ocean circle. Have the rocks stand, sit, or lay inside circle. Have the salmon walk slowly inside circle. Give the orca a clicker and guide him/her into the center of the ocean circle.
  5. Explain that the orca will use the clicker to discover what’s in its path. Each time the orca clicks, the salmon immediately reply by saying “salmon,” and the rocks immediately reply “rock.” Instruct the orca to find the salmon and avoid the rocks by listening to the sounds of their voices. If the orca bumps against the rock, it considered an injury. When the orca has 3 injuries, it dies and must leave the center of the circle and become part of the ocean. Choose a new orca and continue play.
  6. After all of the salmon are tagged, switch roles and repeat the activity, allowing students to play different roles.
  7. Debrief the activity by asking the following questions: Was it hard to find your way and locate objects without your eyesight? Why? Was it easier to catch salmon with several orcas? What different ways do humans see in the
    dark? How would your life be different if you had to use sound echoes to navigate?
Additional Tips:
  • After reading aloud the story, read or paraphrase some of the “Dive Deeper” information at the end of the story. 
  • Rather than having students draw their own cards, you may assign roles, especially for the orcas.
  • Some young children may be afraid to be blindfolded. If so, have them play the role of the ocean or tie the blindfold so that they can slightly see underneath it.
  • This activity is meant to be fast-paced. If the energy lags, you may choose additional students to be orcas (like the members of Granny’s Clan) and have them enter circle. 
  • Play a practice round first to give the salmon and rocks a feel for how immediate their responses need to be.
  • For very young children it’s often more exciting to have an adult play the role of the orca.
  • Older children will also enjoy this game. I’ve used a variation with 7th-8th graders.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-4)

  • Reading and Literature: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1)

Next Generation Science Standards (K-4)

  • LS1.A: Structure and Function
  • LS1C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • LS1.D: Information Processing
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
  • LS4.D: Biological Evolution


Forest Bright, Forest Night

It’s nighttime in the forest, but not all animals are asleep.  “Sun sinks, moon winks. Hello, forest night…Yip and yowl, foxes prowl.”

But when the “Moon goes down, sun grows round. Hello, forest day…Whittle and rap, woodpeckers tap.”

The book Forest Bright, Forest Night introduces children to animal behavior through catchy rhymes.
The book’s illustrations dramatically show the difference between day and night as reader actually FLIPS the book over—one way shows day, the other way shows night.

LESSON PLAN: Classify It!
In this lesson children first classify animals by their sleeping habits: nocturnal (awake at night) and diurnal (awake during the day). Then children sort ALL of the animals according to their family: mammal, bird, reptile, insect, or amphibian.

Suggested Grade Level: K-2rf

  • A copy of the book, Forest Bright, Forest Night
  • Chart/butcher paper or chalk board/white board with the headings: mammal, bird, fish, insect, amphibian, reptile
  1. Tell students that scientists often group objects, plants and animals by common characteristics so they can be more easily studied and understood.
  2. Show students the cover of the book Forest Bright, Forest Night. Discuss the title and the animals.
  3. Read the story aloud and ask children to identify the waking and sleeping animals on each page.
  4. After reading the story, refer to the chart created on butcher paper with the headings: mammal, bird, fish, insect, amphibian, reptile.
  5. Explain that each category has certain characteristics. Mammals have fur. Birds have feathers and beaks. Reptiles have scales. Insects have six legs. Fish live under water and have gills. Amphibians live near water and have moist skin.
  6. Go through the pages of Forest Bright, Forest Night a second time, and classify each animal in the book by the characteristics above.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-2)

  • Reading and Literature: Key Ideas and Details (K.3, 1.3, 2.3); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7)

Next Generation Science Standards (K-2)

  • LS1.D: Information Processing
  • LS4.D: Biological Evolution
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.


I Have a Dream


Martin Luther King’s hopes and dreams extended to the environment. As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated:
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in addition to his many other achievements, helped ‘plant the seeds’ for what would become our nation’s now-thriving ‘environmental justice movement.'”

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.
—   Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can help your students feel a connection with all of life by getting them outside. It’s easy when you use the National Wildlife Federation’s 26 activities that will get kids outside. Most of these activities can be done at both school or home. There’s one idea for each letter of the alphabet; for example, “A” is for “Animal Homes.” Below is the activity that’s just perfect for our cold outside temperatures.

“F” is for “Frozen Frosty Ornaments.”
Some of the treasures inside will make tasty treats for the birds in your neighborhood. Use this activity as a follow up to Baby It’s Cold Outside about animal adaptation.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3


  • small baking molds or muffin pans
  • Evergreen leaves, seedpods, acorns, berries, or any other objects from nature
  • Ribbon
  • Water
1. Go outside for a winter walk and gather nature items.
2. Arrange the collected objects inside the molds or muffin pan. You can also add fruit slices, sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried corn kernels to your ornaments. Pour water over them.
3. Add Ribbon for the hangers by placing the ends of a strip of ribbon in the water in each mold.
4. Take outside the molds outside to freeze. (If the temperature is above 32°F, put them in your freezer instead.)
5. After the water has frozen, remove the ornaments from the molds. (If they won’t come out easily, run some warm water over the bottom to loosen.)
6. Hang the ornaments outside on tree branches.

*This activity originally appeared in the December/January 2012 issue of Ranger Rick magazine.

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)

LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: (A) Structures and Processes; (B) Growth and Development of Organisms
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity: Natural Resources

subscribe ABOUT ME
Carol I believe in making all kinds of connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I’ve been an elementary, middle school, and high school teacher, and founder of two alternative high schools. For eight years I was instructional designer for Performance Learning Systems. I’ve authored all of Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides and written books for children 4-14 years old.
How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science
Dawn Publications
Common Core State Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
National Science Teachers Association
Picture Perfect Science
Dawn Publications
Children and Nature Network
Sharing Nature Worldwide
Roots and Shoots
Audubon Adventures
Journey North: Citizen Science