Discussion and Dissection of an Owl Pellet
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
As the culminating activity of this thematic lesson on owls, students play the role of scientists and researchers by carefully dissecting, accurately measuring, and predicting the contents of owl pellets.
Students will understand the adaptations of owls through the analysis of an owl pellet.
- 20 paper plates
- Black construction paper
- 1 medium sized owl pellet per partners (note: I purchase these via Pellets Inc.)
- Owl Investigation Sheets (PDF)
- Journal Keeping (PDF)
- Owl books
Set Up and Prepare
- Read books about owls
- Label paper plates with students' names
- Prepare students with a discussion of owl pellets
- Print out bone charts and investigation sheets
- Review the purpose of an owl's adaptation of creating owl pellets.
- Review and model various body parts with students by pointing to body parts on students' bodies.
- Review the investigation packet with the students.
- Model how to measure the length and width of a pellet.
- Ask students to predict what they will find inside their pellet.
- Model how to carefully separate the fur from the bones using the toothpick.
- After students have separated the bones from the fur, students will separate the bones into categories and record.
- Students use bones to create a skeleton and glue onto the black construction paper.
- Students complete investigation packet.
Supporting All Learners
Modeling the body parts prior to dissecting the owl pellet helps students associate the animal body parts with their own body parts. Tape an enlarged owl photo to the board with labeled body parts. Modeling the measurement of length and width helps students understand the measurement directions.
- Students can compare the skeletal structure of the animals in the owl pellet to the skeletal structure of another animal.
- Students can research the bones of the human body.
- Students can create a skeletal diagram of the bones in the human body.
Students can recreate the experience of "owling" - going on a hunt looking for owls. They can observe birds in their neighborhood and record a journal of their observations.
- Students turn in completed packet.
- Students turn in completed owl pellet skeletal structure.
- Was the activity too difficult for some students?
- Were the students adequately prepared with the body vocabulary?
- Was enough time provided for the students to dissect the pellet?
- Did students understand the adaptation of owls creating owl pellets?
- Was the owl pellet constructed correctly?
- Did the students complete the owl pellet investigation packet correctly?