Students will become researchers and scientists as they learn about animal adaptations with owls.
- Learn about adaptations of owls through the analysis of an owl pellet
- Paper plates, one per student
- Owl Pellet Investigation Packet printable
- Rulers, one per pair of students
- Medium-sized owl pellets, one per pair of students plus one for your demonstration (Note: I purchase these via Pellets Inc.)
- 8- by 11-inch Black construction paper, one sheet per student
- Optional: Journal Keeping: A Worksheet for Bird Watching printable
- If you haven't already, have a class discussion about owl pellets and their purpose.
- Label paper plates with students' names.
- Make a class set, plus one extra, of the Owl Pellet Investigation Packet printable.
- Optional: If you want students to try "owling" at home (see Home Connections below), make a class set (or more) of the Journal Keeping: A Worksheet for Bird Watching printable.
Step 1: Review the purpose of an owl's adaptation of creating owl pellets.
Step 2: Review and model various body parts with students by pointing to body parts on students' bodies.
Step 3: Distribute and review the Owl Pellet Investigation Packet printable with students.
Step 4: Ask students to predict what they will find inside their pellet. Have them record their predictions on page 1 of the Owl Pellet Investigation Packet.
Step 5: Have students gather around you for a demonstration. First model how to measure the length and width of a pellet. Show students where they will record this information in their Owl Pellet Investigation Packet.
Step 6: Model how to carefully separate the fur from the bones using toothpicks. Explain that students will be identifying and recording the bones that they find.
Step 7: Send students back to their desks and hand each pair of students one owl pellet, two paper plates, and several toothpicks. Monitor them as they measure and separate the owl pellets on the paper plates.
Step 8: After students have separated the bones from the fur, help them separate the bones into the categories listed in the Owl Pellet Investigation Packet and record the number of each type of bone.
Step 9: Once students record the types and numbers of bones found in their pellets, hand out the black construction paper and have students use the bones to recreate a skeleton based on the diagram included in the Owl Pellet Investigation Packet printable.
Step 10: You should approve the layout of each students' skeleton before instructing students to glue the recreation onto the black construction paper.
Step 11: Have students wash their hands and complete the remaining pages of the 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. If you'd like, distribute copies of the Journal Keeping: A Worksheet for Bird Watching printable for students to fill out during their observation sessions.
- Each student completes an Owl Pellet Investigation Packet
- Each student completes an 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?