One of my favorite units to teach is my owl unit. My students become fascinated with “all things owls” and I use it as a great introduction to nonfiction reading and informational texts. During my student teaching year, I decided to dissect owl pellets with my first graders as an end-of-unit project. I remember one of my supervisors being a bit apprehensive about doing such an ambitious science experiment with a group of six year olds! However, I knew it would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to the process of an experiment and allow them to really understand what it means to observe and draw a conclusion. They love it and I’ve been doing it every year since! 🙂
Before we dissect our owl pellets, we read lots of nonfiction books on owls and discuss nonfiction text features. We learn that they swallow their food whole, the body parts they use to adapt for survival, and their basic needs. Using our prior knowledge we formed a hypothesis about what we think our owls ate. Then, we use our observations to draw a conclusion after we dissect the owl pellet.
We were very serious scientists during our experiment! 😉
We learned how to use our tools safely and correctly.
We worked carefully and cooperatively with our lab partners as we dissected the owl pellet and completed our science lab report along the way.
After the experiment, we matched the bones up with pictures of common prey. We used what we learned about owls to draw the conclusion that our owls ate mice because our bones matched many of the bones on this poster.
Here is a picture of some of bones we found in our owl pellets!
Below is a copy of the owl pellet lab report I use with my students. You can grab it for free by clicking the picture below and downloading it from Google Docs. It is a two-sided lab report.
If you are interested in dissecting owl pellets with your students, I purchase my owl pellets from a company called Owl Brand Discovery Kits. I purchase one pellet for every two students (they work in partners) and it costs me less than 20 bucks. This is not bad, considering they send you posters, tools, and will deliver the pellets right to your school. 🙂 It is well worth the excitement and love of science that my students gain from this experience every year.
I hope you enjoyed “touring” our science experiment! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit!