Dissecting Owl Pellets

When I was teaching 5th grade science, what seems like a lifetime ago, I taught a lesson on owl pellets. It was one of my favorite memories from teaching. When the parent of my daycare kids told me that she was doing an owl pellet lesson with her 6th graders, I told her that it was one of my favorite lessons. She was kind enough to bring Charlotte and me three of the pellets.

What is a pellet, you ask? Well, owls often swallow their food whole or in large pieces since they don't have teeth. During digestion, the bones and hair are separated from the usable food and regurgitated back up. This ball of hair and bones is an owl pellet. You can read more about them here as well as do a virtual dissection of an owl pellet but it's not nearly as cool as the real thing.

Charlotte was very excited about getting started. The pellets came wrapped in foil.

Armed with a wooden skewer, she pulled the hair away to reveal bones. We had a worksheet with the bone identification so we could try to match up where they belonged in the animal's body.
She was really good at it and loved trying to figure out what type of bone it was.

There were so many tiny bones in those 3 small pellets.

We glued them onto a piece of paper.

The bones of the skull and jaw were my favorite. If you click on the picture above, you can see the teeth of the animal on the jaw bones.
Not your average afternoon activity to do with your 5 year old daughter but we both had a great time and she learned a lot... an added bonus.