Friday, May 4, 2012

Whoooooo Survived State Testing?

WE DID! Very glad to have state testing done, and now it is back to work.  Well, sort of.  We have four days of testing, with Friday free.  Each year, my collegues and I have always done owl pellet dissection on the Friday after testing.  This year was no different, and the kids loved it.

Remember my big yellow bulletin board that was a literacy bulletin board turned math bulletin board?  Well, today it turned science bulletin board and looked like this:
Full of bone charts!  We used these while dissecting our owl pellets.

We began by watching a Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs segment with Mike Rowe on how owl pellets are collected.  It's a pretty funny and informative intro to the activity that's only about ten minutes long.  Plus, the teacher gets to look at Mike Rowe for a bit! ;-)

For the activity, the kids get an owl pellet, two to a pellet, and then they take it apart while completing a lab sheet full of observations and questions.  The pellet below really freaked out a few of my friends as there was a big bone sticking out of it.
Here's one unwrapped.  A bit icky!  At least that is what many of my friends thought.
Notice anything funny about the lab sheet?
Yeah, I really do have to remind them to not taste the owl pellet.  For a group of kids who, every year are without fail a bit freaked out at the start of the activity, they quickly get so involved that this becomes a necessary reminder.

So, on to the dissecting!

Can I just take a moment here and point out how the day of an elementary school teacher is so varied?  Unlike middle school and high school where you generally stick to one subject, we elementary teachers have to do it all!  Before testing we were working on algabraic equations, formulas for volume, learning how to craft a five paragraph essay that has quality content and tension, and now today I'm knee deep in rodent bones!  No offense to my middle and high school teachers, but ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS ROCK!

After my friends had completed the lab, we had about an hour left until dismissal.  We used that time to make some teaching posters about owl pellets.  I gave my friends free reign.  The only rule was the poster had to TEACH something about owl pellets and not just look nice.  It was also a way for me to use up some very bright flourescent poster board I had.

All in all, I would say Owl Pellet Day was a great success.  One of my friends even wore this shirt today!
Sadly, this is the last year we will be doing them.  The unit it relates to in our science curriculum was deleted this year.  We were allowed to do the dissection because we had already ordered the pellets prior to knowing the curriculum was revised.  Now, we really focused on physical science. 

If you have an interest in owl pellets without the mess, there is a great site called Kid Wings that has virtual owl pellet dissections.  It begins with a great teaching lesson on owl pellets, an owls digestive track, and more.  Then it lets you dissect pellets from a variety of different types of owls.  It's fun without the funk!

So, what did you do today?


  1. How fun. I remember doing this in school. Have you read the book, Poppy? An owl is one of the main characters and owl pellets are discussed:-)

    Chickadee Jubilee

  2. Do you remember the name of the website you ordered these from? I can't seem to find one with the complete kit :(


    1. We order from the School Specialty catalog. This link will take you to their online site page for the pellets. They have student kits, posters, and pellets. It doesn't really link to it, you will have to copy and paste it in.

      This site is another where you can order owl pellets with specific remains (yuck!) like rabbit remains,squirrel remains, etc. I've not used them, but thought it was interesting.

  3. Do you have the printables available?

  4. Top 12 Fastest Bikes in The World Owning or riding a superfast motorcycle is the dream of many But the question arises that which bike would you buy if you have enough money in your bank