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Elementary Science

2nd Graders-Animals (Owl Pellets)

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Amy Casey Amy Casey 2360 Points

This past week I worked with the 2nd graders and shared background information about owls. Environmental Science Scipack was helpful in teaching the lesson. We went over the scientific method and we posed a question of "What do owls eat?". The students did pretty good with developing their hypothesis. Thanks for the advise. When I passed out the owl pellets,the students said "grosss". But I encouraged them to say "that is interesting" instead =). When the students found the bones and matched them with the chart, they were so excited. Science is "FUN"! Thanks for your tips and advise.

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25635 Points

Dissecting owl pellets is one of my favorite activities. There are a lot of resources out there related to owl pellet dissection including a Virtual Dissection.

There's a neat-looking ipad app from Carolina Biological for older students called Owl Pellet

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Patricia, I had never seen the virutal owl pellet site before. I do owl pellets with students and appreciate you sharing this with us.

Whitney Aragaki Whitney Aragaki 2490 Points

Amy, I think that it is great that you are introducing the owl pellet lab to the students as early as 2nd grade. In Hawaii, students do not usually do the owl pellet lab because owls are not often seen, unlike on the continent. I teach AP Environmental Science, and only a handful of students had done this activity before high school. At the high school level, I expect them to do a lot of mathematical calculations of energy productivity with the owl pellet lab. At the elementary level, it would be really great if teachers not only did the owl pellet lab for "what do owls eat?", but also drew the connection to food webs and food chains. It may be interesting for them to compare and contrast webs and chains, or the different skulls in the different pellets and draw conclusions about the amount of food an owl eats in a day.

Alia Aliahmed Alia Aliahmed 20 Points

I am a second grade teacher. I would like to do the owl pellet experiment with my class but wondering where would be a good site to buy the owl pellets. Any ideas or suggestion!?!

Whitney Aragaki Whitney Aragaki 2490 Points

Hi Alia, Here is a good website for purchasing: They are fast and friendly, and they take both credit card and POs. Makes it really easy. It's also cheaper than a lot of the other science purchasing sites. If you order the class kit, you get all the tools to implement the activity as well!

Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

Hi Whitney, Thanks for sharing your ideas for where to buy the owl pellets and suggestions for introducing the owl pellet lab in elementary to help prepare our kiddos for secondary. I think it's awesome when teachers at different levels work together to make sure we teach the skills and concepts in elementary schools that help make successful science learners at the secondary level. Do you have any other ideas or suggestions for elementary teachers to help prepare students for middle and high school science? Thanks, Maureen

Kathy Sparrow Kathy Sparrow 47692 Points

I have my pre-service elementary teachers do an owl pellet dissection in my science methods course. They complete the virtual owl pellet dissection (the same one Patricia referenced) first and have to bring in the certificate as evidence that they completed the online dissection. Then they do a real dissection in class working in small groups. A few of the students remember when they did the owl pellet dissection when they were in elementary school. I think it is a good hands-on activity for my students to have experienced. Kathy

Kelly Asato Kelly Asato 3820 Points

I have taught owl pellet dissections with my fourth graders. They loved assembling the bones of eaten/ digested animals. Referring to food webs/ food chains and the dependence of plants and animals upon each other is a great way to review what was learned in previous grade levels. I teach second grade now and haven't tried owl pellets with the students, but it is a great idea that I wouldn't mind trying. One piece of advice is making sure that you have consent or information about student allergies before conducting the experiment. I remember when I first did this experiment, I had a couple of students who reacted to the animals' hair.

Brenda Piccone Brenda Piccone 3470 Points

I think it is a great activity to do in our classrooms. I was in Dr. Sparrow's pre-service class and I will never forget dissecting the pellet. Anything that is hands on will be easier to remember and enjoy than reading about it or any non-hands-on activity. Hey we enjoyed it and we are college students :)

Brenda Piccone Brenda Piccone 3470 Points

I think it is a great activity to do in our classrooms. I was in Dr. Sparrow's pre-service class and I will never forget dissecting the pellet. Anything that is hands on will be easier to remember and enjoy than reading about it or any non-hands-on activity. Hey we enjoyed it and we are college students :)

Ashley Taylor Ashley Taylor 4065 Points

Hi! I did the owl pellet activity in Dr. Sparrow’s class for my bachelors degree in Elementary education and I really enjoyed doing it. It was a fun and hands on way to learn about the digestion and eating habits of an owl. When we first did it in my class allot of my classmates were grossed out by the whole ordeal but as they got more involved they actually started to really enjoy it and appreciated the experience. I hope that when I finally get into the classroom I will be able to do this activity as well.

Jacob Germain Jacob Germain 495 Points

Amy, I think owl pellets are a really cool way to engage students. I can remember looking for small bones even when I was in grade school! My brother (in 6th grade) actually brought home a full skeleton of a mole that came from a single owl pellet! He worked cooperatively in a group with a few other students and the team had to pick apart the pellet and glue the bones in their appropriate places. Sheets of specific rodent bones were provided so students could determine specifically which rodent their owl ate. How cool is that? -Jake

Janelle Buttera Janelle Buttera 465 Points

How cool is the idea of owl pellets!!! I can remember many things from elementary school because of the real world, hands on experiences that the teacher brought to the classroom. We had silk worms, a tortoise in the classroom next door, and many other real animals. We studied them and that is when the information is retained.

Elena Snow Elena Snow 595 Points

I am a second grade teacher in Hawaii. Do you know if owl pellets will travel well if they are ordered? I remember when I had the opportunity to dissect them, it was eye-opening and was one reason I became so fascinated by nature. Such a cool, hands on activity :) - Elena

Sherrilyn Sampaia Sherrilyn Sampaia 550 Points

I remember disecting an owl pellent in elementary school. It's a great way to observe and match bones to an animal. It is also a great way to bring in math, by graphing the different animals the owl eats and then comparing the data. I have always wondered where I could find owl pellets. Is there a company or website to look for? Where can I find lesson plans or visuals to go with the owl pellets?

Samantha Breeden Samantha Breeden 1380 Points

I recently heard about using owl pellets in a lesson. I thought it was really gross. I never thought I'd be able to use it because I want to teach young grades (1-3). I'm really encouraged to hear that it went over so well in a 2nd grade lesson. I'm excited to be able to incorporate it into my own lessons one day. Thanks!!

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

I have had great success doing owl pellets with 4-6 grades. It is a good way to teach food chains. The Next Generation Science Standards calls for using the science and engineering practices with students and moving away from the old vocabulary of scientific method. I guess it is time for new beginnings. I hope the owl pellet invetigation goes well. KAthy

Wendy Ruchti Wendy Ruchti 24875 Points

I, too, have used owl pellets in both middle school and now with preservice teacher. I used the Picture Perfect Book Chapter "Mystery Pellets" to guide my teaching. You can find it in the Learning Center by searching "Mystery Pellets" or here is the link. NSTA also sells a "class pack with all the materials and the books to go with it.

Michelle Diosa Michelle Diosa 435 Points

I remember doing owl pellets in college. I find it awesome that you are introducing it early to your second graders. Its a great way to teach students the diet of owls.

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