Whoooo Dissected Owl Pellets?!

Let's begin this post with a little FYI about me, shall we? I am anything BUT a nature girl. I hate creepy crawlies, funky animal smells, and have this crazy phobia about the way that things feel. This summer, we went on a cruise and swam with the dolphins. Y'all, I was scared out of my mind! Not about the dolphin harming me in any way, but the anticipation of how it would feel freaked me out...completely! When I go to aquariums, I NEVER touch anything in the "petting" area! Seriously! Weird much? I totally am! I am okay with it! 

So, when I began making plans for our "On Safari" unit in third grade, I knew that I *really* wanted the kids to dissect owl pellets while learning about food chains and adaptations. As I was setting up the science lab for the kids, I became completely wigged out...again! I was hoping and praying that they would be able to do this dissection with an independent attitude because I was unsure of how much help I would be! Yes, Yes! I *know* I need to put on my big girl panties, and I totally did! All for the sake of the children...right?!? I am so glad that I put all fear behind, because this was such an amazing project for the kids, and they discovered and learned pretty much everything they needed to know about animals from this one activity. I love that learning is so easy if you find a way to get them excited about what they are doing! They turn into a giant sponge that soaks up every single detail and magically :) remember all of the important facts that they would have forgotten by simply reading a science book! That makes all of the time spent planning engaging activities well worth it! Alright enough babbling...onto our dissection! 

I set up our science lab for my future scientists. We had the goggles and all the "scientific" tools. We were the *real* deal. I tell you, it's the little things that make them completely giddy! They were thrilled beyond words when they entered their dissection lab. 

Since we have been working on our measurement skills, we began by choosing the best unit to measure the length and width of our owl pellet.

Then, it was time to break that bad boy open.

Conclusion: Owls are consumers...and carnivores! 

Their bone of choice...skulls!!!! You would have thought that these kids had landed a million dollar lottery ticket each time they discovered one. They did an amazing job during the dissection and were extra careful not to break any of their precious bones! This was spot on for my kiddos! They LOVED it! 

Owl Pellet...After Dissection! 

Today, it was time to analyze our findings. We sorted and classified each bone. 

Future scientist? I think so! 

This may have been the highlight of their scientific career! :0)

Now that we have drawn conclusions and collected facts and evidence, we will be channeling our inner news reporter side tomorrow. The kids are going LIVE from inside the pellet. We will be writing and producing a news report about owl pellets. Yes, we will have a fuzzy, feathery background filled with bones! They asked for a green screen...well...that's not in the school budget! :) More to come...

Happy Wednesday! 


  1. I am WITH YOU 100%, I am NOT a nature girl, either. BUT, this project will stick with those kiddos as a great 3rd grade memory! Nice job!

    Amy Howbert
    Little Miss Organized

  2. We do food chains in 4th grade here, and I would LOVE any info you can give me on getting my hands on some owl pellets!! (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little...) Please email me if you can with anything you can send my way!!
    ideas by jivey

  3. Owl pellets are one of my favorite activities each year. And, we're dissecting them in just a couple of weeks! Thanks for sharing!

    The Science Penguin

  4. ew! You know we dissected squids when I was in 4th grade and I actually did it. Never in a million years would I swim with dolphins! uck! I am such a toucher that the thought of a fish touching me is making me queasy right now. I guess if I'm in charge of the touching I'm ok!!

  5. Our 4th grade just did this and the teacher put all the "projects" that the students created (from what they found) on a table outside the room so the parents could see them at parent teacher conferences. I'm not sure I could do it!!! You are VERY brave!

    Literacy Without Worksheets

  6. You're very brave :) This looks like it was an amazing lesson and I am sure it will be something your kids always remember!!

  7. Oh my gosh, how fun!! I have been wanting to order owl pellets to dissect this year, and you just convinced me that I have to! Where did you get yours from? They look huge!

    Lessons with Laughter

  8. I am the biggest nature girl, sciencehead but I have to admit - owl pellets can be pretty gross! I have used Perfect Pellets in the past (synthetic owl pellets!) which has cut down on the gross factor a bit. I love that you did this with your kids, it is so great to see them doing science rather than just reading about science from a text book! I'm sure they loved it!!
    Science for Kids Blog

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  10. The kids look like they are having a blast!!! I think I might need gloves to do this project.

    Granny Goes to School

  11. We dissected owl pellets one year when I taught 4th grade, but it was because someone came from a science center and did it with them. I was grossed out by the idea, but the kids LOVED the activity. I never realized I could actually get my hands on some owl pellets to do the activity without someone else leading.

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  12. I shared these pictures with my students today, and their first question was "did the kids wash their hands"?

  13. Are you planning to add this section in your On Safari: An Animal Science Unit? Not gonna lie, I would love it if you did! I have your unit and would love to do this with my students. Can I get the bones worksheet I see in the pictures? Thanks Holly! Love your stuff!

  14. I remember doing that back when I was in 4th grade! Loved it! Great activity! :)

    Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

  15. Where did you get the recording sheet? Or did you make it?

    I love it!!

  16. Hi Hope! What did you use to do the owl pellet news reports and feathery background? We just got some more iPads and I would love to do that with my class!

    Thanks so much!
    Lessons with Laughter

  17. After searching I finally found a link for the bone classification sheet.