There are several owl pellet activities that can be done prior to, and after, the actual dissection of an owl pellet by a student. Depending on how these activities are approached, the activities can provide an excellent opportunity for all students at all grade levels to engage in hands-on, inquiry based learning in life science, using science as inquiry.
A pre-discussion on the subject should be done prior to the actual activities so students. Back ground information about birds of prey can be discussed which eventually leads to focus more on owls and owl pellets. Part of the discussion should include the use of pellets for scientific study of small mammals and their distribution, which helped map the areas occupied by certain small creatures that might otherwise have escaped detection.
As a pre-activity, groups of students can be asked to do a research on different kinds of owls like the Great-horned owl, barred owl, barn owl, and screech owl. In addition, familiarize students with the keywords such as carnivore, predator, prey, food chain, and food web. The research can be shared in class by the students themselves.
The most exciting and fun activity for most students is the actual owl dissection. Using owl pellet kits in the appropriate level for students will allow them hands-on understanding about the objective of the activity. Students can perform the dissection individually or they can be formed in groups of two’s or four’s. If they will be in groups, make sure everybody had a chance to perform every procedure.
As a post-activity, ask them to draw a food chain involving an owl and other birds of prey. Alternatively, you can also ask them to write a paragraph using the keywords, or have the read a book such as “The Owl in the Shower” which is a fictional story showing both sides of environmentalists and lumbering in the Northwest.
This can be used as a basis for a class debate sharing both views. Because owl pellet activities are mostly hands-on experiences, the percentage of retention is higher because the learning processes were fun.