Owl Pellet dissections can be a fun science activity for people of many ages. We provide these generalizations as guidelines about what children at different ages might do while exploring Owl Pellet at the Discovery Center’s Experiment Station, in the kitchen at home, or at school. Listed below are science and technology process skills that children may be practicing during their explorations. Please remember: each child develops at a different rate, so some children in each age group may be able to do some of the things described in the age group before or after their own.
Preschoolers can sort the bones into piles based on their shape and size. Grown-ups can help by asking children to describe why they grouped the bones the way that they did.
Preschoolers may enjoy looking at their owl pellet very closely (e.g. with a magnifying lens or microscope) and they can try to match their bones to the pictures on an owl pellet identification chart. However, preschoolers are still learning about three dimensional rotation, and may need help from a grown-up to flip, or turn, a bone so that it matches up with the picture.
Preschoolers can draw pictures of what they find in the owl pellet, and imagine what the animal the bones belong to may have looked like.
Preschoolers can think about whether they have any bones in their body that are similar to the bones found in a pellet. Preschoolers can think about (and act out) what it would be like if they didn't have any bones in their bodies.
Elementary aged children can try to articulate (put together) a skeleton using the bones they find in a pellet.
They can try fitting the different bones together- placing a femur into a hip socket, for instance.
Preschoolers can observe broad similarities between different bones that they find in an owl pellet. Preschoolers may be able to identify where some of the major bones that they find (like the skull) are located in the body.
Preschoolers can count the bones that they found in their owl pellet, usually up to 10 or so. Preschoolers can notice bones that are similar in shape and size, and try to match these to a bone identification chart. Grownups can help pre-schoolers build their vocabulary by encouraging them to use describing words (like "long", "skinny", bumpy", "fuzzy", etc.) to describe the bones or other materials that they find.