Sorry for the play on words. I just couldn't help myself. This past week we completed our GEMS: Tree Homes unit and learned quite a bit about owls, so I thought I'd share some of our adventures.
We learned about some basic anatomy of owls and then did a science activity to reinforce the new knowledge. Note: I am not calling this an art project. The goal of the activity is to explore the newly learned knowledge: an owl has a main body, two eyes, two tufts of feathers on top of their heads, a beak, two wings, and two legs.
The children began assembling their own owl and though it was a science lesson, each child's individuality came through.
I love how each of them have the same basic body parts, yet each are uniquely created.
The next day each child had the opportunity to create their own owl nest complete with straw and two eggs.
The excess centers that had been cut out for the nests, were placed in the art area. It wasn't long before the kiddos discovered them and decided to make more owls. LOVE IT!
I always try to include photos and video clips to enhance our learning, especially if it's about something that I couldn't bring into the classroom. My instructional assistant, Ms. Deana was sent this photo and shared it with me. I thought it was perfect to share as we were learning about owls, eggs, and owlets.
This image was also sent to me, but I don't recall the original source or would give credit to them. I showed it to the kids on my iPad as we were dismissing to go outside. Look carefully. Talk about amazing camouflage! What a great example of camouflage to share with the kids.
Owls swallow their food whole, but they aren't able to digest the fur, feathers, and bones. These things are thrown back up, similar to a cat throwing up furballs. It's in a compacted mass called an owl pellet. (this owl pellet was sterilized prior to dissecting) The children watched as I began breaking apart the owl pellet. We discovered lots of fur and lots of bones. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see jawbones and sharp front teeth among other bones.
We were able to view the chart above to determine the types of bones we were discovering. By our count, the owl dinner consisted of several rodents.
We also learned about opossums and how they would "play dead" when a predator, like an owl would come after them. We role-played the scenario. I was the owl and they were all opossums.
The activity continued outside as the kids took turns being the owl and "playing opossum".
Early the week before, we constructed our "tree", complete with a paint job and adding our leaves to it. Each day we learned about more animals that use trees for their homes and then would re-enact the scenarios with our stuffed animals.
I found a really cool activity for making an owl out of pine cones and thought we'd give it a try. Not originally being from California, I didn't realize that all the pine cones in our area were really prickly. My amazing staff were willing to help make my dream become a reality as they divided up the pine cones for our 23 kiddos and used nail clippers to snip off the prickly parts. The photo above is the provocation for the activity. The original activity that inspired this can be found at http://artexperiencesfortots.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/this-is-a-craft-snowy-owl/
Each child chose a pine cone, then began filling in the spaces with pieces of cotton balls. Each child then chose googly eyes from the variety of choices we possess and those and wings were attached to them.
They turned out so cute and it was a great fine motor activity as they had to push the cotton in to make it stay in the grooves.
We then placed a variety of leaves and some images of art created using leaves on the table for inspiration. This friend chose to create her version of an owl after viewing the images.
Children love nature and though we aren't able to bring a live owl into the classroom, we are able to help them learn about the animal through information, images, and lots of hands-on activities.