By Holly Giles
This is the last lesson in the Exploring Autumn Series. I thought we would end with a few awesome hands on activities. The weather should be turning to make nature walks pleasant. This week be on the look out for owl pellets when you take a walk or look around in your own backyard. Next, we will make a hoot of a craft that makes perfect gifts for friends and family. Then, I will share a new cookie recipe I found that was a hit with the science co-op kids. Last is a podcast with my friend Cheryl Bastian. She is a homeschool mother of eight children ranging from 18 months to 27 years! I asked her to share how to simplify our homeschool during the holiday season. I also threw in another book list to get you through Thanksgiving!
Dissecting owl pellets is a science experiment that is either super cool or grosses you out. In my experience, kids start off not wanting to dig into the gray, furry ball. However after they find the first bone, it’s all hands on deck. Grayson and Grant show you the bones they found in a pellet we discovered in our back yard in the video above.
Owls digest all of their prey except, fur, bones and teeth. They cough up those items in a tight oval wad called a pellet. Generally, you can look under large tree limbs where owls might have been during the night and if you are paying attention, you can find pellets.
You can also order owl pellets for dissection and I have put a link in the resources below where we have ordered before. Many companies will also buy owl pellets from people who collect them. Might be a new job for one of your children that likes to hunt for them. I have put a link to the bone chart that we used in our experiment in the resources too. Have fun!
Making crafts out of nature finds is another way to expose your children to the wonders of nature. Touching, bending, examining and smelling found objects draws out curiosity for other things. This craft uses wood discs cut from branches. Ours were about 2 inches but any size will do. If your family is not handy with a saw and sandpaper. You can also buy discs or cork discs at your local craft store. We made one with two wood discs, one with one wood disc and one cork to show you how to vary the results. Items you will need to complete this project:
Wood burning is a wonderful project for children to learn hand eye coordination, fine motor skills and movement. This is not a toy. It is hot and will burn your skin. We have been working with a wood burner since my boys were as young as 8. Adult supervision is required. You know your children best if they can handle working with this tool safely. Wood burning can create many wonderful crafts on a variety of surfaces. You can get one at a local craft store and for under twenty dollars with a coupon. Learning how to use it on different kinds of wood is a great skill. We used the burner on the cork discs as well. Markers and colored pencils will do the trick if you do not want to use a wood burner.
What other animals could you create with your discs?
This recipe intrigued me because I love pumpkin, but in a cookie? Yes, they are delicious and you can change the flavor with a few ingredients. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, however I added raisins instead. My sister in law thought adding butterscotch chips along with the raisins might give it another great flavor. I will leave it up to you. Get your kids in the kitchen this week and cook up some yummy cookies. A printable recipe is below in the resources.
Cheryl Bastian is a mother of eight, author of seven books, mentor to moms, and organizes a website of resources to calms the fears of homeschool moms at every stage of motherhood, cradle to shingle. Cheryl speaks and writes from twenty-three years of experience, is a proponent of living books, and an encourager of a learning lifestyle. In this podcast, she shares a few tips on simplifying our homes during the upcoming holiday season. Printable show notes and her book list is in the resources section below. In addition, here are a few links to posts we talked about during our visit.
Owl Pellet Bone Chart
Home Science Tools Owl Pellet Kit
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Fall Book List Two from Holly
Chery Bastian's book list broken into age groups
Show notes with Cheryl Bastian