Homeschool Science Idea: Studying Owl Pellets

We have been enjoying several career-based unit studies for all of my children to do together this year, and one of them suggested that we study owl pellets as part of the career study of becoming a veterinarian.  I had always heard about owl pellet studies, but didn't know if it would be too messy or even appropriate for all of my children. (Owl pellets, in case you didn't know, are the regurgitated remains of the small animals that owls eat.  The ones we purchased were heat sanitized to prevent germs.)

We purchased a reasonable kit with 3 pellets on  The kit included a study guide about owls and their prey, a bone identification chart, a magnifying glass, tweezers, a wooden pick, and the 3 foil-wrapped pellets.  

We laid out newspaper for the kids to work on, and I gave each child a disposable glove.  There was only one pick, so I cut a few wooden BBQ skewers in half to give to the other kids.  Each child could then use a gloved hand to handle the pellets, and use their other hand to use the pick.

The project was a blast!

The entire process of measuring, picking apart, separating out the bones, and organizing the bones took a little under an hour.  My 14, 9, and 7-year-olds were very interested in the entire session.  They said it was the most fun they have ever had in science!

Look at these little teeth my daughter found.  (We figured out that many of the bones in her pellet were from a mouse - thanks to the identification chart included in the kit.)

While not for the squeamish, I give this project two thumbs up for its ability to engage, little to no prep time, and the learning potential.  Kids interested in animal science, anatomy, or nature will love this activity!

Kits can be purchased at most educational supply sites; the one we bought came from