Science Sunday: owl pellet

Science Sunday


I have to admit, I probably had time to write my post earlier this week, but I decided I NEEDED to sew a dress.  Yes, and I wore it to church today, but it was so cold inside I wore a sweater the entire time, so no one saw my pretty new dress.  WAAAHHHHHHH.


Okay, enough pouting.  Now to relieve your wondering about the rat skull, for those who were wondering.


I picked 3 of these up at Hobby Lobby a few months ago and have been waiting for just the right time to let them have at it.


Now, these are not real owl pellets, nor is it a real skeleton (I discovered after buying them), but the plus side is you don’t have to worry about the kids remembering to wash their hands, and you know for sure it’s a complete skeleton.

dissecting an owl pellet


I set them each up with a spot at the table and some bamboo skewers to pull it apart and observe the different parts in it.


Very quickly we discovered and decided the skewers were not necessary, because it came apart fairly easily (the gray outer material felt like dryer lint to me).



Than we spent some time carefully pulling everything off of the bones and talked about why the owl would spit all of this up.


And finally we looked at the bones and decided what parts of the animal it was, and what type of animal it was.  The boys and Princess switched.  She really wanted the bird one and they wanted the “rat,” though in reality it was a mole.  I guess a mole is rather like a rat.


In theory we could have glued it onto a piece of cardstock and shown off our completed skeleton, but the kids were having way too much fun figuring it all out.  And like I said, Superman carried around that silly skull in his pocket for several days.  He wants to take it to the Nature Center so he can trade it in for another skull…….




By the by, I’m loving that I can get emails now from linky tools whenever someone links up, which means I’ll be visiting everyone’s links sooner!  I love hosting because I see so many great ideas, if you don’t take the time to visit all the links you truly are missing out on some amazing discoveries and ideas.

Science Sunday: Prepare to be grossed out…..

Science Sunday


This is the cry I heard as I innocently sat at my computer last week, “Mom!  There’s a dead bird in our back yard and Mac’s chewing on it.”


Now, I hadn’t fully woken up yet, and was still blinking at the computer screen.  But, I was galvanized into action, and immediately said, “Put the dog inside, and follow me.”



Yes, I said that.  I grabbed my camera, and a handful of bamboo skewers because I sure as heck wasn’t going to let them pick up the dead bird or touch it.  But, think of what we could observe!




Equipped with our handy dandy bamboo skewers we proceeded to gently examine the bird.  I tried to treat it with as much respect as possible, so we didn’t really poke it, just used the skewers to move feathers and point to things.





First we noticed that his toes pointed different ways.  After much discussion we decided this was to help him grab onto branches and balance better.  It’s rather like how our thumb points a different way from the rest of our fingers.




Then we talked about how the bird was missing feathers, and what could have caused that.  I personally think the bird was old, and just couldn’t survive much longer.  The kids of course blamed various different animals for killing the poor bird.




Then we looked at his other side and noticed his feathers were different colors there and talked about how that is a form of camouflage because someone looking up when he was flying would have a harder time seeing him against the bright sky.


We also noticed there was a bit of blood around his eyes.  Which really was quite disturbing.  Then I took away the poor bird and disposed of him properly before any other animals tried to eat him more.  Poor guy.


And before I could stop them the kids ran around and collected a rather large number of feathers they found all over our yard.  I gathered those up into a bag that “I’m keeping somewhere special” and sent them in to wash their hands 5 times with soap and hot water.


Because yes, it was gross.  And yes, there was a definite oogey factor, but I also knew they were going to be talking about it and wondering about it anyways.  Might as well get a science lesson out of it.



Afterwards I set them to drawing something they observed about the bird.  They were quite sure they wanted to bring in the feathers to the Nature Center so they could trade those in and get “an animal skull.”  Yeah…….  We’ll see.


We did not however get a science lesson from the partially pulverized dead snake we found in the yard.  That went straight into the trash.  I was more weirded out by that one because I had started off thinking it was a discarded skin, only to discover it wasn’t.  EWWWWW!

Oh and, if you only check the linky on Sunday, I highly recommend going back later in the week and seeing the posts added in later on.  There’s always some fun ones added in as the week goes on.

Science Sunday: eggs

Science Sunday

We’re getting closer and closer to finishing up our bird study.  And then it’s a chapter or so on flying reptiles and we’ve finished our study of flying creatures.



As we read what’s in an egg I realized they weren’t getting it, so I cracked a few eggs open and we looked at it to figure out the different parts of an egg.  Hmmm, that reminds me I need to go look up a graphic of an egg……  Excuse me as I dash off to Homeschool Share.


Okay, found almost exactly what I need: here.




Then I pulled teeth to get descriptions of what the egg felt like and what the different parts are for.  Really you’d think I was torturing them with how they were acting.




It’s mainly Superman talking there, with me pulling better descriptions out of them.  But, sometimes to truly learn something (like the parts of an egg) you have to get hands on and gross.



And then you need to cook said science information.  It’s very scientific.  And yes, you do need an oven mitt the size of your arm to cook an egg.



Then happily devour any evidence.  A little later this afternoon (when they’re done eating lunch/watching Veggietales Easter Carol) we’re going to test their egg holders…….

Science Sunday: Migratory life forms

Science Sunday

Back when I was dating Jeff I gave him a bumper sticker that said, “Caution: Migratory life form with a tropism for bookstores.”


Yes, it had way too many big words, but it amused both of us.


008I briefly mentioned this one a few weeks ago, but since hadn’t had a chance to post about it, well now I am.


We read all about how birds migrate in fall and spring to follow the weather (that is much simplified, but I’m feeling lazy right now).  In the fall many birds will travel South, and go to warmer climates.  Beforehand they have to stock up and eat a lot.  So, we did just that before setting out on our migration.



When they get there the birds are very hungry, because many of them do not stop to eat along the way.  So, we stopped and ate our lunch.  We had to watch out for any hungry predators who might try to steal our lunch (Mac was hungry too).



We spent the “winter” at the park, which probably isn’t really South of us, more of West.  They prepared places to sleep, and went about their normal park like activities.


Then, we headed back North, after eating one more snack.  It requires a lot of snacks to migrate.



It also requires sticks to be swords and guns…..


Afterwards as we walked back and they were super duper tired, we talked about how hard it is to migrate.  It takes a lot of energy and everyone was tired and wanting to ride in the wagon.  But, to truly get the effect, I wanted them to understand how hard it is and so they walked.


Yet another example of how mean a Mom I am.  Truly mean.  I’m told this on a regular basis by my kids when I make them do hard manual labor, like cleaning their rooms.

And, if you want to see how someone else talked about migration head over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, because right as we learned about it Anna was talking all about it too.

Science Sunday: Comparing Bones

Science Sunday


Our science book went into flying and migration this past week or so, and of course we had to look at the bones of a bird and compare it.


So, when I went grocery shopping I bought a t-bone steak and a whole chicken (though I suppose I could have just bought a chicken drumstick, achieves the same purpose).


Then we had a couple of very delicious meals, and I was a happy Ticia getting to eat steak, and confusing the heck out of Jeff when I told him not to throw away the bones.  But, he’s getting used to requests like this, and he just requested I get the experiment done soon.



The kids happily examined the bones and looked at them.  They declared the chicken bone to be smoother, and the cow bone to be more rough.


I directed them to think about which felt heavier, and they noticed the cow bone did.


Ah ha!  They played right into my hands, so I got to remind them how our book said birds bones are hollow.  Okay, it says there is a web of interconnecting to keep them lighter, but which is easier to explain.017

Then I got out my carefully concealed chicken leg bone I’d cut in half.  And I apologize for it being blurry, but do you have any idea how hard it is to get a close-up picture of a bone when the kids are wanting to look at it as well?


So, the inside of the chicken bone is mostly hollow, there’s a rather dried up bit in the middle, which I’m guess to be the marrow.



The kids thought this was fascinating and had a lot of fun exploring and playing with the bones.


I did have to caution them they couldn’t feed them to Mac.  Which was rather disappointing to them.


They were also very disappointed when I said I would not cut the cow bone in half for them to see inside it.  I didn’t feel like explaining this was an already cut cow bone.  I did explain that it was too thick for my knife to cut and there was no way I could cut it.


That was suitably impressive.


But, to get back to actual science, then we theorized what did this mean, and finally after much talking and leading they realized the hollow bones helped the birds fly.


I’m a bit behind in making it around to everyone’s posts.  So, if I haven’t commented on your post yet, I’m catching up, but it’s been a busy few weeks.

Science Sunday: Birds of a feather

Science Sunday 
Flock together.  Okay, I couldn’t resist it.

Do you remember my post about bird ideas?  Well, I’m taking an idea from it for our experiment this week.
feather exp
Supplies: feathers (preferrably several types, we only had contour feathers), bag of ice, stuff to make the feathers dirty (we used peanut butter, syrup, honey, flour), supplies to clean the bird (we used paper towels, cotton cloth, towels).

Set-up: We did this in two parts.  First observation of the feather coupled with the ice experiment, and the second part later that day for cleaning the feather.


First, observe your feather.  What type of feather is it?  What do you notice about it?

My kids all remembered what it’s purpose was, but were fuzzy on the name.  The older kids remembered the names.


We looked through our magnifying glass, and made more observations.  It wasn’t strong enough to see the barbs, but they were able to see more details.


And finally we wrote it down on our observation sheet.  My kids just drew pictures, but the older kids wrote about it.


Then they held a bag of ice (or a freezer pack) and then they held it with a bag of feathers underneath.

We all agreed the feathers do quite a nice job of insulating us from the cold.  Now they understand much better why someone might have a down blanket.

Except Jeff is allergic to down, and  according to Superman so is Blue Arrow, who he is going to grow up to be.

And then we kicked the kids out to play while we set up the next part.
And then they had to clean off a bird that had been hit by pollution.  Their feathers were covered in gunk, and they all discovered that no matter how hard they tried to clean it, you can’t get it back to where it was.

So, we were able to bring in how God created us to be stewards of the world, and it is our responsibility to care for it to the best of our ability.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve done this week, or awhile ago (I admit this happened a few weeks ago).

Homemade bird feeder

Science Sunday
One of the links from my super bird links list was to a homemade bird house.  I like the idea, but right now we needed to build a bird feeder, so I adopted it to our needs.
Supplies: milk carton with lid, sharp knife, sharpies, bird seed, rope


1.  Cut a hole in your bird feeder.  I probably cut a bit larger than is preferable, but I cut out the indent that’s in a milk carton.


2.  Let your kids have fun coloring the milk carton.

3.  Sorry, no picture of this.  I stabbed an x-shape on each side of the milk carton with the knife, and then I fed the rope through in two loops and tied those loops off.


4.  Carefully pour in the bird seed.  For ours it took about 3 cups to fill it to a satisfactory level.

And apparently the pictures of my finished hanging up in the yard bird feeder are missing somewhere, so imagine a wonderful bird feeder hanging up until such time as I take pictures with my old camera or find my camera charger.

So far we’ve eagerly looked to see if any birds have come and no such luck.  I might have to break down and get a real bird feeder, or it could just be I need to have patience.

What all I’ve got stored away under the bird category

As I’ve commented before, I store any cool ideas I find on Evernote and tag them with whatever I think I might use it as.  Here’s a highlight of the different bird ideas I’ve got stored away:

Lapbook ideas and printables

image courtesy of Living and Learning

Owl lapbook– I love that she included links to all of the different ideas she used and where to find them.  One of our chapters goes over owls, so I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this for more ideas.  That,and I want to try dissecting an owl pellet with the kids.

Bird pictures– what a great idea for identifying local birds

Bird unit– this has links to everything she used to make her spring bird nature study

Art projects

Bird marionette puppets– I can see my kids taking this idea and running so far with it.

Bird nest– Much better than the bird nests we tried…..

Bird mask– I love this idea, and will need to start shoveling cereal down my kids’ throats to get some boxes……

Hatching egg– who doesn’t love a cute chick hatching out of an egg?  I’m pretty sure, Almost Unschoolers has got a whole slew of cute bird crafts.  I know she’s been doing some cute penguin ones.

Another nest– wouldn’t this look cute as a cover about nests?

Owl– Whooo wouldn’t like it?  Hahahahhahha I couldn’t resist.

Bird feeder– I’ve seen this several places, but I think I saw it first here.

Bird house– I need to get a big huge thing of orange juice, or just use our milk bottle for it.

Paper plate bird– cute and simple, two things I like.

Experiments and Exploration

Owl pellets– I liked the idea of having a video to watch, and if I can’t track down a place to order owl pellets we can do it online.

Egg osmosis– If you haven’t checked out this site for science experiments, you really need to.

How do birds fly– great for little guys

Bird beaks– we did a similar experiment with insect mouths, and I remember trying this experiment when I was in college.  Looking forward to doing this with my kids.

How birds eat– I remembered this experiment when we were watching a video about how birds will swallow rocks (the experiment I’m thinking of is halfway down the page).

The naked egg– multi-post series about egg in vinegar.

The effects of pollution on birds– I can so use this to help my kids further understand why not to litter.

What is in an egg?-I like the diagram using the actual egg they made.


Chick hatching video
Webcam sites of birds
Also, currently streaming on Netflix is Life of a Bird, a very interesting series from BBC, I think.  They also have a couple of other videos on their streaming about birds.  We’re slowly watching through these while we eat lunch.

Science Sunday: design a bird

Science Sunday


We got together with our friends who are using the same science as us this week, coincidentally on National Bird Day.  I’d like to say we did it because of National Bird Day, but that’d be lying because we discovered that after the fact.


The Challenge: design a glider that can fly the farthest


Supplies: cereal boxes, straws, blue tape (it’s the tape I have right now, there’s a little girl who’s using up all the tape she can find making “presents”)


We set the kids of designing the best bird they could.  First we gave them some hints of you need two separate wings (front and back), and the back wings need to be smaller than the front.  Then we set them loose.



They eagerly snipped and tore, and generally did a lot of designing, and in some cases undesigning, and then back up designs.  I think they spent a good 20 minutes designing their birds.



Eventually the youngest kid in both families got tired of waiting.  So M started making a robot, and Princess headed off to swing.  Bother, in my fidelling I’ve lost the picture of M.


I’ve noticed I use the phrase “and then,” in my writing too much.  Actually, Jeff pointed it out to me when he was editing one of my Bible stories for me.  So, now I’m self-conscious about it, but it makes for a good transitional phrase.  I need to expand my vocabulary, or be less lazy, you’re call…….


End random stream of consciousness that I thought of.



Before flying we had to pose with our “birds.”  Or, I should say we made them pose.



And then they threw their birds.  There was a lot of cheating as they added in second or third throws to get their birds to fly farther.



Afterwards we discussed what made the different birds fly better.  Poor Superman’s bird didn’t fly too well, but it made a great trooper ship afterwards.


We looked at the bird that flew the best and noticed the wings were narrow, and that it had a couple of straws on it to support itself better, rather than the single straw others had.  One of the other ones that flew well had a rounded corners, which might have helped it fly better.


All in all it was a successful experiment, and my kids are already asking when we’ll get together with them again to do the next one.  So demanding.


I’m planning on writing a post for later this week with some bird resources I’ve found.  I have to admit the one I’m most excited about was getting that 50% off deal from Currclick on the lapbooking pages for our textbook.


So, how about ya’ll?  Any fun science going on this week, or did you find anything out?

Science Sunday: Eggs


There have been a lot of posts flying around about egg experiments lately, or at least I’ve noted a few:
Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn did an egg experiment this fall when they learned about E.
Our Homeschool Fun read some egg books.

Joyful Learner did an experiment with eggs floating (which is what I did).
I could have sworn I’d noticed a bunch more, but apparently I didn’t actually clip them to Evernote like I thought I did.  Or I tagged them with some strange mystery tag I don’t remember.
Our supplies: eggs (both raw and hard-boiled), water, measuring cups, and salt (a lot of salt).

Hypothesis: that if we add enough salt to the water the eggs will float.  We think it will take 8 spoonfuls for the egg to float.  Of course at first their hypothesis was that the eggs would change color in the water.


We started off slowly adding a spoonful at a time, or I should say the boys were all set to dump in the whole container of salt, which they kept calling sugar.  Then they would taste it say “It tastes like salt, I like this sugar.”

By the time the eggs would finally float the water was pretty cloudy.  Hence, why you’re not getting any pictures of the floating eggs.  You couldn’t really see them super well.
But, we discovered it took 12 spoonfuls of salt (admittedly most of those spoonfuls were rather small) for both of the eggs to float.  I was thinking the hard-boiled egg would take less, but it didn’t, so that surprised me.
066 Now we get to where the kids took over the experiment.  In the Reading Rainbow Superman checked out from the library they made cars and buckled the eggs into them to see if they could keep the egg safe.  So, the boys happily started making their very own cars to do this.

Now, if that had been a less controlled crash that egg would have splattered, but you notice how very carefully he crashed his car into the sofa.
071  069 070
After all of this, they had to try a hard-boiled egg.  It was not wildly popular, and I then got requests/demands for some scrambled eggs, which is more what they’re used to.

So, Superman quite happily helped me scramble some eggs.  And just for my memory, in the pictures above it is Batman in the middle picture shelling the egg, and Superman on the right picture happily “making his egg big.”

So, what did you guys do this week?  Did anyone else do egg experiments?  I know it’s the week after Easter, but hey I just wasn’t organized.  I seem to every holiday do a lot of the holiday related stuff after the holiday.  Oh well, it’s working for us.
We’re gonna try a Blog Hop this week, because in some ways I think they work better for all of us to get more traffic because the other links are right there at the bottom of your own post.  Let me know if you like it.

For those of you who aren’t sure how to do the blog hop, you click on the button saying “get the code,” and copy the code, then you paste it into your post, it’s best at the bottom, but you choose. This will then have the linky at the bottom of your post.

MckLinky Blog Hop