Owl Pellet Dissection and Writing Activity

owl pellet dissectionEarlier this year my 5th grade class and I finally managed to dissect owl pellets.

First the weather got in the way a lot. Then testing got in the way. Eventually we accomplished the task we were all eagerly awaiting!!

Here are a few snaps from the day.

owl pellet dissection

This duo was so excited to find a feather in their pellet!

owl pellet dissection

I must admit, some students were frustrated by the amount of ribs they found. They are a lot trickier to identify!

owl pellet dissection
 Hard at work matching up those bones!

owl pellet dissectionThis crew was amazed by how much fur they found in their pellet.

owl pellet dissectionThen, this pair scored two skulls in their pellet!

owl pellet dissection

My class came to conclude that the pellets packed with dirt were harder to dissect due to the texture and density of the pellet. The ones filled with feathers and fur were easier to take apart, so those groups ultimately found more bones.

I wanted to assess their prior knowledge a few day prior to the experiment. I knew several students had dissected owl pellets in the past. However, I wanted to see if the others knew what they would encounter during the dissection.

We used graphic organizers and worksheets for pre, during and post dissection.

The pre dissection sheets are available in two different forms: one is a graphic organizer that is scaffolded for students who are new to this concept. The other is an open response writing template.

The during dissection sheets are available in three different forms: two are graphic organizers that are again scaffolded to assist students who need direction on what to look for as they dissect. The other is an open response writing template.

The post dissection sheets are available in two different forms as well: one is the scaffolded graphic organizer and the other is an open response writing template.

Have you tried dissecting owl pellets with your class? Did they enjoy it?


  1. You have some super photos here Melissa! Bet there were many oohs and ahhhs! I used to love doing this when I taught strictly science! If only I had your great resource then! If I win it, I will order up some owl pellets for next year and dissect them with my second graders! :)
    Creative Lesson Cafe

    1. Thanks Jeannine! They really did love it, and I did too! :)

  2. The timing of your packet couldn't be better. I am getting ready to dissect owl pellets in the classroom for the first time. I would love to use your packet! I found a great website that has information for the kiddos as well as a virtual pellet students can pick apart and sort that I plan to use before doing the real thing. Here it is so you can check it out. http://www.kidwings.com/owlpellets/flash/v4/index.htm I am keeping my fingers crossed that I win your packet! julie.grenier@fcps.org

    1. Kidwings is so amazing! That is actually where we ordered our pellets from. I had my students fill out the pre dissection info first, then we explored and virtually dissected. It really did prepare them for the whole experience! :)