The book Poppy, by Avi, gave us a terrific opportunity to learn about…well…owl poop. This month was our Poppy Book Club, so, of course, we dissected owl pellets.
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One of our favorite parts of homeschool is our book club. While I don’t host all of our book clubs, the year usually starts at our home. This year we have two book clubs. The older group is for upper elementary to middle school girls. After hearing many great reviews of the book Poppy, I decided it would be a good beginning to our new Book Club year. We read the book throughout the month and then met with all the girls for our Poppy Book Club.
Poppy Book Club Discussion
Poppy is about a Deer Mouse who finds her courage to become a hero to her family while battling Mr. Ocax, a Great Horned Owl with a taste for mice. The author, Avi, uses vibrant vocabulary to keep the reader interested page after page. We were so hooked that we plan to read the rest of the books in the series. During the book club, we discussed many types of heroes and if we considered Poppy a hero. But, of course, we couldn’t do that unless we had some snacks!
Poppy Book Club Snacks
Every good book club starts with snacks, preferably yummy, cute snacks. I tried to keep with the outdoor woods theme of Poppy and held our book club outside near our pond and woods.
I decorated the table with a faux grass tablecloth. Then I used pails I bought at Hobby Lobby to hold our snacks.
For snacks we had Nuts and Sweet seeds (trail mix with chocolate chips), Lungwort’s Corn (popcorn), Deer Mouse Pellets (Autumn M&M’s), Poppy’s Mushrooms (chocolate candies shaped like mushrooms), Ereth’s sticks & bark (pretzels) and Ragweed’s hazelnut (Ferrero Rocher candies).
But, the most fun I had was making Mr. Ocax’s (the owl) pellets. They were chocolate brownies that I smushed into owl pellet shapes. The girls were so thoroughly grossed out that some refused to eat them.
Poppy Book Club Activities
After eating and talking about the book, we got into our activity for the month. We discussed the deer mouse and the Great Horned Owl. We talked about food webs and then drew one using this download from Owl Brand Discovery Kits. Then I introduced the girls to our activity – Owl Pellet Dissection. They were less than thrilled.
I purchased these particular owl dissection kits from Home Science Tools, though you can buy them from several sites. My reasoning for buying them here was the customer service. I have only ordered from them once before, but I emailed them to make sure I would get the kits in time (I didn’t come up with this idea until the week of the book club). They did come in on time! These kits included an owl pellet, two wooden probes, an instruction sheet and a teacher’s guide. I also added a pair of tweezers, latex gloves, and a magnifying glass at each girl’s station.
Several girls surrounded our table in the woods and began to dissect their owl pellets. Some of the comments were: “This is disgusting but so cool.” and “I love this. It’s my favorite.”
The process was somewhat slow. Initially, it is very difficult to break through all the fur and feathers to get to the bones.
Once they were able to get to the bones, they began to catalog them on this download.
Then the girls used their identification sheets to discover what kind of animal their owl has eaten.
At the end of the book club, the girls put their bones in a petri dish to take home.
This was one of the most disgusting, yet fun book clubs we have had. What gross things have you done in the name of education?
You can see the Periscope of the Poppy Book Club here.