Several weeks ago, our family got to see owl pellets during a raptor presentation that our homeschool group attended. They were really neat! Owls digest the meat they eat, and then regurgitate the indigestible fur and bones in the form of a tightly packed "owl pellet." In dissecting an owl pellet, one can very reliably piece together the skeletons and find out what the owl ate!
The 7yo was immediately intrigued, and as soon as he got home wanted to go looking for owl pellets. As we do indeed have a pair of resident great horned owls, he and DH immediately took off for the owls' favorite haunts to see if they could find any pellets.
And indeed they did!
The 7yo enthusiastically donned gloves and used a pair of tweezers to dissect the pellets. From those two pellets, he was able to find the skeleton of a bird (most likely a dove) and some sort of rodent.
It was great fun, and a wonderful learning experience. Hopefully we'll be able to repeat this experiment as often as the children want - as long as we have our beautiful owls, we should have owl pellets!
I love the versatility of home education. Experiences like this are simply woven into and through our lives, and they're usually not a part of "sit down and answer these questions" textbook learning. They're wonderfully spontaneous - they spring up unexpectedly in all sorts of ways, and they're always wonderful. Catching the passion of a child's interest and feeding it is a wonderful experience.
This was actually the first time that I'd ever seen an owl pellet. We never saw them in school, and though my mom did bring one home for me once, I found the very idea repulsive and never even opened the envelope. DH had never dissected owl pellets in school either, so this was a first for the whole family.
I love how much we're ALL learning!