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At some point, I got the idea to create a tree wall mural. It started as pieces of paper bag cut out in various shapes and taped to the wall. Later, it would take on a series of multi-colored apples and a resident owl. It’s not quite what I had envisioned. It’s really quite awful. However, it has taken on its own charm. Over the course of the coming weeks, it will be surrounding by pumpkins. The apples may fall off at some point, and it may become surrounded by snowflakes. My son thinks it’s amazing.

Paper Bag Tree

Paper Bag Tree

Owl At Home

Owl At Home

We made an impromptu trip to the Boston Museum of Science. The MoS is a challenging environment for a four year old. However, we did manage to have some fun. My son was particularly interested in digging for dinosaurs in a sandbox. He also had fun in a play area that uses familiar things like bikes and swings to teach scientific concepts. I couldn’t help but notice the stuffed owls in a glass case. While they appealed to me, my son didn’t find them so compelling.

Owls at the Museum of Science

Owls at the Museum of Science

Picture Books
Owl Babies

Fiction
Animal Lore & Legend: Owl
Owl at Home
Poppy
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

Non-Fiction
Barn Owl (Science I Can Read Book)
All About Owls
Owl Puke
See How They Grow: Owl
Snowy Owls

The astonishingly gory Legend of the Guardians movie was a bit of a let down for my then four year old son. However, the movie did inspire us to try our hand at dissecting owl pellets. I ordered a very impressive pellet kid from a laboratory that caters to schools. My son dawned plastic gloves and grabbed his dissecting tweezers with great gusto until he saw what task lay before him. He was quite put off by the nasty, dark, gritty little pellet. The compactness and density of the pellet was so great that his little hands could not work it apart. When he did break a piece of it off, he saw that it was nothing more than a wad of super compressed hair. This startling realization prompted him to not want to touch the thing again. I ended up bent over this tiny little hairball prying apart layer after layer of hacked up, nasty hair. Though the packaging said there was no risk involved, I was a bit concerned about breathing in the little hairs and whatever detritus was associated with them.

After considerable work, my son and I were able to see the fruits of our labor. Microscopic and unidentifiable animal bones because visible. Originally, I had anticipated that the pellet would be large and that the bones would pop-out and be easily recognized, but these little bones looked like specs of fingernail parings. Furthermore, the slightest amount of pressure on the bones caused them to fracture. This made it virtually impossible to free some of the bones from their hair encasing.

In the end, we had a partially liberated skeleton of…something. We had no idea what to do with it. We could not match it to the skeleton on the educational brochure that came with the kit. There was virtually no way to mount or preserve such a tiny thing. It was also quite grey and ugly and bits of semi-digested hair still clung to it. It hung out on my desk for a few days until it quietly disappeared and quickly became forgotten.

Owl Pellet Kit

Owl Pellet Kit


Handling An Owl Pellet

Handling An Owl Pellet

October in Salem, MA is something to see. Throughout the year, there is pretty consistent interest in the city’s dark history as the epicenter of the “Witch Hunts.” A goodly portion of the downtown area is dedicated to tourism centered around this past. Halloween only takes the experience to a whole new level. Halloween lasts at least a month in the city, and people come from all over the world to visit allegedly haunted locations, places associated with the witch trials, and various merchants of all things occult or mystical. I did not want to focus on Halloween, per se. However, I decided to chose a topic that was evocative of mystery. I chose to augment our standard curricula with a section on owls. I decided that owls were real, flesh and blood creatures, unlike the imaginary witches which plagued the city 400 years ago. Owls have that dark, sinister, and spooky air about them, but they also provide a great opportunity to study life cycles, food chains, animal physiology, and the like. So, owls it was….

October Focus Table: Owls

October Focus Table: Owls