Monday, September 5, 2011

Owl Unit Study

The "wise old owl" is a hero in many picture books. Why not glean some wisdom with your children from this fascinating bird by studying them for a week or so? Try the below activities... 

Chapter Book ~ Read Aloud Suggestion: Read the following two chapters about owls aloud from The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess. You can read them online for free at these chapter links: Peter Learns Something About Spooky (The Screech Owl) and Peter Sees Two Terrible Feathered Hunters (The Goshawk and the Great Horned Owl).

Suggested Picture Books: All About Owls by Jim Arnosky, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel (An I Can Read Book), The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies

I would suggest reading together from the above books for about 1/2 hour a day and having the children do some of the listed activities below each day according to their abilities.  Include all work separately in a notebook/binder or composition book for each child. Have them decorate their own covers with owl pictures, stickers or owl clip art. Encourage them to be creative.  By the end of a few weeks you will have a nice collection of "owl scrapbooks" to cherish as an educational keepsake.

Owl Inspired Activities:

Spelling/Vocabulary Words: (Have children study one word a day and add definitions to the words they are not familiar with. Add any words from the above picture books as well that would pertain.)
  1. nocturnal
  2. prey
  3. beak
  4. carnivore
  5. talon
  6. feather
  7. night
Bible/Penmanship: Copy some Bible verses about owls in their best writing, paying careful attention to punctuation.

Science/Nature: Draw a picture of an owl and diagram it.

Science/Nature: Dissect an owl pellet with an Owl Pellet Dissection kit.

Science/Nature: Make an "owl menu". List what owls like to eat after reading the above books together in menu form.

Science/Nature: Make a list of common "types" of owls. Older children can put that list in alphabetical order.

Language Arts/Penmanship: Copy the following poem below in your best handwriting.  Be sure to pay extra care to punctuation and spelling. 

A wise old owl lived in the oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why can't we all be like that bird?
~ Author Unknown

Bible Discussion: Discuss the above poem with your children. Talk about the verse, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).

Grammar Lesson: Can your children point out the nouns in the above poem? How about verbs?

Learning to Read: Have your younger children practice reading using the book, Owl at Home -- An I Can Read! Picture Book by Arnold Lobel.

Art: Draw a picture of an owl and try to color it realistically using colored pencils (See above or print off a full page via this link).

Art: Color a barn owl with this printable from National Geographic.

Art: Print out this fun owl coloring page and use the images to decorate an "owl cover" page for this study.

"Owls" by William Holbrook Beard
Picture Study/Art History: Have children study the picture above by William Holbrook Beard which is titled, "Owls".  This link will take you to a larger view. See if they can point out a new detail each day. At the end of the week, print a small version of the picture and paste on notebook paper and have your child write an "art review" stating their opinion of the painting (younger children can just tell mother in their own words).  Make sure they include the title of painting and the name of painter at the top of the paper.

Geography: Explain to your children that William Holbrook Beard (the painter of "Owls") was an American painter born in Ohio and was buried in New York. Have the children point out Ohio on the globe or map. Now see if they can point out New York. Ask them to point out where you live as well. Does it seem like he lived that far from you?

History: Read about John James Audubon, the famous naturalist in the beautiful book titled, The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies. This is one of my favorite books and I love the illustrations in it! Your children will be inspired to become bird watchers after this read. (I would recommend this gem for your homeschool library.)

Foreign Language: Learn how to say "owl" and "bird" in the foreign language you are studying (or want to study in the future). The internet provides many language dictionary's for free use.

Craft: I am sure the "wise" old owl read many books which helped him to become so smart! Make some bookmarks with your children using this free owl clip art (see sample above). Let your child choose which owl he or she likes and print them out. Have your children color their chosen bird and cut out the graphic. Next, have your students cut out rectangular strips of construction paper (bookmark size so you may want to trace out a pattern for them prior to cutting) and glue owl image on front. Hole punch the top of your rectangular strip and have your child lace in a piece of yarn, ribbon or string. Craft is complete and best of all… it is useful.

Home Economics: Make an "owl pizza" with your children. The fun idea is shared here!

Movie SuggestionYour Backyard DVD (An excellent Bible based video on birds for children).

Field Trip: Visit an aviary or bird farm with your children (you will be surprised at what is available in your area when you do an internet search). There may even be a local museum with bird exhibits that would be fun to go to as well or a local zoo which features an aviary.

"…and let birds fly above the earth 
across the firmament of the heavens."


  1. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing and for linking up with us! :)

  2. What a thorough study. I pinned it so I can use it later on this year. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I hope you will find it useful and fun! :)

  3. Wonderful idea, saved this page, and will pin it for my grandson when he's of age.


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