As the snow quickly begins to melt away, the Dawn & Dusk kids have been noticing more and more trash emerging in our back yard, much to our dismay. We've really been building stronger connections with our outdoor space and the desire to keep it clean has been a hot topic the last two weeks, so we provided each cohort with garbage grabbers.
The very first afternoon that we brought those grabbers out, Club 4/5 was eager to clean up as much trash as they could without even being asked. As we slowly spread out through the far forest and its surrounding bushes the kids noticed a disturbing trend in our trash: masks. An abundance of both disposable and reusable PPE quickly filled up a trash bag, opening up a conversation about environmental responsibility. As disappointing as it was to see first hand just how much this new part of our daily life (masks) is damaging to our planet, it was great to see these kids so involved in doing their part to reduce the ugly waste!
And then, as if Mother Nature was offering a reward, we stumbled across something really really cool: owl pellets.
The kids had no idea what they were, but I (educator Jen) knew immediately that we had stumbled on something very unique. When an owl hunts and eats, it will regurgitate its prey and what comes out is a ball of fur and bones. When I was a child in elementary school myself, we dissected these in class with tweezers and magnifying glasses, putting together the skeleton of the mice that had been eaten.
There was so much excitement when the kids found out what these "owl pellets" were and they wanted to dig right in to them. I provided gloves and watched as they tenderly pulled the pellets apart, identifying each bone they found.
As one child continued to dissect his pellet, he explained what part of the mouse he was handling and how it must have died while in the jaws of the owl. As he described what he was doing, he walked us through his very thorough thought process on the fascinating demise of this mouse.
One of my favorite moments that afternoon is when one of the kids left her comfort zone to explore the owl pellet she had found all by herself. Her curiosity proved to be bigger than her fear that day!
"I was really afraid to do this" she said as she gently pulled the fur apart. I'm afraid of dead things! But this is so cooooool."
There was no shortage of theories, thoughts, and scientific hypothesis that afternoon, and although initially some of the kids were hesitant and kind of grossed out, they all asked for baggies to take their treasures home in - one child was eager to get the bone fragments under his microscope for further analyses.
This very unique experience falls right into line with our ever-increasing connections we're making with the Dawn and Dusk backyard. A big thank you to the parents who were cool with their children bringing these owl pellets home - we look forward to continuing to find new and exciting ways to embrace our outdoor space and all the wonder it holds!