inquiring minds

international teaching

The North American Barn Owl

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So, I’ve been mildly obsessed with `The Owl Box‘ – this U-Stream channel that’s gone viral lately and is completely addictive!


The story behind The Owl Box is a great one.  Carlos and Donna Royal set up this owl box in their back yard complete with cameras (one for daytime and an infrared one for night-time), and waited for something to happen.  The owl box went unused for two years before a barn owl chose to nest in it.  They named the owl Molly and her mate McGee.

Since they have started broadcasting online, Molly has laid five eggs, four of which have now hatched.  The channel is so popular, at times there are tens of thousands of people watching.  This has garnered an incredible amount of attention for the couple and their city of San Marcos, California.  Carlos has skyped with schools around the U.S., talking about owls and answering questions from inquiring students.  There is Molly merchandise and even an e-book in the works.  (Reference:

The educational opportunities The Owl Box offers are endless.

I approached the Kindergarten teacher at my school and told her about The Owl Box.  I offered to come in and teach a lesson on Owls for their on-going unit of inquiry on ‘The Four Seasons’, obviously relating the Owl and her nesting cycle to the season of Spring.

So, this Thursday, I’m going into the Kindergarten class for a fun owl themed morning.  I’m very excited and it’s been fun putting together what I hope will be an engaging lesson.

This is my lesson plan so far:

  • Prepare edible pellet mix
  • Make sure smartboard and U-Steam work in G1 teacher’s room
  • Ask K1 teaching assistant to make a giant cut-out of an owl where we can post ideas and questions
  • Photocopy and mix sequence of ‘nesting cycle’ from ‘Owls’ by Gail Gibbons
  • To learn about the nature of owls through a case study on the North American Barn Owl
Mental Set (in K1 room):
  • Read ‘The Barn Owls’ by Tony Johnston
  • Think Pair Share – Ask students what they know about owls (display somehow-giant owl cut-out?)
Input & Modelling (In Gr 1 room):
  • Talk about how Owls are born (what do students already know about the nesting cycle?)
  • Show Molly on the smart board, answer student questions (or at least try to, I’m not an expert)
  • Write down student questions (display somehow-giant owl cut-out?)
  • Focus questions on the nesting cycle and on digestion
Practice (In K1 Room):
  • Put ‘nesting cycle’ story in order
  • Make (edible) owl pellets
Check For Understanding:
  • Ongoing: I will be checking for understanding as students ask question and as they sequence the ‘nesting cycle’
Closure / Reflection:
  • Review what we know, and what we’ve learned
  • Have students bring home Owl Pellet to parents and explain what an owl pellet is
  • Have students bring home ‘nesting cycle’ to explain to parents
  • Give students links to the ‘Owl Box’ on U-Stream and the ‘Molly’s Box’ blog
  • ‘The Barn Owl’ by Tony Johnston
  • ‘Owls’ by Gail Gibbons
  • Display for ‘What we know’
  • ‘Nesting Cycle’ sequencing photocopies
  • Edible Owl Pellet materials

I got the edible owl pellet recipe from The Barn Owl Trust.

I tried it out this weekend, (yes we had owl pellets for desert at Easter dinner).

Edible Owl Pellets

A closer look

They were delicious, kind of like chocolate truffles.  If I was living in North America I would use this recipe from Dr. Rickert’s Education Adventure.  (Taken from ‘Owl Puke’ by Jane Hammerslough.)  It has stuff that’s hard to find and expensive here in Finland.  (It’s not nut-free either.)

I will post a reflection on the lesson after teaching it.  I can’t wait!


One thought on “The North American Barn Owl

  1. Very cool stuff! I’ve been wanting a build a few boxes to put on our property.

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