Bedtime, Unschooling, and Owl Pellets.











It's bedtime.

And we've got a rhythm to honor. You know – teeth to brush, books to read, lights to turn out…

But just then Pete rolls in from fishing at a nearby creek. And he found an owl pellet. An owl pellet! My years as a naturalist come rushing back and bedtime is delayed until further notice.

Clad in jammies, the kids dig in and dissect it with their hands. A rodent skull emerges (muskrat?) and we talk about how rodent teeth constantly grow and they must chew on hard things or be killed by their own teeth. Freaky cool, right? Fur is piling up on the dining room table, guard hairs and the underfur – the waterproof layer and the insulating one. We tease it apart more and find gnawing teeth, tiny bones, and other bits of the story of this one mammal, one bird, and one meal.

Natural history. Oh, yes. This is my favorite kind of "schooling".

All four of us dug in and reveled in the unexpected, spontaneous, after-dark learning to be had this night.

So they went to bed late. They also went to bed brimming with questions and answers and ideas and curiosity. Welcome to unschooling. Welcome to my kitchen table. There is so much magic that happens here.

(Oh, and don't worry. We'll wipe up before breakfast.)

For those who are wondering what an owl pellet is, it is the undigested material from any owl meal that becomes a compact lump in their crop. (Since owls swallow their prey whole something needs to happen with all that fur and bones.) The indigestible bits (bones, teeth, fur, and/or hair) form into the pellet and they bring back up. (You know, as in puke.) Cool? We think so.

19 thoughts on “Bedtime, Unschooling, and Owl Pellets.

  1. Joan says:

    Seems like lately, so much of our “learning” happens at bedtime. We sit down to read, and an hour later we’re up to our neck in books and research. I LOVE IT. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. Might trade it occasionally for some extra sleep, but… that’s OK.

  2. Roxy Schow says:

    I used to use these in schools with my little science kiddos! So much to learn and talk about for weeks afterward when you dive into one – cool! (I ordered mine – I’ve never found one although we do have owls living in our trees.)

  3. lise says:

    That has got to be one of the best descriptions of unschooling I’ve read. (And I’ve wanted to find one of those since I was a kid myself!)

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