Friday, April 18, 2014

Owl Moon

We've been reading Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.  The review for this book from Publishers Weekly says, "A girl and her father go owling on a moonlit Winter night near the farm where they live. Bundled tight in wool clothes, they trudge through snow 'whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl'; here and there, hidden in ink-blue shadows, a fox, raccoon, field mouse and deer watch them pass. An air of expectancy builds as Pa imitates the Great Horned Owl's call once without answer, then again."  Maggie enjoyed this read a lot.
To start our study, we colored the story disk for this book ...
... then placed it on our US map.  (There was no specific location for this book, only a cold Winter's night in the forest, near a farmhouse.  We knew it was somewhere North.  Maggie chose Minnesota, a good pick.)
Then, we set out to make a Winter forest picture, inspired by the one we saw at  For the same, we taped a piece of cream-colored paper to our table (the site recommended painter's tape, but I didn't have any on hand, so we used Mavalus tape instead, which worked great), making a clean border.  Next, we used that same tape and scissors to make tree trunks and branches.  (The trunks can sit higher on the paper than along the bottom because you will be making snowy hills.)
Here is Mags, working on her tape tree trunks.
Then, once your trees are in place (we made four), color a snowy hill along the bottom using a white crayon.  (Rub hard.)
Here is what ours looked like after our snowy hill was colored in.
Next, we added a moon and stars using the white crayon again.  (These will resist the watercolor paint in the next step.)
Then, it was time to paint!  We used a mix of deep blue and purple to paint our paper.  (The tape and white crayon markings resist the paint.)
Once our paint was applied, we immediately added a light sprinkling of salt to our wet paint (to make our picture glisten when it's complete).
Then, we let our paint dry.
Once dry, we carefully removed the tape from our trees, leaving the tape border intact, then made some more crayon rubbings along the tops of our trunks, where the moonlight might shine.  Then, we painted our trunks brown.
 Finally, once our trunks were dry, we added a small picture of a Great Horned Owl that we printed from online.
 Our Owl Moon Winter forest picture!
 Looks great!
A close-up of our owl! 
After all that painting, it was time for a snack!  I made little Great Horned Owls using round crackers, spread with cream cheese, and decorated with almond beaks, raisin eyes, and almond slivers for their wings and ear tufts.  (Maggie has been very intentional about telling me that they are not ears!  The ears are on the sides of their facial discs.)  They turned out cute!
Then, we decided to learn more about owls.  We read Owls by Gail Gibbons ...
... Owls by Emily Bone ...
... and All About Owls by Jim Arnosky.
One of the things we did in preparation for this book was take a field trip to the Southeastern Raptor Center ( with our homeschooling group to learn more about owls.
Here's lunch being prepared for one of the owls. 
This barn owl is sitting on an unfertilized egg.
The Great Horned Owl, the star of our book!
 We love the screech owls!
Here's Maggie on the field trip, wearing her owl shirt, of course! 
Learning about owl pellets!
 Once home, we watched this video from YouTube that someone captured of an owl ejecting a pellet.  (Maggie thought it was super gross.)
Then, we dissected our own virtual owl pellet at  (Here is Maggie at the computer, dissecting it.)
During our study of Owl Moon, we also learned about the importance of The Caldecott Medal (to honor a book's illustrations).  Owl Moon is one of the featured books in our Evan-Moor Literature Pockets: Caldecott Winners (Grades 1-3) workbook (I love Evan-Moor pocket books!), so we did the activities suggested for it.
We learned more about the illustrator ...
... and got to work on a painting activity that would tie into using a simile to match the illustration.  (Owl Moon is full of metaphors and similes.)  First, Maggie painted a dark sky with watercolor on a white piece of construction paper.
 (She left the bottom unpainted for snow.)
 Then, using black, she painted in a tree.
 Next, we glued on a large, white paper moon ...
 ... and used gray paint to paint a shadow opposite the moon's glow on the tree.
 It turned out great!  Now it was time to come up with a sentence to go with our illustration, that included a simile.
 "The moon was round like a bowl."  (We glued our sentence to the bottom of our painting.)
Looks super, Mags!
 Then, we practiced drawing owls (also in our  Evan-Moor Literature Pockets: Caldecott Winners (Grades 1-3) workbook).
 An owl!
 Lastly from our workbook, we completed the "If You Go Owling ... " writing activity.
We noted this aerial picture from the book, with views of the farmhouse from an owl's point of view.
 We then set out to make our own aerial pictures.
 Maggie's picture, from a flying owl's point of view!  :)
 Our literature pocket, full of work!  (These pockets always make her so proud!)
We also talked about different bird calls, and found this great resource at  Check it out!  After we listened to some of the different owls, we then decided to make a paper bag owl puppet that we saw floating around Pinterest, using muffin cups for the eyes.   (I never could find the site for it.)  Here are the pieces I cut -- two large brown wings, two brown ear tufts, a yellow beak, a white belly, two white circles for the eyes (these have to fit into your muffin cups), and two black pieces for the eyes and a black piece for the face.
Here, Maggie is adding feathers to the wings with crayon.
Once all the pieces are glued on, it turns out looking like this!
(She is "who-who-hooooo"ing!)
 Next, we decided to make some of the "Tubular Owls" we saw at, using empty toilet paper tubes!  First, we painted our tubes.
While the tubes dried, we found bright paper to match our paint and cut out wings.  We also cut out yellow beaks and counted out enough googly eyes for all of our birds.
 Then, once our tubes were dry, we folded down the tops so that each side was pointed, which looked like the ear tufts on an owl.
 Then, we glued on our eyes, beaks, and wings.
 Our red owl!
"Tubular Owls!"
Later, we freshened up our knowledge of the moon.  We read So That's How the Moon Changes Shape! by Allan Fowler ...
... The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn M. Branley ...
 ... and The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons.
(For other owl project ideas, please see our 'Owls' tab in the index to the left of the blog.  There are three other times that we studied owls and you might find something useful from an earlier date.)  Our next row is The Tale of Peter Rabbit, in honor of Easter.  It should be up tomorrow.  Check back!

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