Skull Sleuthing – Background

Have you ever stumbled across an animal skull in the woods and found your mind filled with questions about it? What kind of animal was it? What did it eat with those teeth? Were the eyes really that big? Was the brain really that small? Finding a skull tends to bring out the private investigator in all of us. As we examine these bony shells, built to protect the brain, hold the teeth, and house many of the sensory organs, we can find clues about the animal’s life.

The first thing to notice when you find a skull is its size. Is it the length of your thumb (squirrel, rabbit, weasel); does it fit in your hand (fox, bobcat, raccoon, beaver, opossum); is it as long as your foot (deer, bear), or even bigger (cow, horse, moose)? Size can be deceptive since skulls lack the covering of muscles, skin, and fur of a live animal and thus often seem much smaller than you would expect. Still, by considering its size first, you can often narrow down the possibilities. Continue reading Skull Sleuthing – Background

Skull Sleuthing – Activities

FOCUS: The shape and structure of skull and teeth are adaptations related to an animal’s food and way of life. The teeth and eye placement of carnivores differ from those of herbivores, omnivores, or insectivores. Much can be learned about an animal from its skull, for these are the bones that protect the brain and house the mouth, teeth, and sense organs – all of which are critical to its survival.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about teeth.

Have children smile at their neighbor and notice each other’s teeth. Are all the teeth shaped the same? What are some differences they notice and what questions do they have about them?

Objective: To observe our four different kinds of teeth and investigate how we use them.

Have children feel their teeth with their tongue, noticing that some are flat-topped and some come to a point. Some have one point and some have several points. Continue reading Skull Sleuthing – Activities

Skull Sleuthing – Puppet Show

Dinner Guest Dilemmas

Characters: Sally Squirrel, Molly Mole, Willy Weasel, Benjy Bear

Props: foods like corn cobs, apples, blueberries, clover

Sally Squirrel  I hope I have everything ready for my dinner party. My guests should be arriving any time now. (knocking sound) Here’s someone now!

Molly Mole  Hi, Sally Squirrel. Am I the first one here?

Squirrel  Yes, come right in, Molly Mole. May I offer you some acorn appetizers?

Mole  Acorns? Oh, no thank you, Sally. I can’t eat acorns. Continue reading Skull Sleuthing – Puppet Show

Skull Sleuthing – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Skull Sleuthing – Standards