My Owl Babies Miss Momma

By Julie Kollenborn, December 3, 2009

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • City of Neighborhoods

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

120 minutes for classroom activities


Typically many three-year olds have a hard time separating from their moms and dads. I therefore often read Owl Babies by Martin Waddell at the beginning of the school year (or after a holiday break). I read this story with the hope that the children can relate to the story and as a reminder that moms and dads always come back.

I decided to bring this lesson across the curriculum by including Math, Language Arts, and Arts components.

This lesson will engage students in the steps of the design process as they build homes for owl babies.

National Standards

Common Core English Language Arts Strand-Reading for Literature Level Kindergarten RL.K.1With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. RL.K.2. With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details. RL.K.3. With prompting and support, identify characters,settings, and major events in a story. RL.K.10. Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding. Common Core Mathematics K-2 Cluster-Count to tell the number of objects Level Kindergarten K.CC.4. Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality. Common Core Mathematics K-2 Cluster-Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.  Level Kindergarten K.MD.3. Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.[Limit category counts to be less than or equal to 10. Common Core Mathematics K-2 Cluster-Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes. Level Kindergarten K.G.5. Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.

Visual Arts

Standard 1. Level Pre-K. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts

1. Experiments with a variety of color, textures, and shapes

2. Creates three-dimensional structures and arrangements  using concrete materials or manipulatives (e.g., blocks)

3. Uses a variety of basic art materials (e.g., paints, crayons, clay, pencils) to create works of art and express ideas and feelings


Standard 2. Level Pre-K. Uses acting skills

1. Creates and acts out the roles of characters from familiar stories


Standard 2. Level Pre-K. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of numbers

1. Counts objects

2. Understands one-to-one correspondence

3. Knows the common language for comparing quantity of objects


Standard 6. Level Pre-K. Uses skills and strategies to read a variety of literary texts

1. Knows the sequence of events (e.g., beginning, middle, and end) in a story

2. Relates stories to his/her own life and experience


Students will:

  • design homes for owls using materials they have collected
  • take on the role of a character in a story
  • act out a story
  • count objects using one-to-one correspondence
  • compare groups of objects and determine which group has more or less objects
  • identify the beginning, middle and end of a story
  • relate a story to their experience at school


Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson

Owl pictures and more owl pictures

“Notes on the Design Process” by Meredith Davis

Why Design by Anna Slafer and Kevin Cahill



  • owl puppets
  • pencils
  • paper
  • jars/buckets to collect materials
  • sticks
  • leaves
  • branches
  • glue
  • clay
  • colored pencils
  • paint (washable)


Habitat: the place or environment where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and grows; the typical place of residence of a person or a group.


Day 1: (15 minutes)

1. Read the book Owl Babies by Martin Waddell during morning circle time.

2. Ask the children:

  • What were the names of the owl babies in the story?
  • Why were the owl babies sad?
  • Who also misses their mother when she leaves?
  • Did the owl mother come back?

Record student responses. Note students who are able to relate the story to their experiences and feelings.

3. Remind the children that mothers always come back!

Day 2: (15 minutes)

1. Read Owl Babies using puppets during morning circle.

2. After reading the story, break into small groups and ask the children to retell the story using the props.

3. Ask the students:

  • What happened in the beginning of the story? (Refer to the illustrations in the beginning of the story.)
  • What happened next (in the middle of the story)? (Refer to illustrations.)
  • What happened at the end of the story? (Refer to illustrations.)
  • Who also misses their mother when she leaves?

Record student responses. Note students who relate the story to their experiences and feelings.

4. Remind the children that mothers always come back!

Day 3: (60 minutes)

1. Explain to the children that they are going to pretend to be an owl baby or the owl mother. Show the children the puppets from the story. Ask each child which owl they would like to be. Group the children together based on their choices.

2. Read the story aloud. Point to each group and ask them to say their verse in the story aloud. Record which students participate in the process, which students do not participate, and which students remember their lines.

3. Once the story is over, ask the children where the owl babies live. Introduce the word “habitat.”

4. Repeat student responses from questions asked in #3. (The Owl Babies live in trees with sticks, leaves, and branches.)

5. Explain to the children they are going to use the design process to build homes/habitats for owl babies. Refer to steps on “Notes on the Design Process” by Meredith Davis, Anna Slafer, and Kevin Cahill. Review the steps with the class:

  • Review the challenge: Building homes for owl babies.
  • Investigate the challenge:  Use the illustrations in the story as a reference. Also use pictures gathered from internet sources listed as a reference.
  • Frame the problem: Based on research gathered, ask the children what we need to build homes and where can the materials be found?
  • Generate Possible Solutions: The materials can be gathered from a park, on the playground at school, or in a backyard at home.
  • Edit and Develop Ideas: How should we gather the materials? What should we place our materials in?

6. At this point, give the children the opportunity to go into the schoolyard or a nearby park and gather materials (in the container that they suggested).

7. Return inside and break into small groups. Give students white paper.

Ask students to:

  • Group all of their sticks together, leaves together, branches together, etc. (You might have to provide a demonstration.) Note who is able to sort materials.
  • Count the materials in each group. Note who understands one-to-one correspondence.

Identify the group that has the most, least, same number of materials. Note who is able to use common language when comparing quantities of objects.

8. Give each group glue, clay, and colored pencils. Ask each child to use their collected materials to make a home for the owl babies. If children are not able to get started independently, provide one demonstration of a way to use materials.

9. As the children work, ask them whom they are making a home for. Note student responses.

Day 4: (30 minutes)

1. Continues with steps in the design process:

  • Share and Evaluate your Process and Ideas: Share children’s artwork from previous day. Ask children to comment as you show designs. Ask children if they would like to add materials to or subtract materials from their designs.
  • Finalize the Solution: Ask the children if they are content with design of their homes/habitats.
  • Articulate the Solution and the Process: Articulate why this was the best home/habitat. Articulate the process followed.

2. Tell the group that they will act out the story again. Once the children have broken into groups based on character choices, ask the group:

  • What happens first?
  • What happens next?
  • What do the owl babies say?
  • What happens in the end?

3. Assist the children in acting out the story.

4. Give the children the option of playing with the props in small groups or painting homes for the owl babies in the art center.


Review the student responses through out the lesson. I have provided multiple opportunities for student responses through out each step of the process and for each skill taught.

By asking questions, you are giving children the opportunity to verbally express their learning. By providing art materials and proposing that children build homes, you are giving children the opportunity to use materials to communicate their learning.  By asking children to take on a role in a story and act out a story, you are assessing the children’s ability to retell a story.

I will differentiate my instruction by asking higher level questions to those who are more advanced. I will provide multiple activities for skill development for those who are not as advanced.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Visit the zoo and observe the habitat of owls.

Hypothosize what owls eat based on their habitat.

Begin discussing what other animals have similar habitats.

Ask children to observe habitats in their own backyards. I will ask for a list of habitats found.

Ask children what other animals might miss their mothers.

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