Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Maths - Elaborate

One night, Little J hears the nocturnal Barking Owl and becomes fascinated by how the owl stays awake at night. In the morning, he is woken by the carolling of magpies and on the way to school, he is swooped by Maggie, the magpie. Miss Chen teaches the class about nocturnal animals.

Elaborate - Represent practical situations to model addition and sharing

Theme - NUMBER

Revisit Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’, and draw students’ attention to the very beginning when Big Cuz and Little J race through the back gate, home from school. Ask students if they remember who came first (Little J), second (Big Cuz), and third (Old Dog).

Inquire if students know the mathematical term regarding ’ordering’. Explain that these are ordinal numbers: the order of the numbers relates to the ordinal number but they have different names. Number 1 is first, 2 is second, etc. Test some examples, such as students in a line stating their place according to age, height, reddest hair, etc. Also, try using objects on a table or the numbers on a clock to test students’ understanding of ordinal numbers.

Introduce the number form of ordinals, e.g. 1st or 3rd. Try to get students to hear the end sound (-st, -rd, -th) related to the sound of the word. Show examples in word form. Have students match the word with the number form. Using flash cards, students could clap when they see 3rd, etc., either in number or word. Ask students to write ordinal numbers anywhere in the classroom and in the playground, such as whiteboard, sandpit, and in shaving cream on the desktop to reinforce their identification and understanding of the numerical form, the number word, and these ordinal numbers’ application in practical situations .

Organise activities based on ordering, such as:

  • parts of the school day
  • days of the week
  • months of the year.

Using a calendar, ask students to find, for example, the second Thursday of the month, etc. On a calendar month template, have students write the ordinal in each space on the date square, e.g. write 1st on the first day of the month, and so on.


Invite a local Aboriginal representative and/or Torres Strait Islander representative to talk with students and teach them the numerical knowledge and understandings of Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Bartering and commercial trade among nations was routine practice.

The bartering and trade between the Maccassan’s and Yolngu people is believed to be the world’s earliest example of ‘international business/trade based on supply and demand’ – the product of the exchange was the sea cucumber.

Suggested teacher resource:

  • Australian Aboriginal enumeration
    This webpage sets out the signs for the Wotjoballuk counting system. Encourage students to practise these signs and apply them to basic calculations and ordinal numbers.

Divide the class into groups and ask the groups to perform an ‘ordinal number’ dance. Each group selects two numbers that are a secret only to them. Together, they act out the numbers in various moves or using objects and including the Woyjoballuk number counts. The class guesses which numbers and ordinal positions the group has chosen.

Suggested resource: