Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Maths - Engage

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.

Engage - Connect days of the week to familiar events and actions

Theme - TIME

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Moring Magpie”, revisit the information Nanna tells Little J about why the father Magpie swoops. Have students recall information about the time of year, the reasons for the swooping, and when the swooping may stop.

Using Quizlet or Kahoot develop a multiple choice, quiz for students on their existing concepts of time, for example:

  1. How many hours on a clock face?
  2. How many times does the hour hand go around the clock in a day?
  3. How many minutes in an hour?
  4. How many days in a week?
  5. How many weeks in a month?

Calculate the class results to ascertain existing/prior knowledge.

Have students make suggestions for how to tell the time without using a clock or watch device. Provide prompts for them to guess that the sun, and day/night are clues. List other ways they suggest also.

Making a sundial: Take students outdoors into a sunny spot.

  1. In a sand pit or in soft soil, hammer a 30–40 cm long stick approximately 4–5 cm into the ground. Attach a string that is approximately one metre in length. Draw a circle around the stick rotating the end of the string around the stick. Draw a line that divides the circle in half, going through the stick (the centre of the circle). Ask students to notice where the shadow of the stick falls on the circle and mark the point.
  2. Look at a clock face and see what the time is. Where the shadow is marked on the circle put the number of the hour closest to the time it is. (If it is half past the hour, mark it as the half-hour between the two numbers.)
  3. Using the string, find the point diagonally opposite the shadow on the other side of the circle. Mark this as the number diagonally opposite on a clock. Have students suggest where the other numbers will be on the circle, dividing the circle into quarters, and eights. Number the diagonal points in sequence 1–12 representing the hour numbers on a clock face. Also, measure the length of the shadow and record this measurement against the exact time on a time chart.
  4. Have students predict what the ‘shadow’ will do in the next hour, therefore, how the shadow might change, in particular, its length and position, on the sand circle.                                                                                                                                                                 Ask students why they believe the shadow will move to a different position. Direct their responses to ‘the position of the sun’.
  5. Have students suggest in what compass direction the sun is at, and where does the sun rise and set. Invite students to suggest their understanding of compass points and where north, south, east and west are in relation to the position of the stick.

Suggested resources:


Invite an Aboriginal Elder or recognised representative and/or Torres Strait Islander Elder or recognised representative to visit the classroom and explain how Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples knew how to calculate the length of day and night, and the ‘time’ of the day, e.g. the sun rising and setting, birds and animals activities at dawn and dusk, the length of shadows, wind direction at times of the year, etc.

Read and/or view Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories and ask students what can be learnt about natural phenomena from these stories. Link to other cultural stories and discuss how students can apply it to their understanding of time.

Suggested resources:

Individually or as a group, play the games about ‘Time’: