Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Science - 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 - Participate in guided investigations and make observations using the senses 


Divide the class into two groups based on the animal totems: (1) Barn Owls, and (2) Magpies. Everyone in each group should find one fact about their totem bird to contribute to a group report. To help guide the research, students could use the following questions:

  • What does the bird look like? Size, shape, colouring, etc.
  • Where in Australia can you find the bird?
  • Which other parts of the world can you find the bird?
  • What are some of the specific habits and behaviours of the bird (for example, some magpies collect shiny objects)?
  • What does the bird like to eat?
  • Where does the bird build its nests?
  • What habitat does the bird prefer?
  • What does the bird sound like?
  • Is the bird nocturnal or diurnal?
  • Does it contribute positively or negatively to the environment?
  • Is the bird native to Australia?
  • How does it interact with humans?

Ask the groups to find out and retell any Aboriginal stories and/or Torres Strait Islander stories about the birds, and to find out what the names of the birds are in different languages, particularly the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait islander language group.

Suggested resources for the research include:

Barking owls:

**Teachers note: Some Aboriginal groups view the barking owl as a ‘devil/ghost’ that is a forewarning of the ‘devil/ghost’ coming to take children away – hence the reference to ‘lost children’ in early Australian literature.


Examine Aboriginal artworks and/or Torres Strait Islander artworks that represent the two birds in episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’. As a class, discuss how each of the artists has represented their subject. Have students elaborate on what special features of the bird has the artist captured and portrayed to the audience. Here are a few examples:

Have students create a group poster/illustration to represent their animal.

Each group is to develop a report as a poster or a book (either online or physical) about their bird totem using the scientific information they researched, and the stories and paintings about the bird by Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. The report should address the questions listed above and include illustrations and photos of the bird, and examples of Aboriginal paintings/images and/or Torres Strait Islander paintings/images of the bird.

Report writing resources:

Have students enter their report about the barking Owl or the Magpie in their Science Journal:

A science journal is a record of a students’ observations, experiences and reflections. Each entry is dated and annotated by the student. Annotations may include written labels, drawings, diagrams, charts, small specimens, photographs, and graphs. Student engagement and learning is evident in the science journal.”

Sourced from: Primary Connections, Linking science with literacy