Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Science - 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 - Pose and respond to questions about familiar objects


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 8 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’, have students reflect on which animals were featured in this episode. Ask students about their prior experiences with an owl and/or a magpie and what they know about the animals.

To engage students’ curiosity, create a mystery box with toys, models, and/or images of different kinds of nocturnal and diurnal animals. Choose toy animals or images that are as realistic as possible.

Some national/state museums have lending schemes and. on application, will send to the school specimens of animals/objects to be used in the classroom. Lending schemes such as the following may assist:

**Teachers note: Take caution when introducing specimens of actual dead animals to Aboriginal students and/or Torres Strait islander students as these may be a student’s totem, and such students are not permitted to handle these specimens. If it is a toy or replica, then there are no concerns.

Invite students to sit in a circle on the floor around the mystery box. Peek inside the box and make a show of selecting an owl and/or a magpie. At first, don’t show the selection to the children and have them guess what animal it is by either asking questions to which the teacher answers yes or no, or by the teacher describing the animal/s for the students to guess.

Place two hoops on the floor and put the owl and the magpie inside one hoop each. Explain that they will be placing the animal from the mystery box into one of the two hoops depending on whether that animal is like the owl or the magpie.

As a class, identify the characteristics of both animals, paying particular attention to how the owl is nocturnal and the magpie is diurnal.

Ask students to sit in a circle on the floor. Invite them to take turns and reach into the mystery box, select a toy animal or image, describe it to the class and decide which hoop it belongs to. Provide verbal or pictorial language prompts, such as, “Describe …:

  • the shape of the animal. How many legs, eyes, tail, ears, body shape, etc. does it have?
  • the size of the animal (in comparison to either the owl or the magpie). Is it bigger or smaller, or the same?
  • what the animal feels like. Is it furry, smooth, scaly, feathery, etc.?

Ask students what they already know about nocturnal animals. Explain again the difference between nocturnal and diurnal animals. Suggested resources include:

Ask students to examine the features of the nocturnal animals in the hoop and identify the similarities and differences. Complete the same activity for the diurnal group.

Animal Sorting Competition

This can be played as a physical matching game or as a team Quizlet.

Organise the class into teams of five students. Provide each team with a set of animal pictures which they are to sort and classify as either ‘Nocturnal’ or ‘Diurnal’.

No two groups have the same set of animals. Each team has two minutes to make informed choices about the set of animals on their table. At the end of the two minutes, each team evaluates their score. Students then have another minute to look at other group’s choices and change their own.

As a class, discuss how the students classified the animals and determined what characteristics are common to the animals under each category, including the animals that they got wrong.