Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Science - Explain

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.

Explain - Engage in discussions about observations and represent ideas


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘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.

Provide the class with Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories, and also non-Indigenous stories associated with ‘nocturnal’ animals/birds. Discuss how the each animals has special features that adapt to the day or night conditions.

As a class, read/view Possum Magic by Mem Fox, and discuss why Grandma Poss makes Hush invisible. Ask students questions about the characters and the story, in respect to how nocturnal animals survive.

Texts to read/view include:

  • Fox, M. & Vivas, J.  (2015). Possum magic.  Parkside, SA:  Omnibus Books.
  • Srinivasan, D. (2011). Little Owl's night. New York: Viking Children’s Books.
  • Tomlinson, J. & Howard, P. (2000). The owl who was afraid of the dark. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press: 
  • Waddell, M. (1992). Owl babies (1st U.S. ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press. 
  • McKay, H. F.  (2001). Gadi mirrabooka : Australian Aboriginal tales from the dreaming.  Englewood., Colorado:  Libraries Unlimited.

Provide the class with Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories, and non-Indigenous stories associated with ‘diurnal’ animals/birds.

Texts to read/view include:

Introduce students to the following resources and ask them to observe and recall any science facts about nocturnal animals:

Invite students to pose questions about nocturnal animals that they have encountered. Have students apply the information they heard and saw in the resources to what they have observed and know about animals in their own local area.

Ask students to list the names of animals they believe come out at night and visit their home. The list might include possums, rats, feral cats/dogs, moths, mosquitoes, wombats, echidnas, etc.

Hunt the Nocturnal

Participate in Hunt the Nocturnal. With the assistance of an adult, encourage each student to investigate their backyard at night to see what animals inhabit it. Have students document their investigation with photographs of tracks, recordings of animal sounds, specimens (skat, half eaten plants and fruit, fur, feathers, etc.), and/or stories about the hunt. Share their evidence collection as a ‘Show and Tell’ with the class.

Create a class bar graph and use images of the types of animals seen at night in the local area. Discuss the findings and list the information produced by the students, such as:

  • Which animals are plentiful on the graph?
  • Do they have common characteristics?
  • Which animals are absent?
  • Why is this?

Individually, have students draw a picture of a nocturnal animal and write or tell the class what behaviours the animal gets up to at night. (The teacher may need to scribe for students and find out what they know about nocturnal animals). Invite students to play, The Animal Game and /or read the book, Roy, J. (2013). Guess “Who am I?” Animal Picture Book.

Have students enter their findings about diurnal and nocturnal animals 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