Night Owl, Morning Magpie: FOUNDATION - Science - Explore

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.

Explore - Share observations and 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.

Develop a list of nocturnal and diurnal animals, birds, insects, reptiles with the class and present the question:

  • What type of habitat (food, water, shelter) do each of the animals require for their survival?
  • What special features of these nocturnal and diurnal animals help them to survive?

To launch the discussion, watch BBC Bitesize about what all animals need to survive. From the class, elicit their responses about air, food, water, shelter (and rest). Direct their observations to the animals featured in Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’ and have students hypothesise about what an owl and a magpie need to survive.

Display pictures labelled with students’ observations and examinations of the special features of selected animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, insects, etc.) particularly:

  • the outer body covering, such as fur, feathers, scales
  • the eyes, such as size, shape and specific features
  • the mouth/teeth, such as size, shape and specific features
  • the feet/claws/toes and how the animals use them
  • the way the animal moves, such as legs, wings, tail, etc.

Alternatively, use a concept map to support a discussion about the size, shape and purpose for each part of the animal.

Using a virtual ecosystem (Scootle: TLF-IDM009240) as a model, discuss how animals adapt to their environment to survive by being connected to an ecosystem of plants and animals in their environment:

Organise a Habitat Hunt in the school grounds. An inquiry question for students to respond to could be: Why do living things live where they live?

**Teachers note: It is not recommended to enter important ceremonial/cultural/sacred sites without appropriate permission.

Give pairs or small groups of students a magnifying glass, camera and a box to collect samples and information about the soil, animals and plants found in various areas of their school. Using a map of the school, allocate student groups a certain location in the school to investigate. Use a school map to clarify where each group should go.

Invite students to generate questions about the habitat that they will explore and what animals they think they will find. Provide starting points such as:

  • Where is the habitat? Colour it on the map.
  • Does it get lots of, or just a little, sunlight?
  • How does it get watered? e.g. rain, sprinkler or no water
  • What physical features does it have? e.g. soil, rocks, grass, bushes, trees, sand, etc.
  • What animals inhabit the environment? e.g. ants, spiders, birds, mice, beetles, moths, etc.
  • Which animals come out at night to use the habitat, and which do we see in the daylight?

Gather students back to class and have each group report back regarding the different habitats they explored. Create a whole-class wall map of the school habitats and the animals the students found inhabiting each of these areas. Ask students to label each animal as either nocturnal or diurnal. Have students compare which animals they found and list the ones that were found in every habitat, e.g. ants, bees, etc. Ask students to explain why these animals are prevalent in so many habitats in the school. As a class, publish the findings as a presentation or a photo story of the school’s diurnal and nocturnal environment (habitats).

Make a class mural of the images/drawing that students produce. Or, have students start a Science Journal and save their images and diagrams into it.

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

Suggested teacher resources: