Night Owl, Morning Magpie: YEAR 1 - Maths - 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 - Describe duration using months, weeks, days and hours

Theme - TIME

Revisit Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’, and draw students’ attention to the time the Barking Owl was heard, and Little J’s attempt to stay awake like a nocturnal owl. Have students predict the time the owl woke Little J, and how long, in hours and minutes, Little J stayed awake.

As a class, discuss the concept of time, how it is calculated and what natural force/s (sun and moon) determined the time of day, days of the week, seasons, and months in a year. Investigate how Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples calculated the time of day.

Organise either an


Invite a local Aboriginal Elder or recognised representative and/or Torres Strait Islander Elder or recognised representative to explain how Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples plotted the sun and the moon, and the other signs of time observed in the environment, e.g.

  • the sun rising and setting, and its movement across the sky
  • bird and animal activity at dawn and dusk
  • the length of shadows during the day, month and season
  • wind directions, weather conditions, and tides at times of the day, month and year



Visit a local Aboriginal heritage site and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage site to explore methods of telling time. Access words/terms from the local language for students to learn.

If local knowledge is unavailable, access the following websites for information:

Explain to students that throughout history, different cultures have used different method to measure time. Ask students to nominate the units of time (seconds, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, etc.) Have students pose and respond to questions such as:

  • Has time measurement always been the same as it is today?
  • How did time-keeping evolve?
  • What technologies have been used to tell the time, past and present?

Divide the class into groups and provide students with a Fishbone graphic organiser to assign information the group discovers about a selected topic. If appropriate for the class, suggest that students develop their own inquiry questions using the 5W words (Who, What, Why, When, Where & How) to expand their responses. Each student within the groups should source two key facts about their selected topic.

A selection of topics about time could include:

  • How was time measured during the
    • Egyptian kingdoms?
    • Chinese dynasties?
    • Aztec civilization?
    •  …or other ancient civilization?
  • What is the Greco-Roman calendar?
  • How did Australian Aboriginals tell the time? (Investigation: Australian Aboriginal Astronomy)
  • What astrological time technologies did an Indian Maharajah invent? (Jantar Mantar)
  • What is a
    • Hourglass?
    • cuckoo clock?
    • water clock?
    • fob watch?
  • When were they invented?
  • Who invented them?
  • Where were they invented?
  • Name six famous clocks in the world. Where are they, when were they made, and why are they famous?
  • What is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)? Where is it and why is it important?
  • What is daylight saving, and when was it adopted in Australia? Why did only some states/territories adopt it and others not?
  • What is a ‘Leap Year’? When will it next occur, and why does it exist?

Collaborate with the teacher librarian to source suitable information sources for students.

Ask groups to find images of the time objects they investigate. Invite the groups to share their findings with the class and display the Fishbone organisers.

Suggested teacher resources: