Night Owl, Morning Magpie: YEAR 1 - 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 - Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions

Theme - DAY & NIGHT

Revisit the story of Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’ and, ask students to suggest what the term, ‘nocturnal’, means and have students recall which nocturnal Australian animals were identified in episode 13, e.g. Barking owl, bats, bilbies and wombats.

View the Earth rotation: night and day (game) and Changes in the sky, and have students develop a set of questions to help them find out more information. As a class, discuss the rotation of the earth and its relationship to the sun to produce ‘night’ and ‘day’. If feasible, organise a ‘Night under the Stars’ camp-out at school to study the night sky.

Ask students consider if ‘day and night’ may have a bearing on the weather. Discuss how people experience warmth during the day due to the sun, and cool or cold during the night when the moon is visible. Have students predict the effects of the sun and moon on weather patterns, e.g. flood, tides, storms, drought, heat waves, etc.

As a class, view the video, Moon and Stars Video and draw students’ attention to:

  • the moon with its changing phases and its effect on the tides
  • the sun as our closest star and its effects on the land and seas
  • the meteors, comets, and other stars that appear in the sky at night

Organise the class into groups and have each group explore a different topic, e.g. the daily positions of the sun, or the monthly phases of the moon, or the seasonal (main) constellations in the southern sky. Ask each group to develop a diagram to explain to the class what they found out.

Suggested resources:

Introduce information and stories about Aboriginal seasonal calendars and/or Torres Strait Islander seasonal calendars, particularly the solar and lunar cycles using stone arrangements, and stories about the Southern hemisphere constellations.

Ask each group to create a mobile to explain the movement of their celestial body and the science principle explored, such as, the daily positions of the sun, the monthly phases of the moon, the tides, the seasonal (main) constellations in the southern sky, etc.

Materials for the mobile should include bendable wire (coat hangers), foam balls, fishing line, paint and/or coloured materials to cover the balls, and a lamp (source of light ‘sun’). The students should design and construct a negotiated assemblage of objects to explore and describe the concept of their topic.

To consolidate understanding and extend students’ interests in the topics, set up a reading corner with books about time and seasons, and Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories. For example,


  • Milroy, G. & Milroy, J.  (2011). Dingo’s tree.  Broome, WA :  Magabala Books
  • Richardson, T. & Houston, B.  (2012). My home Broome.  Broome, WA :  Magabala Books


  • Branley, F. M. & Schuett, S. (1998). Day light, night light: Where light comes from. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Brown, M. W. & Hurd, C. (1975). Goodnight moon. New York: HarperTrophy.
  • Harper, D. & Moser, B. & Moser, C. (1998). Telling time with Big Mama Cat. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
  • Paakantji Community. & Thompson, Liz.  (2011). The moon and the gecko = Patjuka wura punu : a story from the Paakantji Community.  Port Melbourne, Vic :  Pearson Australia


  • Bhathal, R. & Bhathal, J. & National Library of Australia.  (2006). Australian backyard astronomy.  Canberra, ACT :  National Library of Australia
  • Driscoll, M. & Hamilton, M. (2004). A child's introduction to the night sky: The story of the stars, planets, and constellations, and how you can find them in the sky. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
  • Mitton, J., & Balit, C. (2003). Once upon a starry night: A book of constellation stories. Washington, D.C: National Geographic
  • Mitton, J. & Balit, C., & Tirion, W. (1998). Zoo in the sky: A book of animal constellations. Washington, D.C: National Geographic Society. 
  • Norris, R. P. & Norris, C.  (2009).  Emu dreaming : an introduction to Australian Aboriginal astronomy.  North Rocks, NSW :  Emu Dreaming

Have students enter their data and research about the day and night sky and the seasonal calendars into 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