Night Owl, Morning Magpie: YEAR 2 - Maths - Elaborate

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.

Elaborate - Explore the connection between addition and subtraction

Theme - TIME

Revisit the events of Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 13 ‘Night Owl and Morning Maggie’ and have students remember the saying that Old Dog and Nana say, “the early bird catches the worm”. Ask students to interpret what the saying means and why Nanna would say it to Little J.

Have students estimate what time is ‘early’. In this story, ‘early’ would suggest dawn or ‘at first light’. Have students research what time dawn was in their local area/state. Access the following resources to find out:

Ask students to also locate the time for ‘sunset’ and to calculate the length of day between ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ for their local area. Have students list the other names given to sunrise and sunset (dawn, dusk, twilight, etc.)

Invite students to tell their stories/experiences of seeing the dawn; encourage them to explain what they saw and experienced. For example, ask students to provide detail by describing the colours in the sky, how the sun rose over the horizon and if the sun rose over the sea (Eastern states) or over the mountains (Western states). Ask students to paint or draw a picture of the dawn.

Have students predict what animal behaviour takes place at dawn, and find out what birds and worms do. Worms surface from the ground during rains (especially in the spring) so they can move safely to new places. As worms breathe through their skin, they must stay wet for oxygen to pass through their skin. Early morning is when the maximum amount of dew is on the ground, which forces the worms above ground. As the sun gets higher in the sky and hotter, the worms burrow underground again.

Suggested resources:

Conduct a worm hunt in a school garden bed and count how many worms can be caught (and put back). Suggested resources:

Ask the students to predict how birds find worms. As a class, watch the clip:

Discuss the sense of hearing a bird must have to distinguish the movement of a worm in the ground. Have students nominate another nocturnal animal that Miss Chen talked about which uses (sound) ‘echolocation waves’ to move and catch their prey – the bat. As a class, watch the clips:

Discuss the information students learn from the clips about the bats. Predict the distances that bats can send out sound waves to hear what is in front of them.


Play a game of ‘Echolocation’. The class stands in a circle with one blindfolded student in the middle (like the games, Blind Man’s Bluff or Marco Polo). Nominate one of the students in the circle to be the prey that the blindfolded student needs to find. The student in the circle can only whisper their name repeatedly (audible but very low volume), until the student in the middle eventually finds them. To make the game more difficult, ask two other students to also whisper their name to confuse the blindfolded person. The middle finder needs to discern between the voices to know which sound to follow.

View the following clips and discuss the stories about how bats are portrayed in these Aboriginal stories:

Play the games to identify shapes of animals and habitat:

Learn a song about bats:

Give students three or four pieces of cardboard, the size of a playing card. Instruct the class to draw and label on one side one of these names: (1) worm, (2) bird or magpie, (3) owl, (4) microbat or flying fox. On the other side of the card, write NOCTURNAL, DIURNAL or BOTH NOCTURNAL & DIURNAL. Check with students that they will assign the correct type to the animal. Collect all cards when students are finished. Divide the class into approximately six groups. Shuffle the decks and deal out 10–12 cards per group.

Have students calculate the following data from the deal they have on the table, such as the

  1. number of nocturnal animals
  2. number of diurnal animals
  3. number of animals that are both diurnal and nocturnal
  4. number of pairs of the same animal
  5. number of discordant pairs e.g. bird and worm, bat and bird
  6. probability of the first and last card being a nocturnal animal, etc.

Students could also group the cards in multiples of 2, 4, 5, and 10. Have students record the data as written equations.

The students could also play ‘Snap’ and ‘Concentration’ games with the pack. Add to the pack other nocturnal animals to make it more challenging. Alternatively, use the seasons and months of the year rather than animals on the cards.