Territories: FOUNDATION - HASS - Explain

A possum disturbs Old Dog, and a ‘cranky’ magpie swoops at anyone who steps into the backyard. Little J and Big Cuz share a room and when Little J steps on Big Cuz’s art project, a disagreement over territory ensues. The result is a clear dividing line to mark their individual territory. But they discover they have to compromise on a shared space, and cooperate in order to move in and out of the room, and to get past the swooping magpie in the backyard. Their joint, inventive solution wins high praise from the class at ‘show & tell’.

Explain - Interpret data and information displayed in pictures and texts and on maps

Theme - MAPS

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 12 ‘Territories’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding about place, maps and boundaries.

Explain how each wild animal needs enough food to survive and raise its young, a nesting or sleeping spot, or burrow site. Animals might share this area with family and group members, or they might occupy it alone. When we call an animal ‘territorial’ we are saying that it defends this area aggressively, keeping out other animals of the same kind. This is because they might eat the food or occupy the nesting, sleeping or burrow site.

As a class, examine the aerial photograph at, ‘Koalas Live in Home Ranges’.

Examine the first aerial photo to explore and identify the features of the landscape, such as trees, open grassland, cleared fields, etc. Explain how the diagram was developed (it is a diagram, rather than a map), and the symbols used for male and female koalas. Each individual has also been named and given a data tag such as M1 (male 1) or F3 (female 3). Using the diagram, ask students to decide which koala might be the most dominant (powerful). Discuss the students’ observations, such as where the territories overlap and why this may occur.

Explain to the class how koalas mark their territory, particularly the trees, with a scent so that all other animals know which koala lives where and in which trees. Discuss if a koala is better having a territory completely covered with trees (like F5 at the top left), or a territory with open spaces like M1 at the bottom). If necessary, remind students about what koalas eat and where they live.

Explore what would be the result for the koalas and other animals that live in the area if trees were cleared. Explain that protecting the homes of animals is called ‘habitat conservation’ (‘habitat’ means ‘home’). Compare the habitat map to the map of where koalas are found in Australia (distribution). Have students suggest why koalas are only found in the eastern states near the coast. Ask the class questions such as, what would a koala need in its habitat to ensure its survival? Suggested resource: Distribution.

Using print-outs of satellite images of the school and school grounds, have students mark the map with the following areas:

  • zones for specific activities such as ball games, gardening or playing
  • zones mostly used by people on foot, on bicycles or in cars.

If one of these ideas is not feasible for the school yard, perhaps provide copies of a line drawing of the internal layout of the school building. Schools usually have demarked territories for different age groups and for functions such as administration.

Provide an opportunity for students to make observations about the different types of maps. Help students to define symbols or labels and discuss any ‘grey areas’ where students are unsure or where territories might overlap. These areas may be the focus of short observations. The result should look similar to the koala territory map but it records local knowledge held by the students about their school.

Suggested teacher resources: