Territories: YEAR 1 - HPE - Explain2

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 - Recognise situations and opportunities to promote health, safety and wellbeing.

Theme - HEALTH

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 12 ‘Territories’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding about cooperation, sharing, resilience and safety.

Ask students to identify what smell Big Cuz and Little J disagree about. Explain that animals communicate through their sense of smell and mark their territory with their scent.. Explore what students have observed about animals and leaving their scent, including dogs’ and cats’ behaviours when they meet each other, and people. Have students recall parts of the episode when Old Dog becomes aware of the possum and ask students if Old Dog was aware of the possum because he heard it or smelt the possum.

Ask students to recall what Levi brings to ‘Animal Show and Tell’. Explore the words for animal poo including droppings, dung, manure, scat and coprolites (fossilised dinosaur poo). Animals leave their poo in specific places to communicate to other animals that they have been there. The scent in dung can indicate an animal’s gender, health and willingness to mate. Aboriginal hunters/trackers and/or Torres Strait Islander hunters/trackers know the tracks of animals on Country and can also read the type of animal, its age and health by looking at scat they find. Traces of what the animal last ate help hunters read the interactions between different animal species.

Suggested resources:

  • What Scat is that?
  • Cusick, D. (2013). Get the scoop on animal poop!: From lions to tapeworms - 251 cool facts about scat, frass, dung, and more!.

View the Cloaca 'Poop Machine' at MONA of poo being made by machine, which is an artist’s installation at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Tasmania. The Belgian artist Wim Delvoye built this machine to mimic the actions of the human digestive system. A series of glass receptacles hang in a row with the machine being “fed” twice a day on one end. The food is ground up “naturally,” the way it is in the human body, and the device produces faeces every day at 2 pm at the other end. As a class, discuss the process illustrated by the machine to produce ‘poo’.

Ask the class if they can identify animal scat in the bush. Invite those students to share their experience and knowledge. Working in pairs have students prepare the following experiment to create ‘artificial’ scat.

Students select an Australian animal, find an image of its scat, to estimate the size, shape and composition to model the ‘artificial’ scat on.


Take a cooked, peeled potato and a zip lock bag. Tell students the bag is the animal’s stomach. Place the potato in the bag.

Ask students what animals need other than food. Add a little bit of water (only 4–5 tablespoons) to the zip lock bag and start squashing the potato. Explain that animals’ stomachs (including ours) squeeze and mash food until it is broken down into small particles. This allows the animal’s body to absorb all the nutrients and water from the food.

Open the bag and add a small handful of short, cut pieces of grass or soft leaves, zip lock the bag. Mash the bag and let students mash it, until the vegetable matter is breaking up and combining with the potato.

Carefully cut a small piece off one bottom corner of the bag. Securely tape an old knee high ladies stocking over that corner.

Squeeze the potato through the corner hole into the stocking. Explain that when the stomach has done all of its mashing, the food moves into the long and short intestines. Some animals actually have more than one stomach to mash grasses and plants better, to get more nutrients out of the food.

Hang the stocking over a bucket and place it out of reach for a couple of hours or overnight. The water will slowly drip down into the bucket (pee) and the solids will condense into a thick, dry-ish poo-like shape at the toe of the stocking.


  1. Examine the ‘poo’ when it is about half dry, and have students describe what they can see, especially the grass tracings or leaves. Discuss how a hunter examines droppings like this to see what an animal has been eating.
  2. Make more than one ‘potato poo’, adding a scent to each one. Useful and economical scented items are chopped herbs such as rosemary, a pinch or two of curry powder, or a drop of eucalyptus oil.

As a class, discuss what animals eat and add relevant items to the mashed potato (e.g. apple and some seeds = ‘parrot poo’, green grass = ‘wombat poo’.)


When the poo models are semi-dry, hold an identification session and have students break them open and decide which animal they belong to, using scent and observation of the food remains. Discuss how this would be a useful skill for a hunter to have learnt in real life.

Students use their experience to add to their presentation about their chosen animal’s droppings and how these help mark territory.

Applying discoveries

Discuss with students how the foods humans eat will also affect the smell and consistency of our human ‘poo’. Have students pose questions about what heathy poo may be like and what unhealthy poo might be like. Have students suggest which foods would make it easier to pass a poo.

As a class, develop a list of good foods that assist human with digestion, health and wellbeing. Refer to Five Food Groups, Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, Healthy Kids Association.