Transformation: FOUNDATION - Science - Explain

In the backyard, Little J finds a Hawk Moth caterpillar on the Tar vine that he names ‘Sausage’. He wants to take Sausage to school but the caterpillar has other ideas and disappears underground. Nanna teaches Little J the story about the Yeperenye caterpillar of the Arrernte people from central Australia. Sausage finally returns to give Little J a further lesson on life cycles. Sissy wants to perform a dance for the school with Big Cuz, but Big Cuz feels ‘shame’.

Explain - Share observations and ideas 

Theme - TIME

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 10 ‘Transformation’, engage students with the following learning activities to support their understanding about time, and seasonal change.

1. Moon watching

Before starting this activity, check the current phase of the Moon with a Southern Hemisphere astronomy source, Moon Phase Calendar.

If the date is one week before or one week after a full Moon, the Moon will be visible during the daytime and you can conduct an outdoor observation. Check exact times of the Moon’s appearance, with Compute moonrise and moonset times, which gives data on a 24-hour clock for locations across Australia. Suggestions for the outdoor observation are given at the end of the activity.

Instruct students to imagine themselves outside at night and use the See/Hear/Feel strategy to collect their thoughts. Ask students what they know about the stars that appear in the night sky.

Read the Aboriginal Dreaming story, How The Moon Was Made – An Aboriginal Dreamtime Creation Story. Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples know how the Moon changes every night as it gets larger (waxes) and shrinks (wanes). Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories tell of the Moon moving across the sky because it is searching for something. There are also a few stories telling of the Moon as a woman looking for a lost child. Other stories tell of how the stars and the Milky Way are fixed in relationship to each other but change in relation to the Earth. For example, in summer the Milky Way runs roughly north-south and in winter it runs roughly east-west. As a class, discuss how this knowledge was important for navigating the land and the ocean.

Many Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories record observations of the Moon and the stars.

Suggested resources, include

Invite students to sing songs about stars, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Ask the class what they know about the stars, what they are made of, and how are they visible to us.  

Find images of the constellations called Orion and the Southern Cross. Discuss how it is possible that different cultures in the world had different names for  the same stars.  A good resource to use is Star Chart app or the Museum of Applied Arts & Science Monthly Sky Guides.

Often, cultural stories contain a moral, as well as information about the time of year when it is best to hunt, fish, or gather certain foods, or when to be careful of storms at sea. Provide students with a copy of a Star Chart app showing the names of constellations. Ask students to find the Orion and the Southern Cross constellations, and others such as the Milky Way, the Big Dipper, and Tagai’s Canoe.

Outdoor observation of the Daytime Moon

2. Daytime Moon:

If the current date is within a week of the full Moon (before or after), the Moon should be visible during the day.

Ask students if they think the Moon is visible during the day. Go outside with the class to look for the Moon using a telescope, if available. Demonstrate how to scan the sky, from left to right, up to down. Some cultures call the daytime Moon the ‘Children’s Moon’ because the children have sharp eyes to see it against the pale sky.

Have students create an illustration/painting of the night sky including the star constellations or take photographs that students can use in a collage. Encourage students to label the name of the constellation in English, and in the traditional Aboriginal language and/or Torres Strait Islander language from their local area. (e.g. Orion is Djulpan, meaning the Three Brothers, in Yolngu.)

Additional suggested resources

Have students enter their data and research about stars, constellations and their cultural stories 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