Transformation: YEAR 1 - Science - Explore

Little J finds a Hawk Moth caterpillar on the Tar vine in the backyard that he names ‘Sausage’. He wants to take it to school but the caterpillar has other ideas and disappears underground. Nanna teaches Little J the story about the Yeperenye caterpillar of the Arrente 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’.

Explore - Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 10 ‘Transformation’, ask students to name the vine where the caterpillar is found: a Tar vine. Have students predict why the vine is named ‘Tar vine’ and list the suggestions. Explain that the Tar vine was named because it is often tacky and feels sticky to touch. It is a perennial low-growing vine that has unevenly spaced leaves with sticky hairs, small pink to purple flowers in summer, and a stout taproot.

Suggested resources to investigate the Tar vine:

Using an image of a caterpillar on a Tar vine plant, have students suggest why Little J called his caterpillar, ‘Sausage’.

Have students learn one of the Arrente people’s dialect words for

  • tar vine: ayepe.
  • belong to: arenye.
  • caterpillar: ayepe-arenye or yeperenye (sometimes spelled yipirinye).

Divide the class into smaller groups and ask students to research other caterpillars that have habitats in Australia, particularly caterpillars for moths and/or butterflies in their local area.

Questions to be responded to include:

  1. The common name, the scientific name, and the Aboriginal name and/or Torres Strait Islander name for the caterpillar/moth/butterfly?
  2. A description and image of the caterpillar.
  3. What the caterpillar eats, and what eats it?
  4. How long does the caterpillar live for, and what it turns into (life cycle)?
  5. Which season/s are the caterpillar encouraging growth, and when do they hibernate?
  6. The Aboriginal Dreaming stories and/or Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) stories about the caterpillar/moth/butterfly?

Invite each group to present their report to the class.

An additional exploration can be about what Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples used the vine/flower for. Ask students to research nets, baskets and bags made by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples:

Reports should include:

  • What the woven articles were made from?
  • How they were woven and what patterns and designs were included?
  • Where they were made, and who made them?
  • What the purpose/function of the woven articles was?


Invite local Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to demonstrate basket weaving and to teach students traditional weaving and basket making techniques.

Students could make a bag/net from natural materials found in the school grounds and using string and other available materials.

Have students enter their data and research about animals, seasonal behaviours and traditional tools and technologies of Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait islander peoples 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