Transformation: YEAR 2 - Science - Elaborate

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’.

Elaborate - Use a range of methods to sort information, including drawings and provided tables and through discussion, compare observations with predictions


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 10 ‘Transformation’, ask students to identify parts of the story focused on place, bush tucker and the seasons.

Introduce students to how the Arrernte people in central Australia use the Yeperenye or Hawk moth caterpillar as a source of food. Enquire of students if they have ever seen or eaten Witchety grubs.

Show students a selection of images of Witchety grubs, and have students pose and respond to questions about why people would eat a ‘grub’; what it would taste like, feel like and smell like. Have students consider why the Arrernte people harvested the grubs as food, and what value the grubs serve in a traditional diet for the Arrernte people.

Investigate and examine the life cycle of the moth/Butterfly and moth life stages (PDF) and identify and describe which part of the life cycle students think would provide the best food source, and be the easiest to find and capture.

Listen to Veronica Dobson, a senior Eastern-Arrernte woman in the radio recording, Sacred caterpillars plentiful after rain, ABC Alice Springs, for the method used to cook Yeperenye caterpillars. Have students discuss whether eating the Yeperenye caterpillars would be a treat for Arrernte peoples and the reason why they think so.

Further resources about bush tucker include:

Little J called his caterpillar ‘Sausage’ after his favourite food, and the resemblance of the caterpillar to a sausage. As a class, invite students to make their own ‘caterpillar’ to decorate and eat.

People who have tasted Witchety grubs and caterpillars say that when cooked the taste is like scrambled eggs. Explain to students they are to invent their own grub with the similar shape, size. Taste and feel as a real Witchety grub or Yeperenye caterpillar. Here are two healthy ways to simulate eating grubs/caterpillars:

 ‘Sausage’ caterpillar

  1. Bake or microwave whole potatoes in their skins. Cool them, scrape out and mash the potato flesh.
  2. Toss the potato skins in 2 tbsp of olive oil, and 2–3 pinches of salt. Bake until crispy, which is about 4–6 minutes at 180 degrees (adult supervision is required to use heating equipment and handle hot ingredients).
  3. Add any other vegetables students suggest, such as sweet potato skins or carrots; grate the larger/harder vegetables.
  4. Fill the crispy skins with the mashed potato filling, or roll a ‘sausage’’ of the potato/vegetable filling in the potato skins.
  5. Students can decorate the ‘grubs’ to look more realistic and then eat them!

 ‘Crispy skins’ of caterpillars

  1. Make a tasting dish of something crunchy and baked, similar to Yeperenye skins.
  2. Bake or microwave whole potatoes in their skins.
  3. Cool them, squish or scrape out the insides and have students toss the remaining potato skins in 2tbsp olive oil and 2-3 pinches of salt.
  4. Bake until crispy – 2-4 minutes at 180 degrees (an adult should attend to this stage)

Have students suggest what other vegetables could be used, e.g. sweet potato, carrots, etc.

After trying these crispy skins, ask students to suggest if Yeperenye skins might have been a treat for Arrernte children.

If using the skins of the potato only: The insides of the potatoes don’t need to be discarded. They can be mashed together with a little olive oil, milk, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg and reheated to eat. Or add an egg to this mixture and chopped or snipped fresh herbs such as chives, mint or thyme. Students press the mixture between their hands into little patties. Lay them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, and an adult can fry them, a few at a time, in olive oil in a non-stick pan until golden and slightly firm. Eat warm.

Ask students to write the recipe as a procedural text including the headings Ingredients, Equipment and Method.  Discuss how living matter changes when heated, which ingredients affect taste, and which recipe was the healthier and/or tastiest.

As a class, plan a feast celebrating local bush foods and seasonal fruits.  Have students enter their data and research about the life cycle of the Yeperenye caterpillar and their seasonal foods for Arrernte people or local 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