Transformation: YEAR 2 - 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 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’.

Explore - Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions


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.

As a class, watch and discuss the following time-lapse video of caterpillars pupating (changing) into butterflies.

Write the word ‘Metamorphosis’ on the board and ask students what they think the word means. Have students pose questions about what is happening in the clip. Divide the class into pairs to complete the I see, I think, I wonder strategy. Have each pair share their ideas with the class about the life cycle of the caterpillar. List the students’ collective knowledge of life cycle, and ask students to research what they don’t know.

Introduce students to the Yeperenye (also spelled Yipirinya) or Hawk moth caterpillar and ask students to develop a life cycle chart for the Yeperenye caterpillar. This is a generic chart showing the life cycle of a moth to use as a visual prompt.

Explore the wide variety of Australian moths found on the CSIRO catalogue, CSIRO’s Australian Moths Online and have students find and explain the meaning of the words, Lepidoptera and Lepidopterist and investigate the work of biological scientists applied in the study of animals.

‘Lepidoptera’ is the term referring to the family of moths, butterflies and skipper insects, and means ‘scaly wing’.

‘Lepidopterist’ is the term applied to scientists who study moths. They observe moths and classify them into groups based on their physical features and life cycle.

On the Life cycle of a Yeperenye caterpillar (Hawk moth) chart, have students include specific information:

  • When and where eggs are laid by an adult moth (on the Tar vine).
  • The time it takes to hatch into a caterpillar, what it eats when hatched.
  • Length of time to grow into an adult caterpillar, and how big it is as an adult.
  • When it starts to digs a burrow, and pupates.
  • How the caterpillar metamorphoses into a moth and the time it takes to complete the transformation (1–25 weeks depending on the moisture content of the soil and other factors).
  • When it emerges as a moth: its size, colours, patterns and markings.

Have students apply their knowledge of a ‘life cycle’ by choosing their own caterpillar/moth to investigate and ask students to present a, life cycle diagram, Glogster or small book/report on their selected caterpillar/moth. The information presented needs to replicate the points listed above but be applied to the caterpillar/moth they choose.

Because the CSIRO’s Australian Moths Online only shows the moth stage, students will need to research about the life cycle stages of their selected moth/caterpillar. Have students include the scientific name of the caterpillar/moth and the seasons in which the caterpillar/moth completes its life cycle, as well as the specific details of each stage of the life cycle. (There may be more than one life cycle for the caterpillar/moth per year). Use a life cycle template to organise the information.

Students should also find the  scientific name for the caterpillar/moth, such as ‘Hyles livornicoides’. Consult CSIRO’s Australian Moths Online.

  • Family – Sphingidae
  • Sub-family – Macroglossinae
  • Species - Hyles livornicoides

Alternatively, students may like to create their own version of Eric Carle’s ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ story using their own caterpillar/moth. Invite all students to share their investigations and illustrations with the class.

Have students enter their data and research about animals and their seasonal behaviours 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