Australian Animals: a integrated unit of work
Aims...Students will find out about Australian native animals and their
adaptations to their environment, gain understandings about the inter-
relationships of living things, learn about issues relating to survival and
conservation. They will make observations, develop note taking and recording
skills, be able to locate resources and acknowledge their sources. They will share
acquired knowledge with their class.
Research...Locating resources and researching animals of choice will be an
ongoing activity as students learn about Australian animals and prepare a
presentation of learned facts and understandings. A good site to support these
ideas can be found on http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/Austanimals.htm.
Presentations / projects may take the form of charts and posters, booklets, talks,
computer presentations, dioramas or other display, drama, video or a
combination of any of these or the products of the activities listed below
Introducing...As an introductory activity, students should gain an
understanding of animal groups and the basic characteristics of each. Make a
class list together listing animal kingdom groups and the characteristics of each,
such as cold/warm blooded, covering, vertebrate/invertebrate etc.
Students should be familiarised with terminology such as habitat, carnivore,
camouflage, etc as the unit progresses. They should understand the 'bare
essentials' for survival: food, water, air, shelter, protection and reproduction. They
should have a broad understanding of concepts such as conservation,
endangered, survival, adaptation, interdependence.
Make lists, brainstorm to find out what they already know. Play games such as
what am I? Each student has a sticker placed on their back labelled with an
animal, or with the picture of an animal. They must determine what that is. They
move about asking others questions, to which the answer can only be yes or no.
Activity Ideas in Key Learning Areas...
For individual or group work or for use in cross-age application (buddies).
Select what is appropriate for your students.
Unless specified, the term 'animal' includes mammal, reptile, bird, insect etc.
Make a list or an A-Z of Australian animals.
Write stories about Australian animals in Australian settings.
Write information narratives about Australian animals, that is, a fiction story
introducing factual information gathered from research.
Write cinquain poetry . This form of poetry was invented by an American,
Adelaide Crapsey, in 1911. Strictly speaking, cinquain (pronounced san-cane) is
a poetic form consisting of five lines of two, four, six, eight and two syllables
respectively. Cinquains don't have titles but the first line announces the topic.
The format is:
Line 1: one word - title
Line 2: two words to describe
the title Example:
Line 3: three action words Furry marsupial
Hopping, jumping, bounding
Line 4: a four word phrase Proud emblem of Australia
Line 5: one word, a synonym
Construct a crossword puzzle about Australian animals, using researched facts
Write letters to newspapers, politicians or other appropriate bodies urging the
protection of Australia's endangered animals and the conservation of their
Debate issues such as:
Logging of Australia's old-growth forests should stop;
Farming of kangaroos and emus for food is a good thing;
There should be a curfew on cats and dogs to safeguard native wildlife;
Native animals should not be kept in captivity.
Speak as an 'Animal Expert’: select one Australian animal that you have
researched, and prepare to be questioned by the class. Alternatively, take on the
role of the animal and answer the questions put to you by the class.
Write an explanation of how some Australian animals have become endangered
species. Describe causes and effects of such things as introduced species,
habitat destruction and so on.
Make a wordsearch using the names of Australian animals.
Make 'What am I?' puzzles for others to read and solve.
Write about how you would feel if you were an Australian animal whose
existence was threatened because your habitat was disappearing.
Survey the class to find out what people's favourite Australian animal is. Make a
graph of the results.
Survey people to find out how many Australian native animals (including birds
and reptiles) they can name in one minute. From your results, identify the most
commonly named animal, the average number that people can list in a minute, or
other data. Present your findings graphically.
Make up maths problems involving Australian animals, and share these with the
class for others to solve.
Examples: 7 kangaroos...how many legs? tails? ears?
An emu runs at 50 kph...how long would it take to run from Adelaide to Melbourne?
Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE)
Locate on a map of Australia the places where some species of animals are
found. Draw the animals and show where they may be found.
Construct a diorama of an Australian animal in its habitat.
Research how Australia's Aborigines hunted animals for food.
Research and write a report about how the dingo came to Australia.
Compare the different habitats of Australian native animals. Classify them under
heading such as rainforest, desert, woodland, grasslands and so on.
Visit a zoo or animal sanctuary that has Australian animals. List the jobs
you think there might be for people to do in a zoo. Some of these you might
notice on your visit, starting with the people in the ticket office. Classify the
jobs, for example, caring for the animals, dealing with people, etc.
Construct a life cycle sequence in pictures about a selected Australian
Identify the similarities and differences between the three groups of mammals or
between reptiles and amphibians.
Identify and list Australian native animals that are classified as endangered or
vulnerable. Look at the ways in which people are trying to conserve them.
Describe how some Australian animals use their senses to protect themselves
and to find food.
Investigate the ways in which the bodies of animals assist in their survival. Use
Australian native animals as your examples.
Observe and list the features of different Australian animals on a chart with
headings: animal name, animal group, features. Include their movement, bodies,
coverings and so on.
wombat .........marsupial.........hard bony back, claws, backward-facing pouch
Find out what some Australian native animals eat. Make a booklet listing each
selected animal and their diet in the wild.
Investigate the ways in which some Australian animals use camouflage as a
means of defence.
Produce one of your Australian animal reports on computer using PowerPoint
include photos taken whilst on your zoo visit.
Design your own narrative story book or movie using Movie Player or
Design an appropriate zoo habitat for an Australian native animal. List the
materials you would use and the reasons for selecting those materials.
Improvise in drama: take on the role of an Australian animal you have
researched and imagine that you are to go to a zoo in another country. The
animal must tell the zookeepers what sort of habitat and food it requires in order
to stay healthy.
Create a dance about an Australian native animal (this includes birds and
reptiles) that imitates their movements.
Compose a song or rap about an Australian animal and perform it to the class.
Paint a mural of an Australian habitat and the appropriate animals of that
Make animal masks.
Use the animal masks you have made in a play you write or improvise using
Australian animals as the central theme.
Model an Australian animal in clay or play dough. Make a habitat for your animal,
making sure it provides the animal with all its basic needs such as shelter, food,
water and protection.
Make up a movement game about Australian animals. Teach the class so that
everyone can play it together.