• Audience
    Primary school
  • Learning stage
    Stage 2, Stage 3
  • Curriculum area
    English, Science and Technology
  • Resource type
    Learning journey

On this page...


Learning journeys offer a scaffolded approach to exploring a topic both in the classroom and at the Museum. Follow our learning journey to deepen your students’ knowledge and understanding of animal adaptations and classification.


Animals adaptations are features or skills which help animals survive in their habitat. They could be physical features of an animal’s body or behavioural changes in how an individual animal or a society do things in their daily lives.

Classification is a way of grouping animals based on their common features. Understanding animal adaptations and classification is essential for scientists.


Through this learning journey, students will:

  • understand what an animal adaptation is, and the connection to habitats and survival.
  • have greater knowledge and understanding of the main animal groups and external features used to classify.
  • have the opportunity to closely observe and investigate animals and think critically about their features.

NSW Curriculum outcomes: ST2-1WS-S; ST2-4LW-S; EN2-1A; ST3-1WS-S; ST3-4LW-S.


Can't make it in person to the Australian Museum? Or maybe you want to get even more out of your upcoming visit? Whatever the reason, we have some fantastic programs to complement your students' learning journey.

  • Book an online science or culture session with one of our educators through our video conferencing program.
  • Find out more about our Museum in a Box topics and book a delivery of real museum specimens, casts, dioramas and more to your school today! For topics relevant to this learning journey, choose from our selection of Australian animals boxes: Echidnas, Platypus, Possums or Day and Night.
  • Explore our exhibitions in virtual reality via Google Expeditions by downloading the Google Expeditions app and searching for the Australian Museum.


Prepare your students

  • Brainstorm ideas about animals around us

    What animals live in your home, backyard, school yard, or local park? What animals have you seen in zoos, aquariums, or farms? Which of the animals seen are native to Australia and what groups do they belong to and why?

    Consider sending your students out into the playground and sectioning off an area – observe the animals within the space and investigate their main features. What animal groups do they belong to?

  • Warm up and experience features that we (humans) use to help us survive

    Discuss what humans and other animals need to survive in their habitat (air, shelter, water, food, space). Explore which of the students' own external features help them survive. Demonstrate the importance of their thumbs by asking students to untie their shoelaces, then ask them to re-tie them without using their thumbs. Discuss as a whole class the challenges experienced by the students when they don't have the use of their thumbs.
    What are some benefits to having thumbs?

  • Discuss external features (adaptations) that help animals survive

    What are the needs and wants of animals?
    What external features help fulfil these needs or wants?

    In groups or as a whole class, use post-it notes to share ideas about external features on a variety of animals. Use different coloured post-it notes to represent varieties such as limbs (legs, wings, flippers), coverings (fur, feathers, scales, shell), feet, shape, mouth and nose.

    Describe any features which help the animals move, keep warm, attack or protect, find and eat food, or reproduce.
    Do the animals have any unusual behaviours? What features do the animals have in common? How can the animals be grouped?


At the Museum


Back in the classroom

  • As a class, talk about and describe the animals seen during the excursion:
    What groups do they belong to?
    What external features help their survival?
    To help ignite discussion, look at any photos taken during the excursion, and re-visit the exhibitions online via Google's Arts and Culture website: Wild Planet and Surviving Australia.

    Ask students to present on the animals investigated during the exhibition discovery.

    Ask students to write a postcard about what they liked best during the excursion.

  • Ask students to create a bio-poem based on an animal they saw at the Australian Museum.

    Ask students to research an animal in depth, applying their knowledge of adaptations and classification. Produce a labelled drawing, song, poem, costume or fact sheet to present it. Class members can guess the animal.

    Create, draw, or describe your own mystical creature ensuring it has physical and behavioural adaptations suitable to an Australian habitat. Find habitat illustrations and guiding questions on our classroom activity.

    Create a ‘biodiversity wall’ using Museum photographs, drawings, labelled animals, poems, and use natural materials to inspire the surrounding environments.

    As a class, research and discuss some First Nations totems (a totem is an object, animal or plant that is adopted as a family or clan emblem. It links a person to the land, water, air and landmarks and it is the responsibility of each person to care for and teach about their totem). Then as a class, list the native animals living in your school’s area. Go through the list and discuss which animal you think would make a good class totem and why. Decide what your class totem should be, conduct research to find out more about it, and then collect natural resources to create a collaborative mixed media picture of the class totem.

  • Set up your own exhibition
    Students can set up their own exhibition about animals and their habitats, adaptations, or another identified theme. Use our classroom activity about how to create an exhibition in your classroom or school to guide you.

    Frogs
    Learn more about frogs using the Australian Museum's Frog ID classroom resources, then do our frogs Kahoot! to test your knowledge on frogs.

    Museum research
    Watch some videos about research conducted by the Australian Museum scientists here and then do your own fieldwork of some animals which live near your school, thinking about how you can look after them (conduct a survey to explore the biodiversity, think about the animals’ survival needs and what you can do to help, present the results at your school’s assembly).