• Audience
    Primary school
  • Learning stage
    Early stage 1, Stage 1
  • 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 Australian animals and how their external features help them survive within their environment.


Australian animals are incredibly unique with many of our native animals only being found in Australia. We have over 370 species of mammals, over 800 species of birds including two flightless birds, hundreds of reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of invertebrates and marine animals.

Animals adaptations are external 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. Australian animals live in a variety of habitats including bush, forest, desert, ocean, coast or urban environments.


Through this learning journey, students will:

  • be able to name some Australian animals and understand that they are those native to Australia.
  • understand some of the characteristics, needs, behaviours and the environment in which some Australian animals live.

NSW Curriculum outcomes: STE-1WS-S; STe-1WS-S; ST1-1WS-S; ST1-4LW-S; ENe-1A; and EN1-1A.


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 in our world

    What animals live in your home, backyard, school yard, or local park? What animals have you seen in zoos, aquariums, or farms? Which of these animals are only found in Australia?

    Consider sending your students out into the playground and sectioning off an area – observe the animals within the space and investigate their external features and movements.

  • 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). How do 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 the main features of some well-known Australian animals

    Reiterate what all animals need to survive in their habitat. Show some pictures of well-known Australian animals and discuss which external features help them move, feed, keep warm, or offer protection. Break your class into groups and give students an animal to explore (its habitat and the use of its external features) before sharing their ideas back to the class.

    Conclude by participating in an Australian Animals Kahoot! quiz.


At the Museum

  • Visit and explore our Wild Planet exhibition which showcases animals from Australia and around the world, or our Surviving Australia exhibition which showcases Australian animals from a variety of habitats.

  • Use our Wild Planet exhibition discovery, Surviving Australia exhibition discovery, conversation starters or a mixture of all. These activities are designed to encourage your students to connect, share and reflect on this topic through the specimens on display.

    We recommend that your students work in groups however how you implement and facilitate the activities is up to you.


Back at school

  • As a class, talk about the animals seen during the excursion. To help ignite discussion, look at any photos taken, and re-visit the exhibitions online via Google's Arts and Culture website: Wild Planet and Surviving Australia.

    Ask students to draw a picture of their favourite animal seen at the Museum, label its features, and write three to four sentences about how its features help its survival.

    As a whole class or in groups, play a game of ‘guess the animal.’ A student pulls the name and picture of an animal out of a hat and the rest of the class asks questions about the animal. The student can only answer yes or no.

  • Ask students to choose a habitat from our classroom resource and design their own animal ensuring it has external features that will help it survive within the chosen environment. Students can present their animal creations to the rest of the class.

    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). Ask students to list the native animals that live in their school’s area. Go through the list and discuss which animal they think would make a good class totem and why. As a group decide what their class totem should be. Conduct research to find out more about the animal and then collect natural resources to create a mixed media picture of the class totem.

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