• Audience
    Primary school
  • Learning stage
    Early Stage 1, Stage 1
  • Learning area
    English, Science
  • Type
    Learning journey, Teaching resources

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 syllabus outcomes: STe-1WS-S, ST1-1WS-S, STe-3LW-ST, ST1-4LW-S, ENE-OLC-01, EN1-OLC-01.

Want to get the most out of an upcoming visit? We have some fantastic programs and resources to complement your students' learning journey.

  • Book into our Museum educator-led program Animals in our living world. This program has been designed for students in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1.
  • Explore our exhibitions in virtual reality via Google Expeditions by downloading the Google Expeditions app and searching for the Australian Museum.

Prepare your students

  • An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement that pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the Country that you are learning or meeting on and recognises their ongoing relationship with Country. The Australian Museum respects and acknowledges the Gadigal people as the Custodians of the land on which the Museum stands.

    Which First Nations Country or Nation was your school built upon? If you are unsure contact a local First Nations organisation to find out. You might like to start with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

    Ask your students to write an Acknowledgement of Country for your school. To get them started, read more about why an Acknowledgement of Country is important and how to write one in this ABC article.

  • Animals in our living 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.

  • What features do you have?
    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?

  • What features of Australian animals do you know?
    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.

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.

    Read our tips on how to use our exhibitions.

    Wild Planet exhibition

  • Book into our Museum educator-led program Animals in our living world. This program has been designed for students in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1.

    School children at an event
    Science week Image: Australian Museum
    © Australian Museum

  • Use our Wild Planet exhibition insights, Surviving Australia exhibition insights, conversation starters or a mixture of all of them. These resources 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 in the classroom

  • Reflection
    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'.

  • Design an animal!
    Ask students to choose a habitat from our classroom activity 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.

  • 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.