Surviving Australia - Stages 1-3 Teacher Notes

Information for teachers preparing students for a self-guided exploration of the Surviving Australia exhibition. 

Before your visit

The key theme addressed in this exhibition is the diversity and adaptations for survival of Australian animals over time.

The Surviving Australia exhibition is divided into six main thematic areas:

  • Blue Edge
  • Island Homes
  • Our Backyard
  • Dangerous Australians
  • Adapt or Die
  • Where are They Now?

Syllabus links

Science and Technology

The content of Surviving Australia meets the following aims and objectives of the New South Wales Board of Studies K-6 Science and Technology syllabus.

Skills: Students will be able to investigate natural phenomena.

Knowledge and Understandings: Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of:

  • i. Information and communication
  • ii. Living Things
  • iii. Physical Phenomena
  • iv. The process of investigation that people use in order to develop reliable understanding of the natural environment.

Surviving Australia addresses the outcomes of the following Science and Technology units:

  • Stage 1: Growing Up; Kids Care; What’s Alive, A Place in Time
  • Stage 2: Mini-Worlds; Cycles in Our World; Our Australia
  • Stage 3: Environment matters; An Ancient land


Human Society and Its Environment

The content of Surviving Australia meets the following aims and objectives of the New South Wales Board of Studies K-6 Human Society and Its Environment syllabus.


  • By developing skills in acquiring information and using a process,students should be able to take active, responsible and informed roles as citizens in a rapidly changing and diverse global society.

Knowledge and Understandings:

  • By studying change and continuity, students should develop historical knowledge and understandings about their heritages and the past, and how these have influenced the present and may influence the future.
  • By studying environments, students should develop knowledge and understandings about places, and about how people interact with their environments and make decisions to support ecological sustainability.

Surviving Australia can meet the outcomes of these Human Society and Its Environment units:

  • Stage 1: The Need for Shelter; Wet and Dry Environments
  • Stage 2: Cooperating Communities; Australia: You’re Standing in It; State and National Parks
  • Stage 3: Global Environments: Rainforest/Deserts/Coral Reefs/Mountains; Current Issues: Antarctica/Mining/Feral animals. 
Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit to the exhibition we strongly recommend that you spend time in class preparing your students by:

  • establishing what they know about Australia’s marine and land animals, endangered, and dangerous animals
  • developing questions they may like to explore
  • encouraging your students to gather news items about adaptation, extinctions.

The following materials should be photocopied for each supervising adult:

At the Australian Museum

On-site activities:

Stimulus questions

Please be guided by the interests and curiosity demonstrated by the children, The following questions are only suggestions for each thematic section and we recommend students explore their own questions rather than to seek answers to the specific questions below.
No written response is required.

Blue Edge

Explores the amazing beauty of the coastal waters primarily around Sydney, including beaches, rocky reefs, mangrove swamps, sea gardens and dangerous marine life.

  • Why do some marine creatures change colour?
  • Which molluscs would you find on the rocks on a Sydney beach?
  • Echinoderms have spiny skin, can you see some? Which wouldn’t you touch?
  • Can you see some penguin eggs?
Island Homes

Looks at Australia’s isolated, diverse and fragile island ecosystems of Lord Howe, Christmas, Macquarie and Kangaroo Islands.

  • How do penguins keep warm in cold Antarctic waters?
  • Is there a penguin that is the same size as you?
Our Backyard

Features urban living – ponds, gum trees and even balconies, and takes a peek at night life.

  • Which backyard looks most like yours?
  • What live animals can you find?
  • How many different animals is the Scribbly Gum a home (habitat) to?
Dangerous Australians

Focuses on Australia’s dangerous terrestrial and marine species, including ten of the most venomous snakes in the world.

  • Which animals bite or sting in their defence or to catch their food?
  • Which animals effectively use camouflage?
Adapt or Die

Showcases daring tales of survival in a wide range of habitats – billabongs, riverbanks and under the ground.

On land and in freshwater
  • How does your favourite native animal or bird survive a drought?
In the desert
  • Can you find an animal that is specially adapted to the desert. How does it survive the heat? Which animal doesn’t waste a drop of water?
Over time
  • Look at the teeth of the Diprotodon. What did it eat with those big teeth?
Where Are They Now?

Puts a spotlight on Australia’s endangered and vulnerable species. Many of Australia’s most recent extinctions are caused by habitat loss and introduced species.

  • Look through the peepholes at an Australian habitat. How could these endangered animals be better protected?


There are two activity booklets based on Stage 3 Science and Technology and HSIE topics. The activity booklets are:

  1. Environment Matters
  2. An Ancient Land


Ms Helen Wheeler , Learning Services Operations Manager
Last Updated:

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