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Night-time creatures



Suitable for children: 
brush-tail possum eating

When it’s dark outside different things come out to play. You might hear them banging across the roof or hissing at each other.

What do you think it could be?

You or your child might have noticed in the morning that things have changed since you went to bed. Have plants been eaten or is there animal poo on the ground?

What do you think it could be?

Explain to your child that some animals sleep during the day and only come out at night when it is dark. These animals are nocturnal and come out after everyone has gone to bed. Explain to your child that it is nothing to be scared of. It is probably just a possum.

Once it is dark, quietly sneak outside with your child to see if you can grab a glimpse of what is eating your plants. Where do you need to look - down on the ground or high up in the tree? If you listen carefully does it help you to know where to look?

I can hear something moving up in the top of the tree.

Materials you will need

  • Your eyes and ears
  • Torch

Alternative tools

  • Spotlight

Why does this matter?

Stopping and looking at objects when you are out and about helps children to develop observation skills and to develop the language to describe what they see.

Observing differences such as colour, shape, size and patterns helps children to classify objects into different groups. When children are able to group and sort objects it helps them to know what to do with it and how to use it.

What does this lead to?

Talking about what creatures come out during the day compared to at night helps children to begin to classify animals by their behaviour. Sorting objects or things into smaller groups helps children to make decisions about how to interact with the objects, even when they are animals. The grouping of objects creates information and data. The information helps to tell us what to do and how to act.

“Possums are night-time animals so we only see them at night.”

Language to use

  • Native, nocturnal, feral, biodiversity
  • Habitat
  • Under cover, hiding
  • Day time, night-time, dusk, twilight, morning
  • Night vision
  • Possum
  • High, low, inside, outside
  • Hollow, trees, trunk

Questions to use

  • Where do possums sleep during the day?
  • How do possums see in the dark?
  • What are feral animals?
  • Can possums sleep inside a tree?

Useful tips

  1. Go online and try googling “attracting wildlife to your backyard”.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Visit the nocturnal house at the zoo.
  2. Visit the nocturnal animal display at the museum.
  3. Borrow books and storybooks about night-time creatures from the library.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Read the story A Possum in the House.
  • Make a possum house to hang in a tree.
  • Find out about how to attract frogs to your backyard.
  • Research what other native animals live in your area. How do you attract them to your yard?

Questions to ask

  • How do possums get inside a tree?
  • Where do frogs live?
  • What do possums eat?
  • Where would a possum live if there wasn’t a tree?

Language to use

  • Conservation, habitat, backyard, wildlife
  • Feral, pest, animal, native, fauna
  • Sustainability
  • Bushland
  • Plants, flora, trees