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There’s no doubt about it, Australia has some amazing animals. In the lead up to Australia Day this year, I thought I’d do a little tribute and share some of our favourite Aussie animal crafts, activities and learning resources.
I’ve made this collection alphabetical, just to make it easy to pop straight to the animal you’re looking for. And I’ll keep adding to this list as we find more activities (or as we come up with more of our own!). Hopefully, one day, we’ll have a whole alphabet worth of awesome Australian animal crafts and activities! In the meantime, here’s the…
The (Incomplete) A-Z of Aussie Animal Crafts & Activities for Kids
Bilbies are shy, nocturnal marsupials, about the size of a cat. They’re very cute, with grey and white silky coats, white-tipped tails, long ears and pink pointed noses. Sadly due to habitat loss, competition for food and introduced predators, they’re numbers have reduced dramatically and they’re now classified as an endangered species. Learn more about bilbies here.
Blue ringed octopuses are little marine creatures that like to hide in tidal rock pools along the beach. Saying they’re deadly doesn’t seem strong enough. Can I say they’re “really deadly”? LOL. Their blue rings only appear when they are scared, to serve as a warning… which is all well and good, except that little kids don’t necessarily see blue rings as warning signs. Argh!
These birds are actually parrots! They come in a few different colour combinations, with the most common being white with a bright yellow (sulfur-coloured) crest on the top of their head. A friend of ours had a pet cockatoo called Frankie, who could say “Hello Frankie”, in his squawky voice.
These striking yellow and black striped frogs are as poisonous as they are tiny! Unfortunately, due to disease, they’re also critically endangered. Learn about conservation efforts working towards both establishing healthy captive breeding colonies, and researching a cure to this disease which could potentially save frog species around the world.
Dingo’s are Australia’s wild dog. It’s estimated that they first arrived in Australia from Asia, around 4000 years ago. They don’t bark like other dogs do, but they can howl. Learn more about dingos here.
Echidnas are a monotreme, or egg-laying mammals. Their spines are actually modified hairs, which they use for defence.
Emus are Australia’s largest bird, and second largest bird worldwide (second to the ostrich). They can’t fly, but they can run really fast. They look odd, with soft brown feathers on their body, but few feathers on their neck and head, where bluish grey skin shows through.
This shredded paper emu craft is cute. I pinned it ages ago, but I can’t find the original source anymore. (If anyone knows where to find the original page now, please let me know.)
Frilled Neck Lizard
When they are feeling frightened or defensive, frilled neck lizards puff out a frill around their neck hence their name. It’s certainly very impressive!
There are over 50 species of shark that inhabit Australian waters, but of these, the great white shark is the scariest. They are the ones that occasionally mistake a surfer for a seal and take an unfortunate nibble. We love learning about sharks at the aquarium – most are not as fearsome as they first appear, and many are actually becoming threatened due to over-fishing. You can find out more information about Aussie sharks here. (My top tip: don’t eat shark. Choose a more sustainable species instead).
Jellyfish usually have a bad rap in Australia. We have two that dwell in our northern waters, the Box Jellyfish and the tiny Irukandji Jellyfish, which are incredibly deadly. Blue bottles aren’t quite so bad, but they will still give you a nasty sting.
Kangaroos are awesome! They’re marsupials (meaning they raise their under-developed young in a pouch), and hop around on their hind legs and tail. Once you leave the main cities, you regularly see them grazing and jumping around, especially at dawn and dusk.
I absolutely adore this silhouetted kangaroos at sunset art idea – I pinned it ages ago, but now I see that the original page isn’t up anymore. (If anyone knows where to find the original page now, please let me know.)
Koalas seem to do nothing except sleep and eat! That’s because their diet of eucalyptus leaves requires a lot of digesting time. They are marsupials too, so carry their under-developed babies in a pouch on their tummy. Koalas are as fascinating as they are hard to spot in the wild (for us, at least). We love seeing them in zoos and animal parks, but we’ve yet to find one up a real (non-enclosed) gum tree. We’ll keep looking up, just in case we do one day!
Kookaburras are medium sized birds in the kingfisher family. They like to sit silently on a branch and swoop down to snare a little worm (or steal a sausage off the BBQ when we’re camping). Silently that is, until they start to laugh their outrageous laugh. Kookakakakakakookakaka.
Australia has quite a few species of owl, except that ours don’t always behave like their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The Barking Owl doesn’t hoot at all, but instead makes a noise similar to a dog’s bark!
Platypuses are arguably the most amazing creatures ever – when the first specimen was brought back to England, English scientists thought it was stitched together as a joke! Platypuses have a bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver, feet like an otter and fur that has texture similar to that of a mole. They lay eggs, have poisonous spurs on their hind feet, and electroreceptive sensors in their bills. Cool! (You can read more about platypuses in our post here.)
Cook Clean Craft shows how to make a paper bag platypus (original and Perry the Platypus versions).
The silver gull is the most common gull you’ll find in Australia. Head to the beach just about anywhere, and you’ll see thousands of them. They tend to stalk whoever is carrying the box of fish and chips, hoping for scraps. (But don’t feed them please, it’s not good for them.)
There are 10 species of seal and sea lions that live in Australian waters. We love to visit the seals at Taronga Zoo and see them basking on the rocks, gracefully swimming, or performing daring tricks during the seal show.
Print, glue and cut out these cute seal bookmarks from Mother Natured.
Did you know that, of the seven species of sea turtle found worldwide, six of them (the loggerhead, green, hawksbill, olive ridley, flatback and leatherback) can be found in Australian waters? Turtles play a vital part of the Australian marine ecosystem, and likewise, Australian nesting grounds and waters play a vital part in turtle conservation.
This craft is actually the by-product of my youngest daughter Bee (almost 4 years old) wanting to make a paper plate echidna and my eldest daughter JJ (6 years old) wanting to make something with clay. They decided that we could make clay echidnas instead!Continue readingClay Echidna
Make your own ‘Five Little Ducks’ puppets as a cute prop to go along with the nursery rhyme, that will delight babies, toddlers and preschoolers alike.
(This post was originally published 20th October 2013, and has been updated.)
DIY Five Little Duck Puppets for Kids
Five Little Ducks is one of our favourite nursery rhymes. It’s such a great song for babies. It has that winning combination of rhyme, repetition and simple actions that babies seem to love. My youngest daughter Bee (10 months) just lights up when we sing it. She’s started saying “DUH!” (duck), and she can (almost) make a quacking gesture with her hands at the right times. So cute!
Cute koala craft for kids, complete with a baby joey that fits in the mother’s pouch! Fun way to teach kids about this unique Aussie animal.
I’ve got a fun “K is for Koala” craft to share with you today, as part of the A-Z of Animals series. You know how much we love our Aussie art and crafts, that I can’t believe that this is our first native Australian animal craft! Actually, technically this is two Aussie animals – this koala mother has a pouch on her tummy where she keeps her little baby koala joey. Cute!
At the insistence of my 3.5 year old daughter Bee, we cut out the eyes on the mother koala so that it doubles as a koala mask craft. (We’ve made a lion mask and sheep masks recently, so it seems she has a bit of a ‘paper plate mask’ thing going on!)
We love koalas! We often visit the koala exhibit at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. We also drop into the Koala Hospital whenever we’re in Port Macquarie, and recently we visited the Koala Conservation Centre on Phillip Island. They’re such cute and fascinating animals!
I’ll get to how to make our koala craft in a second, but before I do, here are a few fun and fascinating koala facts that we’ve been learning along the way.
Fun facts about koalas
Koalas are not bears. Koalas are marsupials (whilst bears are not). Marsupials are a special type of mammal that give birth to live babies, but carry (and nurse) these babies inside a pouch until they are fully developed. Other Australian marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and possums.
A female koala’s pouch is located on her tummy, with the opening towards the lower part of the pouch. Koalas give birth to underdeveloped young, who crawl into their mother’s pouch and live there for about 6 months. As a koala joey grows larger and starts to poke its head out of the pouch, it looks as though the pouch faces backwards.
Completely gross (but kids love stuff like this): as a koala joey is weaned from milk, they are fed “pap”, which is essentially a mushy type of koala poo, which gives them the special gut bacteria they need to be able to digest eucalyptus leaves, which is the main part of their diet. Eww!
Adult koalas spend most of their time sitting in eucalyptus (gum) trees, eating leaves or sleeping. They don’t usually need to drink water, so they can stay up there until they want to change trees. Because eucalyptus leaves have low nutritional content and are extremely hard to digest, koalas must limit their energy use, and so sleep for up to 20 hours a day. They are predominantly active at night, and spend most of their waking hours feeding.
Female and juvenile koalas smell like eucalyptus cough drop lollies. The adult males often smell gross – they have scent glands that they use to mark their territories.
Koala paws each have five digits. The front paws have two opposable digits (kinda like having two thumbs), which is very handing for climbing and gripping.
Koalas are mostly solidary animals, which may be why there is no collective name for a group of koalas.
Koalas are vulnerable, but not endangered. The biggest threat to koala populations is loss of habitat, either through urbanisation or agriculture. Koalas can live near urbanised areas if there is enough tree coverage, however urban areas do bring the risk of cars and dogs. Koalas can also develop a condition known as “wet bottom” or “soggy bottom” (chlamydia symptoms) if they are stressed from, say, encroaching urbanisation, but the good news is that they usually become well again if they are moved to a new area that isn’t as stressful.
See? Koalas are not like bears at all. 🙂
Koala and joey craft for kids
To make our koala and baby joey, we used:
2 large paper plates
2 smaller-sized paper plates
black and white paint
kitchen sponge & paint brush
black marker (optional)
1. We put black and white paint onto a kitchen sponge, and dabbed onto the paper plates to achieve a black/white/grey dappled look, and set aside to dry.
2. One of the large paper plates acts as the main part of the body. Bee cut the second large paper plate in half, setting aside one of the halves, and used the other half as the pouch. She cut an additional section from the middle of the rim, to be the pouch opening area. We then placed the pouch on top of the body, and stapled along the edges and across the middle, leaving the pouch opening area open. (See above that one of the interesting facts we’ve learned about koalas is that their pouches are different to kangaroo pouches. Koala pouches have the opening towards the lower section of the pouch, so that it looks like the pouch faces backwards).
3. Next we added the head, by stapling the rim of one of the smaller paper plates to the top of the body.
4. We used the other half of the large paper plate for the ears, which were each about a quarter paper plate sized each. The ripples in the rim give the ears a fluffy look. Bee helped to round the corners, and we stapled the ears to each side of the head.
5. Next we painted on a large black nose, and at Bee’s request, I cut out the eyes. In hindsight, it would be easier to cut the eyes first, but we were kinda making this up on the fly…
6. We used the fourth paper plate to add the finishing touches. I cut out the tiny koala (using the ripples in the rim as added detail for the ears), and Bee painted on the nose and dotted on the eyes with black marker. (You could use the reverse end of the paint brush to paint on small black dots for eyes instead if you prefer.)
7. We also cut four small wedges for hands and feet, and then cut along the rim to represent the five digits and claws. I cut the hand claws (cutting out tiny wedges). You can’t see it very well, but Bee used a fringing technique to cut the feet claws (as tiny wedges are a bit beyond her cutting skills right now). If I was making this again, I’d also make a wider cut between the second and third digits on the hands, to show how koalas have two ‘thumbs’, cause I reckon that’s neat. 🙂
Once everything was dry, we had a new koala and joey toy for imaginative play! Bee loved pretending to be the mother koala, holding it up to her eyes to look through, and putting her baby in and out of her pouch. We talked about how koala joeys are born pink and teeny tiny, and then live in their mothers pouch where they grow fur, drink milk and grow. At about 6 months old, joeys eat some special mushy koala poo called pap, which gets their tummy’s ready to be able to eat eucalyptus leaves. Then they leave their mother’s pouch and cling onto her back for a while, eating gum leaves and growing some more, until they are old enough to leave their mother and live all by themselves.
I was just looking back through some old photos, and look what I found! I’m going to call it Ocean Dough: ocean-themed play dough when JJ was about 3.5 years old, and super obsessed with Octonauts related activities and anything under the sea. (She still is, really….)
I’m obsessed with that little chubby hand…. and those big brown eyes….
We used this recipe from The Imagination Tree, adding blue and yellow food colouring, and kneading while still hot until it reached a smooth texture. (Don’t cut the kneading time short – it makes a big difference).
Then set it out, with a wave rolling pin (if you have one) and a tub of sea creatures, and play!
xx Danya * This post contains affiliate link(s). An affiliate link means I may earn advertising / referral fees if you make a purchase through my link, without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep this little blog afloat. Thanks for your support.
How to make finger nibbling fish pegs: a playful craft to accompany the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive”.
Oops! This is another nursery rhyme post from last year that was still sitting in my drafts.
(We did lots of fun activities last year, but what with launching a second site and general family craziness, I seem to have fallen a bit behind in writing them up… please bear with me.)
We did this activity back in May, when Bee was about 2 years, 10 months old, to go along with the nursery rhyme One, Two, Three, Four, Five. Or you might also know it numerically, as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? (As far as I can tell, both titles are used. If you’re singing it aloud, does it really matter?)
Either way, you know how the song goes, right?
One, two, three, four, five, Once I caught a fish alive. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, Then I let it go again. Why did you let it go? Because it bit my finger so. Which finger did it bite? This little finger, on my right.
It’s a song that incorporates counting, counting on (starting from 6), left and right, and comparative sizing (to understand which is the ‘little’ finger). Our fish pegs are also great for building up fine motor strength in fingers and hands, which is really important for this toddler / preschooler age group.
But mostly, this is just a fun craft to go along with a cute song that both my kids love. They sing it loud and proud, and are tickled by the idea of teeny fish pegs biting their little fingers.
(Note: the products we used in this activity were purchased locally. I’ve added some affiliate* links to similar products below. Thanks.)
How to make five little ducks play dough, as a fun nursery rhyme themed sensory and imaginative play idea for kids.
I just found these five little ducks play dough photos from last year, and realised I haven’t shared them with you yet! Bee was a 2 year, 9 month old toddler then, and loved helping to make these play dough ducks, singing along to the five little ducks nursery rhyme as we went. Afterwards, she helped the little ducks waddle over the hills and far away, out of sight of their ever-quacking mother duck.
In case you’re not familiar with the nursery rhyme, here is how it goes:
Five little ducks went out one day Over the hills and far away Mother Duck said ‘Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack’ And only four little ducks came back.
Four little ducks went out one day….. (and so on until) …And none of the five little ducks came back.
So sad Mother Duck went out one day Over the hills and far away Mother Duck said ‘QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK’ And all of her five little ducks came back.
(Note: the products we used in this activity were purchased locally. I’ve added some affiliate* links to similar products below. Thanks.)
You could use store-bought yellow and white play dough if you wish, but we made our own using our go-to no-cook play dough recipe from The Imagination Tree, adding yellow food colouring to most of the dough, leaving just a small part white (for the mother duck).
Bees favourite part was choosing and sticking in the feathers. She didn’t always stick the feathers in the ‘correct’ places, which she (and I) thought was hilarious.
(Please note: some of the items used in this activity could be a choking hazard for young toddlers still in the mouthing phase. All kids activities on this blog require attentive adult supervision. Parents and carers will need to judge whether a particular activity is appropriate their child’s age and skill level. Click here for more info.)
Check out these other Five Little Ducks ideas from my blogging friends and I.
* This post contains affiliate link(s). An affiliate link means I may earn advertising / referral fees if you make a purchase through my link, without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep this little blog afloat. Thanks for your support.