The following classroom activities for Years 5 to 6 guide you through some suggested discussions with students, with activities branching off from the discussion. Just completing the discussion and ALA demonstration alone addresses some curriculum requirements. You can amend any of the activities or discussion questions to suit your particular area or students needs.

Go outside

Look around the schoolyard for birds. Take pictures of them if you can. Keep a record of the number and names (if you know) of the birds that you saw. Ask students to think about some similarities and differences between the birds they see.

Activity 1 – is a table students can use to record the number and name of birds that you saw outside. There is also a graph they could use to represent the birds seen. They could also use Excel to produce a column graph.

Use the Atlas of Living Australia to see which birds have been recorded in the local area – See User Guide 1 – Finding the species located in your area. Discuss with the students whether the information from the ALA matches what they saw in the school yard.

Initial questions

Look closely at the beaks of the birds you saw.  More images of the birds can be found on the Atlas of Living Australia. (See User Guide 6 – Finding information about a species.) Discuss and decide what you think they might eat from looking at their beaks – you can find this information on the ALA also, as well as a number of other websites.

Using the ALA’s images and other images of the birds you saw in the school yard, look at the beaks of various other birds. The following image contains three Australian birds with very different beak types.

Discuss the differences. Why do you think these birds have different beak shapes? Do you know what they eat? Have you seen these birds before? If so, where?

Activity 2 – has the students draw the beaks of each of the birds in boxes, write the name of the bird and choose one to write a sentence about matching its beak to its food type.

Activity 3 – involves choosing some of the birds from your local area. Using the ALA and other sources, students look up information about the bird and, in a table, write a sentence about what it eats. They then write another sentence to say how their beak shape helps them collect that food.

Log the sightings from your schoolyard in the ALA. For instructions on how to do this, see User Guide 4 – How to log a sighting.

Have the species you have logged been sighted in the area previously?


What does adaptation mean?

What are some other features of birds that are different according to their function? (Owl eyes and eagle feet might be a discussion starter…)

What are some other ways that other animals are adapted to their environment? Think about the ways animals behave, not just what they look like.

Activity 4 – asks students to choose a local bird, describe three features of the bird and show how those features show the bird is adapted to its environment.

Extension activity

Some native Australian animals have adapted so well that they have become pests in some areas. Two examples are the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. What are some reasons this may have happened?

For Activity 5 –, students choose one of the above native pests, describe the animal and what it eats and how it has managed to adapt so well to its environment. They also describe some of the methods that are being used to combat them. They can present this as a poster.

Practical exercise

There are many investigations online that look at bird beak adaptations using tools (such as spoons and pliers) to represent beaks and they are used by the students to pick up different materials that represent different foods. Resource 2 from the following resource from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority ( is one of the better ones we have found.

Available activities –

  1. Activity 1 – Table and graph of bird numbers
  2. Activity 2 – Drawing different bird beaks
  3. Activity 3 – Beak structure and function table
  4. Activity 4 – Three adaptations of a local bird
  5. Activity 5 – Native animal pests
  6. Bird beak investigation
  7. Table linking local birds to beak investigation
  8. Design your own beak investigation