The majority of the Year 7 – Year 8 ALA activities relate to the Classification topic. Using the Atlas of Living Australia provides real-life, local examples to use when covering this area of study,

Students will get the most out of these activities if they’re done in conjunction with some introductory activities in the classification topic. One of the better ones is:

The Science by Doing activities are also good. They are in the Year 7 Circle of Life topic:

*At any point during the following discussion, any of the Activities 1-5 could be completed, depending on the focus you choose. These activities relate to classification, keys and food chains and food webs. Once students are familiar with the use of the ALA, they could complete the final two activities.


Discuss with students the animals that they have seen in the local area. Use the ALA to see which animals have been recorded in the local area – see User Guide 1 – Finding the species located in your area.

A map from the ALA showing many orange dots representing the recorded sightings of different species around a school
A map from the ALA showing the recorded sightings around a school

Are there more plant or animal species recorded in the area around your school? Why do you think this is the case?

Ask students about the plants they have seen in the local area. Do they know the names of any? Have a look at the plants list. Do they recognise any by name?

Go out into the school yard. In a table, note the names and numbers of the native wildlife you see and the time and date. Students could use Excel to organise their findings.

If possible, take some photos of the wildlife you see. Log these sightings in the Atlas of Living Australia. See User Guide 4 – How to log a sighting.

Eastern Water Dragon spotted outside a workplace.
Eastern Water Dragon spotted outside a workplace.

Are there any native animals that students have seen in the local area that are not on the list/map in the ALA? Why might this be the case?

Have you found any plants or animals that you can not identify? Ask students for some ideas about what they would do to identify them.

There are some suggestions for where to go to identify unknowns on the Species Identification page.

Looking at the list of species found in your local area, is there anything that surprises you? Have any endangered species been sighted? What might need to be done to encourage them back/keep them here (referring to food chains/webs)/increase people’s awareness of them?

Look at some of the occurrence records maps of local species that you think the students will be familiar with and have seen locally. See User Guide 2 – Species distributions on a map.

Occurrence records of the Platypus
Occurrence records of the Platypus

Zoom in to the maps and see if those species have been recorded in the area very close to the school. See User Guide 1, or User Guide 5. If they have not, why not? If they have, who recorded it? How long ago was it recorded?

If you log sightings from your own school yard, you can continue to add to them and look at changes over time.

At this stage, students could complete Activities 6 or Activity 7.

Available activities

  1. Table of sightings
  2. Activity 2 – Classification
  3. Activity 3 – Dichotomous Key
  4. Activity 4 – Food Chains
  5. Activity 5 – Food Webs
  6. Activity 6 – Three Species Maps
  7. Activity 7 – Research Assignment