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Australian Backyard Naturalist

Chapter 1: Mammals

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Chapter 2: Birds

Even a school in the middle of a large city should have a dozen species of bird, either on the ground or flying over it. This is enough to get students interested.

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Chapter 3: Reptiles and amphibians

There are generally strict laws on keeping these animals. Talk to your local pet shop owner.

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Chapter 4: Spiders

Keeping spiders and arranging food can be a bit of a challenge, but students should learn that there is more variety in spiders in their garden or school grounds than there is in any other animal group. They will only learn this by looking.

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Chapter 5: Butterflies and moths

Silkworms are the easy classroom solution to studying caterpillars. Do a web search using ‘silkworms Australia’ to find information and to identify suppliers.

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Chapter 6: Flies and mosquitoes

Mosquito wrigglers are easy to locate and easy to contain—and don't have the ‘ick’ factor of flies. Years 8 and 9 enjoy examining a wriggler, mounted on/in a well slide and viewed under a low power microscope. They can also be studied with the binocular microscope in a Petri dish.

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Chapter 7: Ants and ant lions

Ant lions are always fascinating to those who don’t know them and even more fascinating to those who are familiar with them. Strongly recommended as a classroom display in an old fish tank, but warn students not to bump it.

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Chapter 8: Stingers, biters and nasties

There is not a lot you can do with these animals, if only for safety reasons. One 1869 letter to the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/13178334) even accused pseudoscorpions of being dangerous!

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but see also http://www.dartmoorcam.co.uk/dartmoortickwatch/biosafety/biosafety.htm before putting any of these into practice!

Chapter 9: Leaf litter animals

There are few easy classroom activities with these animals, due to their tiny size, but the writer knows from experience in museum holiday programs that children find sifting through leaf litter to be a fascinating experience.

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Chapter 10: Snails, slugs and their relatives

As noted in the text, snails and slugs are resilient in captivity. Any purchase of water weed from a pet shop is likely to have some water snails in it.

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Chapter 11: Earthworms and leeches

Leeches do not make good classroom pets. They are quite good at attaching to a finger with their suckers, and this provokes panic, even before they start to bite (which is almost painless). Earthworms and land planarians (not covered in the book) are recommended to the more adventurous teacher.

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Chapter 12: Other insects

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