Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Learn about Australian Animals on a Summer Safari for Preschoolers

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Ready to go on a Safari trip to Australia? The land down under is full of many amazing sights – from the beautiful Sydney Opera House to Kata Tjuta, the large, domed rock formations southwest of Alice Spring. There are many interesting places built by man and others that are part of nature.

image of Sydney Opera House from Canva.com

Let's examine some books and activities that are perfect for your preschooler this summer. Most kids are familiar with kangaroos, koalas, and maybe even the platypus – but what about the echidna?

The Echidna

This interesting mammal native to Australia is one of five monotremes. A Monotreme is an egg-laying mammal. There is the duck-billed platypus and there are four species of echidna (also known as the spiny anteater). Even though they lay eggs, they still produce milk like other mammals for their young.

Echidna Facts 

  • Grow to be about 2 feet long
  • Live for 20 to 30 years (the record is held by one that lived for 49 years and 5 months in captivity) 
  • Nocturnal – they sleep during the day and are awake at night
  • Have very good hearing
  • Eat ants and termites 
  • Small eyes 
  • Good sense of smell 
  • Long, flexible tongue (up to 7 inches long) to get the termites and ants out of their nests 
  • Baby echidnas are called puggles – after about 10 days, the egg hatches and the small puggle is born – the baby will pull itself into its mother's pouch to get milk 
  • The baby puggle will be carried for about 55 days and then its spines start to grow – so the mom puts it in a cave or hollow and will return every 3 to 6 days to feed it  
  • Four ways to defend themselves: run away, curl up into a spiky ball, dig straight down into soft soil so only spines are showing, or wedge itself in a rock crevice or hollow log and erect its spines 

This photograph of an echidna's skeleton shows the shape of the snout that contains their long tongue and their powerful claws that they can use to dig for ants and termites or use to dig holes to hide in from predators. Image from WPClipart.com

There are several different craft options for studying this fascinating creature from Australia.

Paper Echidna


image from WPclipart.com


1. Gather all your materials.

2. Draw your echidna on your paper. I was fortunate enough to have a drawing from a workshop from when I worked at a metropolitan zoo.

3. Color your echidna.

4. Break the spaghetti into pieces (but not TOO tiny). Be careful when breaking the spaghetti because pieces can tend to fly everywhere.

5. Glue onto the echidna.

6. After the glue is dry, hang up your echidna.

Clay Echidna


  • Clay or play doh (I recommend air drying clay) 
  • Toothpicks or spaghetti 
  • Googly eyes 
  • Paint (optional) 
  • Paint brushes (optional) 


1. Gather all your materials.

2. Shape the echidna.
3. Break the spaghetti. (If you are using toothpicks, you can break the pieces ahead of time to make them smaller. Just be careful as they will be SHARP.)

4. Stick the spaghetti or toothpicks into your clay echidna.

5. Allow your echidna to dry.

6. If you want to paint the echidna, this is the perfect time to do so! 

One of the best parts of the summer is the extra sunshine! So why not make these adorable koala sun catchers to hang in your windows. 


One of the most recognizable animals from Australia is the Koala – which is NOT a bear. It is a marsupial meaning they have a pouch in which they carry their babies until they are ready for the outside world.

Koalas only live in certain parts of Australia due to the fact they are picky eaters. They only eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Of the over 600 types of eucalyptus trees, Koalas only eat the leaves of about 35 different species that grow in eastern Australia. Due to habitat loss (the cutting down of trees and humans taking over their natural habitat), Koalas are very endangered. There are not a lot of them left in the wild.

Koala Facts 

  • Mammal
  • Grow to 2 to 3 feet long
  • Weight between 10 and 30 pounds 
  • May live up to 20 years in the wild   
  • Nocturnal – they are awake during the night and sleep during the day 
  • Eat about 2 1/2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day 
  • Get most of the water they need from the leaves and do not need to drink water for periods of time 
  • Bodies are designed for climbing in the trees – use their hands and feet to help them climb with sharp claws 
  • Koalas are smaller than a nickel when born 
  • Koalas spend about six months in their mom's pouch before venturing into the world 

Koala Coffee Filter Sun Catcher 


image from WPclipart.com


1. Gather all your materials. 

2. Cut smaller circles (two) for the koala's ears.

3. Cut out the eyes and nose of the koala. 

4. Color the face of the koala in gray. 

5. Color the smaller circles gray on the outside with pink in the middle of the circle. 

6. Spray the coffee filters lightly with water. The marker ink will spread. I recommend spraying the coffee filters on a surface outside that you don't mind getting marker on. The ink may stain other surfaces. 

I lay the coffee filters on plastic trays to prevent the ink from staining any surfaces. 

7. After the coffee filters are dry, tape on the ears. 

8. Glue on the eyes and nose. (The glue will bleed through so be sure to wipe off your table after you are done your craft.) 

9. Hang your Koala Coffee Filter Sun Catchers in a window! 

Book Suggestions 

Koala Lou written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

In this short picture book, Koala Lou wants to do something special so she trains for the Bush Olympics. Throughout the story, children are introduced to a variety of Australian animals including emus, kangaroos, numbats, kookaburra birds, wombats, and echidnas.

Possum Magic written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas

In Possum Magic, Hush and Grandma Poss visit the animals of Australia and travel around the continent to find the magic necessary to make Hush visible again. These aren't the opossums of America but the Common Brushtail Possums from Australia. What is great about this book is that children will meet lots of Australian animals and be introduced to the names of various locales and foods that are popular in Australia.

Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement

Edward lives at a zoo and wants to be popular like the other animals. Throughout the tale Edward tries to be like other animals but learns through the rhyming tale how important it is to be himself.

More Activities and Crafts 

Please be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the DIY Summer Camp Activities Series at Preschool Powol Packets and Teaching Without Chairs. There will be a total of four weeks of fun ideas for preschoolers and older children.

If you are looking for more preschool crafts from A Mom's Quest to Teach, you might enjoy reading about lions, ladybugs, or hippopotamuses.

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