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Fur, feathers, scales, skin

1.5 Hours Per Group
Book Program
Year Levels


Australia is famous for its unique and diverse vertebrate animals. In order to study them more easily, animals are grouped into classes according to their features. One of the main characteristics that is used to distinguish one class of animals from another is the type of skin covering. Mammals have hair or fur, birds have feathers, reptiles have dry scales, amphibians have soft, moist skin, and fish have wet, slimy scales. This program focuses on the features of various Australian vertebrates and how their coverings and other adaptations help them to survive.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge is required.

Key Learning Question

How does an animals outer covering help them to survive in their environment?

Learning Intentions

In this progam students will:

  • Distinguish between the different Australian vertebrate groups based on coverings
  • Compare and contrast features between the various Australian vertebrates
  • Understand the meaning of the terms ‘vertebrate’ and ‘camouflage’, and look at examples.


Students will:

  • Touch some live Australian animals, including a reptile & a frog
  • Examine various native animals and identify their structural & behavioural adaptations
  • Identify the appropriate coverings for each vertebrate group
  • Observe the coverings of various animals, comparing the similarities and differences between coverings
  • Make inferences, based on their observations, regarding the environment in which each animal lives and how it is able to survive in that environment
  • Use magnifying glasses to have a closer inspection of the various coverings

Victorian Curriculum

Science - Biological sciences

  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (VCSSU057)
  • Different living things have different life cycles and depend on each other and the environment to survive (VCSSU058)

Critical and Creative Thinking: Questions and Possibilities

  • Construct and use open and closed questions for different purposes (VCCCTQ010)

Critical and Creative Thinking: Reasoning

  • Identify and use ‘If, then…’ and ‘what if…’ reasoning (VCCCTR016)

Critical and Creative Thinking: Meta-cognition

  • Consider concrete and pictorial models to facilitate thinking, including a range of visualisation strategies (VCCCTM018)


Learning Continuum

The following Learning Continuum is a guide for teachers to show the links between the programs Ecolinc offers onsite, online and through outreach. The Learning Continuum can be used to access Ecolinc resources to support the development of units of work.

Ecolinc Learn Online is an online learning management system offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone. Students are encouraged to do the pre-learning course before coming to Ecolinc for an onsite program.

Outreach programs are conducted by an Ecolinc education officer at your school. They are available to moderately disadvantaged primary schools in the Geelong, Ballarat and western suburbs areas (or within 100km radius from Bacchus Marsh)