Resources needed:

  • Pictures of a platypus, a kangaroo and a rabbit
  • Mammal cards (one per child)
  • Pictures of mammals
  • Separate pictures of their young.


  1. Begin with a discussion about what kind of creatures are mammals and then move onto the different ways mammals reproduce – for example, a platypus (is a monotreme), a kangaroo (is a marsupial) or a rabbit (is a placental). Explain sensitively what this means.
  2. Now give each child a mammal card and ask them to think about which category their mammal falls into. Ask one or two children to individually read out their card and then which group they think it belongs to.
  3. Now call out one of the three groups and ask children holding mammals in that group to stand up. Was everyone correct? Repeat until everyone is confident, then reassign the cards to give children a chance to be part of a different group.
  4. Now distribute the mammals to half of the class and their corresponding young to the other half. Keeping their cards a secret, the children should find their partner by asking questions such as, ‘Are you an adult or a baby?’ or ‘Were you born or did you hatch?’ until they work out the corresponding card to their own. Once each parent/baby have found each other, they should sit down in order to make it slightly easier for those who haven’t yet found their partner.


Further Activities:

Give each child a different mammal and a paper plate. Ask them to draw line to split the plate into quarters and in each quarter they should draw a stage of the life cycle of the mammal you have given them.

Make a matching card game by laminating pictures of mammals and their young and let the children play a ‘fishing’ game with them – try to make a matching pair by turning over two cards at a time.

Play mammal bingo, but instead of simply calling out the name of the animal, give its characteristics or the name of its young instead.


Curriculum Areas covered:

During years 5 and 6, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

  • planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, including recognising and controlling variables where necessary
  • taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate
  • recording data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs
  • using test results to make predictions to set up further comparative and fair tests
  • reporting and presenting findings from enquiries, including conclusions, causal relationships and explanations of and degree of trust in results, in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations
  • identifying scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments.

They should use and develop keys and other information records to identify, classify and describe living things and materials, and identify patterns that might be found in the natural environment.

(Y5)Pupils should be taught to:

  • describe the differences in the life cycles of a mammal, an amphibian, an insect and a bird

Some children may be unsure or shy about doing this – perhaps choose to give ‘placental’ cards to those children who may find it tricky. You could also ‘buddy’ a less-confident child with a more confident one.