free homeschool resources


Human mothers aren’t the only ones who form close bonds with their babies. Learn how cows, pigs, chickens and sheep love and nurture their offspring.


Year Level: 1–2

Learning area: Science

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking; ethical understanding; literacy

Lesson duration: 120 minutes

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • understand that animals reproduce, grow and change
  • learn about how different animal mothers care for their offspring
  • understand the different stages in the life cycle of cows, pigs, chickens and sheep
  • draw comparisons between how certain animals like cows, pigs, chickens and sheep reproduce in a more natural setting versus an intensive production farm.

Curriculum codes:

  • ACSSU030: Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves
  • ACSSU211: Living things live in different places where their needs are met (exploring what happens when habitats change and some living things can no longer have their needs met)


Scroll to the top to download this lesson’s material:

  • ‘Match Mum to Bub’ worksheet
  • ‘Meet My Mother’ worksheet
  • ‘My Life Story’ worksheet
  • ‘Animal Lifecycles’ handout

15 minutes

Discussion: What qualities make a good mother?

Part A: Brainstorm Activity

Brainstorm different qualities that make a good mother. Write student responses on a whiteboard.

Possible answers may include: caring, loving, nurturing, patient, feeds me, cleans me, plays with me, sings to me, protects me from danger, makes me feel safe, helps me learn how to do things.

Ask students if they think other animals can be good mothers too. Why/why not?

25 minutes

Tip: Some students may need extra help to read the passages completely.

Vocabulary: offspring, life cycle, suckle, weaned

Part B: Animal Offspring

Give students the ‘Match Mum to Bub’ worksheet, where they will match the animal mother to its offspring.

Optional: Ask students to choose an animal from the worksheet and find out how long each stage of its life cycle takes. Have them draw a chart. They can use the ‘Animal Lifecycles’ handout for reference.

Students will then read the passages on the ‘Meet My Mother’ worksheet and fill in the correct answers.

Fun fact: Mother hens have been known to care for babies from different species, including kittens, ducklings and puppies! It’s no wonder we use the phrase ‘mother hen’ to describe those with strong maternal and protective instincts.


(1) true; (2) false; (3) false; (4) true; (5) true; (6) true; (7) false; (8) true


60 minutes

Vocabulary: reproduce, adult, birth, eggs, hen, rooster, bull, sow, boar, ram, ewe, insemination, incubator

Tip: Introduce and explain the vocabulary words to students.

Part C: My Life Story

Hand out the ‘My Life Story’ worksheet. Students will choose an animal to learn about its life cycle. They will compare the life experience of this animal in a more natural setting versus a farm setting.

Student should demonstrate an understanding of:

  • how the animal’s life begins
  • the changes it goes through during its lifetime
  • the ability of adult animals to reproduce by giving birth or laying eggs
  • the average lifespan of the animal.

Have students draw pictures and write captions for each stage in the animal’s life cycle. Then use the worksheet to write its life story as a nonfiction recount.


10–20 minutes

Vocabulary: fairness, factory farms


Part D: Reflection (Is it Fair?)

Good mothers exist in many different animal species, including the animals we raise for food. Ask students if they think it’s fair for humans to breed animals and then seperate them from their babies after birth? What could be a better thing to do?

Should humans treat other animals fairly? Why/why not?

fairness (noun): the quality of treating others equally or in a way that is right or reasonable.

What about animals raised on small-scale, organic farms?

Many small-scale farmers in Australia raise their animals in a more natural way, keeping mothers with their offspring for a longer period of time. Often these animals are raised to feed a small number of people, like family members or the local community (e.g. through farmers’ markets).

However, an estimated 95 percent of meat chickens and pigs in Australia are raised in intensive production farms (sometimes called factory farms), while almost all dairy farms seperate mothers from their calves after birth. These farms supply major supermarkets to meet the high demand for meat, dairy and eggs.


40 minutes each

Extension Activity

There are four types of animals students can focus on in Part C. Have them complete this activity for each of them: cows, pigs, chickens and sheep. Alternatively, students can pick their favourite animal to focus on instead.