Waterbug and platypus adaptations (Years 5-6)

Wetlands waterbugs colouring sheet
Wetlands waterbugs colouring sheet: search for 'colouring sheets' to download it.

In this lesson sequence, students explore the diversity of waterbugs in their local waterway and some of the adaptations that enable them to survive and (hopefully) thrive in their habitat. It also showcases the adaptations that make the platypus such a special resident of our waterways.

Waterbugs (aquatic macroinvertebrates) are an important but mostly invisible element of our local waterways. They are a crucial food source for other animals and the biodiversity of waterbugs is used as an indicator of waterway health. 

Download the lesson plan

This lesson plan contains modules explicitly linked to the Victorian Curriculum.


Waterbugs from Kororoit Creek

Activity 1: Identifying waterbugs

Students identify the waterbugs in a sample and draw conclusions about the health of the waterway based on the sensitivities of the waterbugs found. This activity is most effective when conducted as part of a field excursion. If this is not possible it can be run as an in-class activity.

Activity 2: Waterbug adaptations

Students explore the different ways in which waterbugs obtain oxygen.

Activity 3: Platypus adaptations

Students use technology or craft materials to explore platypus anatomy and how they are adapted to their habitat.

Activity 4: Where are the waterbugs?

Students explore a scenario about a river then play a game to discover why the waterbugs are disappearing.

Victorian curriculum links

  • VCSSU074: Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment
    Science > Science understanding > Biological sciences
  • VCSSU075: The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment
    Science > Science understanding > Biological sciences
  • VCGGK094: Influence of people, including the influence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, on the environmental characteristics of Australian places
    Geography > Geographical knowledge > Factors that shape places and influence interconnections
  • VCGGK096: Environmental and human influences on the location and characteristics of places and the management of spaces within them
    Geography > Geographical knowledge > Factors that shape places and influence interconnections


Waterbug census

Waterbug census training

Waterbugs let us know how healthy our water is, and you can too. By joining the Waterbug Census and monitoring your local macroinvertebrates, you’ll help us check the health of our rivers and creeks.

Waterbug census


River health and monitoring

Water testing at Maroondah Reservoir

We monitor rivers and creeks so we know if their condition changes or our improvement programs need adjusting. Learn how we assess river health and view current data.

River health



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