Special Offer

Click to subscribe


Special offers for:
ASE Members
Small Schools
Groups of schools
Teacher delegates at conferences and Primary Upd8 courses


The Centre for Science Education
The Association for Science Education
Part of ASE

Topic: 2B Plants and animals in the local environment

An application tracking the fertility of cows has won the first ever Apps 4 Africa competition as smartphones become increasingly popular in Africa. iCow is an application that helps cow farmers maximise breeding potential by tracking the fertility cycle of their animals.

In this activity children will discuss the importance of cows in the food chain and learn the life cycle of a cow.

Large activity image
Try the Activity Learning Objective

Click to Download iCow activity
iCow activity

Click to Download iCow teacher notes
iCow teacher notes


You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

You will also need the latest version of the flash player to be able to play swf files.

that some farmers in Africa have cows

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 1 successfully.

that like humans, plants and other animals reproduce

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 2 successfully.

that female cows produce calves and milk

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 3 successfully.

Curriculum Link


QCA Unit 2B: Plants and animals in the local environment
animals reproduce and change as they grow older

Scientific enquiry
turning ideas into questions that can be investigated
presenting results
drawing conclusions

Running the Activity

Introducing the activity
Display Page 1 through a projector or as an OHT. Discuss the images with the children.
- What is an iphone?
- What is an app?
- What is the difference between male and female cows?
- Which are the most useful to farmers? Why?
- Where is Africa?

Leading the main activity

Display Page 2 through a data projector or on an OHT. Talk in very simple terms about life cycles.
- Have they always looked like this?
- What changes have happened?
- Will they always be like they are now?
- What do they think they may be like in the future?

Compare to other animals - frogs, butterflies. Perhaps read the story of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar'.

Talk about the need for parents to look after them but is it the same for all animals?
Where do we get our milk from? Possibly watch a DVD of the milking process or arrange a farm visit.

Display Page 3 through a data projector or as an OHT. Print off copies for the children as appropriate.

The page shows a number of facts about cows, milk and Africa. The children have to decide which is correct and which is false.
They could draw out the life cycle of the cow to show the different stages.

Web Links

BBC News
The original news story

Green Dreams
Quite complex information explaining the principles behind the iCow

BBC Science Clips
Science Clips activities linked to QCA scheme of work. Features a quiz and worksheet.

DLTK's Crafts for Kids
Instructions for making a frog life cycle

The Children's Butterfly Site
Information and activities about butterflies.

AIPL Kid's Corner
Facts about cows and milk

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?