Australia Unit Study (younger elementary)Below is a unit study we did on Australia several years ago. We repeated much of it again last year when we studied Australia in Sonlight 5. My kids LOVED this study. Enjoy!
Unit Study on Australia
(Resource list at end of study)
We started our unit by reading Australia: One the Other Side of the World. We then read Wombat Stew and decided to concoct our own Wombat Stew outside!! We read the book again as we created our stew. adding such ingredients as leaves, acorns, sticks, insects, etc..
We started by reading Koala Lou and Possum Magic, both by Mem Fox. We watched an excellent PBS video, Hidden Worlds: Down by the Billabong. Later we made the Australian flag and read chapter one of Australia. After lunch we sang Waltzing Matilda, read the history of the song and its meaning, and talked about Banjo Patterson.
We read an aboriginal folk tale, Whale’s Canoe, a couple of times and read the next couple of chapters of Australia. Later we began watching our next video.
Jesse spent some time on the Enchanted Learning website, looking at animals, flags, etc. He took a quiz on Australia and got all but one answer correct! For a couple of hours Jesse created aboriginal type art, making various lizards and an echidna costume. We reread several of our favorite Mem Fox books.
Read Snap! by Marcia Vaughan.
This was our day to study Aborigines. We read The Peopling of Australia and Down Under: Vanishing Cultures.
We recorded the sections of Australia on our mark-it map and started the major cities. Day 5
Today we concentrated on the map of Australia. First Jesse outlined and filled in a map of the territories and major cities. Then he took a quiz (listed as for 6-9th graders) about the locations of cities and got all but one right, without looking at the map!
Our next project was to make an edible map of Australia. We made peanut butter cookie dough (Jesse was in charge of finding the right measuring cups and spoons) and shaped it into the continent. Later in the day we decorated the giant cookie with star sprinkles for the major cities, chocolate chips for the mountain ranges, and fish along the coastline. We divided it into territories with icing. When Daddy came home, Jesse told him the names of all the cities and then we ate it!
Jesse spent some time on the National Geographic Down Under website. He didn’t get enough time to explore it fully, so we’ll look at that again tomorrow.
We read most of our picture books again before returning them to the library. Jesse made out an at-a-glance sheet of Australia facts.
Jesse perused Australian websites in the morning. At the Aboriginal bark art site, he got ideas for his own bark art and went outside to collect bark. We will also make bark out from the directions below.
Jesse read The Rainbow Serpent and we perused James Cook together.
To make Aboriginal Bark Art
1. First thing in the morning soak a pre-cut piece of brown paper with water.
2. Crinkle the wet paper into a tight ball, unroll it and set it out to dry.
3. Later, take the dry, crinkled brown paper and create artwork using red, black, yellow, and white tempera paints and a paintbrush.
4. The drawings should represent a story that the student is interested in.
8. The drawings should be in the same style as and use the same techniques as authentic Aboriginal drawings.
Today we did our bark art paintings. They look awesome. We watched Wonders Down Under and then took a field trip to the zoo! We saw kookaburras and blue-tongued skinks. At home we read “My Grandma lived in Gooligulch.”
RESOURCE LIST Books:
Australia: One the Other Side of the World by Penny Stanley-Baker. 1986. *****
Australia.by Emilie U. Lepthien (Children’s Press, 1982)
The Peopling of Australia by Percy Trezise
Speculates on how the Aboriginals came to live in Australia.
Down Under: Vanishing Cultures. By Jan Reynolds.
A day in the life of an Aboriginal girl. ****
Toad Overload: A True Tale of Nature Knocked Off Balance in Australia by Patricia Seibert *****
Excellent story of the cane toads in Australia.
James Cook: Across the Pacific to Australia by Clint Twist.
Details Captain Cook’s famous journeys.
Koala Lou by Mem Fox.
Possum Magic by Mem Fox.
Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan*****
This is our absolute favorite!! Wombat Divine by Mem Fox (great for Christmas, too)
Snap by Marcia Vaughan
Whale’s Canoe by Joanna Troughton
The Rainbow Serpent by Dick Roughsey. An Aboriginal myth.
My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch by Graeme Base. Hilarious!*****
Hidden Worlds: Down by the Billabong
Nature of Australia: A Portrait of the Island Continent (There are at least 3 videos in this series)
Great Cultures, Great nations: Aborigine: Triumph of the Nomads
National Geographic’s Really Wild Animals: Wonders Down Under
Zoom School on Enchanted Learning: Australia
Includes music, stories, history and more.
Tales from the Billabong: Stories and Games
History of the Aborigines
Great information, lots of photos!
Australian Woolshed: Activities
Australia’s Unusual Animals
Australian A-Z Animal Archive
Aboriginal Bark Paintings
Animal Myths and Legends: Kangaroo Gets a Pouch
Good lesson plans here.