Territories: FOUNDATION - HPE - Engage

A possum disturbs Old Dog, and a ‘cranky’ magpie swoops at anyone who steps into the backyard. Little J and Big Cuz share a room and when Little J steps on Big Cuz’s art project, a disagreement over territory ensues. The result is a clear dividing line to mark their individual territory. But they discover they have to compromise on a shared space, and cooperate in order to move in and out of the room, and to get past the swooping magpie in the backyard. Their joint, inventive solution wins high praise from the class at ‘show & tell’

Engage - Identify and describe emotional responses people may experience in different situations

Theme - BIRDS

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 12 ‘Territories’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding about cooperation, sharing, resilience and safety.

As a class, discuss how the magpies protected their chicks in the nest. Have student pose and respond to questions about why animal parents will risk their own wellbeing to protect those of their young. View a clip of an actual magpie swooping, such as:

Discuss how the magpie attacks passers-by who enter what the magpie perceives as its territory. Have students share their experiences of magpies and other birds who may have defended their territory against the students. Suggested resource: Australian Magpie, Birds in Backyards.

Have students consider who protects and cares for them and what protective behaviours their parents/guardians commit to keep them safe.

(**Teacher note: Before starting this activity, teachers should be aware of any sensitivities about students with personal histories of neglect, removal, trauma, etc. in order to address their understanding of ‘care’.)

Have students also suggest ways that they care for others, e.g. younger siblings, pets, relatives, friends, neighbours. Ask students to suggest ‘why’ animal behaviours are so strong when it comes to protecting the young of a species. Provide a selection of stories about Australian birds that students can read/view, such as:

  • Allen, P.  (1996).  Waddle giggle gargle. (video)  Ringwood, Victoria :  Puffin Books
  • Albert, M. & Lofts, P.  (2004). How the birds got their colours. (video)  Sydney :  Scholastic Press
  • Dreise, G.  (2015). Kookoo kookaburra. (video)  Broome, Western Australia :  Magabala Books
  • Dreise, G.  (2016). Mad magpie.  Broome, Western Australia :  Magabala Books
  • Dreise, G.  (2014). Silly birds.  Broome, Western Australia :  Magabala Books
  • Knowles, S. & Clement, R.  (1996). Edwina the emu. (video)  Pymble, NSW :  Angus & Robertson
  • Morris, J. & Gall, H.  (2002). Kookaburra school.  Maleny, Qld :  Greater Glider Productions
  • Mudgedell, M. (B.) N. & Williams, S. & Nicholls, C. & Mudgedell, M. N.  (2002). The cocky, the crow and the hawk: a Dreaming narrative.  Kingswood, SA :  Working Title Press
  • Thorpe, S. & Leffler, D. (2003). The emu egg. Indij Readers Ltd, North Sydney, NSW
  • Utemorrah, D. & Lofts, P.  (2004). Dunbi the owl. (video)  Sydney :  Scholastic Press

Explain to students that there are many different birds in Australia and the world and different birds can represent different things to various cultures. Some Australian birds are the totem animals of Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. These birds are protected and for people of that totem, they can’t hunt the birds. Refer to:

There are many Aboriginal Dreaming stories and Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Tiam (Before Before Time) stories about Australian birds that can be told/read to students, such as:

Ask students to think of a real or imagined bird that could protect them. Have students draw a picture of it. Ask students to create a story attached to their bird and the qualities that the bird exhibits, such as being strong, kind, happy, playful, etc.Assemble the bird drawings of all the students into a ‘Ornithology album’ for the class and have each student say and/or write one or two qualities that the bird represents.

As a class, review all the birds in the album and discuss their qualities/strengths, such as being able to sing and warble (magpie), being skilled hunters at night (owls, frogmouths and night jars), or being a fast runner (emu). Praise each student for a personal strength, using the birds as inspiration relating to the headings skill, attitude, movement, thinking, creativity, and character.

Suggested teacher resource: