Territories: FOUNDATION - HPE - Explore

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’.

Explore - Practise personal and social skills to interact positively with others

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.

Invite students to share stories about their encounters with a bird. Ask questions about the bird, such as:

  • What did the bird look like?
  • What behaviours did the bird show?
  • Where did you encounter the bird?
  • How did you respond to the bird?

Make a list of the names of birds that students suggest they encounter every day, such as pigeon, dove, crow, budgerigar, duck, chicken, magpie, seagull, etc. Use the following resource for students to identify different birds:

  • QuestaBird - Atlas of Living Australia
    This is a multi-level adventure-style game in which players observe and photograph Australian birds in the wild, record details and submit completed records to earn gold.

Ask students if they think birds may have magical or special powers, and have students suggest what these might be. Explore how a variety of cultures around the world believe birds are magical beings. For example, birds are often seen as the messengers of spirits, as protectors, or tricksters who fool people and lure them into danger.

Refer to Birds in Mythology, in Myths and Legends of the World, Myths Encyclopaedia, for cultural beliefs about birds Some examples of cultural beliefs include:

  • An Egyptian myth tells of the Benu bird that created the universe and then made gods and goddesses, and humans to live in that universe.
  • A Navajo myth (from North America) tells of a great flood where the people fled to an upper world, leaving everything behind. The bird, a Turkey, then dived into the lower world to rescue seeds so that the people could grow food crops.
  • The Indonesian myth of the Garuda tells of deities flying down to the primeval ocean to lay eggs that hatch into the world.
  • In Celtic and Irish myths, war goddesses often appeared in the form of crows and ravens.
  • In China, owls are symbols of wisdom, patience, and learning, yet because they hunt at night, they are associated with secrecy and darkness. They can also be signs of misfortune.
  • In different cultures, the myth of the phoenix combines images of birth and death to become a powerful symbol of eternal rebirth.

Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples also hold different beliefs about the birds that inhabit their Country. One such Aboriginal community is the, Noongar people (Spirituality Kaartdijin Noongar – Noongar Knowledge: Read the section called ‘Jirda – Birds')

Jirda are often messengers in Noongar boodja (country). Some of the birds include the weelow (curlew), djidi djidi (willy wagtail) and darlmoorluk (twenty-eight parrot). Weerlow is said to be the ‘bringer of death’; djidi djidi can take you into the bush to the gnardis or woodartjis and bulyits (little “hairy” people), and darlmoorluk is the ‘guardian or protector of the camps.”

Other resources include:

Use the QuestaBird App in the school grounds or a local area to see if students can spot any of the birds found in these myths. Have students find a story of the local Aboriginal community and/or Torres Strait Islander community about a bird that inhabits their local area.

Once the class has developed an extensive list of birds, discuss and identify which bird may represent different behaviours, aptitudes and qualities, such as:

  • trickster: a bird that can make people, especially children, get lost
  • protector: a bird that sees danger and warns to protect people
  • songster: a bird that is always heard during the day
  • wise: a bird that shows intelligence to allude capture and stay safe
  • silly: a bird that doesn’t know what is happening around them
  • … among others

Ask students to identify different people in their community who exhibit the same qualities such as protectors, wise people, songsters, etc. In small groups, ask students to create a pictorial ‘mind map’ or community network of the people, they know or know about, who serve to protect them, e.g. teachers, police, fire brigade, paramedics, etc.

Place the student at the centre of the mind map as a bird shape with those who are identified as protectors around the outside, (e.g. Elders, teachers, fire officers, aunty, uncle, cousin, nurse, police)

Invite each group to share their ideas for the mind map with the class.