Wombat Rex: YEAR 1 - HASS - Explore

One night, Nanna teaches Little J, Big Cuz and Levi about the star constellations through stories of the past. At school, Ms Chen encourages the students to investigate the evidence of dinosaurs. Little J and Levi set out to find evidence of dinosaurs themselves, happening upon the fossil of Diprotodon, also called Wombat Rex.

Explore - Sort and record information and data, including location, in tables and on plans and labelled maps

Theme - TOTEM

After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 5 ‘Wombat Rex’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding of continuity and change of, and about, living things; place and space; and perspectives.

As a class, read and/or view the story of the Emu constellation and have students find out why the Emu constellation is so important to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples:

  • “On an autumn evening, anywhere in Australia, look in the South-East for a great dark shape in the sky, with a black head (the Coalsack, next to the Southern Cross), and dark legs trailing out along the Milky Way to Scorpius. This is the great emu in the sky, the subject of songs and stories in many parts of Australia.

           What is Aboriginal Astronomy, Australian Aboriginal Astronomy

Share individual constellation stories and diagrams located on the Museum Victoria website, and as a class, watch the video from NSW Local Land Services.

Ask students to name their favourite animal constellation, either Kangaroo, Wombat, Emu, Echidna, Crocodile, etc. List the animals on the IWB/board and ask students to select which animal they feel represents them as an individual, and list the names of students under the animal names to divide students into smaller working groups. Have each group design an image (or individual images) of the ‘constellation’ animal that will identify their particular group. Their design should include 5-6 stars positioned in the outline so that their shape is representative of their selected animal.

**Teacher note: Aboriginal students and/or Torres Strait Islander students may already know their family’s animal totem and they should be permitted to associate with it for this activity. Totems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures can be many things, including animals, flora, rocks, geological formations, etc.

As a class, view the Brolga Song’,  Ancient stories, new voices, on the ABC Dust Echoes (ABC Splash) website. Or, read the story, Brolga, the beautiful dancing bird.  Discuss how the character in the video was looking for an animal spirit that he could embody. Have students pose and respond to questions about the video story. Focus their understanding about how Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples believe that they belong to totem groups based on different Australian animals, flora, rocks, geological formations, etc.

Read and/or view Aboriginal stories about animals, including:

  • Dolumyu, J. & Lofts, P. & Jandany, H.  (2004). The bat and the crocodile.  Lindfield, NSW :  Scholastic Press
  • Green, M. & Lofts, P.  (2004). The echidna and the shade tree: an Aboriginal story.  Sydney :  Scholastic Press
  • Kwaymullina, E. & Morgan, S.  (2011). My country.  North Fremantle, WA :  Fremantle Press
  • Lippo, A. & Lofts, P.  (2004). The kangaroo and the porpoise.  Sydney:  Scholastic (video:)
  • Lofts, P. & Lajamanu School. Senior Boys Class.  (2011). Warnayarra the rainbow snake: an Aboriginal story.  Sydney :  Scholastic
  • Mowaljarlai, D. B. & Lofts, P.  (2004). When the snake bites the sun.  Sydney:  Scholastic Press (animation)
  • Mudgedell, M. (B.) N. & Williams, S. & Nicholls, C. & Mudgedell, M. N.  (2002). The cocky, the crow and the hawk: a Dreaming narrative.  Kingswood, S. Aust :  Working Title Press
  • Mung Mung, G. L. & Lofts, P.  (2004). How the kangaroos got their tails.  Sydney :  Scholastic Press
  • Nampijinpa, D. D. G. & Williams, S. & Nicholls, C.  (2003). The magic fire at Warlukurlangu : a Dreaming narrative.  Kingswood, S. Aust :  Working Title Press
  • Napurrurla, M. T. & Williams, S. & Nicholls, C.  (2003). The spotted cat: a Dreaming narrative.  Kingswood, S. Aust :  Working Title Press
  • Utemorrah, D. & Lofts, P.  (2004). Dunbi the owl.  Sydney : Scholastic Press (video:)

In smaller groups, ask students to develop their own story for their chosen ‘totem’. The groups could storyboard an illustration of their story where each member of the group contributes to a section of the story. Students can either present to the class by:

  • explaining their own story illustration (paper and/or sand), or
  • developing a dance presentation, or
  • using a photo story of different images and photographs.

Watch the video clips, which are traditional Aboriginal dances imitating the movements of a kangaroo and a crane. Suggested resources:

As group work, have students investigate their own animal totem and observe how the animal moves. They can then choreograph their own movements to imitate the animal. Students can also make their own accompanying sounds using their bodies, e.g. clapping, stomping feet, voice, etc. and/or add clap stick sounds. 

**Teacher note: This is not an exercise in copying Aboriginal dances, but one of using the traditional dance concept of imitating the movement of animals to influence students to create their own interpretation/s.

Alternatively, or in addition to, have students create a mask, puppet or Dhari (headdress), of the Australian animal and use it to tell a story.

Refer to video clips of non-Indigenous animal songs to reference animal movements. For example: