Saturday, August 8, 2009

Australia Unit Study

Do you want a fun way to teach your children about another country? Then try this fun unit study and travel by book to Australia...

This will be a work in progress. I will continue to add content to this post as time goes on and I come up with a better method of getting all of this information to my readers. Thank you for your patience.

Will Travel by Book


Main books to be used during the week:

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia by Alison Lester

Growing Up At Uluru, Australia by Stan Breeden (This is my first choice for a non-fiction book about Australia. Unfortunately, most public libraries will probably not carry it and it is only available through limited sellers at Amazon. If you can get a hold of it, I highly recommend it.)

Books for older readers:

The Magic School Bus Chapter Book – Expedition Down Under by Rebecca Carmi and illustrated by John Speirs.

Dingoes at Dinnertime by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Series)

Printables: (a big thank you to my husband for drawing all of these for me)

map of Australia

flag of Australia




Sydney Opera House


The idea of this literature-based curriculum is to read the book(s) with your child each day. Pick one or two activities to focus on each day and have fun exploring Australia. Before reading the book(s), look at a map with your child. Have them find Australia and see where it is in relation to other countries. This is something that even very young children can do. The earlier they start learning geography, the better they will grasp it. My five year old knows where every U.S. state is and most of the major countries (and their capitals). He has always been fascinated with geography and maps. I wish I had learned this stuff at a young age so that I wouldn't have struggled with it in my later school years. Just think of the benefits of learning how to read a map at such a young age.

The activites listed cover many different areas including math, science, social studies, writing, arts and crafts, music, and more. Do all of the activities I have provided or only a few. Spend a few days on each book, or a few weeks. Adapt the ideas to your child's age level. Your little one may not be able to write down their thoughts about the writing prompts, but you can have a discussion with them. Follow your child's lead and have fun!


Introduce the capital of Australia, Canberra, and locate it on the printable map.

Cut out a boomerang out of cardboard (click on the link for the template).

Print out the template to trace onto cardboard or card stock. Cut out and decorate. Then click on the link to find out how boomerangs work.

Use Q-tips to make dot paintings. (You could use this technique to decorate your boomerang.)

Convert km to miles every time the distance is mentioned in the story. (*hint* 1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers)

Make a didgeridoo. Read Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo by Alison Lester.

A great video explaining how to play the didgeridoo:

Make Fairy Bread while reading the poem Fairy Bread by Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child’s Garden of Verses. Some believe this is where the idea for fairy bread originated.

Take a piece of white bread. Spread with butter or margarine. Pour sprinkles onto a plate. Take the slice of bread and place butter side down onto the sprinkles. Gently press until sprinkles are sticking to the bread.

Fairy Bread

Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.

• Listen to and sing "Waltzing Matilda" and "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Color the printable of a kookaburra and check out the link to learn more about these beautiful birds.

Play a game of footy (Aussie Rules Football) or cricket.

Purchase some vegemite and try it on toast. (Some links below where you can purchase vegemite online.)

• Create an entire authentic Aussie meal: sausages on the grill, chips (fries) with sour cream and sweet chili sauce for dipping (this is super tasty!), salad, damper, and pavlova for dessert.

Writing prompts for the week:

What do you think?

1) How would you feel leaving home and traveling around the country for three months like the family in the story?

2) What would you think about celebrating Christmas during the summer?
3) Have you traveled around your own country much? What have you seen? What else would you like to see?
4) What is your favorite Australian animal and why?
5) If you could visit Australia, what is the one thing you would most like to see and why?

Write a story using Aussie slang and/or Aboriginal words.

Talk about the dangers of the strong Australian sun and how important it is to use sunscreen and wear hats (find out what "Slip, Slop, Slap" means).
Do a search on the Sydney Opera House and discover its fascinating architecture.

Talk about Tasmania and how it is separated from mainland Australia by the Bass Straight. Learn about the Tasmanian Tiger and how it is now extinct.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef and how important coral reefs are to the ecosystem.

Learn about the Aboriginal culture and the history of the Aborigine people and how they were treated similarly to the Native Americans.

Write a research paper about quokkas.

Other books to read:

Wombat Goes Walkabout by Michael Morpurgo and Christian Birmingham
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
One Woolly Wombat by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent
An Australian ABC of Animals by Bronwyn Bancroft


  1. Love this part of the site. Brings back some great memories of Australia.

  2. This is such a great idea. Thanks Carissa-you've inspired me to take the kids (well 2 of them anyway) on a treasure hunt into the attic for all my Aussie artefacts/junk. Love the idea of travelling by book!!

  3. Hi Moira! Thanks for the feedback. Have fun traveling! :)


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