Note: I was able to find most of these books in our local library, but some are so beautiful that they make wonderful additions to your home library. Not every book is necessary for this study, but we read all of them, one at a time, during our morning story times. Stories are a wonderful way to become familiar with a culture.
Just in case the Amazon book links didn’t load on your computer, here is a written book list:
The Flying Emu and Other Australian Stories – Morgan
Stories from the Billabong – Marshall
Ready To Dream – Napoli
The Outback – Porter
Aboriginal Designs – Pinder
Australian ABCs : A Book About the People and Places of Australia – Heiman
Australia and Oceana (A True Book) – Friedman
Dingoes at Dinnertime (Magic Tree House) – Pope-Osborne
Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales from the Dreaming – McLeod
Dreamtime: Aboriginal Stories – Nunukul
Introduction to Australia:
To introduce your children to the fascinating landscape of Australia, watch the following videos with them.
Note: Before beginning, I explained to my children that there is a traditional native culture of Australia, as well as a current/ modern culture. I explained that the reason for these two cultures is that the English conquered and colonized Australia. We focused primarily on the native culture, as the folklore and folk art of a country often originates with its natives.
Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning the geography of Australia in a much more memorable way than fill in the blank maps, but she is learning a historic art form. I find that my children truly learn and retain their geography when they create their own maps, as they are having a visual, kinesthetic, and artistic experience while learning the geography of the region. Here is how we approached mapping Australia.
Materials: watercolor paper (we use 11 x 17) waterproof India ink pen, watercolors, colored pencils, an atlas or computer for reference maps
(Prepare a cutout in the shape of Australia by outlining Australia and cutting it out for your children to trace around- older children can freehand draw Australia on their maps)
Begin by looking at a world map. Find Australia on the map. Make a note that Australia is the only continent that is also a country.
Have your children locate the capital city of Australia (Canberra).
Now have your children trace Australia onto their paper using the cut out you made (or have them draw it freehand). Then have them go over the pencil outline with the black India ink pen. Now they may watercolor Australia any color they wish, and the surrounding waters blue.
When the watercolor dries, ask them to label their map, “Australia,” and also label the capital city of Canberra, using a star with a circle around it for a symbol.
Oceans, Seas, Rivers, and Lakes:
Click here for a map of Australia’s waters. Help your children to locate the surrounding seas and oceans; The Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, the Tasman Sea, and the Coral Sea. Have them label the oceans and seas on their maps.
The Darling and Murray are the largest rivers in Australia. Help your children locate them on the map and then draw them on their maps using a blue colored pencil. Then ask them to label the rivers.
Locate Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens. These are Australia’s largest lakes. Have your children color them on their maps using a blue colored pencil and then label them.
Deserts and Mountains:
Click here for a desert map of Australia. The two largest deserts are the Great Victorian Desert and the Great Sandy Desert. Using a brownish colored pencil, have your children shade the desert region on their maps and label them. We just showed the two largest deserts, but your children are welcome to label all of them if they wish.
The Great Dividing Range is a large mountain range in Australia that extends almost the entire length of the west coast from north to south. Click here to see the Great Dividing Range on a map. Using a brown colored pencil, have your children draw in the Great Dividing Range using upside down V’s. Then have them label the range.
Click here to see a map of Australia’s cities. Have your children label a few of Australia’s major cities (Sidney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Darwin, Broome, Perth, and Adelaide).
Have your children add a compass rose and a map key and they are finished!
Learning about the wildlife of the country you are studying is equally as important as learning about the geography and cultures, as hopefully we are raising a generation that will contribute to the well being of our planet, the protection of species, and the preservation of wildlife. There is no better way to contribute to that goal than to nurture in our children, from a young age, a respect and admiration for nature and wild life.
Materials- a cutout of Australia (same cutout used for the first map), a large piece of thick paper, (we always use watercolor paper so that these projects last), colored pencils, india ink pen, and either block crayons or watercolors.)
Before beginning, watch the documentaries below.
Outline Australia in dark green colored pencil.
Click here to learn about animals that live in Australia. Have your children pick their favorite animals, either from the documentaries or from the link, to draw on their maps. Then ask them to label the animals.
Click here to learn about the native plants of Australia. If your children would like to include pants on their maps, have them draw their favorites and label them.
Click here to learn about animals that live in the Great Barrier Reef. Have your children draw their favorite Great Barrier Reef creatures on their maps and label them. They might want to draw creatures from the documentary or the link.
Have them title their maps, “Wildlife of Australia.”
Then with watercolors or block crayons (or the side of a stick crayon), have your children color Australia green and the ocean blue.
Flag of Australia:
Materials: Paper, markers, crayons, or paint
Click here for a picture of the Australian flag.
Have your children draw a picture of the Australian flag.
Aboriginal Dot Painting:
Materials: paint, q-tips, brown paper bag paper, paint brush
Click here to print a silhouette of a kangaroo.
Cut a large piece of paper from a brown paper shopping bag.
Have your children draw an outline picture of a kangaroo in the center. Then have them paint it black to create a silhouette.
Show them how to dip the q-tips into the paint and then stamp the paint onto the paper to create a dot. Then have your children create a row of dots, using one color, that circles the kangaroo. Create many rows of dots, each a different color, until the page is full.
Aboriginal Clapping Sticks:
Aboriginal clapping sticks are used in ceremonies and celebrations. Watch the video below to see how the music of clapping sticks is combined with vocals to create songs for dance and celebration.
Make Your Own Clapping Sticks:
Materials: paint mixing sticks (these can be picked up from the paint section of a hardware store often at no charge), paint, white crayons or oil pastels
Have your children paint the sticks any color they wish.
Then look over the traditional symbols (to the right) with your children, and have them select a few to draw in white on their sticks.
When they finish, have them try their hands at playing clapping music!
The Great Barrier Reef:
This is a great time to combine subjects (science and geography) and spend some time learning about coral reefs, as the north-east coast of Australia is home to the largest coral reef in the world, The Great Barrier Reef.
Lapbooking is a fantastic way for children to learn about a subject.
Click here for a wonderful printable lapbook project all about coral reefs.
Cooking an Australian Dinner:
Cooking day, as I have mentioned before, is by far, my children’s favorite country study activity. If you haven’t cooked with your kids before, you might be tempted to pass over this activity, but please don’t. It is such a wonderful experience, and your children will have so much fun! My children always feel so proud of the meals they prepare. To make it even more exciting, while cooking, we love to play music from the country we are studying.
For our Australian dinner, we made a classic Australian meat pie. It turned out quite delicious and with a very different taste and flavor than the Scottish meat pie or the English pasties.
Click here for the Australian Meat Pie recipe.
Australian Baking: Anzac Biscuits
My children were in the mood for baking and so we decided to bake an Australian treat. Anzac biscuits are a traditional Australian food and are quite delicious with tea.
HOME COUNTRY STUDIES:
On our Country Study Pages you will find month long, complete geography and culture curriculums for selected countries. For each individual country study, you will find a booklist, an introduction to the country and the beauty of the region, mapmaking projects, projects based on traditional folktales, projects based on the traditional clothing of the region, recipes for cooking traditional meals, art projects, links to become familiar with the traditional music and dance of that country, and more.
By clicking on our “Explore Nature” tab you will find an ever growing wealth of resources to help you make nature study a wonderful and intrinsic part of your homeschool. From wildlife sketching video tutorials from John Muir Laws, to activities to get your children out and excited about nature, to wonderful products to help you educate your children about natural history. This section of our site will be replete with ideas to help you educate your children about nature, as well as give them the opportunity to create a life long bond with nature.
Please keep up with our blog! Topics will range from all things homeschooling, to topics of interest to mothers and family life, as well as much more!
Very soon I will have an “Explore Literature” tab on the menu. This section of the site will include booklists for various ages, as well as wonderful literature for mothers. Literature and reading are cornerstones of our homeschooling, as well as my life personally, and I hope to share with you the titles that have brought wonder, joy, empathy, ethics, and adventure into our lives.
TRAVEL ADVENTURE PAGES
Next year I will begin creating travel adventure pages. These pages will offer full educational travel itineraries for various countries to help you create the educational trip of a lifetime. In each region, accommodations, historic sites, museums, historic re-enactments, cultural activities, and nature sites will be highlighted. There is nothing that compares to real life learning, and traveling is an amazing way to experience that.