I used for some of this plan.

I used a lot of video resources for this unit which will link in the plans. I wanted it to feel like we experienced it in a way I didn’t think books would replicate. Our new local library system also isn’t nearly as extensive as our former home library so I just didn’t have a lot of great book choices.

They did have a book Look What Came From Australia and it could be used as a spine for most of these lessons instead of videos. I used it at the end to summarize instead.  There are also, of course, lots of great pictures available on the internet.

Land and Animals

I used the BCP plan (linked above) idea to organize the geography portion of the study with the study of animals. I used their plans for animal locations though in actuality many of these animals would be found in various areas.  

I used this song as our introduction to the unit. The digeroo imitates various animals. It’s a nice video.

The video’s song also uses the wording  “Land Down Under” which I used, along with a globe, to check recall of geography concepts (continents, directions, oceans, equator, Northern Hemisphere and North Pole, Southern Hemisphere and South Pole) while we talked about why it might be called the “Land Down Under” by some.

We also reviewed seasons and why they experience their seasons differently than those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. This corresponds well with a CK 3rd grade science objective (Earth’s rotation and seasons). My boys have covered this before so we just reviewed, did a demonstration with a flashlight and globe, and watched a Bill Nye video clip 

Conveniently for me Australia also experienced a solar eclipse during this study. Solar eclipses are also part of the 3rd grade science objectives so I took the opportunity to review that as well. and there are lots of videos of the Australian eclipse. The eclipse actually happened later in our study but the topic fits well here.

Then we talked about the various parts of Australia as outlined below. I used the BCP plans for the organization of animals and points to cover for each region. I divided these lessons into three days (outback and northeast, southwest, Great Barrier Reef).


If a person wants to avoid videos this section can certainly be done with library books and visual images from the internet. This video is a good overview. It does include rock art, Aboriginal information, sheep and cattle stations, opal mining, and various animals. So it’s a little broad in scope but I still liked it as an introduction to this area. This video is of the Painted Desert. I used it to highlight the dry, desert like conditions in this area.  

For this section I wanted to highlight the ways the animals coped with the heat and dry conditions. I also highlighted that many Australian animals are marsupials and why there is such a high concentration in that area.

I didn’t use the following as written but I did use the main ideas to guide our discussion (this is from the BCP lessons linked above):

There are some unusual animals that call the outback home. Do you think this would be a good place for animals to live? The animals that live in this hot, dry area are able to store water from their food. Some avoid the heat of the day by staying in their underground homes. How might this protect them from heat?

Do you know the name of the animal that has long back legs and short front legs? This animal carries its young in a pouch and hops with great speed.

The kangaroo is an animal of the Australian outback. Kangaroos are well suited to desert life. They can go for weeks and even months without drinking water! They eat plants that are full of water and then store that water in their bodies. A baby kangaroo is called a joey. It lives in its mother's pouch until it is able to hop along beside her.*

*We talked specifically about marsupials as well and I continued to highlight that throughout the lessons. I didn’t use it but there is a whole lapbook on marsupials that could be used with an Australia study 


A wallaby is a smaller animal much like a kangaroo.

The wombat, an animal that looks something like a rabbit with short ears, avoids the heat of the day by staying deep in his underground home. Wombats eat grass and can go without water for months.

The emu is a bird that can't fly. It has strong legs and big feet that help it to run very fast. It eats grass and berries and insects.

North-East Edges, Rainforest

The edges of Australia are not dry like the outback. Let’s see some animals that make the North-East their home (we used a map to locate this area and I also talked about the Australian states and territories at this point).

My boys loved this video highlighting the frilled lizard. One pretended he was a frilled lizard being chased by a feral cat off and on for days as long as he could get a partner to play the cat role. Frilled Lizard

Dingoes (Fraser Island off of Queensland). We talked a lot about conservation of species. This is an interest of one of my boys so he did some extra reading about dingoes.

Some of this area is hot and very wet! This video highlights conservation Daintree Rainforest which, again, is an interest for one of mine so he spent some time learning about this effort.

The rainforest area is home to many unusual animals.

The sugar glider is a squirrel-like animal that has extra skin between its front and back legs. It spreads its front and back legs to make its body like a parachute so it can glide from tree to tree. 

To close the lessons on these two areas:

We used the animal cards from this homeschool share link for these animals in the presentation we were making for our geography fair. 

Then we did some Exercise to Aussie Animals using this fun video.

One of mine likes paper crafts so he selected this kangaroo to make. I had a help more than I usually would for this craft. It takes some sort of tricky gluing. 

South and Southwest Edges

In the southwest and southeast corners of Australia there are cooler, drier woods. Many birds nest in this area during the winter. The trees and shrubs are a good place for finding food. One of Australia's most famous animals lives in these woods.

The koala lives here because it eats only the leaves of certain types of trees that grow in these woods. The koala may look like a little bear, but it is not. Momma koalas are marsupials that have pouches for their young just the way kangaroo mommas do. and

The kookaburra is a bird that lives in the woods of Australia. The kookaburra has a noisy, laughing call that tells other kookaburras to keep out of its area. The kookaburra often calls out its warning early in the morning, waking everyone who might be near. 

We added our animal cards (linked above) and then to close we sang the Kookaburra song with this music

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Merry, merry king of the bush is he,

Laugh kookaburra, Laugh kookaburra,

Gay your life must be.

Stand together in a line.  On the first line of the song, take one jump forward and assume a slight squatting position with hands on top of thighs. On line two, stand upright and flap arms like bird wings. On "Laugh kookaburra," do a pantomime of a laugh. On the last line, jump back to original line and nod heads at one another.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Eating all the gumdrops he can see,

Stop kookaburra, Stop kookaburra,

Leave some there for me.

On line one, take a jump forward and assume a slight squatting position with hands on top of thighs. On the second line, pantomime eating gumdrops. On first "Stop kookaburra," hold up hands in the "stop" signal. On the last line, jump back to original spots and and rub tummy in anticipation of a gumdrop.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Counting all the monkeys he can see,

Stop kookaburra, Stop kookaburra,

That's no monkey that's me!

In line one we jumped forward and I counted the boys being monkeys. On the second line we did the stop signal with our hands again. On the last line we jumped backward and pointed to ourselves while we shook our heads no.  

Great Barrier Reef

Just off the coast of Australia is a huge underwater area called the Great Barrier Reef. Tiny animals called corals have formed the area. Many animals find food and shelter among the corals. Beautiful fishes, giant clams, and many types of sponges can be found in the Great Barrier Reef. Short National Geographic video This is a full hour--a lot of video; one of mine enjoyed it and learned a lot. The other doesn’t have the attention span for watching that long.  

To close we reviewed the areas we had talked about and discussed which place we would visit. We could then write postcards about the pretend visit to see this area or write a letter as if we were one of our favorite Australian animals.

I did this on another day but we made salt dough maps of Australia. This gave us a nice chance to review what we had studied about the land of Australia. We’ve been working on rivers, a CK geography objective for 3rd grade, so this was an opportunity to review river terms and cover the Murray-Darling river I highlighted the geography, importance, and need for conservation 


People of Australia

Aboriginal and Early European Settlement

Again, I didn’t use these words (from BCP plans) as written but did use them to guide my discussion.

First we are going to learn about the people of Australia's past. The earliest people of Australia are known as Aborigines. The Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a very, very long time. The first Aborigines were hunters and gatherers, moving from place to place to find different foods at different times of the year. Ancient food sources Aborigine men hunted with wooden spears. The hunter threw the spear with a thrower called a woomera. Boomerangs were also used to stun or kill animals. You could make a boomerang from cardboard 

The Aboriginal people have a rich history. We can still see their rock art today.

Very good about Rock Art painting This has some Aboriginal artwork along with digiroo music 

Their art might be used to record important information like where to find food or water or to record things like their creation myths. The Aboriginals also have a rich history of stories meant to teach. Let’s listen to a few set to video. very cute story I used the Mimi Story This one is a creation myth

From BCP: The first European settlers to arrive in Australia were prisoners - - - murderers, thieves, and poor people sent to jail for failing to pay their debts. Britain had been sending prisoners to the American colonies, especially Virginia and Maryland, for years. The onset of the Revolutionary War ended this practice and they had to look elsewhere. They decided to locate a prison in Australia. The eleven ships of Britain's First Fleet carried more than 500 men and nearly 200 women convicts, as well as 200 British soldiers to guard them. The prisoners worked by day on community farms and spent the night in jail. After the prisoners had served their time, Britain officials granted land to the freed prisoners and to the soldiers who had guarded them. Australia remained a prison colony for eighty years. During that time, ships brought thousands of convicts to Australia. They cleared land and built farms and roads. I briefly touched on the fact that, like our Native American’s experience, European settlers to Australia brought harm to the Aboriginals.

To close this lesson I did this art activity The BCP plan has “bark” painting too which would work nicely here.

Today's People

From BCP/used as a guide:

The people who live in Australia are called Australians.

Today many Aborigines live in cities and towns, and some live on the lands set aside for them by the Australian government. Wherever they live, most Aborigines continue to have a deep respect for the land and for their religious beliefs. We read and discussed the Australia section of Children Just Like Me which highlights an Aboriginal child.

Some Australians live in the outback. Do you remember what the Australian outback is like? What are some of the animals that live in the outback? Living in the outback can be hard work and dangerous at times. Brush fires, floods and long periods of dryness are all problems here. Outback towns are small. The families that live here may have to travel many hours to get to a city to see their doctors and to do their shopping. (I highlighted the Royal Flying Doctor Service here). The people that live here raise cattle and sheep on large areas of land called stations.

Give me a Home Among the Gum Trees  (just a fun song to sing)

The CK plans don’t touch on this but I also highlighted the eclectic nature of the Australian population. Most Australians live in one of the five large cities of the country. These five cities are all located near the coast. (Find Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth on the map.) 

This is actually an advertisement type thing but fit what I wanted to convey in this portion--that most Australians are living in cities much like our big cities. 

What do you think some of the activities might be for the people that live in these cities? Swimming, boating and surfing are some of the favorite pastimes of the city people. They also like to play sports (we talked about some of their favorite sports), go to sports events, and watch sports on television.

This video is an excellent summary of the people of Australia including the history. I used it along with discussion to sum up this lesson. 


In the city of Sydney there is a famous landmark. The Sydney Opera House is a famous Australian landmark. (Show a picture of The Sydney Opera House.) People from all over the world travel to Sydney to attend musical performances held in this beautiful opera house.

Opera House “tour”

I actually did a lesson on opera generally today using ideas from this lesson I think the song in the appendix is particularly good but it had other ideas I used as well. I used some youtube videos of that opera including this

Language Waltzing Matilda Song, nice to introduce the idea there are some language differences

Words I highlighted (from the CK lesson):

Aussie a person from Australia

barbie barbecue

billabong pool of water in an otherwise dry river

bloke man or person

nipper a young child

g'day good morning, good afternoon, hello

mate a friend

sunnies sunglasses

togs a swimsuit

tucker food

take a bo-peep take a look

biscuits cookies

Sheila a girl

We made some food from Australia to close the unit.

While it was baking we used the book  Look What Came From Australia from our library and discussion to summarize what we’ve learned. The Homeschool Share lapbook has a component that goes with that book. My son colored flags too (Australian and Aboriginal)  for our presentation. I don’t know why I forgot about flags until he mentioned it!