Australia for Kids

Australia for Kids - Mud Hut Mama

Oh my goodness we have finally tackled another continent – it sure took us a while! We learned about Asian animals in October and then packed up and stayed with family and friends for almost three months. We did continue as much as we could with our homeschool during that time but I didn’t have our map or globe with me so geography was shelved. It was so lovely to get our new school room set up and bring out those supplies. I wanted to jump right into Australia for kids but I have to say I struggled a bit with something that you would think is really basic – what to call the continent and what countries it includes. I learned seven continents growing up Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America (to include Central America) and South America but I’ve recently discovered that is not how everyone learns continents. They are pretty subjective – some places consider North and South America one continent and other places consider Europe and Asia one continent and there are a lot of different views regarding Australia and/or Oceania. I did a lot of internet searches that left me more confused than when I started but in the end I went with Australia and this explanation from National Geographic. I am however really curious to hear how many and what continents you learned growing up as well as where you grew up so please let me know in the comments. This post contains affiliate links and I received Luke’s Beach Day free of charge in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Books of the week:

We started out by looking at our maps and seeing that Australia is a continent and a country and it is completely surrounded by water, but it is not an island. When we found Australia on our inflatable globe we were able to see why it is often called “the land down under.” My girls love the beach and we live in a landlocked country so seeing Australia completely surrounded by ocean was a good segue into our first book, Luke’s Beach Day by Giselle Shardlow.
This is the first Kids Yoga Story we have read but we are really looking forward to exploring more. It combines a story with an environmental message and fun yoga poses. We’ve been starting most of our homeschool days with The Sun Dance and my girls were excited to see some familiar poses and learn some new ones through this book. Luke and his class go to the beach and while they have fun playing and exploring they notice how much trash has been left on the beach. Luke throws all the trash he finds in the bin and worries about how the garbage could hurt the animals. The book has lovely illustrations and each yoga pose (with its correct name) is clearly illustrated in the top corner of the page. My girls loved the opportunity to get moving throughout the story. They especially enjoyed trying Crab Pose (Table Top Pose).

Trying Table Top Pose - Mud Hut Mama

I love that at the end of the book there is a guide to assist the parent or teacher in getting the most out of the story and there are free resources to expand your lessons available at the Kid Yoga Story website. You can find a full Beach Lesson Plan, an Australian Animals Yoga Sequence and both a Koala and a Luke’s Beach Day coloring page.
The other book we focused on this week was Possum Magic by Mem Fox. This is such a sweet story of two possums, Hush and Grandma Poss. Grandma Poss turned Hush invisible with “bush magic” to protect her from snakes but one day Hush wants to see herself again and Grandma Poss can’t remember how to undo the magic, except that “It’s something to do with food! People food – not possum food,” and so they go on a culinary tour of Australia. In the story we were introduced to a number of Australian animals and we used the map of Australia on the last page to follow Hush and Grandma Poss’s travels.

Cooking & Tasting:

We prepared and tasted some of the dishes that Hush and Grandma Poss tried in the book. This Anzac biscuit recipe from Kid World Citizen was a big hit with my girls as was this pumpkin scone recipe from Taste of Home. We had a steak and salad dinner one night and, since we couldn’t find vegemite, we had marmite toast (instead of a vegemite sandwich). I know any Australians reading this are shaking their heads and saying that is just not the same thing but it was the best we could do. The only other yeast extract available here is Bovril and, while my girls both love Marmite, they have already told me that Bovril is unacceptable – too spicy! If you have no idea what any of these yeast extracts are you might find this article interesting. We just had the opportunity to try authentic lamingtons at an Australian friend’s birthday party so we didn’t attempt those but they were really delicious so here is a recipe if you want to give them a try.

Australian Food - Mud Hut Mama

Marsupials:

Of course Australia gave us a great opportunity to learn about marsupials. Both Really Wild Animals: Wonders Down Under and Animal Atlas: Marsupials are available on YouTube and taught us a lot of fun facts. We printed the Bilby, Koala and Wombat masks available at Wildlife Fun 4 Kids and spent some time learning about each of these animals before doing some marsupial role play. I was the wombat.

Marsupial Role Play - Mud Hut Mama

We tied some cloth around our waists to make a pouch and jumped around the house like kangaroos.

Playing Kangaroo & Joey - Mud Hut Mama

Songs of the Week:

Jump, Jump, Jump (The Kangaroo Song by Loco Loco) was so much fun and introduced us to the didgeridoo (you can see how animal sounds are imitated on the didgeridoo here).

We also loved this signed Kangaroo Song. The girls enjoyed the song and motions and we watched it a number of times before I explained to them that the motions were actually sign language. It gave us an opportunity to talk about how we could communicate if we couldn’t hear. We then turned the volume off and watched the video again to see how much of the sign language we could understand.

We learned the words to Kookaburra and then watched this video by The Mudcakes to learn about singing in rounds. As far as singing in rounds ourselves, we need some more practice with that.

Arts & Crafts:

I made the girls some boomerangs out of cereal boxes with this template and, while we couldn’t get them to work perfectly, we did get them to work well enough to understand that a boomerang is supposed to come back to you when you throw it. After playing with them for a while we used them as a canvas to try some aboriginal dot painting. We looked at the links to aboriginal art on the Kid World Citizen site and watched some of the video of an incredible artist at work. We then took our boomerangs, some paint and some q-tips and got to work.

boriginal Dot Painting for Kids - Mud Hut Mama

Sesame Street Tie Ins:

In Global Grover visits Australia we met a little girl who helps her mother rescue wildlife and Harvey Zork visits Australia is a cute little video of an alien that lands in Australia and is greeted by a kangaroo.

Other Possibilities:

Mama Smiles has a wealth of Australia posts in her World Culture for Kids series. We enjoyed expanding the yoga we learned in Luke’s Beach Day with two Australia in Action posts by the author of the book, Giselle Shardlow. We also loved Reading about Lyre Bird the Mimic and the Dreaming and looking at a wide variety of photos from Australia. There is even a recipe for damper (a bread cooked over coals) that I’d really like to try.

We used a couple of Kid World Citizen posts in our studies this week but there are plenty more to explore. There are posts that are specific to Australia and posts for the larger Oceania region.

Wildlife Fun 4 Kids is based in Australia and, while it is a wonderful resource to help kids learn about wildlife in general, it is especially great if you are exploring Australian wildlife.

We don’t have many children’s books about, or based in, Australia what are your favorites?

 

 

 

 

About Jody Tilbury

12 Responses to “Australia for Kids”

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  1. I’m so glad you were able to make use of the yoga posts Giselle wrote for my site! I think you and your girls would also enjoy this Australia post: http://mamasmiles.com/exploring-geography-australia-guest-post-by-elise/

    You found a lot of fun activities that my kids would enjoy! I’m thinking of doing more hands-on geographically-inspired education with them this summer.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      We had so much fun going through your Australia posts MaryAnne and I love the one you linked to here – so many great ideas. Pavlova is featured in Possum Magic but we didn’t try making it – it was fun to see the photos in that post though!

  2. I’d never really given it much thought that some people learn about the continents differently- yet it makes sense doesn’t it?! Thanks for sharing those interesting links. I think I’ll probably stick with teaching my girls about them culturally as seven, but now I’ll make the point to add in how people view it and categorize it differently. Thanks for enlightening me this fine morning!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      I know! I think it’s because I’m overseas that I find figuring out what to teach difficult. I think 7 continents is pretty standard in the U.S. and if we were there I probably wouldn’t have given it as much thought.

  3. Tracy K says:

    What a great unit!! You always give such great links and resources. Glad you are settled in and back at homeschooling. We have actually been doing lots of schooling here over the last few months. I was hoping to do some regular blogging starting in January, but so far all I’ve managed is a written journal. Oh well :-(

    PS : I was taught 7 continents ( north America, south America, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, Africa and Europe) That was in connecticut in the 80′s….curious now to see if they still teach them that way. It never occurred to me there was any other way. I’ll have to ask my niece and nephew :-)

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Tracy – I completely understand about blogging – it’s so hard to find the time but when you do start blogging again, I’ll look forward to hearing about your school!

  4. Heather says:

    Wow you have had a busy week. I remember the continent song we taught the kids: “North America, South America, Europe Africa and Asia. And what about Australia? And don’t forget Antarctica.”

  5. Thank you so much for the shout out to Luke’s Beach Day! So glad that you enjoyed the yoga story. What a fun post. Off to share now. I’ve got a list of Aussie books that we love too if that’s helpful: http://www.kidsyogastories.com/12-childrens-books-to-celebrate-australia

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      We had so much fun with it! Thank you Giselle and I love your booklist – thanks for sharing it here!

  6. Lisa Nelson says:

    What a great unit, Jody. Giselle’s books are so much fun! We love them around our house. I have to get Luke’s Beach Day , but we read and really enjoyed the Animals of the Australian Outback. I would totally recommend that one. We learned about so many great animals.

    Yeah, I know the 7 continents (Asia, Australia, N. and S. America, Europe, Africa and Antartica).

    Thanks so much for this lovely post!

  7. Hi Jody,
    What a great post! If the girls are still interested in reading about Australia, I’d love to send you a copy of Waddley Sees the World: Upside Down Under. Let me know!
    http://waddleyseestheworld.com
    And Giselle – what a great list you put together!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Hi Julie – Thank you for your comment and for the offer of a book! Waddley See’s the World sounds wonderful. I’ll email you soon!! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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