Investigating Australian birds

Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students have been reading the Aboriginal Dreaming story of Pheasant and Kingfisher, in a big book version by Catherine Berndt & Raymond Meeks.

We used a Google Images search to locate online photographs of Australian pheasants and Australian kingfishers. The additional descriptor of “long tail” helped us find images of kingfishers “with firesticks stuck in their bottom”.

We discussed why images of peacocks (not Australian!) and lyrebirds turned up in the pheasant image seach, and why kookaburras turned up in the kingfisher search. We then used Youtube to locate examples of a pheasant saying its name, “Bookbook”, as in the story, and a kingfisher saying “Bered-bered”.

Common pheasant making quick repeated sounds while taking a walk

Pheasant – common pheasant bird call

Pied Kingfisher catching fish in split second – BBC wildlife

The next week, we moved our investigations into factual information on Australian birds:

Aussie beauties – a tribute to Australian birds

“Who’s that crossing over MY bridge?”

Impromptu roleplays can be so much fun. This week, I have read/performed the big book version of The three billy goats gruff to nine Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 classes, as part of their term’s work on fairy and folk tales.

The last class, a Kindergarten, have just left. Towards the end of our collaboratively planned lesson, the class teacher had to run an errand and, having already looked at the CBCA shortlisted books display, I decided to return to our fairy tale roleplay ideas – and suddenly we had twenty-two “trolls” hiding under tables/bridges, awaiting the arrival of some “troll food”.

While waiting to chant the now-familiar phrase, “Who’s that crossing over my bridge?”, the trolls chattered amongst themselves…

“Gee, trolls must get tired of waiting.”

“That’s why they’re so mean.”

“Hey, someone drew under this table!”

“Trolls are very naughty, you know.”

“Where is she? I’m worried.”

“Maybe a troll ate her while she was outside?”

About this time, two “trolls” elected to come out from under their bridge and be contented grass-eating goats. Scapegoats, perhaps?

And then: “Who’s that crossing over MY bridge?”

The look on the trolls’ teacher’s face was precious! Too bad she’d actually missed all the hilarious commentary that her absence had instigated.