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The First Nations children’s book that all teachers should invest in.

Today, I would like to acknowledge the Yuggera, Jagera and Ugarapul people as the Traditional Custodians of the beautiful land I am standing on today. From the mountains to the river, I open my heart and my eyes as I walk this land, listening, learning and caring for Country. I want to extend this respect to Elders; past, present and emerging and to all First Nations peoples listening or reading this post today. We are all remembered here.


* Please know that this post is not sponsored, and as with all of my posts, I am simply a Koori teacher, using this blog as a place for me to share my love and passion for teaching and my culture. Each blog post is based on my own experiences, opinions, and what I have been taught, and does not represent all First Nations peoples. Connecting with your local First Nations Community is always the most respectful way for you to embed First Nations content specific to your area.



Why I Love Australia

Copyright © Bronwyn Bancroft 2010

Published by Little Hare, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing




Do you love children's books? Of course! You're a teacher right!


Do you have a stash of children's books that you save to use just for particular lessons? Haha, I know I do!


Children's books, as you know full well, are my jam! And I know, most of you have this same obsession, it is kind of, a teacher trait, I think. But particularly, I adore First Nations children's books. As an Aboriginal teacher, I love being able to share and celebrate with you a range of First Nations children's books that will help you to more easily, embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into your everyday teaching. I have to say though, sometimes picture books are not always used to their full potential and I have been guilty of this myself. Simply, doing a topic on bugs and insects and then reading a book about, bugs and insects is great, it does its job but does the book have more to offer? Sometimes, yes and sometimes no. In this case, absolutely!


For me, I see children's books as being a gateway to the mind and experiences of another person, who has a sensational gift and knack for sharing their knowledge with the younger generations, which will ultimately shape our futures. First Nations peoples were the first storytellers, and although our stories were handed down orally, today we are seeing an ever growing amount of First Nations authors and illustrators sharing culture through children's books, with Australia and the world.


Today, I want to share with you a book that has been a staple in my classroom from my first year of teaching, and the reason for this, is that it is so versatile, however, I am not sure it is always used in this way. This book is 'Why I Love Australia' by Bronwyn Bancroft, and in this post I will share with you a free literacy and creative arts activity plus 2 other bonus FREEBIES for you to use in your classroom, plus some ideas on how you can use Why I Love Australia for many more KLAs in your everyday teaching.



Why I Love Australia

Copyright © Bronwyn Bancroft 2010

Published by Little Hare, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing


Being one of Australia's most well known and most loved First Nations authors and illustrators by both teachers and children alike. Bronwyn Bancroft, a desendent of the Bundjalung people of Northern NSW, has a career spanning over 3 decades, where she has shared over 40 children's books with parents, children, teachers, schools and libraries, to mention just a few. I think it is fair to say that every teacher, either has a Bronwyn Bancroft children's book in their go to teacher stash, or has used one in a lesson at some point. Bronwyn is a highly accomplished author, illustrator, and artist and her books are a perfect way for teachers to begin embedding First Nations perspectives into their everyday teaching.


 

Geography activity idea

Locate on the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia where Bronwyn Bancroft is from and calculate the distance from here to the Country that your school is on.

 

Why I Love Australia is not just any children's book, it is a First Nations children's book, and with this, comes deeper levels of understanding, learning and listening. From the first page of Why I Love Australia and all the way to its final words, Bronwyn guides you through Country and shares with you, the deep respect and tradition of Smoking Ceremonies. As you and your students begin this journey with Bronwyn around Australia, you will see a person holding a coolamon on each page.


"An understanding exists amongst Aboriginal people that one should show respect for another's language - group area, or country. It is considered essential to pay tribute to the Ancestors of another Aboriginal person's traditional lands. One way of showing this respect is by taking part in a smoking ceremony."


Why I Love Australia

Copyright © Bronwyn Bancroft 2010

Published by Little Hare, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing


On the final page of Why I Love Australia Bronwyn has dedicated and entire space to share with you the importance of smoking ceremonies, along with a short autobiography about where she is from and her many accomplishments. Both of these are fantastic teaching tools and are great to share with your students and build their understanding of First Nations people, cultures and histories as they contribute to the deeper level understanding, listening and learning, expressed as a part of this First Nations children's book. Not to mention, these amazing teaching tools also building student's knowledge of a variety of text types, language uses and functions as well.


Why I Love Australia

Copyright © Bronwyn Bancroft 2010

Published by Little Hare, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing


Why I Love Australia is filled full of gorgeous illustrations and Bronwyn's incredible descriptive writing style, engages all children from preschool, through to upper primary and celebrates our culture, so beautifully. The way, Why I Love Australia shares important themes and topics of culture, smoking ceremonies, First Nations art, Country, animals, plants and Mother Earth, really does lend itself to so many KLAs and provides an opportunity for all children and teachers to embrace and celebrate First Nations culture in the classroom in a way that was not able to be done, when we were at school.


Bronwyn Bancroft is a truly incredible illustrator, and I just love how her illustrations transcend the photographs of Mother Earth to a place where our culture, our people and our connections to Country are celebrated.


Why I love Australia brings together and celebrates all of the beauty that Mother Earth has created and shared with Bronwyn as you go with her on a journey, and travel across Australia within the pages of this timeless celebration of our ancient land. We all have places in Australia that we love and different ways of sharing them and this is a great way for our students to express their love for and connect with a place in this beautiful country of ours, that is special and meaningful to them.



 

Creative arts activity

Using their own techniques and patterns, students create their own artwork which represents a place that is important and meaningful to them.


When you are doing this activity, it is important to remember, that this is about your student's connection with the place they have chosen and at no point should any part of the illustrations of Why I Love Australia be copied or used to create 'inspired Aboriginal artworks'. Reconciliation NSW, have a great article titled 'Culturally Competent Teaching' which covers a range of really helpful topics, including:


- What to consider when developing teaching programs

- Providing meaningful learning opportunities for Aboriginal students

- Terminology


If this is something that is new to you and / or you would like to learn more about, then I would highly recommend reading this article, as it gives a very clear guide to many of the questions surrounding embedding First Nations perspectives from an education standpoint.

 


As a teacher it is really important to give our students opportunities to truly appreciate illustrators and the way they are able to form that relationship between text and artwork so naturally, to create a story that students of all ages can understand and enjoy.


As we know so well, illustrations are made to complement and reinforce the meaning of the text. For our students, this makes the process of learning to read so much easier because they have a visual reference, to guide the meaning of what they are reading and this helps them to build their fluency, comprehension, language development skills and visual literacy skills and knowledge, as they scan for clues in the illustrations which support the text. Why I Love Australia does just this, as it is filled full of such beautifully flowing, poetic style writing that it really lends itself to exploring the different ways in which your students can use adjectives to describe nouns, just as Bronwyn has done, which is then reflected in their artwork.



 

Literacy activity

Using their own artwork, students can list all of the different things (nouns) they see in their artwork and then go on to add at least 5 adjectives to describe each noun. From here, they can choose the best one and create a short sentence about their artwork.


I really love how this activity gives all teachers an opportunity to embed First Nations perspectives (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives) into your daily teaching through a literacy focused activity. Because, it naturally creates diversity among your bookshelf and throughout these KLAs.



 


Why I love Australia really encapsulates the beauty of our country, through stunning patterns and shapes. Bronwyn shares stories and knowledge of Country and her connection, in a way that is easy to understand for all students. These Illustrations are truly stunning and I just love sharing them with my students and my daughter. Not to mention, they give us, as teachers a simple yet very practical way to teach patterns, symmetry and shapes to our students and create an avenue for them to connect with the landscape around them.


Why I Love Australia

Copyright © Bronwyn Bancroft 2010

Published by Little Hare, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

 

Numeracy activity idea

Students can take a photograph of a place that they love in Australia. Each student analyses their photo, identifying different shapes and patterns in the photograph. Once they have identified the different shapes they can use their own patterns to create a draft of their artwork using all of the shapes, patterns and colours that make up their photograph.

 

Overall, Why I Love Australia always has and always will have, a place on My Bookshelf and in the lives of my students and my family. It is not just an incredibly stunning visual representation of Australia and Mother Earth, but it is also celebrates First Nations culture and people and our connection to Mother Earth in a way that all of our students can understand and appreciate. If you don't already have Why I Love Australia on your bookshelf, then I really recommend you head over to the Hardie Grant website and find a stockist that has a copy waiting for you.


Just as promised, I have made 2 bonus matching and FREE resources for you to use with Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft. The first resource is a specially crafted differentiated activity designed for our infants who are learning to grasp language and build their vocabulary. I know most of you teach sight words at your school, so I have created a simple activity which has collated all of the sight words from Why I Love Australia and put them into an differentiated activity which you could use as a part of your literacy or reading groups, or just as a stand alone activity.


This activity comes in three levels (assisted, guided and independent) and gives students the opportunity to explicitly practice sight words through; reading, writing, and additionally, giving feedback. While giving you the opportunity to embed First Nations perspectives into your everyday teaching in a simple, yet practical way. Remember these Why I Love Australia Sight Word Activity Mats are completely FREE and I can't wait to see Why I Love Australia on your bookshelf and these resources in your classroom.




The second bonus free matching resource I have made for you all, is the Why I Love Australia Border Activity. This activity gives your students a great opportunity to really connect with the landscape around them and celebrate the land on which their school is on. This resource is completely editable through Canva (which also has a free version), so you can drag and drop your own images into the spaces provided, change the Country you are on, and insert your student's names at the top. Once you have edited your border you can print as many as you like off, to create a beautiful border that celebrates the land you are on and your students connections to the landscape around them.


Before I let you go to begin working out where Why I Love Australia will fit into your program, I want to say a massive thank you to the incredible Bronwyn Bancroft and her publisher, Hardie Grant, for allowing me to share Why I Love Australia with you and create these matching resources for you to enjoy, it is a true honour!


I really hope this post has given you some simple ways to continue embedding First Nations perspectives (Aboriginal perspectives) into your daily teaching and as always... happy embedding!


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