What does it mean to your students to be Australian?

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Australia Day (26th January) is the perfect time to celebrate what it means to be Australian. 

The definition of Australian is

a native or inhabitant of Australia or a person of Australian decent

Our schools are a microcosm of Australian society and, if your classroom looks anything like mine, many students are either born overseas, speak more than one language or dialect or have parents/grandparents who were born in a country other than Australia.

As an expat myself, I see Australia as a land of opportunities and a place my children can live a happy and healthy life and Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate our adopted home. 

So what does Australia Day mean to you and your students? How will you celebrate the lead up to Australia Day in your classroom?

Many teachers say they don't have time for seasonal celebrations in their classrooms due to an over crowded curriculum, however, Australia Day sits so nicely with the Australian Curriculum (ACARA) you'd be crazy not to invest some time in it. Here is the one celebration that ALL your students will participate in first hand!

Foundation Year HASS - How families celebrate events (family events of significance)
Year 1 HASS - Celebrations in the local community (exploring and sequencing)
Year 2 HASS - Exploring local history (places and events of significance)
Year 3 HASS - Aspects of life in the local community (exploring the difference between a celebration and a commemoration)

One text that I particularly love is Meme Fox's I'm Australian Too picture book, as it explore what it means to be Australian in a way that young children can easily understand.

You can listen to an excerpt here...

I've also created some activities to go with the text here

It's particularly important that lots of different ethnicities be shown in art work around Australia Day, so I've included a multicultural image for students to colour (these make great wall displays in a classroom). 

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Some of the concepts covered in the book are a fantastic starting point for discussions about what it means to be Australian.

If you were born outside of Australia, you can still consider yourself Australian

The characters in the book state that they were born within and outside of Australia - yet they are still Australian. Discuss who was born within Australia and outside of Australia. Do they feel Australian? Why? What does it mean to be Australian?

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Your grandparents might have been born outside of Australia, but you're still Australian

The characters in the book go on to state that their grandparents were born outside of Australia and how their life has changed moving to Australia. This is a great time to explore family trees and this makes a perfect homework task. 

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People from all different states and territories in Australia call themselves Australian
For students who were born in Australia and do not have immigrant parents or grandparents, this is the time for them to shine! Where have they lived in Australia? Why did they move to the state or territory they are in now?

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People move to Australia to live for lots of different reasons.

Younger students might struggle with the concepts of war or famine but this book nicely takes you through the immigrant children's lives and how much better they are now. Older students (Year 6) can use this as a point of discussion about reasons for immigration.

"Australia Fair is ours to share"

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Do your students know what Advance Australia Fair means? Do they know and understand the lyrics? I love these doodle pages and have used them a few times to explain difficult concepts to students - they make the perfect colouring page.

You can find all these activities in the What does it mean to be Australian? Activity Pack, based on the book by Meme Fox I'm Australian Too.

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