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Studies in Australian History – Week Nine

20 September, 2013

This week was an odd week, sandwiched in between our week away and school holidays. We’d completed chapters in both our science books and history books, and it seemed silly to begin a chapter that was then going to be set aside for two and a half weeks (what with two weeks school holidays, a family wedding then a group excursion straight after) so we didn’t start anything new.

Instead, we revised our last chapter (chiefly about Matthew Flinders and George Bass) by each of our children writing a test on the chapter. We then began to read Australian Backyard Explorer by Peter Macinnes. It works in nicely, between the water based exploration of Bass and Flinders and the land based exploration that is the topic of the next chapter of Our Sunburnt Country.

We bought the electronic edition of Australian Backyard Explorer, for the iPad. The pictures are all “clickable” so that the caption pops up when they are touched. There are also short videos and animations that obviously aren’t present in the text version. However, if you don’t have an iPad or prefer a paper book, the hard copy still has plenty to offer. Most chapters have easy hand on activities to try out and I felt that these genuinely contributed to our understanding, rather than being a crafty activity.

The first activity we did was to do with sand dunes. Although this task was recommended for the beach, and would probably have the best results there, it was doable with the 2/3 of a bag of sand we had at home. While the formation side of the sand fine activity would have been better in a beach situation, making the sand fine and “walking” small toys up the side really helped our family to grasp how difficult it would have been to climb the sand dunes.


The second activity was to make a waterproof boat out of something that wasn’t waterproof (a washing basket) and a tarp. Since we had nowhere safe to test something of washing basket size, we simply used a cut-down cereal box and thick plastic bag so we could float it in the bath.

20130918-114302.jpg While the box wasn’t quite as dramatic as a holey washing basket being used as a boat, it was still a useful illustration.

We have also continued our reading of The Journal of Watkin Stench. It actually tied in quite nicely with Australian Backyard Explorer as both books talked about settlers and convicts stealing between Port Jackson and Botany Bay when the French were in Botany Bay in the chapters that we read on the same day.

Next is two weeks of school holidays. However, I will post during the holidays as we have at least one excursion planned that ties in with our history studies.

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