3— Activities for the story ‘Why the platypus is such a special animal’
Read aloud or have students read the story Why the Platypus is Unique.
Now read the story ‘Why the platypus is such a special animal’ in Stories from the Billabong.
Ask students to keep in mind the following questions as they are reading.
- Who do you imagine is telling this story?
- Why might someone tell this story?
- What is the meaning of this story? Is it meant to teach the proper ways of behaving, to entertain? … to warn against dangerous things? … to explain the origins of something? … to be responsible custodians of ‘country’?
The very specific way stories relate to a particular landscape should be conveyed. The concept of ‘country’ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians being ‘custodians’ and having responsibility for the land should be conveyed. The stories are a way of learning about country and caring for it in the proper way.
After reading and viewing versions of ‘Why the platypus is such a special animal’
Encourage the students to look at similarities and differences between the oral and written versions of this story. Draw up a chart to display the similarities and differences between the two versions. Ensure students note the bush setting, the storyteller’s gestures and variation in voice tone, the insertion of cartoon images and the use of background music.
Have students work in pairs to recall the main points of the story verbally using a basic narrative structure.
Ask students to suggest reasons for differences between the two versions.
Refer to the Aboriginal symbols and their meanings, found at the back of Stories from the Billabong. Have students use these symbols to communicate part of the story of the platypus using pictures.
Take suggestions from the class as to symbols that could be used instead of words. List them on the board. Ask students to write a sentence using symbols to replace words in some places. Share the students’ sentences.
Use percussion instruments or GarageBand software to create a ‘soundscape’ for their story. Encourage students to justify their choices of sound, tempo and volume and discuss the mood they are attempting to create.