3—How are we similar to and different from children who live in different parts of Australia?
Reading Same, But Little Bit Diff’rent
Show students the front cover of the book and have them predict what it might be about. Tell students that this is the kind of picture book where only some of the meaning is in the words and that the pictures are very important for understanding the meaning. Explain that when reading this kind of book, readers need to be ‘book detectives’ — thinking about clues in the words and pictures and putting them together to understand the text. Tell students that you will be reading the book first without showing them the pictures, and that while the teacher is reading, students should be imagining what might be in the illustrations.
Read aloud Same, but little bit diff’rent but without showing the illustrations, pausing occasionally to invite students to imagine and visualise the kinds of similarities and differences being alluded to in the words of the text.
Have students form pairs/threes and discuss one or two of their imagined visualisations based upon the words in the book.
Re-reading: Inferring meanings from print and image
Reread the book, this time showing the illustrations. Invite students to comment upon their own visualisations in comparison with the images now presented in the book.
Point out that just as the words do not tell all the meanings in the book, the images do not necessarily communicate complete ideas either, instead giving readers clues which as ‘book detectives’ we can work out for ourselves. Ask students to infer ideas about the climate of Normie’s place, given the book’s clues that it is OK to go outside and play even if it’s raining (meaning, it must not be cold) and how this is different in other parts of Australia (such as southern parts, where it would usually be cool or cold if it’s raining).
Going beyond the text: Geography of Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land as the setting for Same, but little bit diff’rent
Explain to students that the author and illustrator, Kylie Dunstan, lived and worked in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, which suggests this is where the character Normie might be from.
Find teacher notes (.pdf 377 kB) on the book, including an interesting discussion of the use of colour in the images.
Location of Arnhem Land
Identify Arnhem Land on a map of Australia, indicating its location in the north and its proximity to Darwin as the nearest city. On a map and/or globe of the world, identify which parts of Australia are north of the Tropic of Capricorn and hence what we term ‘tropical’ areas in Geography, explaining that this is why it would be raining but not cold where Normie lives.
Introduce to students the key geography terms ‘coastal/inland’ and ‘rural/urban’. These should be discussed firstly by asking students what they think the words might mean, and then explained in terms of their particular meaning in Geography.
Teachers might like to know that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines as ‘major urban’ centres those having populations of 100 000 or more; other ‘urban’ places must have a population of 1 000 to 99 999. ‘Rural’ includes small localities below these population levels and all other areas. ‘Coastal’ is classified by the ABS as within 50km of the coast.
Applying geographic terms: describing Arnhem Land
Using a map of Arnhem Land, have students identify where the main townships are (almost all the townships are coastal).
Show students some photographic images of Arnhem Land which provide a sense of the landscape (grasslands with open forest, escarpments and billabongs), including some which give a broad sense of the town of Nhulunbuy which is the town with the highest population. Referring to photographs of Arnhem Land landscapes and to satellite imagery such as Google maps, have students evaluate whether the region is mainly rural or mainly urban (mainly rural with no cities; the largest town Nhulunbuy has a population of about 4000).
Students summarise what kind of a place Arnhem Land is using geographic terms (some is coastal, some inland; mostly rural with some smaller urban centres; discuss proximity to nearest capital city and location in terms of the Tropic). This summary might be written as a short factual description accompanied by a map of Australia upon which students label Arnhem Land and other relevant places
Comparing our place with a geographically different place in Australia
Where do Australians live?
The following activity is designed for students to learn about population features of different places within Australia.
For the teacher: Almost two thirds of Australians live in a capital city; over 85% of Australians live in an urban centre; more than 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast.
Ask students to imagine that the class represents all the people in Australia, and then to guess what proportions of students in the class might live in urban or rural places. Have students move to two different parts of the room to indicate ‘urban Australians’ and ‘rural Australians’, estimating how many students should be in each. Teacher guidance might assist this process, such as by saying, ‘If you think it’s half and half and we have 28 students in the class, how much would half be?’ Repeat for guessing how many might be coastal versus inland dwellers.
Another way to do this activity is for students to take 100 1cm cubes as representative of the Australian population, and to divide these into the relevant proportions (perhaps working in pairs and placing the cubes on an A3-size outline map of Australia to show coastal/inland).
Show students the actual proportions (for example, if there are 28 students in the class, 24 would be urban dwellers). Explain that the majority of people in Australia live in places which are both urban and coastal.
Applying geographic terms: describing the school’s local area
Drawing upon students’ existing knowledge, and using maps and online satellite imagery, identify the school’s local area as either urban or rural, and either inland or coastal. Some further geographical concepts that may assist students in describing their local area include ‘natural features’ (for example, grassland, native forest, rivers), ‘managed features’ (for example, parks, farms) and ‘constructed features’ (for example, housing, roads, shops).
Teachers can guide students in writing a short factual description providing a geographic summary of the local area, comparable to the one written earlier about Arnhem. This text will be a resource for the students to draw upon later in the learning sequence.
Comparison of the local area with a geographically different part of Australia
Invite the students to contribute to making a class book which uses Same, but little bit diff’rent as its inspiration. The book will compare two Australian geographic areas: the local geographic area of the school, and another Australian place which is geographically different. The final product could be a hard copy big book (which might be shared at an assembly or read to a younger grade) or a digital ‘book’. It is important to choose a geographically different place as the comparison setting for the class book.
As preparation for making the class book, students discuss, read and summarise factual knowledge about their own geographic area and the comparison setting, writing information in a table comparing the two places (.pdf 1.2 MB).
Reflection on learning: Class discussion
Reflect upon the message of the book Same, but little bit diff’rent. What beliefs about people do students think the author intends to communicate? What does the book say about similarity and difference?
Reflect upon what has been learned about different geographic places within Australia and children’s experiences in these different places. How does our place affect our lives (for instance, all children like to play; where we play might depend on the climate and spaces/facilities which are available and safe)?