Teacher's Guide for DIG TM Australia: Land of the Unknown

April 2006

This teacher's Guide was created by Alyssa Loorya

Unit Introduction/Discussion:

Why is Australia called "the land down under"? (see sidebar on Table of Contents page)

Locate Australia on a world map. 

Create a running fact sheet about this country located on the other side of the world. Start off by asking students what they know about Australia.

"Megafauna Mystery" pp 6-9


Reading Comprehension and Listening: Read the article aloud to the class and have students take notes.

From the reading and their notes each student should answer the following question: Who, or what, killed the megafauna?

Discussion: Which hypothesis do you most agree with? 

"Mother and Child" pp 10-13

Reading Comprehension: Have students read the article and answer some or all of the following questions.

1. Where were the skeletons found? Redbanks Reserve

2. What is the name of the local aboriginal community? Ngadjuri

3. Who decided to call the archaeologists and why? The Ngadjuri wanted to call the archaeologists so they could learn if the skeletons were ancient aboriginals.

4. What condition were the bones in? They were eroding and very fragile.

5. How did the archaeologists determine if the burial was Aboriginal or not? The shape of the grave and the fact they could not see a clear cut in the soil from when the grave was dug. Aboriginals used wooden tools for digging which would not have left a clear mark.

6. How do archaeologists tell if a skeleton is male or female? By measuring the ends of the femur bone. 7. How do archaeologists determine the age of an individual from skeletal remains? They examine the fusion at the end of the long bone, by the pelvis and wear on the teeth.

"Clues in the Fire Pit" pp14-15


Discuss the importance of doing archaeology and the information that it provides.

Have students read the article and summarize the archaeomagnetic dating process.

Homework: Define these other methods of archaeological dating: radiocarbon dating and thermo-luminescence.

Discussion: What role does science play in archaeology?

"Capturing the Rainbow Snake" pp16-19

Explore Aboriginal art and mythology. After reading the article together as a class discuss the role of Aboriginal art in their society.

Art Extension Activity:

Using the images that accompany the article and other images found on the listed web sites define the elements of aboriginal bark art. Fore example, animals are often the subject of Aboriginal bark paintings. The work is very intricate, combining simple exterior animal shapes with patterned interiors that contain intricate cross-hatching and line designs. Bark painters work with the basic earth pigments: red, black, yellow and white and different shaped brushes are often used on a single painting

Materials: Brushes, tempera paint, brown grocery bags or cardboard sheets, pencils, examples of Aboriginal art, water cups and black sharpie markers.

Have students create their own version of the Aboriginal bark painting. Have each student choose an animal (or animals) as their subject and add decorative designs to the inside of the animal. They will create a border design to create unity among the parts of your design and may want to add their own versions of flora and fauna to the design.

Students should first draw out their design in a sketchbook or on a blank piece of paper. Students may want to practice several different animals to see which you like the best practice the different styles of line and dot formations seen in the examples. Once they have practiced their design, have the students trace their animal using a pattern onto brown paper or cardboard.

Once they have transferred their design, have them use tempera paint and small brushes to add color. Allow students to mix their own colors as well.

When painting is dry, outline entire design with black permanent marker.

Follow-up: Have students share their artwork with the class.


Aboriginal Myths, Legends and Fables by A.W. Reed

Art of Australia



Unit Activity (Reading Comprehension):

The articles Murder and Mayhem (pp 20-21), Port Arthur's Prison (22-23), Jervis's Whaling Station (pp 24-25), Gold (pp 26-27) and Re-arming Green Hill Fort (pp 28-29) all discuss different important archaeological sites in Australia. Have students read the articles on their own over a period of time and summarize each site. For each of the sites they should state why the site is important to Australia's history/heritage.

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