Aussie Animals Indigenous Books – Smarty Art

When looking through books to add to the Aussie Animals Smarty Arty experience I found a lot of indigenous books. These books engage children in aspects of Aboriginal culture, beautiful art work and stories of Australian Animals. The library I borrowed them from had such a good variety of indigenous themed books that I found it hard to chose, but these are some which I thought would be fun to pair with the art experience.

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Using the Books to Extend the Art Experience

Your probably wondering how to use these to tie in with the art experience, well I have a few ideas to share with you.

Indigenous Culture
These indigenous books that I have chosen are a good extension of the craft experience because they not only engage children in stories about Aussie Animals, the children are also introduced to Aboriginal culture.  This includes concepts such as Mobs, learning Aboriginal words for Australian Animals from the dreamtime, and traditional Aboriginal art.  Some of these concepts may be new to children, but makes it a valuable learning and literacy experience.

And a Kangaroo Too by National Gallery of Australia introduces
children to the Aboriginal language for Aussie Animals.


Before the Craft
Before you start the craft, introduce your child/children to the topic.  In this set of books I would choose My Lost Mob by Venetia Tyson because it introduces you to a variety of Aussie Animals and areas they live in e.g. dry plains, hills and beaches.  The books also introduces the concept of:

  • Family – you can discuss how animals have family. The kangaroo craft with the Joey is a perfect way to tie this in together.
  • Following tracks – introduces the artist how animals leave tracks behind from their feet or other parts of their body which help them find each other.  Encourage your child to follow the tracks with their fingers. Ask your child what sort of tracks would they leave e.g. foot or shoe prints.
  • Other animals – it introduces the children to Aussie Animals that aren’t in the pack and their living environments.
  • A mob- discuss who the people in your mob might be and/or the Aussie Animals mob might be.

My Lost Mob by Venetia Tyson introduces children to Aussie Animals
and the the concept of what a mob is. It creates opportunity for discussion.


Broaden the Topic
The book Splosh for the Billabong by Ros Moriarty is not as directly related to the animals the children have made.  However, it relates to Aboriginal culture and is an extension of the learning experience. As you begin to read stories to your child with the Aussie Animals in it questions may arise about where they live, how they eat and drink, and if they live with other animals.  This book celebrates Australia and animals through painting and stories.  Reading this story, your creative child may then want to make spaces for the animals to live and a billabong to drink from. This only adds to the literacy and art experience which is developmentally valuable.

Splosh for the Billabong by Ros Moriarty & Illustrated by Balarinji
use words about the textures and sound of Australia and its animals


Stories Without Books
To add a literacy experience to your art session it doesn’t mean you have to use books.  The animals that have been made are perfect for making stories.  You can your child can use the Aussie Animals to act out some of the books or make up your own story.  To extend the experience even further, a backdrop could be made using an old cardboard box with a billabong and some animal tracks.  The stories and props to go with it are only limited by imagination and children have amazing stories to tell given the freedon to express themselves.

There is a lot of opportunity for extended conversation and information that can come from all of these books.  The children can talk about what their favourite animals are, discussion about mobs, recreating some of the art work – perhaps they can replicate some Indigenous painting on their kangaroo.  Not only does this extend literacy skills but further adds to the art experience.

Other Books
I also chose two other books because they talked about different birds and the significance of these in Aboriginal culture.  These books The Eagle Inside by Jack Manning Bancroft White Cockatoo by Leesa Smith are more suited to a school aged child from ages 6 and above.  The stories are longer and more complex, they read more like a fable with reference to tradition, bravery, belonging and diversity.

The way I would use these with the older children is to talk to them about what they have made and explain how in some cultures Aussie Animals are significant to different stages in life. Read the books together and encourage discussion about them.

The pictures in both these books are bold, bright in colour and compelling.  If you were to use these books for younger children I would suggest using it as a visual guide by admiring and talking about the illustrations, they are a force within themselves and tell their own story.

The Eagle Inside by Jack Manning Bancroft and Illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft
share fables that will capture the imagination of your school aged child

White Cockatoo by Leesa Smith and Illustrated by Debbie Taylor has captured how
the White Cockatoo is significant to celebrations within the Aboriginal culture.

What’s Next
In my next post about the Aussie Animals in the Smarty Arty pack, I will be sharing with you some non-fiction books that will introduce your child to some facts about the animals and their habitats.

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