Integrating the Curriculum

“Life is lived around meaningful experiences which are interdisciplinary in nature” (Reynolds, 2012,  p.267).This statement supports the notion that children’s learning is integrated and interconnected (EYLF, 2009).


Foundation Year students will explore and compare their identities and families with children in other places. They will begin to recognise similarities, differences and connections between cultures and people from different places. When children have a positive sense of identity, their skills towards becoming active citizens are strengthened (EYLF, 2009)

foundation yr take 3

Integrated learning outcomes (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2015), (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009) Background image retrieved from

Kriewaldt and Fahey (2012), acknowledge that encouraging students to make connections with their own experiences and interests is a valuable starting point to understanding self and one’s own culture, however, they also advocate for teachers to encourage students to think beyond just their own viewpoints, and begin to explore other cultures, enabling  broader global perspectives to develop.

Me and my family:

To introduce exploring identities and families, the picture book: Tom Tom (Sullivan, 2008) will be shared with the class. Prior to reading, point out (on a world globe) where the Northern Territory is in relation to where the students live.


Story of a day in the life of a small Aboriginal boy in the Northern Territory. A vivid and authentic illustration of life in an Aboriginal community. It is a book about freedom and the interconnected- ness of family and place. Image retrieved from

After reading: Discuss who makes up Tom Tom’s family.  What does Tom Tom do with each of them throughout the day? 

Ask students  who makes up their own families. Who lives with you? Who else makes up your family? Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, extended step-families? When do you see them? Everyday or weekends? Discuss diverse ranges of family structure and the different roles family members can have in children’s lives.

Revisit page where Tom pretends to make a fire and he ‘imagines he is living in the old days’. Explore what this may mean. Have students investigate (through family members stories, photos) past and present ways of their families methods of cooking and heating.

Discuss  the various names that Tom’s extended family called him.Talk about pet/nicknames and where or how they may have originated.

Students will (with the assistance of their family) find out the story of their birth, explore the origins of their name, and (if possible) bring along a photo to share of when they were a baby (be sensitive to students who may not have access to this background information).

People and places:

View  and read (on IWB) several of the World Vision Australia Photo kit – a day in the life of 5 children. Identify on globe where the children live. Encourage students to compare and contrast the lives of the children with their own.

Shelia from Phillippenes

Have students create a picture or photo book, outlining  where they live, their school, favourite activity, what they usually have for meals, chores they do around home,  the weather and any other information about their daily life (students may choose to use an online tool such as Little Bird Tales). Arrange to share these stories with students in another school (for eg through a global classroom project)

Having photos/stories of other people to critically examine, provides the opportunity for students to not only notice the differences of others, but more importantly the similarities or shared aspects of the person, therefore avoiding  an attitude of ‘otherness’ or ‘not like me’ mind-set to develop (Murdoch & Hamston, 2002).

The learning sequence outlined above is designed to be integrated and interconnected.  However, to ensure that the lessons do not become  a series of disjointed, unrelated activities without scope for students to develop strong conceptual links across the curriculum areas, the teacher needs to make sure that discussions and individual and group tasks have an even flow that maintain relevance (Nayler, 2014).


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). Australian Curriculum F-10. Retrieved from

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009).Belonging, being and becoming, the early years learning framework for Australia. Retrieved March 23, 2015 from

Kriewaldt, J., & Fahey, C.  (2012). Educating in geography and history for a global perspective. In Taylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewaldt, J., & Boon, D. (2012). Place and time: Explorations in teaching geography and history, pp. 317-340. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson

Murdoch, K., & Hamston, J. (2002). Becoming somebody: Exploring identity and difference through an integrated curriculum. The Social Educator, 20(1), 34-43.

Nayler, J. (2014).  Enacting Australian Curriculum: Making connections for quality learning. Queensland Studies Authority, Brisbane. Retrieved from

Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching History, Geography & SOSE in the Primary School. Australia: Oxford University Press

Sullivan, R. (2008). Tom Tom. Adelaide, SA: Working Title Press

World Vision (n.d). School resourcesA day in the life stories  Retrieved from


Education for Sustainability

Precious Water

Children entering into the school environment are encouraged to become “People who work for the common good, in particular sustaining and improving natural and social environments” (Ministerial Council on Educational, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008, p. 9).  However, I argue for this goal to encompass younger children who have not yet started school.

Due to early childhood being widely identified as the most significant growth period in a child’s life, it is also an optimal period for shaping environmental knowledge, attitudes and practices (Davis, 2008).

The following statement from a four year old in a Child Care setting is one  of the contributing factors  for developing  learning opportunities based on Global Education’s ‘Water for life’ resource (n.d ), to help embed sustainability into children’s daily routines and practices.

“The taps been left on again!”

Where to begin?

Gathering children together and asking them to identify what they have used water for today. Prompt discussion with roleplaying what water may have been used for example brushing teeth and washing hands. Draw simple pictures on whiteboard to record their answers. To extend children’s thinking draw a simple map of the centre and go for a walk (indoors & outdoors) label where water is used. Ask children to imagine waking up tomorrow morning and there is no water in our taps! Which uses of water are most important? Why? (Exploring the question where does water in our taps come from?  And where does it go, could be explored as another investigation task).

Gather children again and read through UNICEFs photo story ‘The Long Walk’ (2012). This is a story of Elezete, one of many children in Timor Leste who spend hours every day walking to collect water.

Bradbery (2013) emphasises how picture books can be an influential tool to help young children to “Assume responsibility for creating and enjoying a sustainable future through global citizenship” (p.221) and begin to identify, examine and even change personal routines to contribute to creating sustainable futures.

Show children a variety of photos of people around the world collecting and using water. Discuss how the water is being collected, who is collecting it, how easy or difficult might it be. Having children explore the weight of a 1 or 2 litre container of water and what this amount of water could be used for could lead to early understandings of the impact that having to collect water could have on other children’s lives.


In low rainfall Rajasthan, India, villagers depend on tube well for their water


A woman carries heavy buckets of water from a standpipe to her home near Sekong, Laos


A woman washes her clothes near her home in Kampala, Uganda. Waste water flows away in the open drain


WaterAid has provided a water supply, toilets and proper drainage to the Dalit community living in informal settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Brainstorm with children ways that water use could be reduced at the centre. What could you say to people who leave a tap running? Why do you think it’s important?

Why is Education for Sustainability (EfS) a priority for me?

Our future depends on it: the challenge for us all is obtaining a healthy balance of environmental, social and economic systems that promote a just and sustainable future for generations to come. Of particular concern to me, is the increasing rate of resource consumption and environmental degradation and the flow-on effects this has locally, nationally and globally. It is widely recognised that education is one of the key contributing factors to becoming change agents, therefore it is imperative that (EfS) begins in early childhood and that Educators and children are discussing and exploring the concept that all living things are interconnected (DEEWR, 2009).


Bradbery, D. (2013). Bridges to Global Citizenship: Ecologically Sustainable Futures Utilising Children’s Literature in Teacher Education.  Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 29(2), 221–237. doi 10.1017/aee.2014.7

Davis, J,. M. (2008). What might education for sustainability look like in early childhood? A case for participatory, whole-of-settings approaches. (p.18). The Contribution of Early Childhood Education to a Sustainable Society, UNESCO.  Retrieved from

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming, the early years learning framework for Australia. Retrieved March 23, 2015 from

Global Education (n.d). Teacher resources to encourage a global perspectives across the curriculum: Water for life. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from

Ministerial Council on Educational, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Author. Retrieved from

Week 4 Geography

As Educators it is important for us to acknowledge and celebrate young children’s early geographical experiences and use these as a starting point to develop their understanding and appreciation of the world around them (Kriewaldt,  2012)

The following sequence of lessons for Foundation Year, will focus on students observing and describing the features of a familiar place (through images and a field trip to the local swimming pool) (Geographical knowledge and understanding, ACHGK002), where it is located on a map and begin to formulate an informed opinion of where the swimming pool should be located (Geographical skills, ACHGS004).

Why the local swimming pool you may ask?……..

There has been ongoing debate and controversy surrounding the upgrade and or relocation of a local swimming pool in a  North-West town in Tasmania. This is an ideal opportunity to engage young children in investigating an issue that is relevant to their own community and have a say in matters that concern them ( (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR], 2009).

Prior to students observing the following 3 images upon a Smart board the teacher will ask:

  • Where are we? …… right now ?
  • Where is our classroom?
  • Where is our school?
  • What is next to our school?
  • What is in the street next to our school? …..How do you know?

The teacher will draw diagrams on large paper as the children answer (creating a simple map). Have children stand around the map to discuss the idea of a birds-eye view. To bring up the topic of the pool the teacher will ask “If we wanted to go for a walk to the pool, how do we know where it is? How could we find out?”

The use of maps is an effective conceptual tool to help develop young students understanding of place and space (Reynolds, 2012).

The students will then view images of the pool via Google Earth (see figures 1, 2 & 3):

birds eye view of pool

Figure 1. Existing site of pool (2015) Google earth


Figure 3 Proposed CBD Pool site (2011) (site

Engage students in discussion and questions about the proposed location of the pool, including the idea that there are buildings already on these locations….. “What are these buildings?” “What will happen to these buildings if a new pool is built there? Do you think the people who work in/own these buildings want a pool there? How can we find out? Where do you think the pool should go?  Why?

A field trip to the existing pool site and proposed areas for a new pool, will be an ideal opportunity to relate inquiry concepts of observing the features of a place in an authentic holistic manner (Matthews & Cranby, 2014) as well as contribute to students forming an opinion of ‘where is the best place to have a pool’. Students will draw/paint  their own design of the town’s swimming pool and present a spoken description of the drawing in response to the question “Where do you think the pool should go and why?

Inviting  members of the local Council into the classroom would give the Foundation year students a chance to discuss their newly formed ideas and opinions and showcase their designs.


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2014). Australian Curriculum: Geography: foundation to year 10 curriculum. Sydney, NSW: Author. Retrieved from

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (DEEWR). (2009). The early years learning framework for Australia, Belonging, Being, Becoming. Retrieved from Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR):

Matthews, S., & Cranby,S. (2014). Geography in the Australian curriculum. In R.Gilbert & B.Hoepper (Eds). Teaching humanities and social science: History, geography, economics and citizenship (5th ed.),  pp.223-247. South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning

Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography and SOSE in the primary school (2nded.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Kriewaldt, J. (2012). Progression in understanding in geography. In Taylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewaldt, J., & Boon, D. (2012). Place and time: Explorations in teaching geography and history, pp. 177-215. Frenchs Forest, NSW: PearsonTaylor, T., Fahey, C., Kriewaldt, J., & Boon, D. (2012). Place and time: Explorations in teaching geography and history. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson

Week 3 History

‘What’s a memory?’

(An introduction to oral histories and artefacts)

The following concept map outlines a history inquiry question, a historical concept,  historical skills, and a content focus for Foundation Year students:

concept map

Lessons have been based on several ideas taken from a unit of work designed for Foundation to Year 2 students sourced from:  Artefact Chat

The following  table outlines an overview of a sequence of activities to enhance students early understandings of the concepts of oral histories and artefacts.

Teaching strategy and Activity

Key issues in implementation

Shared reading of Picture book : Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge

wilfred gordon

A small boy tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore that of an elderly friend

Group discussion –students revisit text

Search and listen  to an online oral history recording via National or local library (if available) If listening to a recording by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person ensure to consider  cultural guidelines

Brainstorm some questions that students could ask an older family (or friend) member about life in the past.

Encourage children to bring in an Artefact  eg something related  to the family’s history (or a photograph of the artefact). Display and discuss

Guest speakers – invite several grandparents to visit and share an artefact.

Field trip to local Museum – visit old school room setting

Applying the learning – creating an oral history using digital technology

The picture book will be used to hook the students interest and introduce the concepts of oral histories and artefacts. During the discussion to follow, students will be encouraged to draw upon prior knowledge and personal experience to make connections with the picture book. Students will be encouraged to identify similarities and differences with their own lives.  For example, their own grandparent or elderly family friend sharing a story about the past.  Students will begin to recognise that people experience different lives (to them) and have different things that they consider important. Students will also be encouraged to consider the idea that objects (artefacts) may prompt a memory or stories from the past. Referring back to the picture book, the students are supported to identify the artefacts that prompt Miss Nancy’s memories. The teacher will emphasise  that Miss Nancy’s (Wilfred’s elderly neighbour)  spoken memories are an example of oral history and that often stories (and memories) from the past are sad ones. Reynolds (2009), outlines the traditional method of storytelling; is a means of expressing community and social values and that many Indigenous groups use oral storytelling to pass on knowledge of their ancestors to new generations. Correspondingly, Whitman (2006), emphasises the broad range of skills that can be enhanced through engaging with oral histories, including interviewing and active listening. He also states that due to the fact that oral history often involves  intergenerational conversations means that it has potential to “Foster respect, empathy and understanding” (p.38). Harnett (2008), reminds us that “Anything linked with family histories has the potential to be emotive and controversial and needs dealing with sensitivity and awareness of different home situations and family structures” (p.3).

While discussing the benefits of oral histories  the teacher has the opportunity to include the notion that it provides an avenue for hearing from people who may not be represented in ‘school history text books’ (Reynolds, 2012). This would be carried out with terms and language appropriate to Foundation year students.


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). Humanities and social sciences: History. Retrieved  from:

Fox, M. (1985). Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. Adelaide, SA: Omnibus Books

Harnett, P. (2008). Teaching emotive and controversial history to 3 – 7 year olds (A report for the Historical Association) University of the West of England, Bristol. Retrieved from:

Reynolds, R. (2009). Teaching studies of society and environment in the primary school. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press

Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press

Whitman, G. (2006). Engaging students and meeting standards through oral history. Social Studies Review, 45(2), 38-44

Week 2 Civics and Citizenship

The Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum aims to build on students knowledge and understanding of diverse ways of being an active and informed local, national and global citizen (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014)

An active citizenship project that could be incorporated into a larger interdisciplinary unit of work for a Year One class, that encourages a futures-orientated focus (for eg building a sustainable global community), is related to reducing the amount of waste during morning tea and lunch time at school, therefore, reducing the amount of landfill.

To introduce the topic, the teacher could instigate a conversation about the overflowing tabletop bins at the eating tables.

The following video clip will be used to stimulate interest, encourage discussion and prompt some questions………such as ‘How can we reduce the amount of rubbish going into bins at mealtimes?’  and  ‘What can we do as an individual, as a class, as a school to reduce waste. Create a group mind map.

Students will explore various activities that their class could participate in such as holding a litter-less lunch box day to raise awareness of excess packaging of food. Students could collect rubbish over a week long period, carry out a waste audit and analyse their data. Explore the Re Think Waste Tasmania website ( and invite a member from a local  Waste Management Group to discuss the advantages of recycling. At a school level : incorporate long term plans to replace pre-packaged foods coming in to the school, with fresh produce grown within a community garden.

The knowledge and skills that can potentially be gained through these authentic learning experiences, allows students to develop a greater awareness of the crucial need for people to think, act and strive towards more sustainable ways of living (Tudball & Gordon, 2014).  Australian Curriculum General Capabilities can be supported through such projects, in particular ; Ethical understanding, Creative and critical thinking  and Intercultural understanding. For example, students can develop an awareness that their actions and values can have an impact and an influence others (Tudball & Gordon, 2014) as well as an opportunity to explore barriers, human rights, and political and environmental issues  (Brett, 2009). Reynolds (2012)  suggests identifying and exploring values that are entrenched in civic issues, for example children and their families making a living from waste materials.

The value of citizenship education for children prior to school can be found embedded in such documents as the Early Years Learning Framework [EYLF], (2014). Active citizenship is particularly supported by Learning Outcome 2a: Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation (EYLF, 2014, p.27) and Outcome 2d: Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment (EYLF, 2014, p.29).The framework supports young children to respect the environment and develop a growing awareness that their own actions can influence or have an impact, not only on places, but also, on people.

Topics can be introduced through picture books such as the ones illustrated here:


Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2014). Australian curriculum: Humanities and social sciences: Civics and citizenship (v. 7.2) foundation to year 10 curriculum. Retrieved from citizenship/curriculum/f-10?layout=1#level4

Bancks, T. (2012) . Change the world in 5 minutes every day at school [Video file]. Retrieved from

Brett. P (2009). How all teachers can support citizenship and human rights education: a framework for the development of competences. Council of Europe Publishing Retrieved from

Early Years Learning Framework. (2014). Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world (p. 24). Retrieved from

Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Tudball, L. & Gordon, K. (2014). Teaching for active and informed citizenship. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.), Teaching humanities and social sciences: History, geography, economics and citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th ed.). (pp. 297-320). South Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Learning