Connecting to prior knowledge
Show the cover of the book and invite students to think about what they see and the ideas they have about the book. While they are thinking, read the blurb from the back of the book:
Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insisted – they always have fun together.
What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour.
Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.
Give students a moment to think about what they have heard and then in a think-pair-share discuss what they are thinking and any questions they have. Invite pairs to share ideas with the class and record any questions the students have. This will help you know where to begin with this book.
Talk briefly about the understandings around the phrases ‘the wonders of nature’ and ‘the funny side of life’. Record responses as discussions at the end of the unit will lead you back to these phrases.
If you are in a city area you might spend some time talking about the Australian bush or watching a video. Students in remote and rural areas can begin by talking about their own bush experiences.
Return to the cover and focus on the man and cat in the right-hand corner. After the last activity students should be able to identify that this is Grandad and Iggy. Brainstorm words that describe how each of the characters might be feeling. Record the responses and prompt for a range of words beyond happy and sad. Allow students to use resources such as the class word wall or a thesaurus to come up with a range of words.
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
Begin by talking about family and inviting students to talk about grandparents and/or older community or family members. The blurb tells us, ‘Little Iggy does not want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together.’ In small groups ask students to talk about things they do with older family members or family friends.
- Do they have fun?
- What sorts of things do they enjoy doing together?
- Are there things they would prefer not to do?
As the title tells us – this is a narrative about the bush and the blurb also says it is a story about the wonders of nature. Revisit this term then guide students to identify the birds and the animals on the front and back cover as this will confirm that the book is set in the Australian bush. Once that is established, brainstorm the names of birds, animals and plants that might appear in the book. Accept all answers then together discard any that are not Australian (some checking might be necessary). Then as a whole class or in groups, sort into plants, birds and animals.
If the school site or local area is suitable, take the class for a walk around the school community including the school itself as well as surrounding areas. Have students carry a clip board and paper and note down the trees they see and any native plants and any bird life. If possible have students take photos.
Back in the classroom invite students to engage in a think-pair-share activity about the walk and what they have discovered. Ask them to predict if any of the things they saw might be in the book.
Read this interview with Gwyn Perkins for your own background knowledge. Perkins lives on a little island in the middle of Pittwater in northern Sydney, and also spends a lot of time in the Blue Mountains. All three areas in NSW are depicted in this book.
Engage students in a discussion about the Australian bush. This will vary depending where your school is located but many students will have personal experiences of camping holidays, visits to family and friends outside the city or even native gardens to contribute.
Now introduce the terms flora and fauna and use these terms as headings to sort the predicted plants and animals again (there should be no change except the birds and animals will go together). Students in states and territories other than NSW may like to find out if the birds and animals on the cover of the book can be found in their area.
|Eucalyptus trees||Sulphur-crested cockatoo|
Explore the National Parks and Wildlife website and identify other plants and animals not already identified. Raise the issue of bushfires and gather the information students know about the dangers, causes and what happens to the vegetation. Prompt:
- What happens in the bush after a bushfire?
Brainstorm the meaning of regeneration in relation to bushfires and the bush.
Rich assessment task
Ask students to think about a place they like that they would enjoy going with a grandparent or family friend. It might be a park, local landmark or a visit to a farm for example.
Once the place has been identified, ask each student to write down three or four words that makes the place they named special.
Explain that students are now to write a short letter to a grandparent or older person suggesting something they could do together. Remind students to think about the person they are writing to. As it is addressed to someone they know well, the letter can use less formal language. Brainstorm the things they should think about before beginning, including the letter-writing format. List the criteria identified.
Responding to the text
Read the book pausing at each of the illustrations.
With the illustration style and the detailed drawings there is a lot to take in so reread or use one of the read aloud versions of A Walk in the Bush on YouTube.
Students will notice the bird sounds if you use the YouTube reading suggested. Explore these further. First ask who knows the calls of the birds in the book and can imitate them. Invite stories about when students have seen and heard the birds seen in this text and then listen to some recordings of birdsongs.
Suggest students make a list of birds they hear over the following week. They can record any from the playground, their home or perhaps if they are in a park over the weekend.
Now shift the discussion to the local environment. Check if there is any evidence of recent fire in the area. What signs would you look for?
Go pack to page 14 where Grandad says: ‘Look at the new shoots coming through after the bushfire.’
Return to the earlier discussion about bushfires and regeneration and review your findings.
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
Provide a copy of the book to each small group of students so they can explore the characters more deeply using the text and illustrations. Provide a chart for each group divided in two with Iggy and Grandad on either side. Each group elects a scribe to list words from group members that describe each character. When complete join two groups together to share their lists and discuss any differences they notice between the lists.
Students may notice Iggy does not talk and actually does not have a mouth. Open a discussion about why this might be. Why might the author Gwyn Perkins have made that decision?
Point out that Iggy is a cat but is treated like a small child. For example on page 4 Grandpa tries to put a hat and sunscreen on Iggy for sun protection.
At the beginning of the book Iggy seems reluctant to go out. Ask students if Iggy’s feelings change throughout the book.
Refer to each of the following pages and ask: What might Iggy be thinking?
- Page 5: Iggy and the goanna.
- Page 8: Listening to the birds.
- Page 11: Looking at the new shoots on the trees
- Page 14: Having a rest
- Page 17: Messages on the trees
- Page 20: What do birds talk about?
- Page 27: Taking photos
Remind students that throughout the story Grandpa talks to Iggy as you would a child. Why might he be depicted as a cat? Should you take cats into the bush?
Ask the question: Are cats a threat to wildlife?
Ask if anyone has heard about problems with domestic cats in the bush. Again in a think-pair-share invite the pairs to share what they know. Then ask:
- Was a cat a good choice?
Conclude with a whole class discussion around the reasons the author might have chosen Iggy to be a cat rather than a boy or girl or another animal.
Finish up with a whole class discussion around the reasons the author chose Iggy to be a cat rather than a boy or girl or another animal.
In a sharing circle talk about the problem of domestic cats and wildlife.
Prompt the discussion using points raised on the Wires website.
Finish by asking what can be done to provide a safe home for a cat and also protect wildlife.
Follow up by inviting students to create Trading Cards for a chosen character. This tool requires Flashplayer. The guiding questions scaffold students to recall aspects about the character they have chosen and bring all the information together to create a ‘Trading Card’. This activity is suitable for students to work in pairs.
Students have already discovered that the setting for this narrative is the Australian bush.
Read the book aloud again while students record anything from the book that could be considered uniquely Australian such as various animals, birds, eucalyptus leaves, etc.
Rich assessment task
Show students pages 20 and 21. Discuss the illustration on page 20 and ask students to find and name each of the birds. The Australian Bird Guide or a website such as Birds in Backyards may be needed to research local birds. There may not be total agreement especially with the parrots but a good discussion looking at bird features will result. Suggested bird species to check are:
- Sulphur-crested cockatoo
- Rainbow lorikeet
- Willie wagtail
- Australian king parrot
On page 21 Grandad asks Iggy, ‘What do you think birds talk about?’
Organise your students into small groups and give them 5 minutes to answer Grandad’s question.
Point out that several birds on page 20 look like they might be talking to each other. Ask students to individually choose two birds from page 20 and write the conversation the two birds might be having. Remind them the birds are Australian and are in the Australian bush.
Model the format required before the task.
Provide time for students to go back into their groups to share the conversations they have written. Suggest that the conversations are shared by the writer and a partner takes on the role of each bird. Group members should respond by commenting on the content of the conversation the birds had.
Examining text structure and organisation
To introduce the author you might like to share that Gwyn Perkins started off his career making animations for children. (Explore these but keep in mind the one with monsters was banned because it was considered too scary.) Animation work became harder to get, so Gwyn started to draw.
Keeping this in mind, look through the text with the class, providing plenty of time for the class to take in the illustrations. If you have multiple copies of the book, do this in small groups. Students may notice how Gwyn’s work in animation has influenced his drawing.
Either in groups or as a class make a list of what is observed. The list may include:
- drawings done in pen,
- soft colour palette except for the birds
- detail used.
Distribute post-it notes and organise small groups. Display pages 24 and 25. There are no words on this page but there is a detailed bush scene and the main characters are sitting on a rock.
Invite students to silently take in the scene and look closely at the visual text. Give a signal when time is up. Each student writes a word on the post-it as to how they (the student) feels. Do a quick share in groups.
Repeat looking at the text and this time each student writes down how Iggy and Grandad might be feeling. Share in groups.
- Did you write down similar words?
- As a reader do you think you understand how the two characters are feeling?
- What words come to mind?
Introduce the words ‘peace’ and ‘tranquillity’. Back in groups, invite students to discuss: What techniques did Gwyn Perkins use to create a feeling of peace and tranquillity?
Ask the students to use think-pair-share to compare and contrast the feelings they have identified in different parts of the book. Join pairs together to make groups of four. Have each group choose one of the feelings discussed and create small group freeze frames to represent the different parts in the story that made them feel that way. Choose groups to share with the class. You might choose to photograph the students in the freeze frames and print photos to create a word wall next to the associated feelings.
(ACELT1589) (EN1-4A) (ACPPS020)
Use these additional discussion prompts for the groups:
- Iggy and Grandpa are created using simple pen drawings. Comment on the techniques used to draw the fauna.
- Did Gwyn Perkins use different techniques when drawing the bush scenes?
Students may comment that the trees and bush appear two-dimensional, brighter colours are used, more details included, etc.
Returning to the book, invite each group to go through it and explore the relationship between Iggy and Grandad. How do the illustrations depict the interesting relationship between the two characters?
As well as the illustrations depicting the feelings of the characters some students might agree that they can almost hear and smell the bush.
In groups ask students to find the pages where the author-illustrator achieves this.
|Sounds||Pages 8 and 9||Large, loud letters with bird sounds|
|Smell||Pages 16 and 17||Close up of leaves|
Examining grammar and vocabulary
Revise the three types of nouns: common, proper and pronouns.
Have pairs explore the text to identify common nouns that refer to the characters and elements of the setting.
|Nouns that refer to the character||Nouns that refer to the setting – the Australian bush|
The list of nouns related to the setting will be much longer. Students will discover the characters are not referred to in print but that the characters are developed through the visual elements of the text. Invite students to write words that would give insight into both the characters.
|Iggy /cat||Grandad /man|
Discuss these words and confirm the ones that are adjectives by putting the words into sentences.
Conclude by asking students to prepare for a hot seat activity. Keeping the understandings developed in the last activity in mind, ask half the class to prepare questions for Iggy and the other half for Grandad.
Suggest there is an affection between the two main characters. Return to the conversation about grandparents and older people in a child’s life to elaborate on the word ‘affection’. Play the YouTube video: What Makes A Good Friend.
Now have students identify how the affection between Iggy and Grandad is portrayed in the text.
Prompt by saying:
- Are the two characters, Grandad and Iggy mindfully walking or hiking?
- Grandad tells jokes. What does that tell you about their relationship?
- There is no dialogue in the book. Can you find examples of body language that indicate they are fond of each other?
Rich assessment task
Provide each child with an A4 page with four intersecting circles.
Ask students to quickly jot down their own description of a grandfather. This can be based on someone in their life or simply the image in their head of a grandfather. Using a fast write focuses on the vocabulary used rather than the spelling and punctuation.
Now add the words to one of the circles on the page.
Together read the book again and ask students to write down words in the next circle that come to mind about the grandfather in A Walk in the Bush. Ask students to focus on his appearance. They may write some of the words already listed.
Now read two of the three books listed below and complete the last two circles in the same way.
- Shoes from Grandpa by Mem Fox
- Dan’s Grandpa by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft
- One Tree by Christopher Cheng and Bruce Whatley
Individually ask students to look at each of the four lists of words and put any words that appear more than once where the circles intersect. You are asking students to look for any similarities between their own image of a grandfather, the grandfather portrayed in A Walk in the Bush and the grandfathers in either Shoes from Grandpa, Dan’s Grandpa or One Tree.
Compare and contrast in small groups. Then in a whole class group pose some questions:
- Why might grandfathers be portrayed like this?
- Is your grandfather/older family friend like this?
Prompt students to think about clothing, features such as hair, size and race.
Revise the elements of a narrative with the class. Students will identify that a narrative has an orientation, complication and a resolution.
Ask students to think about A Walk in the Bush as a narrative. Tell them you will read it again and on completion of the reading, together the class will identify the parts of this narrative.
Answers may vary:
Orientation: Grandpa finds Iggy and sets out to the bush.
Complication: Engage students in a discussion here as there is not one event alone that makes a complication. Rather there are a series of discoveries.
Resolution: Again there may be an interesting discussion as to the resolution. Answers may include that the day was a success in that both characters had a good and safe day.
In an interview the author says he chose a cat because cats can’t talk. In earlier discussions it was noted he drew the cat with no mouth.
Do a think-pair-share and invite students to talk about that decision.
Move on to focus on feelings and emotions. Refer to this webpage on Feelings and Emotions to revise and develop vocabulary to ensure students can move beyond happy and sad.
Next display the front end papers and discuss, encouraging students to use some of the vocabulary they have learned if appropriate.
Start with the front of the book and discuss the two characters and what they might be feeling. Repeat using the back end papers.
|Front end papers||Back end papers||Infer feelings and emotions|
|Grandad||Grandad’s hand is outstretched. Draw attention to his hand, his body and his expression. Brainstorm his feelings and emotions.||Grandad has his hand outstretched with his palm facing Iggy in a high five. Draw attention to his hand, his body and his expression. Brainstorm his feelings and emotions.|
|Iggy||Iggy’s hand is slightly downward. Draw attention to his hand, body posture and face. Brainstorm his feelings and emotions.||Iggy has his arm high and outstretched with his palm facing Grandad in a high five. Brainstorm his feelings and emotions.|
Use a think-pair-share to encourage students to discuss what they have observed.
Now read Going Bush by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle, which is a very different book about a walk in the bush but with similar themes of the peacefulness of the bush, discovery and friendship in both texts.
Refer to Nadia Wheatley’s website where she says:
As a group of children from different cultural backgrounds explore a patch of inner-city bushland, they make discoveries about the land they share and the things they have in common. The story of their simple but inspirational journey is a model for the way harmony can be shared across Australian society.
Compare and contrast these books that both highlight the Australian bush. Going Bush acknowledges the land, introducing the word ngurra, which was and continues to be used by the Eora Peoples in the coastal region of Sydney. This book follows the explorations of the children as they learn about the land, the plant life and our First Peoples. The reader will learn about the importance of the plants and how they were used to make bread, and other food and for medicines. Draw attention to the detailed maps on the front and back end pages and pages 2 and 3 where the story is introduced as well as the glossaries in the back of the book.
Reread and this time draw attention to the writing on each page by the children. To identify this writing look for the children’s names under each contribution.
After reading and exploring this text while making links to A Walk in the Bush, invite students to write their own poem or short prose in response to A Walk in the Bush, identifying the page it might be inserted into. Use the poems and short prose from Going Bush as a model.
When complete, insert the students’ poems or prose using a post-it note on the appropriate pages and talk about how this changes the text. Have an open discussion about pros and cons.
(ACELY1665) (EN1-11D) (ACELY1670) (EN1-4A)
Rich assessment task
The task is for students to individually write their own blurb for the book A Walk in the Bush.
Provide the book blurb as an example.
Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together. What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour.
Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.
Now read the blurb from Going Bush as a second example:
As sixteen children walk through the bush, they discover more than plants and animals, water and soil and rocks. Back in the classroom, they continue their explorations. This book tells their story, in their own words and pictures.
Together agree on the purpose of a blurb. Discuss the words used in the blurb from A Walk in the Bush, in particular:
- singing birds
- wallaby surprises
- secret caterpillar messages
Discuss how effectively these carefully chosen words give the reader an idea of what the book will be about.
Invite students to try writing a new blurb for the book.
Finish by bringing the group together and sharing some of the writing.
Finally refer back to the blurb and the phrase oodles of grandad humour.
Ask what students thought that meant and use the book to locate any examples of ‘grandad humour’ in the text.
Together work out what (if anything) students found amusing.