Connecting to prior knowledge
Note to Teachers:
Take time to explore and investigate the following two resources. They are not necessarily child friendly but will inform teacher knowledge and perspectives on the topic presented in the book about Aboriginal cultural practices in child rearing.
The importance of connection to land, culture and family are expressed and explained. Also important is the continuing nature of Aboriginal cultural practices. Aboriginal culture is not just something that happened a long time ago. Sometimes there may be a confusion or misunderstanding between ‘traditional’ culture and contemporary Indigenous identity.
During this unit learning will focus on ‘culture’. It is important for the teacher to understand what culture is, how it is defined, and how it should be applied during this lesson. At times it may be difficult to provide Australian non-Indigenous examples. This is because when a culture is dominant and ‘normalised’ it can become invisible to members of that dominant culture. This can be explained by the following quote – ‘In Australia, “White Anglo-Australian cultural and racial dominance” as the “invisible omnipresent norm”. It is rarely interrogated or seen as a difference, instead it is the benchmark by which differences from that norm are measured, valued and often ignored’ (Durey, 2015, p. 191).
Students predict from the cover what the book Baby Business will be about and who the major characters will be. Ask students to turn to a partner and share their ideas about the theme of the story.
Ask them to think about what a baby and a business might have in common. Might the word business have more than one meaning? Ask students to think about the visual clues on the cover, including the people on the cover, the relationship between the people, the font choice (which is lower case and informal), and the green background. The green background is particularly important. Ask the students where they have seen this particular colour green before.
Join pairs together to make groups of four and share again. Prompt students to ask questions of each other.
Read Baby Business aloud pausing on each page so students can take in the illustrations and share their thoughts.
Read through the Darug words on the last page and as you discuss each one and the translation record the students’ thoughts so they are easily seen by the students.
Re-read the book now these words and the translation have been revealed.
Ask students to assess whether their predictions about the content, the meaning of the title and the significance of the green colour were correct. What surprised them?
Does the predicted vocabulary still apply? What other words could be added?
The teacher can provide more contextual knowledge by posing the following questions and discussing possible answers.
- Who helps the mothers have their babies?
- Why should we know this?
- What is the author’s purpose for writing a book called Baby Business?
Following on from this discussion, the teacher should provide information to the class about the length of time that Aboriginal peoples’ culture has thrived in Australia (over 60 thousand years) and connect the idea of history with tradition.
Also discuss connection to country and the importance of acknowledging country. Ask a student to deliver an acknowledgement of country for the land on which the discussion is taking place.
(ACELY1680) (EN2-4A) (ACELT1594) (EN2-10C)
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
Invite students to discuss their own culture and the cultural traditions that happen when there is a new baby. Ask students to ask their parents for a photo of themselves as a baby or one that shows a family celebration that included them as a baby. Celebrate the diversity in this task.
Explore this theme in some detail with comparisons. Students may use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast traditions. Instead of highlighting difference and stopping at that, make a point of then finding similarity. What are we as people all doing when a baby is born?
Teachers: There are some fun and interesting traditions that may be raised here. Be careful when searching the topic online with the class. Reference to circumcision may pop up. Be aware of this possibility and review any websites in advance.
Rich assessment task
Guide students to orally reflect on learning by asking some questions and recording the responses for later. It will be important to return to this list to confirm and clarify ideas after more interaction with the text.
- What is the big idea?
- Give 2 or 3 contributing ideas.
- Who are the important characters?
- What is the significance of the bees?
- What is a totem?
- Are the bees present in the moment, or is the author trying to convey something else?
Responding to the text
Culture is very strongly linked to language. Words used about special times and celebrations are important. Invite students to investigate the Indigenous words used in the story and search for the similar words in the language of the local Indigenous peoples. The teacher guides a class discussion explaining that a word or sign can carry different weight in different cultural contexts, for example that particular respect is due to some people and creatures and that stories can be passed on to teach us how to live within the custom or lore.
The class could invite a member of the Indigenous community to visit and talk about babies and children and teach some of the Indigenous words from the local country. It is necessary to understand the diversity of Indigenous Australia and make the lesson locally relevant and appropriate. Students can begin this process by finding out the local Indigenous language group and people who are custodians of the land on which the school is built on.
After the visit from an Indigenous community member, ask students to reflect on what they learnt from the talk about cultural practices. Record via a class mind map, showing how some observations are linked. If this is the students’ first attempt at a linked mind map, they may need to be guided to make the connections across concepts. Introduce the notion of solid lines for strong connections and dotted lines for weak connections.
Add the cultural practices described in the text.
Provide students with the opportunity to have another look at the images used in the text and comment on what the images convey without the need for words. This would be best done in small groups using multiple copies of the text.
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
Invite students to have a class discussion about the purpose of the story by asking the following questions. Record the discussion as a brainstorm on the board.
What is the purpose of the story? What is happening in the story?
Who are the characters? Does each character play a different role?
Why do some characters have names and some characters don’t have names? Discuss the way the characters’ names are written with capital letters and are not so much personal names, but designation of the relationship – e.g. Nanna, Aunties, Mudjin (family), Gurung (child).
Why aren’t the characters introduced by their personal name? Sometimes they are called ‘women and children’ and sometimes the relational form of address is used. Why is that? The use of relational forms of address tell us a lot about the importance of relationships to Indigenous people.
Pose the question – Is Nura (country) fulfilling the role of a character in this text?
What are the themes of the story? – Family, love, caring, kinship and culture.
Rich assessment task
Ask students to reflect on the sum of their own learning in this section, including exploring the feelings and personal aspects of the story and the importance of caring and family.
Support students to complete a summary chart (PDF, 149KB) showing learning and links between concepts. Encourage students to colour-code their completed summary chart to find links.
(ACELT1599) (EN2-8B) (ACELT1596) (EN2-11D)
Examining text structure and organisation
Ask the students – How is the text organised?
Is it a narrative (story)? It has features of a narrative such as a beginning, middle, an event and a conclusion. Ask the students to map the narrative ‘arc’ of the text (beginning, middle, an event and a conclusion).
How is this text different to a narrative? It is different because it offers factual information and includes some procedural text within.
Identify the text type (factual narrative) with the students by listing the text features and the purpose (function) of the writing on each page. Look for where the pages seem to ‘shift gears’, that is to do another job (function).
- Double page 1 – a procedure because sentence commences with a verb and is an instruction
- Double page 2 – recount of fact
- Double page 3 – a procedure, listing the ingredients, and an information text (gives information about the leaves)
- Double page 4 – factual information
- Double page 5 – a procedure that tells what to do
- Double page 6 – a procedure that tells what to do, commences with verbs (keep, care)
- Double page 7 – a procedure that tells what to do, commences with verbs (take, give back, help)
- Double page 8 – a procedure that tells what to do, commences with verbs (keep) and some information about language (our words)
- Double page 9 – a procedure that tells what to do, commences with verb (listen, warm, must) and some information about totem
- Double page 10 – a procedure that tells what to do, commences with a verb (let)
- Double page 11 – information – rules about what belongs and does not belong
Students develop an understanding of how different types of texts vary in use of language choices, depending on their purpose and context (for example, tense and types of sentences). We have already explored the purpose of the text, what else can be determined? For example, that when Indigenous authors write, they can reveal and explain elements of Indigenous culture. Ask students if they know any other examples of texts by Indigenous authors (see multiple texts on the Reading Australia website). The teacher can read some to the class and discuss language choices (e.g. how tense is used and different sentence structures).
Jasmine Seymour is the author and illustrator. She’s been quite deliberate with the way that she’s drawn each page. Allow the students to explore the staging and framing of a double-page spread. Be sure to include double page-spread 3 as it has a point of difference to all the other double-page spreads. Ask the students to select one double-page spread and in small groups, enact the visual staging features. Allow the students to take a series of photos of each enactment, one as a top-down view, eye level view and bottom-up view. Return to the double-page spread in the book and determine if Jasmine Seymour drew the visuals as top-down view, eye level view or bottom-up view. All the images except double-page spread 3 are bottom-up view. Discuss how Jasmine was situating the reader as a child who was observing the events. In grammar terms, we call this an offer or an invitation. Discuss that the reader needed to be an ‘imagined’ child because only women and children participate in baby business.
(ACELA1483) (EN2-4A) (ACELY1678) (EN2-8B)
Examining grammar and vocabulary
Use passages from the stories read in the previous activity for students to identify descriptive language. Examples of descriptive language are:
- nouns and adjectives
- verbs and adverbs
- adjectival phrases
- adverbial phrases
- common nouns, personal pronouns and proper nouns.
Students explore the language of Baby Business in more detail by learning about the use of anaphora.
Anaphora is when a theme or concept is stressed through repetition at the beginning of successive clauses. The author uses repetition of the word warm. Ask the class to think about the use of repetition in the text to consider the reason that the author has used this strategy.
Return to the question – Is Nura (country) fulfilling the role of a character in this text? Work through the text and ask the students to find all the sentences that mention or reference Nura or Country.
- Warm smoke from the fire on your feet to connect you to Country. (verb = to connect)
- Keep your Mudjin and Country close to your heart. (verb = keep)
- Care for Country as it cares for you. (Students may need to be prompted to realise that this sentence uses the pronoun ‘it’ to refer to Country). (verb = care, cares)
- Give back what you can and help your Mudjin and Nura when they need it. (verb = give back, help, need)
- Let your life begin on Nura. (verb = let begin)
- Remember it does not belong to us. (Students may need to be prompted to realise that this sentence uses the pronoun ‘it’ to refer to Country.) (verb = does not belong)
- We belong to Country. (verb = belong)
Once the whole class has helped to identify the seven sentences, systematically work through each sentence and identify the verb that relates to Nura or Country (see bolded text). Discuss how the character of Nura or Country is associated with different processes such as doing (to connect, keep, care, cares, give back, help, need, let begin) and relating verbs (does not belong, belong). Nura or Country is constructed as active (doing verbs) and relating to senses of belonging. These are traits of something that is living.
Students list the Indigenous words used (PDF, 140KB) and their English meanings. What types of words are they? e.g. nouns, adjectives?
Rich assessment task
Students reflect and comment on the learning in the text. What have we learnt from reading Baby Business? Prompt students to focus on the topic of babies, child rearing and cultural celebrations. Students search for other books with similar topics and record in a reading log. After a whole class demonstration, students use a Venn diagram to compare two of the texts.
(ACELT1596) (EN2-11D) (ACELY1680) (EN2-4A)
Students map out the procedure of the story. This could be done pictorially.
These can be compared to the illustrator’s pictures. Discuss how particular aspects of the story have been represented as images, remembering the lesson on bottom-up drawings to show the relationship between the imagined child reader and the characters in the factual narrative. Why did these aspects get chosen? How does the illustrator make decisions about what to draw?
Creation of literature
Students discuss other forms of ‘baby’ literature e.g. lullabies, nursery rhymes, poetry such as haiku.
Students write a baby haiku together, stressing the importance of structure in the text. Then, students each write one of their own to create a class anthology.
Rich assessment task
Recognising our own cultures and cultural practices is important especially when there are opportunities to celebrate them. Students write their own text based on one of their own cultural activities. Use the factual narrative format as modeled by the Baby Business text. Include important aspects that make the activity culturally appropriate. Think of the language used and the character roles. Ask students if they can substitute any of the words for words from a language from their own cultural heritage.