Connecting to prior knowledge

Before Reading

Share with the students that the author, Sally Morgan is one of Australia’s best-known Aboriginal artists and writers. Ambelin Kwaymullina is also a celebrated artist and writer. They both belong to the Palyku people of the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Using an interactive Aboriginal language map locate the Pilbara region.

Dramatic play

Look at the front cover illustration of Benny Bungara’s Big Bush Clean-up and read the title. Ask the class what animals they see. Create finger puppet characters of the different native animals identified. This will encourage creative thinking, fine-motor skills and social development as well as thinking about the animal and its attributes.

Suggestions in how to make the paper animal finger puppets are below.

Encourage students to use their puppets to tell their own story. Each student will begin to create different narratives that they will share in groups of three or four. Research some Indigenous languages for animal names. The author and illustrator of this book are from Western Austalia, and you can find some animal names in West Australian Aboriginal languages here and here. Try finding some examples of Aboriginal languages from your own area or state. Then try to create a class story with the puppets.
(ACELY1646)   (ENe-1A)

Sensory play: Categorising objects

This next activity will begin to introduce students to the problems that their characters could encounter.

Collect a variety of materials such as plastic bottles, bits of plastic bags, straws, bottle caps, string, gum nuts, grass, leaves. Place all the materials into tubs and create a number of stations for the students to sort them into natural objects and human-made objects.

During the activity, move between the stations and prompt group discussion with the following questions:

  • Can you find these objects outside in the school playground, in parks, the bush, etc.?
  • Why might this be a problem?
  • Is it safe for the animals to play with or eat these objects? Why or why not?
  • Do all the different objects belong in the animals’ homes?
  • What would happen if there were too many of the human-made objects in the animals’ homes?

(ACELY1784)   (ENe-1A)

During reading

Now read the Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up aloud to the whole class using appropriate inflection and tone. Pause and ask the students to make predictions. Begin by discussing the front cover again.

Ask: How might the animals clean up the bush? Record the predictions to refer to later on as you read the text.

As you read the story, encourage the students to use their finger puppets to follow along, changing their finger puppets as a new character is introduced.
(ACELY1646)   (ENe-4A)


Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’

Connecting to the School Environment

Ask what animals might be found in the playground. Have students draw their answers on post-it notes and place them on the board.

Say the following statement: ‘Our school does a good job at keeping the playground clean and looking after the animals who live in it.’

Have students move to the left or right side of the room to show whether they agree or disagree. Allow students on both sides to take turns in defending their position.

Take a walk around the school grounds and look and listen for the different types of animals that are present in the playground.

Have the students observe how clean the playground is and record any human-made objects that they see that could harm the animals in the playground.

Once you have returned from the playground repeat the statement: ‘Our school does a good job at keeping the playground clean and looking after the animals who live in it,’ and have the students vote once more. If students have changed their mind, provide an opportunity for them to talk about why they have changed ‘sides’.
(ACELY1784)   (ENe-1A)


Rich assessment task


Read the text once more, discussing the beginning, middle and end details as you read. After the text has been read, model a retelling of the story using the appropriate language and detail. Explain that retelling is not memorising the words but using their own words. In groups of three or four, have the students retell the story using their finger puppets and add a different voice for each character. Together in their groups have the students use the puppets to sequence the story.

Send students off to independently work on retelling the story using the retell template (PDF, 221KB). You might like to record the oral retellings on an iPad to view later. Provide feedback as to how well each retelling captured the main ideas of the book.
(ACELT1580)   (ENe-4A)

Responding to the text

Readers’ response

Before reading the Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up again, display the following words with some visual prompts:

I wonder/ I am surprised/ I have a question/ My favourite part

Explain what each one means and model a response by referring back to the text. Explain that after you finish reading the book, everyone is to respond using one of the images from the book. First do a think-pair-share so students can get some ideas. Provide some writing time for individual students to write their response in a sentence and then call upon students to share their responses with the class.

I wonder… …why there was so much rubbish in the bush
I am surprised… …the animals could get the glass out of Kathy Kangaroo’s paw safely
I have a question… How can I learn about recycling?
My favourite part… …was how the animals helped each other

(ACELT1577)   (ENe-11D)


Display some Aboriginal art, taking care to select authentic images. Note Aboriginal art styles and traditions vary widely all over Australia. A good source for comparison of styles within the Kimberley region of Western Australia can be found here, but try to search for artists within your own region or State. Prompt students to discuss the use of colour and the subjects that are to be found in the examples. Discuss with students what else they notice about the artworks. Flip through Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up pausing at each page. Ask students if the illustrations remind them of anything they have seen.

Students can either reflect with a partner or record/write the following:

This story makes me think of____________ because _____________.

My favourite things about the illustrations of Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up are_______________.
(ACELT1783)   (ENe-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Character Concertina

Identify all the characters in Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up. Have a brief discussion about what each character is like on the inside and the outside.

For each suggestion ask: What makes you think that?

Use this prompt to encourage the students to find the clues in the book to support their opinion.

Have each student choose an animal from the text and then form small groups with like animals. Prompt the groups with the following questions:

  • What was the character feeling?
  • What do they look like?
  • What did they do in the story?


Our animal: Colin Crow
What was the character feeling? Colin Crow was distressed as his beak was tangled in fishing line.
What do they look like? Colin is a black crow.
What did they do in the story? Colin was looking for insects when his beak got tangled.

Use the template of the finger puppets to create a character concertina and have students write keywords that describe what the character is like on the inside and the outside. Prompt students to think about the actions of the animals.
(ACELA1786)   (ENe-2A)

Hot Seat

Introduce this activity by inviting them to move like each of the characters. Call out a character’s name and invite students to move like that character.

For example:

  • walk like Benny Bungarra
  • slither like Olive Python
  • fly like Colin Crow
  • hop like Kathy Kangaroo.

Next ask students to find a voice for the characters. Go around the class and ask each person to speak when you point at them. The rest of the class are to guess who the character is.

Place a chair in the middle of the room. Ask the students one at a time to approach the chair, sit on it comfortably and then get up and move off.

Have students sit in a circle, with the hot seat part of the circle. Have students choose a character in advance. Prepare students by telling them the questions that will be asked of them when they become the character as they sit on the hot seat.


  • Who are you?
  • Where are you?
  • How did you feel when…

One at a time invite students to sit on the hot seat and respond to questions posed by other members of the class.
(ACELT1580)   (ENe-10C)


Rich assessment task

Pose the questions:

  • How are you like the main character Benny Bungarra in the story?
  • How are you different?

Using play dough, students mould three faces to show how Benny felt at the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Next to the faces, have students draw a picture of what Benny did at the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Ask students if they would feel differently or do anything differently to Benny at each section of the story.

Take photos of the play dough faces and the drawings, taking note of each student’s verbal response to the questions.

Then as a whole class come together and discuss Benny Bungarra’s qualities: What do you know about Benny by his actions?

Answers might include:

  • Curious: he went looking when he heard a strange sound
  • A problem solver: he found a way to help each animal
  • Persistent: he kept trying no matter what the problem was
  • Took action: he looked for a way to solve the rubbish problem
  • Collaborative: he worked with the other animals to try and find a way to clean up the bush
  • A good friend: he did not hesitate to help his friends.

The teacher might prompt with some of these qualities and support students to find evidence in the text of the quality suggested.
(ACELY1650)   (ENe-10C)

Examining text structure and organisation


Flip through Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up. Ask students what they notice about the illustrations. This might include:

  • bold and bright colours
  • borders on the pages
  • illustrations are outlined
  • colour and design of the illustrations.

Before beginning a yarning circle revisit the structure and process. Have students form a complete circle. Use an artefact to signal when participants speak. Ensure that students understand they may not speak without the artefact and there should be no conversation across the circle. The artefact is to be passed in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction to all students until everyone has had a turn. When the holder of the artefact is speaking, everyone must listen to their words. Students must take in the speaker’s words and think about what they mean.

Examples of questions to ask:

  • How has the illustrator made the characters stand out in the book?
  • Why would Ambelin Kwaymullina do this?
  • Why is Benny Bungarra outlined with two colours?
  • What would you do to make the characters stand out in the book?

(ACELY1650)   (ENe-4A)


All characters except for Benny are introduced in the book by the sound they make when in distress.

Make the following sounds and have students guess which character made the sound:





  • What other animals might be found in the Australian bush?
  • What could happen to them when around rubbish?
  • What sound would they make when they are in distress?

Have students draw a picture of their animal getting caught up in rubbish. Have them write the sound the animal would make if it was in trouble. 
(ACELY1651)   (ENe-2A)


Examining grammar and vocabulary


Read Animalia by Graeme Base.

As you read the book, prompt the students to notice the words that all start with the same letter. Explain that when a sentence has most of the words beginning with the same sound that a consonant makes, it is called alliteration. Continue reading to the end.

Ask a student to choose a letter. Verbalise the process out loud to create a sentence with the letter. Ask the students if they can find any use of alliteration used in Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up.

Examples: Characters: Kathy Kangaroo/ Colin Crow/ Benny Bungarra/ book title

Have students make a new name for Olive Python such as Penny Python and have students write a sentence. Repeat using the other characters’ names.
(ACELA1439)   (ENe-10C)

Verbal Charades

Define a verb. Together as a class brainstorm all the action words in Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up.

heard/ scrambled/ hurry/ see/ slipped/ split/ slithered/ wrapped/ tangled/ unknot/ unwound/ darted/ stuck/ pull/ hopped

Write each word accompanied by a picture on an index card and place them in a container face down.

Have students pick one card and silently act it out to the class. When the students guess the action, prompt them to recall in what part of the story the verb can be found.
(ACELA1437)   (ENe-10C)


Rich assessment task

Penny Python

Invite students to create an additional page to the story using the new character of Penny Python. Provide story prompts to get the students started with some ideas such as: ‘Penny Python is helping with the big bush clean-up’, or ‘Penny Python is rescuing a friend from rubbish’.

Remind students of the discussion about the illustrations. Look again and prompt students to notice if the illustrations provide any details not in the text. Then ask students to illustrate in a style that would suit the story. Guide students to use alliteration in their sentences.

Students can use oil pastels, crayons, pencils and paint to illustrate their page.
(ACELY1651)   (ENe-10C)


Act it out

  • In pairs invite students to become a character from Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up.
  • Together they act out a scene that is set after the ending of the book. The scene is to be a conversation between the two characters.
  • Through the conversation the characters can tell their audience:
    • what life is like for them after the big bush clean-up
    • how they are feeling
    • how they feel about humans and rubbish.

(ACELT1831)   (ENe-10C)

Alternate ending

  • In groups of 3–4 invite students to use their finger puppets to brainstorm ideas for an alternate ending to the story.
  • Groups share their ideas together as a whole class.
  • Students may wish to act out their alternate ending to the class using their finger puppets.
  • Ask students to provide each group with feedback in the form of two stars:
    • I really liked the way…
    • a wish (I wish…)

(ACELT1831)   (ENe-10C)

Benny Bungarra’s guide to a waste-free lunch box

Start by brainstorming how the class can help clean up the playground or make sure it stays clean. Walk around the playground and make a list of the types of rubbish found, both on the ground and in the bins. Talk about ways to fix this. One answer might be to encourage waste-free lunches.

  • As a whole class, research ways that you can pack waste free lunches. There are a variety of websites. Local councils often have resources.
  • Working in small groups or pairs, students can write their ideas on post-it notes and place them on the board.
  • Using a shared writing approach, ask students what information should be included on the class poster. Alternatively this can be a guided activity in groups. Write the information on the board. Read out the sentences on the board and then have the class read out the sentence with you.
  • Have students write on the class poster and draw their own pictures.
  • Photocopy the poster and display in the classroom or around the school. Students might also like to take the poster home.

(ACELY1651)   (ENe-7B)


Rich assessment task

Start in a whole class group and invite each student to share one thing they learnt from Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up. 

Brainstorm all the reasons why a waste-free lunch will help the environment and even some animals. Ask students how they might persuade their parents/caregivers to help them make a waste-free lunch. Strategies might include explaining:

  • Less plastic might save money
  • Some foods like fruit that don’t need packaging are also healthy.

Next review the features of how to write a letter. Bring some letters from home (or write one as a model) to show the format. Invite students to write a letter to their parents or caregivers to accompany the poster on waste-free lunches. Prompt students to:

  • Write about the impact of rubbish on the environment and the animals who live in it.
  • Ask their parents and or caregivers to help them pack a waste-free lunch box for a week and explain why this is a good idea.

Assess by observing each student’s use of the letter format and the use of persuasive language.
(ACELY1651)   (ENe-7B)