Connecting to prior knowledge

  • Discuss the meaning of “waiting”. What does it mean to wait for something? What things do we wait for?
  • Assist students to make connections with their prior knowledge through discussion of the following questions:
    • What do you know about weather, rain and raining? (text-to-world)
    • Can you think of any other books we have read that have a focus on weather? (text-to-text)
    • What kind of weather do you like? How does the weather change what you do? (text-to-self)
  • Brainstorm a list of “Weather Words” to be used while reading the book. Display as a word wall for the students to refer to during writing activities.
  • After the first reading of the text, ask the students to respond in a Choral Reading, making sure to demonstrate changes in intonation with character speech.
  • Discuss the meaning of interesting words from the text, and the structure of the words including the beginning, medial and ending sounds, the number of syllables and how the word can be changed if at all.
    (ACELT1575)   (ACELA1437)   (ENe-1A)


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

  • Keep a weather diary for a week. Discuss where to look to find information about the weather. Record findings.
  • Compare the European seasons (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring) with Indigenous seasons which note more subtle changes in the weather of Australia.
  • Read a non-fiction text about billabongs or use the Questacon website. Discuss why they might also be called “dead rivers”. Predict the relationship between rain and billabongs. Access Indigenous artist Lance Tjyllyungoo’s painting “Trees at a billabong” via the National Museum of Australia‘s website. Discuss the feelings elicited by the painting. Ask students to visualise sitting on the banks of the billabong. What would they see, hear, feel and smell?
    (ACELY1646)    (ENe-1A)


Rich assessment task

Students will create three illustrations showing their connections (or disconnections) with the story. Divide a blank piece of paper into three sections and ask students to illustrate how they connect with the text at the level of self, text and world. Note: the students must be well versed in the different types of connecting before attempting this activity. For example, a student may choose to make a text-to-self connection by illustrating themselves sleeping outside under the moon. A text-to-text connection could be an illustration of another story, movie or other text that draws commonalities for the student. A text-to-world connection could be illustrated through a diagram of a billabong. Students may also include disconnections if they cannot make a connection based on their own experiences. For example, some students may not be able to make personal connections to the setting of the Australian outback so are encouraged to note this as a disconnection, meaning that they have recognised an event, character or setting that is unknown to them.
(ACELT1575)   (ENe-1A)

Responding to the text

  • Identify the actions that occur in the story and have the students act these out during the re-reading e.g. nodding, swimming, digging, dragging.
  • Use the Language Experience Approach and ask students to draw a picture of themselves on a rainy day. The teacher will then scribe the students’ descriptions of their illustrations e.g. “I am dancing in the rain because I love to get wet.” After paired reading, compile the drawings into a class book.
  • Create a T Chart listing the advantages and disadvantages of a rainy day.
    (ACELT1575)   (ENe-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

  • Through discussion and questioning, identify the orientation, complication and resolution of the story. Ask students to sequence the story using pictures from the text and pegging these onto a line.
  • Create a Mind Map of the character of Old Stephen. What can the students infer about Old Stephen from what is shown and told in the story. What else would they like to know about him?
  • Using a Shared Writing approach, write a letter to the author and illustrator detailing the thoughts and feelings that have been generated by reading the story.
  • Discuss the concept of a “theme” being the important message that the story is about. Consider the themes in the text. What does the story tell us about living in the outback? What does the story tell us about waiting for something? What does the story tell us about the weather?
    (ACELT1575)   (ENe-1A)   (ACELT1578)   (ENe-6B)   (ACELY1650)   (ENe-11D)


Rich assessment task

Ask students to create a simple Story Map illustrating the beginning, middle and end of the story. Observations should be made of the students’ ability to sequence the events of the story and to identify the main events. Additional information about students’ comprehension can be made by questioning the students about their maps. For example:

  • What happened at the beginning/middle/end of the story?
  • Why have you chosen to include a picture of this happening?
  • What do you think the characters were thinking and feeling at this time?
  • Have you ever felt like that? When?
  • What was your favourite part of the story and why?
    (ACELT1575)   (ENe-1A)  (ACELT1578)   (ENe-6B)   (ACELY1650)   (ENe-11D)

Examining text structure and organisation

Discuss the illustrator’s use of colour. Why might Bronwyn Bancroft have chosen these colours? Inform the students of the interpretations associated with colours. For example:

  • Brown: earthy, natural, dependable
  • Red: anger, love, danger
  • Orange: energy, vibrancy, friendliness
  • Blue: calmness, sadness, peace
  • Grey: moodiness, depression, formality
  • Yellow: cheerfulness, hope, energy

Draw students’ attention to the use of long shots for all pages. Long shots show all the person or character and suggest a greater social distance between author and reader. Use a close up shot of Old Stephen and have students infer how this changes the way they feel about the story and the character himself.

Discuss the use of line in the illustrations. Horizontal lines are said to indicate peace, calm and movement. Do the students agree that the illustrator’s use of line makes them feel this? Why? Why not? Curved lines create a more fluid feeling of playfulness and flow. How does this relate to the curved lines on the pages in the story? Vertical lines denote power and strength. Where are these used in the story?
(ACELA1786)   (ENe-10C)


Examining grammar and vocabulary

  • Brainstorm alternatives to the word ‘said’. Insert option in the sentence ‘”Big rain coming”, said Stephen’. How do the alternatives change the meaning of the sentence?
  • Use an oral close to have students provide alternatives for other words in the story. Choose a selection of nouns, adjectives, verbs and days of the week to omit in order to prompt the students to think about the purposes of different words e.g. The ___ dogs at Roberta’s camp dug themselves ___ holes to keep cool. Note any change to the author’s meaning that is created by substituting new words.
    (ACELA1434)   (ENe-9B)


Rich assessment task

Conduct a Grand Conversation with students in small groups and make observations about their abilities to comprehend the story. Illustrations and some writing can be prompted afterwards in order for the students to record their thinking. During the Grand Conversation, questions can be used to determine comprehension at levels more than literal understanding. For example:

  • Can you describe what it would be like to be beside the billabong in the story? Why was the billabong water warm and still?
  • Why were the children sleeping outside?
  • How did Stephen know the rain was coming?
  • How would the story be different if the rain didn’t come? What would the setting be like without the rain?
    (ACELA1786)   (ENe-10C)   (ACELY1650)   (ENe-4A)


  • Brainstorm how the characters in the story felt on the day it finally rained. Using the Shared Writing Approach, write a diary entry for one of the characters on this day. Ensure the inclusion of the character’s thoughts and feelings made from inferences. Note: Modelling of the text structure of a personal recount is necessary before conducting this activity.
  • Generate a brainstorm about cold weather including snow, appropriate clothing, activities and behaviours. Using the Shared Writing approach, construct an alternate text based on the title “Big Snow Coming”.
  • Provide students with simple paper and paddle-pop stick puppets of the characters in the story and allow independent time to retell in front of peers.
  • Model the writing of a simple description using the first double page spread. Discuss the use of words that describe what things look like e.g. dark grey clouds, tall green mountains.
  • Using the Shared Writing Approach, construct speech and thought bubbles for various pages in the story. Ensure students are inferring (using background information as well as prediction) in order to help create valid thoughts and speech. Discuss thoughts or speech that would not be predicted because of their background knowledge about the setting, plot and characters.
  • In pairs, students create an illustration with labels if appropriate, detailing how the story would be different if it were set in a city.
  • Use Debono’s Yellow Hat and Black Hat thinking to list the positives and negatives about the book. Using Shared Writing, construct a simple recommendation for the text that will be sent to the school’s library for display. Use sentence beginnings such as: “The things we liked about the book are…” and “Things we didn’t like about the book are…”. Ask the students to include a recommendation for who might enjoy the book.
    (ACELA1437)   (ENe-9B)   (ACELT1577)    (ENe-10C)


Rich assessment task

Using the Language Experience Approach, ask students to draw one scene from the story. The teacher then acts as scribe to record the students’ descriptions of the scene. Observations should be made of the students’ abilities to identify a scene and replicate the elements involved as well as their ability to use descriptive language in the comments. Students may also comment on the thoughts and speech of any characters included in their selected scene.
(ACELA1437)   (ENe-9B)   (ACELT1577)   (ENe-10C)