Connecting to prior knowledge

Together as a whole class recount the school day. Record each ‘episode’ offered by students.

For example:

  • Arrive at school gate.
  • Walk to classroom.
  • Farewell Mum/sister/brother/carer.
  • Greet friends.

Note the differences for each student as you record the events common to most.

Next invite each child to individually record his/her morning from waking to arriving at school using the whole class activity as a model.

Prompt to help students think about details:

  • What wakes you up?
  • What is the first thing you do?
  • Do you make breakfast?
  • Get dressed? Pack your lunch?
  • Play with or feed a pet?
  • How do you get to school?

Share in groups of four and then invite two or three children to share with the whole class. Prompt students to identify the patterns in their responses such as: ‘I wake up’, ‘I eat breakfast’, ‘I feed the dog’.
(ACELA1448)   (EN1-6B)

Before reading the text spend some time discussing the author with the class. Sally Morgan is a Palyku woman from the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is well known as a children’s (and adult) writer and it is likely many children will have read her books. Gather together a collection of her books (see More Resources tab located at the bottom of this page) and allow some time for small groups to acquaint or reacquaint themselves with this author.

Mention that they will not find examples of Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr’s illustrations as this is his first picture book having won Magabala’s inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award. Johnny is an established traditional artist and the award provided a mentorship in the art of children’s picture book illustrations. Show the class some of Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr’s art and explain that the class will be looking more closely at his artwork later. Johnny is a Yolngu man from the Ganalbingu clan and lives in Gapuwiyak.

In a report found on the Magabala website, Johnny said:

When I heard I had won the award I felt really proud with my whole family. I like it that kids can learn reading and see my artwork. I hope kids around Australia will like this book.’ – Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr


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

Show the cover of the book and explain that you are going to read a book called Little Bird’s Day aloud. Ask students to start thinking about all that could happen in the day of a bird.

Having seen the cover of the book, students may not know the particular bird that is on the cover. Record any ideas about what bird it might be so you can return to the lists later after reading the book.

Choose a local bird known to the students and together predict the events in the day of that bird and record the ideas.

When the list of events is complete, ask: Would this be the same for all birds? Have you ever seen a bird like the one on the cover in the local area? Or in the school playground?

Go for a wander around the playground and list and if possible photograph any birds seen. If there are none ask for suggestions as to what the class could do to attract birds to the area near the school. Suggest students look for birds on the way home and in their backyard. It would be good to identify a school elsewhere (rural or urban depending on location) to share and compare the lists.

Visit the Australian bird of the year website and briefly discuss the birds listed that were voted as favourites. Research any that are unfamiliar. Students may like to brainstorm birds they know and love and vote for their own top ten birds to display in the classroom.
(ACELA1448)   (EN1-6B)


Rich assessment task

Ask students to select a bird from the class top 10 and predict 10 things that might happen in the day of that particular bird.

Students are to create a list from morning to night in the selected bird’s day. The list can be created in text, text and simple illustration or digitally. The audience will be the classmates with whom they will share the list.

Keep the lists to refer to later in the unit after the text has been read.
(ACELT1586)   (EN1-11D)   (ACELY1657)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-10C)

Responding to the text

Explore the cover again. Students will notice the shiny flowers on the tree and the bird feeding on the flower nectar.

Turn to the back page and read:

Time to wake Little Bird,

time to sing the world alive.

Talk very briefly about these words and the illustration of the bird on both the front and back cover.

How might a bird ‘sing the world alive?’

Prompt by saying: have you ever been woken early in the morning by a bird singing? Are there some birds with a morning call you prefer? For example, a flock of kookaburras might be very noisy.

Read the book Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr. Alternatively watch Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr read Little Bird’s Day.

Pause and ask students to think about the list they made about the events in a bird’s day and compare with the day of the bird in the book. This can be a personal reflection or a quick pair-share.

Without discussing re-read the book. Ask students to close their eyes and focus on your voice as you read. As they listen ask students to focus on the descriptive words.

After the reading, brainstorm a list of the descriptive words used in the text.


  • the sun rising and shining
  • warble the sun
  • blowing and gusting.

Once complete discuss words that may be unfamiliar ensuring they are understood in the context of this text.

Ask students to stand in a space in the room, not touching anyone. This time as you read, pause at certain points such as the ‘sun rising and shining‘ or wind ‘blowing and gusting‘ and invite the students to act out the descriptions.

On completion provide some prompts for a whole class oral share.

  • I can see…
  • I can feel…
  • I can hear…

(ACELA1454)   (EN1-7B)   (ACELA1444)   (EN1-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Suggest to the class that in just one day, Little Bird takes the reader on a journey. Invite students to recap the journey.

Together identify the setting. There are clues that the setting is remote Australia.

What clues are there? Prompt students to look closely at the illustrations.

Suggest they not only look at what is there but what is not there (such as roads and buildings that would be seen if it was set in a town or city).

Show a map of Australia and discuss possible locations as to where the story might be set. Revisit this later when the bird is identified as that will narrow down the location.


The students will identify Little Bird as the main character. They may notice Sun, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Dusk and Moon are written with a capital. Are the ‘elements’ (Sun, Wind, Rain, Cloud, Dusk, Moon) characters?

Organise students into small groups. Guide the students to discuss each of the elements.

How has the author made each one important in the book?

Ask members to take turns in the group to share their personal response to each of the elements.

Do they have a favourite? How has the author made them life-like?

Now ask students to describe each element by interpreting the text and illustrations as if they are a character.

Element  From the text  My thinking 
Dusk gliding and sighing Dusk is slow with the light disappearing as if it is gliding

There is no noise

Illustration of a small piece of the sun setting The light disappears as the sun sets
I journey with Dusk to find a welcoming tree. As the sun sets Little Bird flies to find a place to rest.

Share responses.
(ACELT1581)   (EN1-8B)   (ACELT1582)   (EN1-10C)   (ACELT1584)   (EN1-10C)


Rich assessment task

Students write their own response to the text using the prompts used earlier orally.

  • I can see…
  • I can feel…
  • I can hear…

For each prompt students write a sentence and draw an image on paper or digitally. Model how to create a glogster, which would be a good way to share their thinking.

To support students with this assessment activity, point out that Sally Morgan uses non-standard structures to create her text. For example, ‘Here comes the Sun, rising and shining. Here comes the Wind, blowing and gusting. Here comes the Cloud, huffing and puffing. Here comes the Rain, falling and splashing. Here comes the Dusk, sliding and sighing. Here comes the Moon, glowing and whispering.’ The sentence patterning is quite striking and a unique feature of the author’s work in this text. The children could write their sentences using the same pattern: I can see the ________, [add ing verb] and [add ing verb]. For example, I can see the rain, drizzling and sploshing. I can feel the heat, sweating and panting. I can hear the bird, calling and crying.
(ACELT1586)   (EN1-11D) 

Examining text structure and organisation

Re-read the book Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr.

Remind students that Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr is a Yolngu man from the Ganalbingu clan and his illustrations incorporate traditional Aboriginal art motifs. Remind students that he is an artist and this is the first book he has illustrated for children.

As a whole class view and discuss the artwork by Johnny Malibirr. Guide students to look at details of the pieces displayed on the website (these will vary as the work is for sale), stopping regularly for a think-pair-share to discuss discoveries.

Use the link to explore two or three other art centres and support students to compare and contrast the styles of art they see with the art by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr. Encourage students to continue their explorations at another time.

Johnny Malibirr is the Chairperson of Gapuwiak Culture and Arts. Read the statement on the homepage of their website that begins ‘We strengthen our culture…’.

Discuss the statement and then explore Aboriginal art motifs and the meanings of the symbols. The teacher can prepare by doing some background reading and by watching some relevant videos (see More Resources tab located at the bottom of the page).

Place students in small groups and invite them to explore the artwork in Little Bird’s Day. Prompt students to begin by identifying the animals and recording observations as to how the illustrator has presented them. This may include comments on the colours, patterns and the size of the animal in relation to other familiar animals. For example draw attention to pages 5 and 6. Name the animals and discuss. Students will notice the kangaroo is a similar size to the frilled-neck lizard.

Animal  Details of drawing  What I am wondering about 
Snake Earthy colours except for the head and the tail. Intricate patterns repeated. The snake looks peaceful sleeping.

I wonder if it is harmful. The duck and the goanna seem happy to sleep nearby.

Kangaroo The kangaroos have patterned bodies and solid colour for head, legs and tail. I am wondering why they are so small in comparison to some of the other animals.

Talk about the earthy colours as coming from the soil and plant extracts (roots) in the locality. Malibirr is from Arnhem Land and a feature of Aboriginal art from Arnhem Land is the cross hatch. Different Aboriginal countries have different styles. Talk about cross hatching being painted with a reed brush, in carefully placed lines. Reed brushes are made by chewing a reed stick until the outer sheath splits to reveal the fine grass blades inside, which form the hairs of the paint brush.

Next identify any Aboriginal art motifs.

Remind groups to look at the end papers and think about the image of the night sky and the silhouette of the bird.

Share the findings and then read the following.

In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (May 24, 2019) the reviewer described the illustrations as being ‘drenched in ochre tones, deep desert reds and inky blacks’.

Invite the small groups of students to find examples of:

  • ochre tones
  • deep desert reds
  • inky blacks

Bring the whole class together to share the findings.

Finish up by asking if students recognise the tree featured on the cover and on pages 7–8 and pages 9–10 with the crimson leaves. Little Bird is shown eating the nectar of the flowers. Suggest that it may be a red flowering gum.
(ACELY1656)   (EN1-1A)   (ACELA1453)   (EN1-8B)   (EN1-11D)

Phonics activity

Explore the use of letters that have more than one sound and that the same sound can be produced by different letters. For example, turn to the page ‘I circle with the wind to reach the crimson blossoms.’

  • The /s/ sound is represented by ‘c’ in ‘circle’, ‘s’ in ‘crimson’ and ‘ss’ in ‘blossoms’.
  • The letter ‘c’ makes the /s/ sound in ‘circle’ as well as a /k/ sound in ‘circle’ and ‘crimson’. And the ‘c’ and ‘r’ work together as a consonant blend /cr/.
  • The ‘c’ and ‘h’ are a consonant digraph (two letters that make a single sound different to the most common sound/letter combinations) /ch/ in ‘reach’.

Place the children into small groups, and allocate one of the following four pages to each group. Ask the children to find the word with a /z/ sound on their allocated page. Ask them to be sound detectives and work out which letters make the /z/ sound. There’s three different ways to make the /z/ sound.

  •  ‘I flutter with Rain to wash my fuzzy feathers’ – find the /z/ sound as ‘zz’ in ‘fuzzy’ and ‘s’ in ‘feathers’.
  •  ‘I warble with Sun to wake the lazy sleepers’ – find the /z/ sound as ‘z’ in ‘lazy’ and ‘s’ in ‘sleepers’.
  •  ‘I circle with Wind to reach the crimson blossoms’ – find the /z/ sound as ‘s’ in ‘crimson’ and ‘s’ in ‘blossoms’.
  •  ‘I nestle with Moon and dream I’m flying among the stars’ – find the /z/ sound as ‘s’ in ‘stars’.

Create a class wall chart for the three different ways to write the /z/ sound.
(ACELA1459)   (EN1-5A)   (ACELA1458)   (EN1-5A)


Examining grammar and vocabulary

Invite small groups to read the text and select three fabulous words. These words may be new to them or words they discovered in an earlier discussion around interesting vocabulary. This is a chance to look more deeply into meaning.

To prepare for constructing a class list of fabulous words, invite each group to write a word that has a similar meaning for each of the three words they select.


Word from text  Word(s) with a similar meaning 
warble birdsong
crimson deep pink
gliding flying

As the groups contribute to the class list of fabulous words, confirm the meaning of each word by returning to the text.

Display the list in the classroom.

Explain that this text has examples of figurative language. Authors use similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification to make their stories more interesting. Students may not yet understand all these techniques as they are a Year 4 outcome (ACELT1606) but the book is a perfect example of personification for a brief introduction.

Point out that Sun, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Dusk, Moon have capitals. Revise what capital letters are and why they are used.

Are Sun, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Dusk and Moon characters in this text?

Introduce personification. The capital letters for Moon, Dusk, etc. gives each a human quality. Allow time for students to find the examples in the text and discuss.

Invite students to explore how Little Bird interacts with Moon, Sun, etc.

Explore other texts by Indigenous writers and students will discover personification is often a characteristic of these texts.

The author uses personification in many places in this text:

Here comes Moon, glowing and whispering.

Time to rest Little Bird,

time to settle with your family.

In this example Moon is giving advice to Little Bird. Sun, Wind, Cloud, Rain and Dusk and Moon have similar ‘human’ qualities.

Invite students to make six groups, each with a copy of the text. Nominate one of the elements to each group. Ask students to identify what each are doing and what they say to Little Bird. Ask the groups to plan how to act out what Dusk or Moon or the other elements are saying to Little Bird. You may want to record the planned group actions.
(ACELY1660)   (EN1-12E)   (EN1-10C)   (ACELA1452)   (EN1-9B)


Rich assessment task

Team Huddle is a collaborative activity. Provide each team of four with a copy of the book, a whiteboard and marker. Each team member has a number 1 to 4.

The teacher asks a question and gives a time limit (maybe 30 seconds or one minute)

Students at each table group will come up with one answer.

One student will record the group’s answer on the whiteboard.

When the time is up, call a number (1–4) and ask the student from each team with that number to stand at their table group holding their group’s answer sheet.

When you say ‘reveal’ the designated student in each group will turn over their answer sheet, and the students can look around and survey the different answers.

Acknowledge the responses and elaborate through rich discussion.

Possible questions:

  • When Sun wakes Little Bird, where has he/she been sleeping?
  • What does Little Bird do to wake the other animals?
  • When Little Bird is flying through the Clouds with friends, are there any clues that Rain is coming?
  • How do you know when Rain is gone?
  • How does the illustrator show that Dusk is coming?

(ACELY1660)   (EN1-12E)   (EN1-10C)   (ACELY1788)   (EN1-1A)



Re-read Little Bird’s Day aloud and draw students’ attention to the song-like qualities of the text. Provide copies of the book to small groups and ask students to ‘discover’ how the author has achieved this.

Students will identify the ‘refrain’ that is repeated with small word changes:

Time to wake Little Bird

time to sing the world alive.

Encourage more discovery and prompt students to notice the rhythm by suggesting they take turns in their groups reading aloud.

Ask if any class members recall other books with rhythmic sound. Possible texts include a number of Mem Fox titles (such as Time for Bed) that feature rhythm or poems such as those in Do Not Go Round the Edges.

Notice that these rhythmical texts do not necessarily have rhyme but the rhythm comes from word placement and the right number of syllables in the words to maintain the rhythm.

Invite groups to select a page such as:

Here comes Cloud, huffing and puffing.

Time to play Little Bird,

time to spin across the sky.

Ask students what makes a syllable (it must have a vowel sound). One way to count the syllables is to place a flat hand under your chin and say the word, e.g. kangaroo. Every time your chin hits your hand, you have found a syllable, e.g. kan/ga/roo. It’s a more accurate way to count syllables than clapping, for example.

Using the selected page, ask students to write the three lines on paper and mark the syllables.

Join two groups together and to compare the decisions each group made.

Ask: What happens if we add the word THE? For example the cloud, the wind, the sun.

Students should hear a shift in the rhythm.
(ACELY1655)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-10C)   (ACELT 1585)   (EN1-10C)

Before this session gather together some information books on birds so they are easily accessible in the classroom. Early in the unit students had the opportunity to try and name the bird that is depicted in the text by the illustrator. Depending on the area you are in and bird knowledge, students may not have known this is a Silver Crowned Friar Bird which is otherwise known as Djulwaḏak. Before providing groups time to research this bird, share some general information with the whole class. The Internet Bird Collection website is good starting point as it shows a map of where the bird lives, information on habitat, the Silver Crowned Friar Bird’s call and photos. Recall predictions as to the setting when you reveal where this bird is found.

Reveal this information to the class on the Interactive Whiteboard. Briefly introduce the bird by listening to the call and sharing the photos before asking groups to explore further to come up with one or two facts they think are interesting. Ask the groups to look for information on habitat and other aspects of the bird if the resources you have selected are suitable. Some may like to explore the Silver Crowned Friar bird call as it is known as a bit of a trickster as it sounds like it’s talking in other languages. It has many different vocalisations. Useful websites and books can be found in the More Resources tab (located at the bottom of this page).

Come together as group and discuss the facts found.


  • What type of habitat does the Silver Crowned Friar Bird need to survive?
  • Do you think the habitat is safe?
  • Are there things that can be done to make sure this bird will always have its home?

In a teacher-led lesson, ask students to comment on the websites and books they used to research, especially how they differed in layout to the literary text.

  • Layout
  • Language used
  • Features of the text

Ask students to use the sources referred to as a model for the next activity. If appropriate invite students to write a short informational text on the Silver Crowned Friar Bird that would be suitable to introduce this bird to Foundation students before sharing Little Bird’s Day with them. If more appropriate, do this as a shared writing activity. Students can use any of the facts discovered earlier.
(ACELA1453)   (EN1-8B)   (EN1-11D)


Rich assessment task

This book has a sentence on the back cover that is also the second sentence in the book.

Briefly discuss how the sentence might draw the reader into the book.

What is the impact of using an actual sentence from the book (introduces the reader to the structure that will be used) and encourages a sense of adventure?

Books often have a blurb on the back cover. That is, a few sentences designed to persuade the reader to read the book and to introduce the book. Explore blurbs from familiar books and in groups ask students to work out a checklist to describe a good blurb.

Students then use the checklist to guide them in writing a blurb for Little Bird’s Day.

 Finally ask students to form groups. Invite small groups to use this and the information text written earlier as well as incorporating images to plan how to introduce Little Bird’s Day to Foundation students. Students may like to create a powerpoint to present their writing.
(ACELY1664)   (EN1-3A)   (EN1-11D)   (ACELY1788)   (EN1-1A)