Connecting to prior knowledge

Before reading

Show students the cover of the book and, using think-pair-share, ask students to record their predictions about the book and reasons for these on this worksheet (PDF, 90KB).
(ACELY1670)   (EN1-4A)

Reading the text 

Explain to the students that you are going to read the story the whole way through and, while there might be many unfamiliar words, you want them to listen and look at the pictures to see if they understand what happens. Read the text in its entirety. (Read with rhythm and emphasis. There are several YouTube clips in which the poem is recited, which may be helpful.)

Ask students in their pairs or small groups to answer these questions to ensure they have the gist of the story:

  • What happened at the beginning of the story? (e.g. Mulga Bill bought a bicycle.)
  • What was the problem/complication in the story? (e.g. He didn’t know how to ride a bike.)
  • What happened because of the problem? (e.g. He crashed/landed in the water.)
  • How did the story end? How was the problem solved? (e.g. He left the bike in the water and went back to riding his horse.)
  • Refer back to the predictions worksheet. Were your predictions right?

As a whole-class, discuss and record answers to be returned to in later lessons.
(ACELY1669)   (EN1– 4A)


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

A closer reading for setting (context of time and place)


Ask students to share their predictions of when this story may have happened and if they have changed their mind from their original prediction.

On a large timeline, indicate when the poem was written (1896). Point out and share some of the information provided in the back of the book, including when the illustrations were done.

Use the front cover and first few pages of the book to model looking for clues in the pictures and words that tell us when this story happened and record them in the table.

Setting: When and Where  Clues in the words Clues in the pictures
When did this story happen? Cover: children’s classic Cover: clothes and type of bike
When did this story happen? Cover: Australian Children’s Classics Cover: gum leaf

What connections can you make you make to the story?

Continue working through the book, with students joining in identifying clues in the text.

Repeat process looking for clues in the pictures and words that tell us where this story happened and record response.
(ACELT1587)   (EN1-11D)


Rich assessment task

Discuss connections to students. What is similar and what is different to their experiences. Use questions such as:

  • What do you ride or ride in?
  • Where do you ride?
  • What is the new craze now?
  • What experiences have they had learning how to ride something?

Have students record their personal connections. This could be done using a Venn Diagram (PDF, 78KB).
(ACELT1587)   (EN1–11D)

Responding to the text

Comparing opinions about events

Read the story to students again, asking them to identify parts that make them feel an emotion, for example, happy, sad, excited, angry, relaxed, frightened or worried. Students could be asked to enact some of the events in the story.

Using think-pair-share, have students record and then share their responses for three to five parts of the story. Students could use a plot graph (PDF, 93KB).

Ask groups to prepare to report back to the class, modelling and providing them with scaffolds to show similarities and contrasts in the group’s feelings about different parts of the story.

As groups report back, try to capture a whole-class record of response. For example, keep a tally of the feelings students describe for different parts.
(ACELT1589)   (EN1-4A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Inferring character’s feelings

Explain that you will now look at the feelings of the character and how they change in different parts of the story. Students will be looking for clues in the words and illustrations again.

Using the first events identified in the plot graph model name the character’s feeling and identify clues in the words and the illustrations. Record in a table (PDF, 98KB). Children could draw or mime being Mulga Bill to show his emotion at a particular point in the story.

Continue working through the events, jointly completing table with students. Alternatively assign each small group a different event to explore and then report back to the whole group.
(ACELY1670)   (EN1-4A)

Identify aspects of text that entertain and give reasons for personal preference

Explain that the poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle is a special kind of text called an Australian Ballad (a poem that tells a story – a narrative) and that two illustrators drew pictures to make it into a picture book. Ask students to help you list the features of literary texts that make them entertaining. For example:

  • picture books – pictures help us see and feel what is happening; can be beautiful, colourful, funny
  • narratives – funny, exciting or scary things happen; interesting or funny characters;  words that help us see and feel what is happening
  • poems – rhyming helps us predict and is fun; rhythm fast or slow to match what’s happening; the sounds of the words: hard or soft, or lovely to hear and say
    (ACELT1590)   (EN1-11D)


Rich assessment task

Identify aspects of text that entertain and give reasons for personal preference

As models of a character preference, which gives reasons, show students Work Sample 2 from both portfolios.

Jointly deconstruct them to make the structure and language features clear.
Take an event and model how to identify and record aspects of the text that the author/illustrator has used to make it entertaining. Model using the table (PDF, 87KB) to give an oral presentation.

Ask each student to choose another event that was a favourite and prepare and give an oral presentation.
(ACELT1590)   (EN1-11D)

Examining text structure and organisation

Identify, reproduce and experiment with rhythmic sound and word patterns 


Revise the concept of rhyme using activities like those under headings: Rhyming Patterns and Rhyming Couplets in the Northern Territory Government Education resource on Poetry. Make clear that rhyming words have the same ending sound, though may not end in the same letters, for example, craze/days; seen/machine. Links could be made to spelling.
(ACELA1471)   (EN1-5A)

Provide students with a copy of the poem (tip: laminate copies so students can annotate with non-permanent markers). Have students identify and highlight rhyming words at end of each line. Ask them to identify the pattern: rhyming couplets.


Drawing on the teaching ideas in the NT poetry resource under heading ‘Rhythm’, introduce students to the idea of rhythm as the beat of the poem and practice hearing and clapping the beat of familiar songs, chants and rhymes.

Again drawing on notes in the NT poetry resource, this time under heading ‘Ballad Beat’, have the students identify and clap the beats as you read the first four lines of the poem. Once students can clap the rhythm, display the poem and ask the students to clap and chant the opening two lines. For each clap, place a marker above the stressed word as shown in Ballad Beats. Ask students to mark these on their copy and count the beats per line to identify that ballads have seven beats per line. Have half the class chant the next two lines while others mark the beats, then swap for the next two lines. Students could continue to identify beats working in pairs or small groups.
Practise choral chanting/reading of the poem. This could be accompanied by students acting out the story.
(ACELT1592)   (EN1-1A)

Examining grammar and vocabulary


With students, generate a list of 10–20 unfamiliar words in the poem and record these in a table (PDF, 85KB).
Re-read book/view YouTube clip, stopping when the words are used. Model/jointly construct:

  • using prior knowledge, contextual clues and connections to known words to ‘guess’ a word’s meaning
  • testing and checking the meaning

Assign three/four words to student pairs to complete and share with whole class.
(ACELA1470)   (EN1-7B)


Rich assessment task

Have students create rhyming couplets or short poems about bikes, skateboards or scooters etc.

Optional extension: experiment with changing some of the rhymes in Mulga Bill. For example:

  • clothes resplendent to be seen – change to ‘clothes of red and blue and green’.
  • that sought his own abode – change to ‘that headed for his shack’ and have students think of a word similar in meaning to road that rhymes with shack: track.
  • Dead Man’s Creek – have students brainstorm words that rhyme with creek and create their own rhyming couplet.
    (ACELT1592)   (EN1-1A)

Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts

Narrative structure

Review structure of narrative and map story of Mulga Bill’s Bicycle, using guiding questions (PDF, 91KB).

Read other books (see More digital resources) on the theme of learning a new skill, in shared, guided and independent reading, with students identifying the parts of a narrative and answering guiding questions as above.

Planning a narrative

Explain the assessment task to students, stating that you will practice writing a modern-day narrative as a class before they write their own. Tell them that first, you will plan your narrative together in steps and after each step, they will work on a plan for their own story. Before you begin, briefly revise with students the aspects of a narrative that make it entertaining.

Referring back to earlier assessment task, brainstorm new crazes/new skills to learn. As a class, choose which craze your character will catch/new skill they will try to learn.

Using the mapping of Mulga Bill as a model, create a plan for the class story by completing the guiding questions (PDF, 91KB).
At the completion of each part: Orientation; Complication; Events and Resolution, have students follow the same process to develop their individual plan.

During the ‘event’ part, further questions could be devised to help students draw on Mulga Bill’s Bicylce but change to a modern day setting. For example, if your story is happening near your school:

  • what could the character nearly hit?
  • what could he/she frighten away?
  • where could he/she land?

Note: Choose only three or four events for class and student stories.

Joint construction

In preparation for joint construction, ensure that you have both the list of entertaining aspects of narrative and your class plan displayed for easy reference.
Jointly construct class story, modelling the writing process using think-alouds/focused questions to show author choice.
You could also model use of a story maker app or other digital resources to aid story writing and inclusion of visuals.
(ACELT1593)   (EN1-2A)


Rich assessment task

Have students innovate on the story of Mulga Bill to create their own modern-day narrative around the theme of catching a new craze and/or learning a new skill such as riding a bike, how to swim or surf.


Work with students to develop assessment criteria/rubric, including the part of the narrative. Draw on the aspects of narrative that entertain and other grammar work you may have covered, such as writing in complete sentences with sentence punctuation, including descriptive noun groups/phrases etc.
Involve students in using the criteria checklist/rubric to give feedback to peers’ on their drafts.
(ACELT1593)   (EN1-2A)