Note before beginning the unit:

The customs and language of the time period will be challenging for contemporary readers, so ongoing attention to the colonial context, vocabulary and archaic expressions used in the novel will be needed. The novel would be suitable for independent reading by proficient readers in Upper Primary or supported reading with less proficient students.  As well, it could be read in modelled reading sessions by the teacher. For different chapters, teachers would lead a general discussion of the events and encourage students’ responses and questions. The tasks in this teacher resource offer a study of particular chapters and excerpts (see list below) which would be taught in literature study sessions; these tasks are designed to draw attention to aspects of the author’s craft and literary techniques. Research shows that appreciation of how a text is constructed enhances personal enjoyment of that text. Other more typical and straightforward literary tasks, such as character profiles and point-of-view diaries, are not included as these are very familiar to teachers and can be included as activities where relevant.

In the novel, the children’s father, Captain Woolcot, uses harsh physical discipline on his sons, as was common at the time. Teachers need to be sensitive to their students’ personal situations and treat these scenes with thought and sensitivity.

The chapters and related excerpts which are used as introductory models for the in-depth study are listed below. The earlier chapters have a focus as models for what can be applied to later chapters.  It is assumed that literary concepts will usually be introduced through familiar chapters and many tasks are suggested to be ongoing as reading progresses. Some elements such as plot and theme only become apparent across the novel, as they emerge through an accumulation of different literary elements. Thus occasionally an excerpt from a later part of the novel may be introduced early to make the teaching example stronger.

Chapter 1    Archaic vocabulary

Chapter 2    Historical details, plot, cause-effect, theme

Chapter 3    Characterisation

Chapter 4    Characterisation

Chapter 6    Setting

Chapter 10  Characterisation, imagery

Chapter 11  Plot, theme, imagery

Chapter 14  Plot, theme

Chapter 17  Setting

Chapter 20  Vocabulary, emotion

Chapter 21  Vocabulary, emotion


Building field knowledge

The novel is set in pre-Federation Australia and understanding of the period would be enhanced if a History unit on Federation was taught in conjunction with reading the novel. Compared with today, life was very different in the 1890s in Australia. A website showing school life in the 1890s displays and explains two 1890s photos from The Armidale School, in rural New England, NSW. With the students, examine the photos and read the interpretations of what they present. Have students look carefully at the school group in the 1894 photo and list four to five details that point to the era shown in the photo. Discuss what they have listed and summarise what details of the students’ and teachers’ dress and appearance they have observed.
(ACELY1708)   (EN3-3A)   (HT3-2)

Read the picture book My Place by Nadia Wheatley and discuss the events, clothing and lifestyles in the scenes set in the late 1890s. Using the My Place website give students an experience of life in the late 1890s by viewing excerpts from Episodes 12 (1898) and 13 (1888) and other episodes if appropriate. Have students engage with relevant activities attached to the Episodes. The My Place website links the Nadia Wheatley picture book, the ABC TV series, and teachers working with the literary text and the History Curriculum. Other resources can be found at Trove and the My Place for teachers Behind the scenes website.

(ACELT1614)   (EN3-7C)   (HT3-5)


Exploring the context of the text

Many famous Australian painters and writers were painting and writing in the 1890s era. Their work presents visual and written images of Australia at that time, for example, ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River and Tom Robert’s painting The Golden Fleece. With the class, examine the painting and/or the ballad for what details of Australian life and ways of thinking they present. Demonstrate how to research the painting and the ballad and together write a summary of what the painting shows. Guide the class to present a choral presentation or readers’ theatre performance of the ballad.
(ACELT1608)   (EN3-8D)   (HT3-2)

In the 1890s, Indigenous men and women worked alongside the non-Indigenous squatters who were the official ‘owners’ of the land. It has been said that Indigenous men played a key role in the development of the Australian cattle industry as stockmen and trackers. Guide students to appropriate websites that explain this work, such as Aboriginal people and the cattle industry and Stockmen of the Northern Territory, and research Scootle for a more background about Indigenous stockmen.

Have students compose and label a collage of images, using Pinterest or one of the several word cloud generators such as Wordle, which gives visual and verbal information about how these Indigenous people worked in the past and continue to do so in the present. In pairs students compose a quiz based on this research and in groups of four, quiz another pair. As a class draw some conclusions about how Indigenous people have contributed to the development of the Australian cattle and farming industries.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)   (HT3-1)

Often at the beginning of the chapters in the text there is a quote that foreshadows the events to follow. Draw students’ attention to these quotes. These quotes reflect aspects of the culture that could be assumed as familiar to many of the novel’s original readers. Use the list below to prepare brief summaries of the original texts (Wikipedia could be a useful resource here). With students, unpack the language of the quotes to clarify their meaning. Guide students to make links between Turner’s selection of quotes and the events and emotions in the chapter that follows.


  • Chapter 2 – Princess Ida, Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
  • Chapter 3 – The Mikado, Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
  • Chapter 6 – Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 2, William Shakespeare
  • Chapter 8 – Margaret, first lines of the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Chapter 9 – HMS Pinafore, Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
  • Chapter 10 – Henry V, Act 3, Scene 7, William Shakespeare
  • Chapter 17 – The sick stockman, lines from the poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon
  • Chapter 22 – A slumber did my spirit seal, lines from the poem by William Wordsworth


Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Students compare a recent class photo with the photos from the 1890s they have previously examined and make a list of the differences between them. Apart from clothing, are there any other differences they can discern? Discuss these more subtle differences for what they indicate about Australian children in the current era. Have students sketch two figures (or give them two templates to complete) in the school clothes of the past and present and have them label aspects of their clothing and appearance.
(ACELY1703)   (EN3-3A)   (HT3-2)

Select further examples of ballads and paintings from the era (the Australian Government website overview of the Australian heritage from the 1890s gives some background information) and allocate an example to groups of students. Guide students to work in small groups to research their example and discuss its details about life at the time. Students present their findings in a PowerPoint presentation; students can rehearse and perform a readers’ theatre for their chosen ballad.
(ACELT1608)   (EN3-8D)   (HT3-2)

Responding to the text

In the first paragraphs of Chapter 1 Ethel Turner starts with ‘a word of warning’. Before reading the chapter aloud, review the first chapter with information about what is in it and ask students to listen for what Turner is ‘warning’ the reader about and how she supports this ‘warning’. Tell the students that the language of the novel is different to our current use of English. With expression, read the first seven paragraphs aloud, twice, with the students following a printed copy. Then guide students in pairs to underline their printed copies, in different colours, for:

  1. the parts they consider to be a warning
  2. how Turner supports this warning
  3. any words, phrases or expressions that need explaining.
    (ACELT1608)   (EN3-8D)

Discuss the results of 1 and 2 above and use the ‘Historic language’ table below to record meanings of the historic language use. As these results are discussed, model how to read and reread the sentences around the unknown language to clarify examples of unknown words and phrases from their written context. Have students complete the chart as the discussion progresses. Students can add any other language expressions they do not understand. The first two examples are presented in the chart.

Historical vocabulary and expressions What do they mean?
  1. Model children
  2. With, perhaps, a naughtily inclined one to point a moral
  3. Betake yourself
  4. To ‘Sandford and Merton’* or similar standard juvenile works
  5. Paragons of virtue
  6. I say it not without thankfulness
  7. An unknown quantity
  8. The miasmas of naughtiness
  9. The sunny brilliancy of our atmosphere
  10. The shadow of long years’ of sorrowful history
  11. Play will-o’-the-wisp
  12. The larrikin type
  1. Children who always are behaved perfectly.
  2. With, perhaps, one child who is not perfectly behaved as an example to readers of what happens to a badly behaved child.
* Sandford and Merton:The history of Sandford and Merton, by Thomas Day, was a best-selling children’s book at the time. It tells the story of Tommy Merton who gradually changes from being a rich spoiled brat to a gentleman who appreciates the value of hard work and the simple life. He learns this through the example and help of a farmer’s son, Harry Sandford.

After the table has been completed, with the class:

  1. hypothesise why Turner decided to begin her story this way
  2. infer what values and attitudes about children were typical of the time
  3. analyse what Turner says is different about Australian children.
    (ACELY1698)   (EN3-6B)

Readers respond to how food is presented in stories and food is often an important element in a story’s unfolding. Family meal routines and the types of food eaten reflect the culture, social group and era of the story. Discuss how Turner uses food to establish how family life occurs at Misrule and to create the first sequence of events for the story. Draw attention to how Turner introduces the characters as they ‘are having nursery tea’ (Chapter 1) and then explains what ‘nursery tea’ is on the following page.

In Chapter 2, discuss the details of the scene of the seven children noisily eating bread and butter on chipped china and drinking weak tea in the ‘nursery’ and how they are contrasted with the quiet dining room where Captain Woolcot, Esther his wife and a military guest eat ‘roast fowl (chicken), three vegetables and four kinds of pudding’. What information do we learn about the family life in these scenes? Students compare these scenes of an evening meal with how this meal is eaten in their own families. If appropriate, students can research and share family recipes that have been passed down.

There are many scenes with food in them throughout the novel. Students develop a list of the food eaten, and where it is eaten; they check on meanings of less-known words (such as ‘mutton’) and notice what are the most common foods in the story. Parallel to this list, students keep a food diary for a weekend or one week, noting what they eat and where, to create a comparative study of food in the two eras.

As a class speculate on why these changes may have occurred. Students (individually, in pairs, or as a class) compose an informative text which describes the cuisine differences in the eras and offer explanations as to why our contemporary cuisines have evolved. Students could include an examination of ingredients and cooking styles from old cookery books.
(ACELT1614)   (ACELT1612)   (EN3-8D)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

The following section has a range of tasks each of which focus on one aspect of exploring literary elements. For further in-depth information about literary elements see Chapter 3, A Literature Companion for Teachers (McDonald, 2013).

The plot of Seven Little Australians has a number of events within each chapter, and creates an accumulative effect. This task would be introduced after at least three chapters have been read and can be continued with different chapters as the novel progresses. Select a chapter that has been read and discussed with the students and, with the class, create a graph of the tension points that each small scene creates within the events of the chapter. Select part of a different chapter for students to plot in pairs or independently and compare the results. Discuss how Turner develops tension within the novel.
(ACELY1701)   (EN3-5B)

Settings in a novel circumscribe the lives of the characters, establishing their physical and emotional contexts. One way of exploring how settings are constructed is presented in the examples below. There are two examples from different sections of the novel and they have a different gender emphasis – Meg in Chapter 6, and Pip in Chapter XVII. One or both examples can be the focus of exploring how setting contributes to our knowledge of the characters.

Read or review the relevant pages and after a general discussion and clarification of vocabulary, guide the students through the examples below. With the class, evaluate which element of the grid has more impact and what characteristics of Turner’s individual style are apparent. Students can also review what they learned about the era from the examples and the related vocabulary.

The left column in the grid presents guiding questions; the middle column is a summary response that often requires an inference from the text; the right column records quoted words as evidence for the response. The answers for one of the examples could be removed and the grid given to students to complete after the first one or two examples have been modelled.

Example 1 is from the first few pages of Chapter 6, where Meg’s friendship with Aldith is explained.

Example 1

Types of settings and their effect Response Evidence
Physical setting: when and where? Meg is in her bedroom alone at night. Over the past two months;every night; in her bedroom.
Emotional setting: how do the characters feel? Meg feels friendship and admiration for Aldith. A friendship sprang up;Aldith was considerably wiser in the world; Aldith reassured her.
How is the life of the characters presented? A nightly beauty routine from the 1890s is described. Her hair was up in curl papers every night; a jam tin filled with oatmeal;rubbed vaseline on her hands and slept in kid gloves; used Freckle Lotion on her face.
The current magazines for young women are named. Family Herald Supplements; Young Ladies’ Journals.
Appearances and dress styles of the 1890s are described. Cut a fringe and frizzed out the end of her plait;lengthened her dresses;added a frill; tightened her corset.
How does the setting affect the events of the plot? Meg tries to reduce her waist with a tight corset and this makes her ill. Pulled ruthlessly; crushed . . . into narrower space;torture; to walk quickly was positive pain: to stoop almost agony.

Example 2 is from Chapter 17 where Pip rides with the cattlemen.

Example 2

Types of settings and their effect Response Evidence
Physical setting: when and where? Pip rides with the stockmen to draft the cattle at Yarrahappini. Ate breakfast very early . . . over by 5.30am;the cattle yards are a mile and a half from the house.
Emotional setting: how do the characters feel? Pip is very excited. A fever of restlessness;the boy’s face glowed.
Judy wants to go too. Judy had pleaded hard to be allowed to go.
Mr Hassel is kind. Mr Hassel had not the heart to refuse him.
Pip feels nervous about sitting on the fence. Felt a little disinclined;proceeded gingerly.
Pip admires the men’s ability. Pip marvelled at the courage of the men;his heart had leaped to his mouth;absolutely beside himself with excitement.
How is the life of the characters presented? The cattle drafting is skilled and dangerous work. The air resounded with cracks from the mighty stock whips and drafting-sticks.
The men work as a team. Like lightening, the men made a line behind, shouting, yelling, cracking their whips to drive them onwardhalf a dozen mighty blows from the men.
Appearance and dress: the style of Pip as a cattleman is described. Pip wore a Crimean shirt and a pair of old serge trousers fastened around the waist with a leathern belt, in which an unsheathed bowie knife, freshly sharpened, was jauntily stuck.
How does the setting affect the events of the plot? The setting shows the busy life at Yarrahappini and the work of the men there, with girls and women not part of the work life. And now there was the cattle-drafting! Judy pleaded hard to be allowed to go but everyone said it was out of the question.

The settings in the novel range across geographical locales, such as places in the family’s rambling house and land at Misrule, the military Barracks in Paddington, and locations on Esther’s family’s rural property at Yarrahappini. Select different scenes and have students complete a grid based on the guiding questions in the tables above. Together, summarise students’ understanding of the characteristics of Turner’s construction of settings in the novel.
(ACELT1616)   (EN3-7C)

Characterisation can be constructed in different ways – through narration, description, dialogue, actions/events (see A literature companion for teachers for details) as demonstrated in the character grid shown below. In the second half of Chapter 3, the children try to please their father and ‘be preternaturally good and quiet’ so he will permit them to go to the pantomime. Read or review this chapter and clarify unknown vocabulary and expressions. Guide the class through the Captain Woolcot example below, explaining the different strategies marked in colours – for example, examine if the emotions are evident in Turner’s narration, or description, or in the actions of the characters, or in what each says or thinks (the dialogue), or a combination of these? If appropriate to the students’ level, only one term – ‘description‘ or ‘narration‘ – may be introduced.

Character grid for Captain Woolcot, Chapter 3

Name of character Emotion displayed Evidence Is the emotion presented through narration? Description? Dialogue? Actions?
Captain Woolcot(in the first scene with Pip) Annoyance with a frown‘It’s no good coming to me about that pup, sir’ description/action dialogue
Surprise and pleasure a little gasp congratulated himself graciously‘If they are of any use to you’ narration/actiondescriptiondialogue
Self-pride he was rather proud of them‘I was rather beyond the other boys in my class’ narration dialogue

After reviewing the grid, allocate scenes and characters from the chapter to groups of two or three students. Each group rereads its scene for how the character is involved (some scenes have several characters). Draw up a four-column grid based on the character grid (above) and have the groups name their character’s emotions and provide evidence from the scene, as modelled in the character grid. As a group they decide which of the characterisation strategies Turner has used. As a class, discuss what types of emotions the groups found evidence for and what strategies Turner used in these scenes to construct them.
(ACELY1701)   (EN3-5B)

The themes in a story are the significant messages that authors ask their readers to consider and the main characters in stories are often one way that themes are portrayed. The character of Judy is regarded as one of the great female and Australian literary child characters. As the story progresses we can see Judy is rebellious, but also independent, eloquent, responsible, fair-minded: she becomes an embodiment of the human qualities that are valued in the story. Direct students to the sequence of moments in Chapter 4 where Judy’s rebelliousness includes some of these qualities:

  • Judy takes the General with her and Pip because she ‘promised Esther’ – responsibility 
  • She persuades Pip to agree to leave the General at the Barracks – eloquence 
  • She argues that her father should ‘mind’ his own child – fair-mindedness 
  • She and Pip have fun at the Bondi Aquarium – independence

Highlight this sequence of events in Chapter 4 and guide discussion about how Judy’s actions and words can be interpreted as evidence for these qualities. In the discussion, make links to the values and attitudes about family relationships and life in this era that seem to be promoted, that is, what does Turner value as important in this scene? The discussion could be grounded in a three column grid which displays the links.

Actions/Words Qualities What does Turner value as important in this scene?
Judy takes the General with her and Pip because she ‘promised Esther’. Responsibility Turner values keeping your promises, even if they do not ‘fit in’ with your own plans.






Review Chapter 10 from where Bunty finds Judy in the shed. Students highlight, discuss and record the details of moments that can be interpreted as demonstrating Judy’s qualities. As a class, discuss how Turner creates the effect Judy has on readers. Students write a reflection on how they respond to Judy and offer reasons why they feel this way. This focus can be extended as the novel is read, by constructing a list of Judy’s positive qualities as evidenced in her actions, words and thoughts and the positive words and thoughts from other characters.
(ACELY1801)   (EN3-5B)

Another important theme emerges when we read the novel from within the context of a modern life. In the 1890s women were limited in how they could participate in daily life. The ways of thinking at the time meant that Judy was criticised for how untidily she dressed, she was not permitted to drive the buggy or go with Pip and the stockmen, and her life ended with her grave enclosed by a white picket fence. As the novel is read, draw attention to these and related examples: with the class develop a Limitation/Reaction contrast chart which lists the restrictions and controls placed on Judy and record how Judy reacts to each limitation and control on her actions, her personality, her words. Examine the values, attitudes and beliefs presented in the novel about young women who challenge authority and resist appearing and behaving in a feminine manner at this historical moment.


Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Settings: Have students compare Meg’s beauty routines and changes to her appearance and dress (Chapter 6) to modern day versions of beauty and clothing style promotions. Past and current beauty advertisements (print and multimodal) directed at young people (both male and female) could be analysed for their product claims and ingredients. As a class, draw some conclusions about the validity of the claims from the past and the present eras. Following the language style of past advertisements, students create a written advertisement for a beauty product that Meg uses.
(ACELT1618)   (EN3-2A)

Chapter 17 suggests a comparison of, and research about, how a cattle mustering is conducted in modern times. Create a Venn diagram to list the similarities and differences between the eras. Draw some conclusions about productivity and efficiency between the eras.
(ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

Characterisation: After completing the characterisation task, each group prepares a silent series of three to four still images from their scene (for information on still images see Chapter 7, Teaching English Language Learners in Mainstream Classes, Hertzberg, 2011). To prepare, the groups need to discuss what emotions or feelings they want their audience to recognise and negotiate how such criteria as their use of i) the space, ii) different height levels, and iii) characters’ body shapes and facial expressions will portray this information. After their performance, students write a retelling of their scene, this time creating any appropriate dialogue they wish. The scenes can be presented over several days in the same sequence as in the novel. The drama activity of still images can be adapted for scenes throughout the novel. Some possibilities include Chapter 2 – ‘Fowl for dinner’, Chapter 11 – ‘The truant’ and Chapter 14 – ‘The squatter’s invitation’.
(ACELT1610)   (ACELT1618)   (EN3-8D)

Themes: Review connections between how Judy’s qualities are evident in the events of the story and how they present significant messages about family life and relationships at the time. Have students connect the qualities Bunty displays in Chapter 10, and those of the other siblings, to the events of the chapter. A grid, similar to the grid developed for Judy, could be used. In groups students decide what readers can learn about human nature from these characters. Discuss if these qualities are relevant today.

Examining text structure and organisation

The text’s structure often relies on Captain Woolcot’s discipline as the cause and the effect for many of the events in the plot. Use the diagram below as an example from Chapter 2, ‘Fowl for dinner’ to demonstrate how the students can record these plot relationships. Discuss the cumulative effect of this pattern and how the event pattern relates to the typical narrative structure. As the chapters are read, build a list of the events that are a result of his strictness. Depending on the number of causes, the template may vary and can be designed by the students as they gain expertise.
(ACELY1711)   (EN3-3A)

Fowl for Dinner Flowchart

Examining grammar and vocabulary

A study of Turner’s writing techniques introduces students to a range of grammatical strategies that can be used to create characterisation and engage readers’ emotions. The tasks below prepare students for the rich assessment task where they can demonstrate their understanding of the writing techniques used by authors such as Turner. Familiar texts are very useful when introducing or reviewing challenging ideas. Therefore the same excerpt is repeated in this section to indicate how understanding of these strategies can be developed.

In Chapters 20 and 21 Judy’s self-sacrifice and death are described. Encourage general comments and responses to the events and emotions in these chapters. Display an appropriate paragraph and together highlight any words or phrases that evoke the somber mood. Select other paragraphs relevant to the task and have students highlight the emotional vocabulary they find.
(ACELA1525)   (EN3-6B)

Show the example of the free verse ‘found poem‘ below and guide students to notice how the words from Seven Little Australians in the left column have been selected for the poem in the right column, how some words are changed in the poem, and the free verse poetic layout. The extract is from Chapter 11 and words that evoke the mood are underlined:

Words from the text The found poem
Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue. The belt of trees had grown black, andstretched sombre, motionless armsagainst the orange background. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush. Colours of flame, purple, blue and orangelight up the sky and the landbut black is in the dying glory of the sunthe trees’ shadowsthe still airand the strange silence of the bush.

Students select an appropriate paragraph from Chapters 10 and 11 and, following the example, turn it into a free verse poem, using the ‘mood’ words they have found. Students can share their poems with their group and post them on a class wiki.
(ACELT1618)   (EN3-7C)

Using the original excerpt from the found poem example, analyse with students what kinds of images the expressions evoke. The table below demonstrates how this analysis could be completed. The headings are formed from the kinds of images contained in the text and can be varied accordingly (for example, taste/mood/physical/nature/thoughts/location/weather/personality positive/feelings/others). Discuss what types of images Turner selects to create the scene and evaluate the shades of meaning the images construe. Notice that some expressions can be allocated to different boxes. Jointly construct a paragraph that explains how the images create meaning and post on the class wiki.
(ACELT1617)   (EN3-7C)

Visual images Weather images
flame-coloured skypurple soft cloudspaling blueblackthe orange background the air hung hot and still
Tactile images Feelings/negative images
purple soft clouds dying glorystretched sombre motionless armsdied
Sound images Clothing images
the strange silence the belt of trees

Select a familiar short excerpt from the novel and analyse aspects of how the images are grammatically constructed. Depending on expertise, such grammatical elements as the noun groups, the verbs, the adverb groups/phrases, and the linking conjunctions can all be noted and discussed for how they expand and sharpen the description of the scene.

The ‘grammar and meaning’ activity below focuses on how the adverb groups construct the meaning and impact of the excerpt. Students can be guided through the steps. Thisstaged approach can be applied to other grammatical elements as well, appropriate to the students’ levels. Please note that only simple functions of adverbials have been named. More sophisticated explanations of adverbials are available at Grammar and Meaning (Humphrey, Droga and Feez, 2012) and A New Grammar Companion (Derewianka, 2011).
(ACELA1523)   (EN3-6B)

Original paragraph from Chapter 21

‘Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue. The belt of trees had grown black, and stretched sombre, motionless arms against the orange background. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush.’

Preparation: Have students mark out the three sentences or list them vertically on an electronic board or handout.

  1. Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue.
  2. The belt of trees had grown black, and stretched sombre, motionless arms against the orange background.
  3. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush.

Locate the verbs: Together or independently, students mark the verbs in green (or circle or underline them). Note: The first sentence has an embedded clause (‘massed in banks high up’) which is not included here for the sake of clarity and simplicity.

  1. Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue.
  2. The belt of trees had grown black, and stretched sombre, motionless arms against the orange background.
  3. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush.

Locate the adverb groups/phrases: Read around the verbs in each sentence to find if they have been added to (ad+verb). For example, adverb groups/phrases expand verbs by stating (in simple terms) manner, time, place, reason, accompaniment, etc. Adverb groups/phrases start with a preposition. Mark any you find in blue (or circle/underline).

  1. Down at the foot of the grass hill there was a flame-coloured sky, with purple, soft clouds massed in banks high up where the dying glory met the paling blue.
  2. The belt of trees had grown black, and stretched sombre, motionless arms against the orange background.
  3. All the wind had died, and the air hung hot and still, freighted with the strange silence of the bush.

Have students list the adverb groups/phrases: This step foregrounds the pattern. If students are experienced with this kind of task then this step can be omitted.

Down at the foot of the grass hill

with purple, soft clouds

in banks high up

against the orange background.

with the strange silence of the bush.

Discuss what function the adverb groups/phrases perform: Are the adverb groups/phrases informing about place? Manner? Time? etc. Add this information beside the group/phrase.

Down at the foot of the grass hill place
with purple, soft clouds accompaniment (with what)
in banks high up place
against the orange background place
with the strange silence of the bush. accompaniment (with what)

Comment on Turner’s selection of adverb groups/phrases and their effect: Students will notice that there are only two types of adverbials in this short paragraph. The details of place take the reader to different levels ‘down’, ‘high up’ and ‘against’ a background. The details of accompaniment show that nothing is isolated in the bush, each part of nature is with another part – the sky is accompanied by the clouds, the air is accompanied by the silence.

Application: Students rewrite the adverbial groups/phrases to change the way the scene is written or can compose an original description. Students follow the adverbial patterns they have found, and can extend and adapt the patterns as well, for example, adverbial groups/phrases could indicate time (after, before), manner (about), or cause (because). Ensure that their innovations make sense in the context. Select students to explain how the types of adverbials they chose construct the desired affect. See Grammar and Meaning (Humphrey, Droga and Feez, 2012) and A New Grammar Companion (Derewianka, 2011) for further examples and details of adverbials.
(ACELT1800)   (EN3-2A)


Rich assessment tasks (formative and summative)

Select two or three suitable paragraphs from the novel that contain descriptive language. Students can select their own excerpts if appropriate.

A. Students complete an Image Box, naming the types of images Turner uses to evoke the scenes. They decide on appropriate headings based on the vocabulary in the paragraph and allocate the words, phrases and sentences. In pairs, students discuss the types of images used and their effect. Independently they compose a short paragraph that explains their interpretation of how Turner creates her effect through the images.
(ACELY1801)   (EN3-5B)

B. Individually students draft a free verse poem (in the style of the found poem) using the types of images they have identified as a starting point for composing other original images.
(ACELY1714)   (ACELT1618)   (EN3-2A)

C. Students analyse their draft poems for their use of adverbials, noting the types of adverbials they have selected for their effect. Students can follow the staging of this analysis modelled previously if needed. With a small group, the draft poems are conferenced regarding the use of images and the types of adverbials selected. Students can redraft and when completed, read aloud their poem to a different group.
(ACELY1715)   (ACELT1618)   (EN3-2A)