Australia was one of our geography projects (you can see our other projects here). Not long after we made Africa, our two five-year-old boys decided that their new best-loved continent was Australia. As soon as they learned that platypuses and koalas live there, they just decided that Australia was their favourite. It was during those great fires when they got really sad. By sad, I mean they actually cried because of the way so many animals suffered. So, we decided to carry out a little project. In the process, we learned something new.
Interesting facts about Australia:
- The Australian Alps get more snow than the Swiss Alps.
- 80% of the animals are unique to Australia.
- Australia is home to 21 of the world’s 25 most venomous snakes.
- World map, atlas or globe
- Paint (we used regular watercolours and crayons)
- Pictures of animals
- Colour paper (yellow and red for fire)
World map or globe. First, we talked about the continents, and found Australia on a map. We used the big atlas for kids we bought at a flea market—the same one as for our Africa project. We talked about their beautiful beaches and sunshine. The boys were fascinated with the Great Barrier Reef, which is made up of nearly 2,500 individual reefs. And when you are a big space and solar system fan, it is good to know that the Reef is visible from space.
Preparation. I outlined the map of Australia surrounded by three oceans and some most important areas. We decided which colours to use for the deserts, mountains and forests.
Painting. Don't forget to use protective aprons or let them wear old clothes. We started with the three oceans.
And then moved on to the mountains and forests.
Animals. We read about platypuses and koalas (apparently, they are the sweetest animals in the world), and printed out several animals. Then they did some cutting and glueing. Besides kangaroos, wallabies, and dingoes, there are some really scary animals such as Australian huntsman spider, or the most poisonous snake (the inland taipan). These pieces of information are fascinating to kids.
Fire. Finally, we got to the fire part. In January 2020 it was reported that half of the 50,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island off Australia's southern coast, are thought to have died in the previous few weeks. That truth has to be carefully presented to children. But it has to be told. Learning about those bushfires made them sad. They coped with it through play. All of their plays with Australia included some kind of rescue action. In this imaginary world, koalas were saved.