Bushfire stories

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography content descriptions addressed in the illustration are:

  • The influence of the environment on the human characteristics of a place (ACHGK028)
  • The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHGK030).

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Learning goals

This activity is built on the stories about children of a similar age to the targeted students. Children like reading about adventures, and can identify with characters as well as the absorbing information provided in such stories.

The story supplied with this activity, The GeoSix and the bushfire (PDF, 333 KB), encourages children to write their own versions of likely events in each chapter. It also encourages them to draw sketches and maps to go with the story.

The illustration-specific learning goals include:

  • developing narrative skills
  • understanding the causes and management of bushfires
  • understanding people's responsibilities for the prevention of bushfires 
  • developing verbal, pictorial and mapping communication skills in describing events and places in the story.

Geographical understanding and context

This activity focuses on learning about the interactions between the natural and constructed environment. Bushfires are one of Australia's most serious hazards, and they have always been a significant influence on the Australian environment. As such, all Australians need to understand their cause, occurrence, and prevention.

Teaching approaches

The story provided here can be used as a resource in the exploration of information and attitudes about bushfires and the environment.

1. Introduction

You might start this activity with a photograph or movie clip of a bushfire. Some care needs to be taken that this is not too traumatic. Alternatively, the story The GeoSix and the bushfire (PDF, 333 KB) that is supplied could be the starting point. 

2. Exploring the Geosix story

The GeoSix and the bushfire (PDF, 333 KB) can be read together as a class, in small groups, or individually. There are particular places indicated where the story stops to allow students to write their own versions of events, or to do tasks similar to those being done by children in the story. The suggested activities are:

  • At the end of Chapter 1: At this point you should stop the story and ask the students to write their own version of the next events.
  • Part way through Chapter 2: At this point the class might undertake the activities suggested by the Geosix. Complete the gathering of information before comparing it to what the GeoSix found.
  • Part way through Chapter 3: At this point students can be asked to suggest possible answers to Dominic's question: '… but what has changed to make bushfires into the dangerous monsters they have become?' This may lead to class discussion and debate before the next section is read.
  • At the end of Chapter 3: At this point students can suggest answers to Antonia's question: 'What are the things that we would do if we lived in a bushfire area?' Discuss individual and community precautions and preparations for bushfires.
  • At the end of Chapter 4: At this point you can do a number of possible concluding activities:
    • hold a mock meeting where different children take roles as members of the GeoSix and talk about what they have discovered about bushfire precautions and dangers
    • help the class make a list of all the dangerous features and the good precautions that the GeoSix observed in their fieldwork
    • ask the students to look up fire prevention on websites and add other facts to the list
    • ask the students to each prepare a report on the good and bad techniques of building and living in bushfire hazard areas.

3. Extension activity

Just as many well-known stories have maps at the front of the book, and illustrations throughout, students could be asked to draw their own versions of these for this story. The map would be an imaginary one, incorporating some of the features mentioned in the story as well as others invented by the students.

Students could be asked to design a property that is well-prepared for bushfire hazards. They could make a sketch map or even a 3D model.

What you need

Story: The GeoSix and the bushfire (PDF, 333 KB).

Access to the Internet.

Cardboard and other materials for making 3D models (extension activity).

Time frame: This could be spread over a week or two to allow students to do their own writing, illustrations and maps.

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum. 

English

  • Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students' own experiences, and present and justify a point of view (ACELY1699)
  • Navigate and read texts for specific purposes applying appropriate text processing strategies, for example predicting and confirming, monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning (ACELY1702)
  • Use comprehension strategies to analyse information, integrating and linking ideas from a variety of print and digital sources (ACELY1703)

Mathematics

  • Use a grid reference system to describe locations. Describe routes using landmarks and directional language (ACMMG113)

Science 

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217)
  • Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to solve problems that directly affect peoples' lives (ACSHE083)

History

  • Develop texts, particularly narratives and descriptions, which incorporate source materials (ACHHS105)
  • Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies (ACHHS106)

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Resources

Story:

The GeoSix and the bushfire (PDF, 333 KB)

Websites:

NSW Fire & Rescue. Bushfire preparation. Bushfire preparation website (NSW) with plenty of useful hints. Retrieved February 2013, from: http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=314. 

Country Fire Authority. Kids & schools. Retrieved February 2013, from: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/kids-schools.

South Australian Country Fire Service. School-education. Retrieved February 2013, from: http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/education/schooleducation.jsp

YouTube. Help survivors of the Victorian brushfire in Australia (duration, 1:18). A video (one of many) showing scenes of the Victorian bushfires, and the seeking of donations. This is very vivid, and you will need check it before showing it to the class to ensure it is suitable for your students. Retrieved August 2012.