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Water Dreaming story

About this lesson

Students listen and then discuss the meaning to Tiddalik the Frog story and construct puppets from characters in the story.


Year level: F, 1, 2

Theme: Water Conservation


Learning objectives

Students can:
  • understand the importance of stories to Aboriginal people
  • listen attentively to a Dreaming story
  • discuss and recreate key points from the story
  • construct a puppet(s) from a character(s) in the story.

Curriculum links

English

  • Yr 1: Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication ACELT1586
  • Yr 2: Discuss how depictions of characters in print, sound and images reflect the contexts in which they were created ACELT1584

Art

  • F-Y2: Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination to create visual artworks and design, including considering ideas in artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Things you will need

  • Book: Tiddalik the Frog, Ker Wilson, Barbara, illustrated by Jan Holloway, ISBN 0 7302 0313 1 and/or Video: What made Tiddalik Laugh? (6:33, search Youtube)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Coloured paper or card, pieces of different fabric, feathers
  • Coloured crayons, pens and pencils
  • Aboriginal books about water fact sheet

Lesson description

Plan your lesson in consultation with Aboriginal staff or local community members. Please see our ‘Western Australian Aboriginal language centres contact list’ fact sheet.

Discuss

  • Storytelling is one way many cultures pass on information to younger generations.
  • Why are Aboriginal Dreaming and Dreamtime stories so important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? (Explains creation of Country and all that’s in it, and teaches laws and values).
  •  How are modern stories told? (e.g. books, poems, songs, movies) Relate this to Dreaming stories and introduce Tiddalick the Frog, a Dreaming story about water.

Activity

Read Dreaming story, Tiddalik the Frog or a similar Dreaming story. Refer to the ‘Aboriginal books about water’ fact sheet for ideas. Encourage children to read parts of the story or show a video of the story from Youtube. Discuss main characters and story meaning. What are your students’ favourite parts/characters? 

Summarise/describe main characters and plot points, on the IWB.

Supply the class with materials to make puppets of main characters. It may be wise to have templates for students to decorate. Various animal characters, include: Tiddalick, Bandicoot the Kangaroo, and Nabunum the Eel.

Have children decorate their animals using a range of media (e.g. pencils, fabric, feathers, paint, or crayons).

Students plan and perform a play, using their puppets.

Alternatively, you could reread the story with each child coming to the front of the room with their puppet when their character’s introduced during the story.

Reflect & summarise

  • Do you think the book, Tiddalick the Frog, has a special meaning? Can you imagine why it’s important to Aboriginal children to tell this story? (It explains, in their Culture, why they should save water.) 
  • What event in nature do you think it describes or explains? (drought).

Extension activities

Use the local library or school resource centre to find other Aboriginal Dreaming or creation stories or other countries’ folk tales, myths or legends that contain explanations for how water came to be where it’s found, for instance: why the sea is salty.

Teacher background information

The ‘Dreaming’ is a non-Aboriginal word used to refer to the time of creation with each language group having its own word for the ‘Dreaming’. The ‘Dreamtime’ or ‘Dreaming’, establishes values, symbols, patterns of life, relationships, and laws of Aboriginal Culture and society, to be passed down from generation to generation.

Throughout Australia, Dreaming stories, which vary from language group to language group, cover a vast range of themes and topics including:

  • how the land and heavens, and their features and creatures, were formed
  • people’s and animal’s behaviours
  • traditional law
  • spiritual beliefs
  • customs
  • culture
  • necessary skills to survive on the land.

The purpose of these Dreaming stories is to teach young children about their Culture, and to abide by lessons learned from their forefathers .

Each language group has their own Dreaming stories. Many different language groups’ stories focus on the same themes and involve similar characters, that may have different names. In this instance, Tiddalik the Frog, is known in another story, as Molok the Thirsty Frog. Tiddalik the Frog, is said to have originally been told in south-eastern Victoria, by people from the Gunai, and Bunurong nations.

The story is reputed to describe the water-holding frog: Cylorana platycephala. These frogs burrow and stay underground during dry periods. They emerge during the rain to absorb large amounts of water, breed and feed. They are used by Aboriginal Australians during times of drought as a water source. This is relevant today for lessons about water conservation.

Resources

Did you know?

Storytelling is one way many cultures pass on information to younger generations.

Key vocabulary

  • Amphibian: creatures which spend part of their life in water and part of their life on dry land 
  • Dreamtime: a sacred time in which ancestral spirit beings created the world
  • Drought: when no rain falls for a long time and the ground becomes very dry
  • Dry: having all the water or liquid drained away, evaporated, or exhausted
  • Frog: a tailless amphibian with a short, squat body, moist smooth skin, and very long hind legs for leaping
  • Thirsty: feeling a need or desire to drink