These activities aim to facilitate a shared understanding of the themes and concepts relevant to Year 4 History. They provide a context for students before they explore related sources from the Treasures Gallery.

The first two activities introduce students to the ideas of exploring the unknown and interactions between people from different cultures. The third activity empowers students to shape their own learning about the settlement of Australia by Europeans.

Facing the unknown

Tell your students they are about to embark on an expedition to Mars. Work with them to imagine this scenario. The expedition will last for more than a year, including several months of travel, and they will need to make observations about the planet when they arrive. Encourage your students to respond to the following questions in a class discussion:

  • What are your hopes?
  • What are your fears?
  • How do you feel about making this expedition?

Now ask students to imagine the experience of world explorers who set sail for unknown lands hundreds of years ago.

First contact

First contact between groups with different perspectives, understandings and cultures is always a challenge. Use this activity to help your students explore what might have occurred during first contact between different cultural groups in Australia. (The game is adapted from the Tribal Game activity in the Difference Differently resource.)

Print and cut out multiple copies of the game cards. Randomly assign a card to every student in the class. These cards explain the name and behaviours of five distinct cultural groups.

Give students time to read their cards and tell them they must take on the behaviours of their group.

Ask students to move around the classroom and, without speaking, greet other players. Conclude the game after 3─5 minutes; the classroom will probably be quite chaotic by this time.

The real power of this activity lies in the debriefing phase. Conduct a debriefing session with your students using the following questions:

  • What happened during the game?
  • How did you feel when someone had a behaviour that was different from your own?
  • How did you feel when you met someone from your own group?
  • Do you ever have similar feelings in your everyday life? When?

As a class, discuss this activity in the context of the European settlement of Australia.

European settlement of Australia

In this activity, students work together to share their current understandings of, and shape an inquiry into, the European settlement of Australia. Ask students to respond to the following questions:

  • What do you know about the settlement of Australia by Europeans?
  • What do you want to know about the settlement of Australia by Europeans?
  • What resources could you use to discover more about the settlement of Australia by Europeans?