Notes for teachers 3: Upper primary activities

Each of the following activities is based on the Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Collection. The following extracts have been used:

  • Freedom, pp 2–3
  • The Stone in the Road, pp 31–32
  • A Just Punishment, pp 41–42
  • The Land Is My Backbone, My Country, Antidote, pp 18–20

The activities are designed for small group work and whole class discussion in English classes. They are not designed to be in any particular sequence and teachers may choose to adjust activities on the student handout downloads.

The student handouts for each of the activities contain the detail of the teaching and learning activities. The following is some extra advice on the activities.

Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Collection, pages 2–3
Values Focus: Freedom

Introducing the text
Provide students with a copy of Student handout 2: Freedom

Read ‘Freedom’ aloud to the class and explain to students that this piece of writing is a fable.

Ask students what they know about fables already and which ones they know about (for example The Tortoise and the Hare). Discuss with students the elements of fables.

Fables are short fictional tales in which animal characters talk. They possess an obvious moral or lesson.

Exploring the text
1. Have students complete questions in small groups and report back to the class. Have groups justify and vote on which dog has the better life.

Beyond the text
2. As student groups report back on their mind map findings, construct a large mind map on a piece of butcher's paper that reflects the common findings of the group.

3. Freedom is:
Construct a class list of the ways that we might need to limit individual freedom in order for the society as a whole to be free. Students might collect examples of these for a class collage. Examples include: road rules, water restrictions, laws and taxation requirements.

4. What does freedom mean to me?
Have students discuss changing notions of freedom in their lives. What accounts for the differences? Are their any ways that they are less free today than they would like to be?

5. Australian Freedoms Interview
Discuss the most common and least common answers in the class. What accounts for these differences?

6. Freedom Fable
Based on the story ‘Freedom’, have students write down a list of the characteristics of fables – emphasising the moral lesson that is part of them.

Have students share and illustrate their stories. Produce a Freedom Fables class book.

The Stone in the Road
Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Collection, pp 31–32
Values focus: Being Responsible (What it means to be a good citizen)

Introducing the text

Provide students with a copy of Student handout 3: The Stone in the Road

Read ‘The Stone in the Road’ aloud to the class and explain to students that this piece of writing is a folktale.

Based on this story, have students suggest the characteristics of folktales. List these on the board.

Students might come up with some aspects of the following definition:

Folktales tend to focus on the earthly adventures and fortunes of individuals, either royalty or common folk, or animals who speak and act like people. They have no particular connection to a specific time or place. They sometimes include supernatural or fantasy elements but their purpose is generally to show how best to live in the world – through either a negative or positive example. In this way folktales can provide us with 'life lessons'.

Exploring the text
1. Have students complete questions in small groups and report back to the class.
As each group reports back, make a list of the examples that students come up with (for example, walking past rubbish that has been dropped in the year).

Working beyond the text
2. Have students contribute one of the qualities they believe is most important for a good citizen. Make a list on the board. Discuss the similarities and differences in their answers.

3. Rights and responsibilities
Citizenship can be viewed as a balance sheet between rights and responsibilities.
Write the following table on the board.



  • Voting at elections (18 and over)
  • Protection of the law
  • Access to public services (schools, hospitals, libraries etc)
  • Security and safety
  • To vote
  • To obey the rule of law
  • To pay taxes

Have the class brainstorm other items that can be added to either column. Is there always a responsibility that goes with a right and vice versa?

4. Communities and responsibilities
Have students in groups complete activities 3 and 4. Display posters around the room.

5. What happens when we ignore our responsibilities as citizens?

  • Experiment in your classroom for a day. Nobody is to perform any community tasks for which they are usually responsible (for example, no cleaning the board, no emptying the rubbish bin, no monitors etc). In the last half hour of the day come together to discuss what happened.
  • Discuss what conclusions can be drawn from this experiment.

A Just Punishment
Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Collection, pp 40–41
Values Focus: Justice

Introducing the text

Provide Students with a copy of Student handout 4: A Just Punishment

Ask students to brainstorm in groups their understanding of the concept ‘justice’. Write their ideas on the board.

Ask students to consider the illustration of justice in Student handout 4.

Explain that over the centuries many people have tried to define the word 'justice'. The goddess of justice from Greek mythology best sums up what has been suggested.

  • Why is the goddess blindfolded?
  • Why is she holding a pair of scales?
  • Why does she have a sword in her hand?

Explain to students that they will be looking at a story about Aboriginal law and justice. Read with them the text on Student handout 4 from the Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units, ‘The Law Rules’, p 72.

Discuss the questions below the descriptions.

Exploring the text
Read through ‘A Just Punishment’ with students. Discuss activities 1 and 2 and have students in groups fill out the table in activity 3.

Working beyond the text
Have students share the results of their mind map exercise with the class. Develop as a class a definition of ‘justice’.

Have students in groups complete questions 6–11. Groups could be allocated separate questions to complete.

Australian Identity
Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Collection, pp 18–20
Value focus: Australian values

Introducing the text
Provide students with a copy of Student handout 5: The Land Is My Backbone

Read the 3 extracts, ‘The Land Is My Backbone’, ‘My Country’, and ‘Antidote’ aloud to the class.

Work through the student handout with students. Have students develop class presentations in groups for question 8. These might take the form of a panel interview, a lecture, a PowerPoint® presentation or a poster.

Overview | Notes for teachers 1 | Notes for teachers 2 | Notes for teachers 3 | Notes for teachers 4 | Student handout 1 | Student handout 2 | Student handout 3 | Student handout 4 | Student handout 5 | Student handout 6 | Student handout 7 | Student handout 8 | Student handout 9 | Student handout 10

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