Australia Day is January 26th but any time is a good time to learn about a different country.  Have some fun exploring the land Down Under with this theme day.

Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.



Take out a globe or atlas or go online to show your child where Australia is and compare it to where you live.



· Sing the Australian National Anthem for this theme day. Click here for the words to the Australian National Anthem: and click here for some history about the composer

· One of my favourite Aussie songs is Waltzing Matilda.  Click here for the words and to hear the tune: To hear a true Aussie sing Waltzing Matilda find Slim Dusty’s version on your favourite music provider or for a different take of the song look for the instrumental version by Ophelia of the Spirits found on the soundtrack of the movie Australia.

NOTE: See if you can find the picture book Waltzing Matilda, by A. B. Paterson and illustrated by Desmond Digby, Angus & Robertson, 2000.

· A childhood favourite of mine from Girl Guides was the Kookaburra Song.  Click here for the words and to hear it:

· Of course there is always Men at Work’s “Down Under” for another Australian inspired song.

· As well, try to find some didgeridoo music for a taste of Australian aboriginal music.




You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Australia Colouring Pages” or print out my  Australian Animals Colouring Page.



Write out one or more of the following questions in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or on a piece of paper to glue in your scrapbook:  What do you know about Australia?  If you could go to Australia what would you like to see? What are some animals found only in Australia?


 Choose the level of your child:

¨     Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer

¨     Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.

¨     Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.

¨     Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response.  (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)

¨     Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).

¨     As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or poem about Australia.


Print out my Australia Word Search:

Easy Australia Word Search or Difficult Australia Word Search.

Check here for the answer keys:

Easy Australia Word Search Key or Difficult Australia Word Search Key.



Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books that take place in Australia or have Australian animals in them.


Go to the library with your child to find some books about Australia.


Go to the library on your own to find books about Australia from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day.  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search under “Australia” or specific Australian animals under “Children’s Books”).  Reserve them if you can to save time.


If you can find them here are some nonfiction/learning titles about the country of Australia:


· The Aboriginal Peoples of Australia, by Anne Bartlett, Lerner Publications Company, 2002 – This is a good book for older children as it has a lot of text and information including the area where the aboriginal peoples of Australia live and their past, plus languages, laws and ceremonies etc..

· Australia: A Question and Answer Book, by Nathan OlsonCapstone Press, 2005 – This book covers a broad range of subjects  like location, government, housing, transportation, industries, sports and games, art etc., but without a lot of detail, which makes it a good beginner reader book and a good starting point for young grade-schoolers to learn about a different country in a basic way.

· Australia in Pictures, by Ann Kerns, Lerner Publications Company, 2004 – This has a lot of information and a lot of smaller text so is probably better for much older children and advanced readers.

· Top to Bottom Down Under, by Ted and Betsy Lewin, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005 – This title looks at the top of Australia (Kakadu national park) and the bottom (Kangaroo Island).  Even with larger text this book has a lot of information and includes great illustrations. 

· Uluru: Australia’s aboriginal Heart, by Caroline Arnold and photographs by Arthur Arnold, Clarion Books, 2003 – This has gorgeous photographs of the amazing Uluru (the big red Ayer’s Rock in the outback if you are unfamiliar with it).  It has a moderate amount of text but in slightly larger print so good for older kids.

Here are some nonfiction/learning titles about Australian animals:

· Australian Animals, by Caroline Arnold, Harper Collins Publications, 2000 – This one looks at the different regions of Australia (Forest and woodland, grasslands, deserts, and water’s edge) and examines the animals that live there in large photographs and easy to read text.

· Joey: The Story of a baby Kangaroo, by Hope Ryden, Tambourine Books, 1994 – Using photographs this easy to read book details what a young joeys life is like.

Here are some picture books:

· Adventures of Riley; Outback Odyssey, by Amanda Lumry and Laura Murwitz, Scholastic Press, 2009 – Using illustrations within photographs this book chronicles young Riley (illustrated) who helps his uncle in the Outback.  This is both a longer story and has a lot of non-fiction facts throughout the book in side boxes so it might appeal to older kids.

· Are we There Yet?: A Journey Around Australia, written and illustrated by Alison Lester, Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2005 – This book chronicles a family’s three month journey around  Australia giving a great overview of what Australia has to offer.

· The Aussie A to Z, by Heath McKenzie, Black Dog Books, 2007—This alphabet book has great illustrations that have lots of details making this a fun and informative book about Australia.

· Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo, by Alison Lester, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000 – A boy named Ernie moves to Arnhem Land near the top of Australia and writes to his friends to tell them about the different things going on for each of the six seasons they have there.

· Marsupial Sue, by John Lithgow and illustrated by Jack E. Davis, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2001 – This fun book has Marsupial Sue searching for a more interesting life but then realizing it’s great fun to be a kangaroo.  Try to find the book with the CD in it as the song is delightful.  Just looking at the title makes me hum the tune.

· Possum Magic, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas, Omnibus Books, 1983, A little possum named Hush has fun when he is turned invisible by his grandmother’s magic but Grandmother forgets how to turn him visible again so they must search for the Australian food that will restore him.

· Sun Mother Wakes the World: An Australia Creation Story¸ adapted by Diane Wolkstein and pictures by Bronwyn Bronwyn Bancroft, Harper Collins Publications, 2004 – The illustrator is an indigenous Australian artist and designer which makes this book of the aboriginal dreamtime story of creation magical.

· Waking Up Down Under, by Carol Votaw and illustrated by Susan Banta, Northword, 2007 – This rhyming book with beautiful illustrations looks at different Australian animals as they wake up at various times (day and night).

· The Wild Wombat, by Udo Weigelt and illustrated by Anne-Katrin Piepenbrink, A Michael Neugebauer Book, 2001 – This humorous story shows how a little misunderstanding makes a big difference as the animals in the zoo spread rumours of what the “Wild Wombat” coming to live with them looks like.  The poor little fuzzy wombat doesn’t know the animals think he is a fearsome monster and he wonders why no-one is there to greet him.  This was a big hit with my boys who loved the flaps that reveal what each animal thinks the wombat looks like.

· Wombat Goes Walkabout, by Michael Morpurgo and Christian Birmingham, Collins, 1999 – Gorgeous painted illustrations make this story of a little wombat who meets many different animals while searching for his mother come alive.

For joke loving kids try this book:

· Playing Possum: Riddles about Kangaroos, Koalas, and Other Marsupials, by John Jansen and pictures by Susan Slattery Burke, Lerner Publications Company, 1995.




Materials: Coloured paper, stickers with various Australian animals on them, markers and crayons (optional).

Step 1: Give your child the stickers and paper and have him/her either make a scene or a collage with them.

Step 2 (Optional): See if your child wants to embellish the picture with markers or crayons by drawing a setting for the animals.



Materials: A copy of my Symbols in Aboriginal Art Worksheet, white paper, paints, paintbrushes, water in a jar, paper towels, newspaper or plastic to cover the table or work area, old clothes or an art smock.

Step 1:  Print out my Symbols In Aboriginal Art Worksheet or  you can check online together with your child to look at the symbols in aboriginal art: and and and then you or your child can sketch the ones he/she likes and wants to use as a guide.

Step 2: Using the worksheet (or sketches of simple symbols you made from looking online) and dots and lines let your child create his/her own aboriginal inspired paintings.

Step 3: Let it dry and then display it or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.


HINT: Have older child make up a story that goes with the painting and the symbols used.



Materials: A copy of my Kangaroo Pocket Worksheet, crayons or markers, child-safe scissors, coloured paper, glue-stick.

Step 1: Print out my Kangaroo Pocket Worksheet and let your child colour the kangaroo and baby joey.

Step 2: Have your child cut out the three pieces (mother Kangaroo, baby joey and pocket) or cut it out for younger children.

Step 3: Have your child glue the mother kangaroo to a piece of coloured paper (his/her choice of colour) and then you can carefully glue the pocket to the kangaroo gluing only the side and bottom edges to create a real pocket.

Step 4: let your child insert the baby joey into the pocket.

Step 5: Display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.



Bush tucker refers to food native to Australia, including animals and plants which may be hard to find for this theme day.  Instead try some of these Australian inspired choices.


Vegemite on crackers:

See if you can find some vegemite at your local grocery store and spread some butter and then vegemite (a yeast extract) on some soda crackers for an Aussie snack.   Check here for the history of this spread: which tastes salty and not chocolaty as it may appear.



Make some damper (a traditional Australian soda bread made by swagmen or drovers camping) by following these instructions: or these

Another Australian favourite is pumpkin soup.  Make some from scratch using a recipe from your favourite cookbook or online or cheat a bit and by some butternut squash soup from the grocery store.


Make your own or buy some pre-made frozen meat pies to enjoy an Aussie favourite.

For a special treat serve some roast lamb.


Many stores carry an Australian chocolate covered cookie called Tim Tams; see if you can find some for this theme day.

Anzac biscuits are another Australian cookie to look for or try to make your own by searching online for a recipe (or to cheat a bit make some oatmeal cookies which are similar).

Lamington is an Australian cake with cocoa and coconut sprinkled on it.

Pavlova with fruit (a meringue dessert) is another Australian treat.




Print out a copy of my Australian Flag Worksheet and have your child colour it the appropriate colours.



Print out a copy of my Australian Geography Worksheet and have your child colour and try to match the names of the various states and territories of Australia.  Check here for the Australian Geography Answer Key.



Print out my Australian Animals Worksheet and fill out the chart together as you read books about Australian Animals or search for them online.



This great tourism site has a lot of information and pictures of various parts of Australia:

This site has information and great photos of Uluru or Ayers Rock as it was previously known:

This site has a lot of information about Australia:

This site has loads of information and pictures on different Australian animals:




Mimic the movements of various creatures of Australia:

· Slither on the ground like a venomous snake.

· Hop like a kangaroo.

· Waddle like a fairy penguin.

· Run like an emu.

· Be very still and chew like a koala.



Q:  What comes after a cockatoo?

A:  Cock-a-three.


Q: How does an echidna play leap-frog?

A: Very carefully.


Q: What did the platypus say when she bought lipstick?

A: Put it on my bill.


Q: Why can’t you play jokes on snakes?

A: Because you can’t pull their legs.


Q: What do you get when you cross a snake and a kangaroo?
A: A jump rope.






Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows about Australian animals or that take place in Australia. 

Here is a great nonfiction title we found at our library:

· What’s Up Down Under: Zoo Life with Jack Hanna, Ingle Productions, 1994 – This is an interesting look at many of the varied Australia animals.

Try these titles:

· Any episode of the Koala Brothers

· Finding Nemo – This takes place in the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney.

· Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire – Scooby and the gang go to the fictional Vampire Rock in Australia and solve the mystery.

Any of the Wiggles shows would work for this theme day as they are Australian but these two titles in particular work:

· The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari – This one features the late Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) and has lots of music about Australian animals.

· The Wiggles: Wiggly World – Includes special guest singers, many of whom are Australian.



Go the a zoo and search for Australian animals.


Photo: C Wright

Photo: C Wright

The Australia Flag

The Australian Coat of Arms


Sticker Collage

Aboriginal Inspired Paintings

Kangaroo Pocket Craft

My son’s drawing of a Galah (Aged 8)

Vegemite on crackers

Colour the Australian flag

(Follow the colour directions or be creative like my 3 year old)

A sleepy koala in Australia

More fun with stickers!

Photo: C Wright