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Australian history

Classroom activities for students in years 5 to 12

Knowing & understanding

1. Make an annotated timeline using the photographs you took during your visit to the Museum. You could do this as a class or in groups. What do the timelines reveal about Australia's story? Are there any events or stories missing? What events or stories could you add to your timeline? You could create your timeline online at

2. Research an object from the Museum's collection at What can this object tell us about changes in Australia over time? Present your research on a poster, in a speech or write a report.

3. Design a collage of Australian icons and symbols, either in groups or as individuals. Compare the collages in your class, what do they tell us about Australia and our national identity or identities?

4. Write an email to a new pen friend in France. Describe the Australian country, who Australians are and how we live. Try to explain how Australia and Australians are different from other countries and nationalities.

5. Interview a family member or friend who has migrated to Australia. Questions to ask may include why they came; who they came with; how they travelled to Australia; what they bought with them; how they felt about coming to Australia and how they have maintained their cultural traditions.

6. Conduct a class or school survey to discover what students collect and why. What do the collections reveal about the students and Australians in the twenty-first century? What do you think Australian children collected one hundred years ago? How do personal and public collections provide us with information about the collector?

Applying & analysing

1. Bring a collection of historical artefacts to class. Ask your students to discuss, investigate and identify what the objects may be and who might have used them. Following the class discussion, reveal the objects' historical stories and examine how useful objects are in revealing information about the past.

2. Reflect on how the Australian nation developed. In 1901 six British colonies federated forming the Australian nation; at this point in time many argue that Australia was only a nation by name. Identify and compare the factors that have contributed to the nation's development. You might like to consider transport, communication, mining and wool industries, celebrations, environmental issues and international events. Present your conclusions in a speech, report or on a multi-media poster at

3. Reflect a major event in Australia's history. Choose an event that you believe is still relevant to your life. Write a short reflective essay on how this event has shaped Australia and its impact on your life.

4. Brainstorm a list of words to describe Australians in the 21st century. Do this as a class or in groups. Do you think this list has changed over the last one hundred years? Create a new list of words to describe Australians at the beginning of the twentieth century. How has our understanding of what it means to be an Australian changed? Identify and examine some of the factors that have contributed to this change in perspective.

5. Hold a class debate on a topic such as:

  • Are the similarities between Australians greater than their differences?
  • There is no such thing as a singular Australian identity.

6. Create a migration timeline using your family histories. Do this as a class or in groups. On the base of the timeline plot major Australian and international events which may have encouraged waves of migration. Compare the different reasons why the families in your class have migrated to Australia. You could create your timeline online at

7. Consider the usefulness of oral histories in revealing information about the past. Hold a class discussion on this topic.

Evaluating & creating

1. Create an exhibition on one of the following topics:

  • The creation of the Australian nation
  • Australia's national identity or identities
  • The future of Australia
  • Immigration in your local community
  • Student's personal collections

Do this as a class or in groups. Remember to include a selection of objects and images with detailed labels identifying what the artefact is and why it was selected for your exhibition.

2. Analyse the national anthem. What images of Australia and Australians are envisaged in the words and music of Advance Australia Fair? In groups or as individuals, write a national anthem that depicts the development of the Australian nation or our national identity in the 21st century. You may choose to use the same tune or a different tune, like Waltzing Matilda, for your new national anthem. How does your national anthem differ from Advance Australia Fair?

4. Imagine what life was like for Australians during a particular event in history. Choose an event in Australia's history. From your research, choose a historical person or create a character and:

  • Write a story about the event involving your character.
  • Compose several diary entries from your character's point of view about the event.
  • Create photo essay or multi-media poster at that illustrates everyday life at the time of your chosen event.

5. Imagine you have created a new country, like Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province (see his story in the Eternity gallery or on our website), and:

  • create an official coat of arms, floral emblem, and flag
  • assign six public holidays for your calender year
  • develop a constitution with ten laws

You will need to justify your decisions in the design of official emblems, celebration of specific events as public holidays and the laws in your constitution before your country is officially recognised.