The Bicentenary

[Episode 3 | 1988 : Lily]

Lily and her friends are painting the school sign for the Bicentenary when she tells her cousin, Phoung, a false story about how convicts were treated in early Australia. Phoung repeats this story to the class as part of a report on the First Fleet.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [3]

Activity 1: Using prefixes
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Subtheme(s): Language and scripting
  • In this clip the class is constructing a banner to celebrate Australia's 200th year since colonisation. The 1988 Bicentennial celebrations were an integral part of the Australian school curriculum in this era. Students were immersed in activities relating to the re-enactment of the 1788 First Fleet in Sydney Harbour.
  • Create a word splash with students adding words around the main topic, 'The Bicentenary'. Ask students to define what the word 'bicentenary' means. Have students explore other words that are associated with the prefix 'bi', such as 'weekly', 'annual' and 'plane'.

  • Organise the students into small groups and ask them to create a separate list of words with the prefix 'bi'. Ask them to find and record as many words starting with 'bi' as they can. Once they have completed their list, each group should nominate their best speller. Conduct a spelling bee about the Bicentenary.


Activity 2: Botany Bay
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Subtheme(s): Historical events; Language and scripting
  • Ask students to imagine what Australia was like in 1788. Have students visualise and then brainstorm what Aboriginal people may have experienced when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay. Ask students to research different points of view on the First Fleet.
  • Read and look closely at the picture book, The Rabbits, by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (1998). Discuss this portrayal in comparison with the version enacted by Lily's classmates.
  • Refer to:
  1. Video clip 3 from australianscreen, 'My Survival as an Aboriginal' (1978),
  2. Video clips from SBS, 'First Australians',
  3. R6798 Painting of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove, 1938
  4. R6799 'Founding of Australia', 1937

  • Ask students to imagine the arrival of the First Fleet as seen from the shore by an Aboriginal person at the time. Ask students to create a storyboard depicting what they imagine Australia would have been like in 1788, in particular focusing on the arrival of the First Fleet from an Aboriginal person's perspective. Students must label and caption researched information to present these storyboards to the class.


Activity 3: Points of view
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Historical events
  • After viewing this clip, encourage students find out more about the celebrations and protests around the 1988 Bicentenary in Australia.
  • Explain to students that there are many versions of historical events, each portraying a different point of view. Refer to R11296 'Day of Mourning protest', a collection of teacher resources about Indigenous protests on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet. Refer also to R11020 'Aboriginal protest in Hobart against the Bicentennial celebrations, 1988', a photograph of this event.
  • Ask students to compare and contrast different points of view on the Bicentenary.

  • Ask students to create a painting or drawing representing what they have learned about the bicentenary celebrations and the First Fleet.
  • Ask them to put together a presentation about celebrating something important to them and their families, or a personal account of a festival that has some cultural significance.


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