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1 — What landscape is that?

This is the initial sequence in a learning unit where students will be becoming familiar with the vocabulary used to describe and represent places. Students will engage with their local landscapes and those further afield to begin to develop their knowledge of the language used to describe geographical features. They will become familiar with images that depict several different landscapes and begin to develop a vocabulary to describe them. They will also begin to discuss how authors use illustrations to build up the reader’s knowledge.

A desert scene with low saltbush and trees on red earth with tyre tracks from a vehicle, under a bright blue sky

Above: Photo titled Red Earth Desert by Wayne England, CC-BY-2.0

Prior to the lesson you will need to find some images that depict the following environments:

These images can be sourced via a Google Image search or a library search. The images that you select should be printed in approximately A6 size and pasted onto Placemat activity worksheets before the lesson. Note that the worksheet already contains an image of an Australian coastal landscape, and you can use this image as it is. Images of other landscapes can be pasted over the top of the coastal landscape to give the students a variety of landscapes to work on.

Create a display area such as a wall or pin board in the classroom that includes a map of Australia. The display area should have the heading ‘Landscape language’ and also space to add words and phrases on cards. Have blank cards ready to fill in with the students and be added to the space on completion of this sequence.

Activity 1: Finding out about places the students have visited

Show the students the video clip that accompanies the book Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester. After viewing the clip, ask them which places they have visited in Australia and make a list of the places on the board. Next, ask them what these places were like and list their responses next to the places. Read the descriptions offered by the students and ask them whether there are any places that they have used similar words or phrases to describe. Continue the conversation by asking them why we are using similar words or phrases to describe these places. Begin to group the places that students have described using similar words.  ACELA1452,  ACELT1582,  ACELY1656

Activity 2: Completing the Placemat activity worksheet

Show the students landscape images you have selected. Choose one and demonstrate how to use it to fill in a Placemat activity worksheet. Ask the students what they can see and get them to name as many things as they can in the picture. Write these things on an interactive whiteboard or large sheet of paper. Ask the students to add any describing words (for example, ‘a wide, white sandy beach’). Talk about the other sections of the placemat and demonstrate how to record responses on sticky notes and attach them to the worksheet. Discuss and clarify each of the questions surrounding the images as necessary.

Organise the students into groups of four, with each student having a different coloured texta to use. Give each group a Placemat activity worksheet with a different picture in the middle. Show the students that each of the placemats has one of the previously seen images in the middle. Explain that the purpose of this activity is for them to start to become aware of words and phrases they can use to describe each of the different images. They will need to observe each image closely and use any background knowledge that they may have.

Show the students how to work with the placemat and how to turn the paper so that each group member is able to write in each section. Write some sample responses to each question.  ACELA1453ACELA1452ACELY1656


Bring the students together when they have completed the Placemat activity worksheets (approximately 10–15 minutes). Allow each group time to share their learning with the rest of the class. When all of the groups have shared, ask the students to consider which words or phrases were the most important in helping them describe their image. Place these on cards and add them to your ‘Landscape language’ display. Display the images and placemats for the students to reflect on and revisit. ACHASSK031   ACHASSI027