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Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

5 — From little things big things grow

In this sequence students will learn about the way poetry and songs lend themselves to talking about rights. They will listen to the song and read the picture book From Little Things Big Things Grow (2008) by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody. Finally, they will complete an iceberg diagram to demonstrate their understanding of the events leading up to Gough Whitlam’s speech to the Gurindji people.

Activity 1: Analysing ‘Waltzing Matilda’

Introduce the term ‘ballad’. Give the students a copy of the complete lyrics of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and either sing the song together or listen to a recording of it. Using information about ballads as a guide, model an analysis of the structure and language of ‘Waltzing Matilda’. 

Watch the video of Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly singing their song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. Give the students a copy of the lyrics and analyse its structure and language using information on ballads as a guide. Compare the rhyming patterns and structure of the two ballads and talk about how imagery and word choice have been used to build a connection with the audience.  ACELT1617ACELT1616

Singer–songwriters Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly in an extract from the video 'Blood Brothers – From Little Things Big Things Grow'

Above: Paul Kelly (on the left) Kev Carmody (on the right) in From Little Things Big Things Grow produced by Ned Lander and Rachel Perkins, directed by Trevor Graham. Reproduced with permission of Ned Lander Media, © Ned Lander Media P/L, photograph by Trevor Graham.

You can read or play a selection of ballads during daily teacher read-aloud sessions and students can locate and read ballads during independent reading time. Students will identify and record the different rhyming patterns of the ballads they read and consider how these patterns contribute to the meaning.

Activity 2: Classifying songs as ballads

Read the information about ballads again and locate phrases with modal verbs such as ‘do not’ and ‘have often’, and decide which criteria for text structure and language must be present in a ballad and which ones are optional. Compare the two songs and make judgments about their classification as ballads, their structure and the language used.  ACELT161

Activity 3: Looking closely at the book and the ballad 

Show the students the photograph of Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari from Sequence 1 and re-read the comments and questions that have been added to the image in other sequences. 

Read Martin Flanagan’s foreword to the picture book From Little Things Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody and have the students make connections between what they already know about the Gurindji story and what is stated in the foreword.  ACELY1708

Discuss the first paragraph of the book, relating it to the rhythm of the ballad. How does the rhythm of the ballad contribute to its effectiveness? Ballads are a part of an oral tradition. Perhaps the rhythm helps people remember the song and story more easily. How does repetition help us remember? 

Read the book and lead a class discussion using the following questions:

Read the ‘Hard’ Gurindji version of the song at the back of the book. What is meant by the language being severely endangered? Martin Flanagan ends the foreword by saying ‘“From Little Things Big Things Grow” is an Australian anthem of hope’. Allocate time for students to collect information to support or refute this statement. They may use information already found or search for new evidence. Have them discuss this statement and say whether they agree or disagree. Students should stand on opposite sides of the room and state evidence from their research to support their stance.  ACELY1709ACHASSI123

Activity 4: Using an iceberg diagram

Ask the students what they know about icebergs. Discuss the idiom ‘tip of the iceberg’ and relate the features of an iceberg to the idea of an iceberg diagram. Explain that the visible part above the water represents an event or issue and the hidden part below the water represents some of the causes and contributing factors. Read and discuss the information in both parts. The iceberg diagram will form Assessment task 1 and will be added to during the following sequences.

A diagram exemplifying how the majority of an iceberg sits under water.

Above: Graphic for iceberg diagram by Helen Cassidy

Using information sourced in previous sequences, students compare and sequence information to complete their own Iceberg diagram (individually, in small groups or as a whole class) about the hand-back of Wave Hill Station to the Gurindji people on 16th August 1975. The selection of information will clearly demonstrate the students’ understanding of cause and effect. ACHASSI123

Students compare diagrams and decide on one to be included in the walk-through museum.