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Australia Through the Ages

Australian History

Learning Module


Year 5 and 6 students investigate significant people and events that have shaped Australia's identity, beginning with Australia's Indigenous history, moving through white settlement and Federation, to the present. Students create a timeline of Australia's history and then are assigned periods to research and present to their peers. They develop their reading and research skills, culminating in the creation of a diorama to represent people and/or events in Australia's history.


Research, History, Reading Strategies, Timeline.

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum Achievement Standards: HASS

Year 5

By the end of Year 5, students describe the significance of people and events/developments in bringing about change. They describe the experiences of different people in the past.

Students sequence information about events and the lives of individuals in chronological order using timelines. When researching, students develop questions for a historical inquiry. They identify a range of sources and locate, collect and organise information related to this inquiry. They analyse sources to determine their origin and purpose and to identify different viewpoints. Students develop, organise and present their texts, particularly narrative recounts and descriptions, using historical terms and concepts.

Year 6

By the end of Year 6 students explain the significance of an event/development, an individual or group. They identify and describe continuities and changes for different groups in the past. They describe the causes and effects of change on society. They compare the experiences of different people in the past.

Students sequence information about events and the lives of individuals in chronological order and represent time by creating timelines. When researching, students develop appropriate questions to frame a historical inquiry. They identify a range of primary and secondary sources and locate, collect, organise and categorise relevant information to answer inquiry questions. They analyse information or sources for evidence to determine their origin and purpose and to identify different perspectives. Students develop texts, particularly narrative recounts and descriptions. In developing these texts and organising and presenting their information, they use historical terms and concepts, and incorporate relevant sources.

Content Descriptors: HASS

  • Sequence information about people’s lives, events, developments and phenomena using a variety of methods including timelines (ACHASSI125)
  • Present ideas, findings, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of texts and modes that incorporate source materials, digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms and conventions (ACHASSI133)
  • The contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society since Federation (ACHASSK137)
  • The impact of a significant development or event on an Australian colony (ACHASSK108)

Content Descriptors: English

  • Identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural and historical contexts (ACELT1608)
  • Navigate and read texts for specific purposes applying appropriate text processing strategies, for example predicting and confirming, monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning (ACELY1702)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse information and ideas, comparing content from a variety of textual sources including media and digital texts (ACELY1713)

1. Wonderings

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand and discuss what you know about Australia's history.

Success Criteria:

  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Work in small groups to discuss what you already know about Australia's history.
  • Record your prior knowledge.
  • Take notes after watching short videos about Australia's history.
  • Record your wonderings and questions.
Introduction PowerPoint

Comment: Quick write - what is something that you have learnt about Australia's history.

Fig. 1: Australian and Indigenous Flags

For the Teacher

Purpose: To determine what the students already know about Australian history, to take notes on new information learnt and create wonderings to guide future learning. 

Teaching Tips:

Determining what students already know:

  • In pairs students create a think map (A3 paper) of what they already know about Australia's history. This can be from any time period. Students can draw, write key words or sentences. 
  • Nominated speaker from each group reports to the whole class on their groups think map. 


  • Listen and watch the video 'Australian timeline'. Model note taking of key ideas from the video (determining importance).
  • Whole class sharing of key ideas. Add in any missed key ideas.
  • Listen and watch the video ' History of Australia' and take notes on key ideas from the video (determining importance).  
  • Share with a partner their key ideas and update their notes if their partner raises something they have missed.
  • Listen and watch the video ' Australia: From colonisation to federation' and take notes on key ideas from the video (determining importance).
  • Share with a partner their key ideas and update their notes if their partner raises something they have missed.


  • Create a wondering question to investigate about Australia's history. (This wondering question may highlight any misconceptions students have about Australia's history).



2. Timeline

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand sequence of events in the history of Australia.

In this module we will be learning about events that occurred in our rich history.

Success Criteria: 

  • Name important time periods.
  • Participate in group discussion and research.
  • Research information on significant events.
  • Brainstorm people, groups in this time period.
  • Write 1 - 3 questions about your time period.

Leading questions:

  1. What was happening in Australia at this time?
  2. Who were significant people or groups of people during this time?
  3. Why is this period important to Australia's history?
Fig.2: The history of Australian exploration from 1788 to 1888

Task: Research the time period that you have been assigned and answer leading questions

Pre 1600s 

1600s - 1780s 

1780s - 1800s 

1800s - 1820s 

1820s - 1870s 

1870 - 1901 

1901s - 1913 

1914 - 1918 

1929 - 1933 

1939 - 1945

1945 - 1960 

1960 - 1980

1981 - 2000 

2000 - present 

Resource: Click on the Australian History Timeline to help you find important events from your time period. 

Reflection: What are some important events that occured during your time period? Write 5 facts about your time period?  

For the Teacher

Purpose: For the students to get a detailed understanding of the period allocated to them so they can contribute towards the bigger picture (timeline of Australia's history).

Teaching Tips:

To create groups, have three copies of each time period written on a piece of paper. Put them in a hat and get students to draw one time period out. N.B. for the students left over, strategically place them in a group where they will work well.

Students will be assigned a time period. Here are some ideas of what happened in each time period. Answers will vary. Students need to find facts on important events that occurred during their time period. This information will be included in the showbag and poster.

Pre 1600s  Indigenous peoples inhabited the land

1600s - 1780s  Dutch (European) explorers

1780s - 1800s  White settlement

1800s - 1820s Bligh and Rum Rebellion / Macquarie

1820s - 1870s Gold Rush 

1870 - 1901 - Henry Parkes, Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson

1901s - 1913 Federation

1914 - 1918 World War 1

1929 - 1933 Between Wars and Depression

1939 - 1945 Word War 2

1945 - 1960  Immigration / Olympics

1960 - 1980 Cyclone Tracy / Indigenous vote

1981 - 2000  Bob Hawke / New Parliament house

2000 - present  Olympics (Cathy Freeman) / Sorry day

Students will research and ask 1 - 3 questions about their time period. This should be written in their unit workbooks.


3. Analysing Information

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand effective reading strategies for research.

Success Criteria:

  • Read and discuss information texts.
  • Identify reading strategies to comprehend texts.
  • Practise using the reading strategies.

While you are researching your time period in Australian history, we will also focus on some reading strategies to help us become expert researchers. 

Text 1: Determining importance

Text 2: Summarising

Text 3: Skimming and Scanning

Text 4: Paraphrasing

Text 5: Inferring

Text 6: Visualising

Text 7: Questioning

Comment: Reflect on the reading strategy that you found most useful. What did you learn by using this reading strategy? Read other students' comments and comment on 1-2.

Fig. 3: Working as a researcher


For the Teacher

Purpose: This update focuses on developing students research skills while they are researching their group's time period. It will also expose student to texts from a range of time period that they are investigating.

Teaching Tips:

To teach the reading strategies, use a range of tools. here are some suggestions. There are more at New Learning Online and also in texts such as Building Comprehension Strategies for the Primary Years by Alison Davis (Eleanor Curtain, 2011) and also the First Steps Reading resources.

1. Text Annotation (Determining importance, Paraphrasing, Summarising)

Symbol Definition
? Words or phrases I do not understand or where you have questions
Circle Key/important words
! The most interesting sentence
Underline the main idea of the text

2. B-D-A: Before/During/Reading (Predicting, Determining importance, Summarising, Visualising, Questioning)

Before Reading
List everything you know about this topic before reading
During Reading
Briefly note new information you find during reading
After Reading
Write a summary and three questions

One sentence main idea statement:

Instead of words, students can also draw and represent their ideas through images.

3. Zooming In and Zooming Out. (Predicting, Determining importance, Summarising)

Zooming In and Zooming Out

4. Information Text Pyramid (Determining importance, Paraphrasing, Summarising)

Information Text Pyramid

5. Question Scaffold - Who, Where, When, Why, How, What (Questioning)

Asking Questions Scaffold

6. Inferring Graphic Organisers (Inferring)

Inference Clues Graphic Organiser 1
Inference Clues Graphic Organiser 2


4. Showcase

For the Student

Learning Intention: To understand how events and people have shaped Australia's identity. 

Success Criteria:

  • Present a poster and show bag on a selected time period.
  • Participate in a gallery walk to give and receive feedback.
  • Design and create a diorama to represent learning.

Poster and Show bag

After researching information about significant events and people from your time period, create a poster to display key information. Display your poster on the class timeline.

Using your knowledge about these events and people create a showbag to display items that represent what you have learnt about that time period.

Now participate in a gallery walk to view the other time periods. Use sticky notes to give feedback to other group members. In an Inside-Outside circle, use your sticky notes to give feedback to your peers on the time period they researched. 

Comment: List 5 things you have learnt from other groups during your gallery walk.


Using your knowledge about Australia's history, choose one event or person and design a diorama to represent that person/event. Create the diorama and poster/information booklet/lapbook to outline how this event or person has contributed to Australia's identity. 

Media embedded July 1, 2019

Watch the video to learn more about Australian identity.

For the Teacher


1. In small groups, after researching information about their time period students will create a poster for the class timeline and a show bag to represent information learnt. Students will then conduct a gallery walk to learn information about different time periods.

2. Individually or in pairs students will create a diarama to showcase a significant event or person from throughout Australia's history.

Teaching tips:

1, Poster and Showbag

  • Students create a poster to display findings about a time period 

- What are the events?

- Who are the significant people?

- How did this event/person shape our identity?

  • Students create a show bag to represent items from their time period. Items could include (mini booklets, homemade artifacts etc)
Figure 4: Example of a show bag for a novel
  • Gallery walk - students walk the timeline and view the different show bags to learn about the different time periods.

2. Diorama

  • Students create a diorama on an event or person from anyh of the time periods in Australia's history. 
Diorama project plan



Title and Fig 1: Flags (Source); Fig. 2 (Source); Fig.3: (Source); Fig. 4: (Source).