We had so much fun with this week’s installment of our Children Around the World curriculum from Winter Promise – learning about Australia and New Zealand! But it felt like we barely scratched the surface (even more so than usual!)
Because we’ve lived in Southeast Asia for well over a decade now, our kids are just about as accustomed to Australian comfort foods as they are to American ones. They all enjoy eating Vegemite on their toasts most mornings for breakfast, and Anzac biscuits have been some of their favorites ever since Bignificent had an Australian preschool teacher in Bali who made them with the class and sent home the recipe.
I did realize, however, that these foods have just become normal fare to the littler ones and they didn’t even realize that they were Australian, so we spent a little time learning about the history of both of these iconic Australian food items.
Vegemite is a concentrated spread made from brewer’s yeast that has a long history in Australia. Many Americans, myself included, find its flavor revolting, but Australians and my husband and children love the stuff! It’s full of Vitamin B and nutrients so I’m thrilled that my kids all like it. Check out this link for a short and fascinating history of Vegemite.
I was able to work it out so that Anzac day happened during our week studying Australia and New Zealand. I always love it when we can celebrate an actual holiday during our week studying a country! Anzac day is a military memorial day for all who have died while serving in the Australian and New Zealand army corps. You can learn more about it here. Anzac biscuits have evolved over the years. We learned more about them and used the recipe from this site.
Books About Australia and New Zealand
We read lots and lots of books about Australia and New Zealand this week and added even more to our TBR list for the summer. Now that Littlenificent is reading so well, I’ve started looking for books about our weekly topic that are available for Kindle Unlimited, and she enjoys reading them during our quiet times in the afternoon so you’ll see more picture books beginning this week than in the past. Unless there is something specific we really want to share about a book, I’m just going to list out the books we read or marked to-read and let you check out their descriptions on Amazon if you’re interested. These are our affiliate links, so if you click over to Amazon and then buy that book or something else, we will receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you.
- Who Are You, Baby Kangaroo? by Stella Blackstone and Clare Beaton – This is a favorite board book that we picked up on our one and only trip to Australia when Bignificent was 17 months old. It has been well-loved by all five of our littles.
- If You Were Me and Lived in…. Australia by Carole P. Roman – We are big fans of Carole Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in… series. They are so fun to read, and we learn so much from them! Whenever we start learning about a new country, we always check first to see if Carole Roman has written a book about it! I also love that they are available for Kindle Unlimited!
- D is for Down Under by Devin Scillian – I love alphabet books so I’m really enjoying this series exploring various countries being available for Kindle Unlimited!
- The Twelve Days of Christmas by June Williams – We also picked this one up on our trip, and while it’s pretty weird, we have such fond memories of it that we read it at least once a year.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas Island by Teresa LaGrange
- The ABC’s of Australian Animals: An Interactive Kids Yoga Book by Giselle Shardlow – Giselle Shardlow’s books are always so educational on a number of different levels and we’ve loved every one we’ve tried. You can see our reviews of Good Night, Animal World and Hello, Bali over at Mommynificent by clicking on the titles.
- The Benjamin Gray Story by Alan Gammon – “A true and fascinating story about a man that was born in Littlehampton in 1810 who lived in a flint cottage that still stands in Church Street. The book follows his life and how he went to South Australia and eventually mapped out a new village in the heart of the Barker Hills and named it after his hometown.”
- Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester – We picked up this gem from a Scholastic order form when we were living in Bali. It is an amazing picture book about a family who road trips and camps their way through Australia one summer. I promise it will make you want to do the same! We’ve read this one over and over for the last 5 or 6 years. It is fabulous!
- 12 Great Barrier Reef Animals by Leanne Annett
- Indigenous Australian Cultures by Mary Colson
- Red Sand, Blue Sky by Cathy Applegate – This is a lovely middle grade story about a white Australian city girl visiting the Outback, making friends with an Aboriginal girl, and learning about her world and culture.
- Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens
- Storm Boy by Colin Thiele
- Escape to Murray River (and the rest of the series) by Robert Elmer – A really fun, Christian adventure series for kids set in Australia. Bignificent is a big Robert Elmer fan!
- The Burnt Stick by Anthony Hill
- Dingoes at Dinnertime by Mary Pope Osborne – No Thea Stilton this time, but there is a Magic Tree House. Oh well, at least they are reading. Sigh.
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy (and the rest of the series) by Lynley Dodd – I don’t know how much you actually learn about New Zealand from these books, but I do know that my New Zealander friends are very proud of this author!
- The Pony Jumpers Series by Kate Lattey – You can’t really go wrong with horse stories in our family, and when they are set in New Zealand, even better!
- Maui and the Sun, Retold and Illustrated by Gavin Bishop
- The Seven Stars of Matariki by Toni Rolleston-Cummins – You can see this book being read by this New Zealand author here on YouTube.
- Grandpa’s Slippers by Joy Watson
- Attack at Shark Bay and Trapped on Devil’s Peak (Riwaka Gang Adventures) by Denis W. Shuker – Bignificent found these very exciting, but they were “too scary” for the younger ones.
- The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave by Brydie Walker Bain
We recently heard for the first time about The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, who also wrote The Man from Snowy River on which the wildly popular movie (and even the TV series I fondly remember) from my childhood was based. I’m rather embarrassed that I never even knew that the movie was based on a book! Anyway, we haven’t been able to get our hands on The Silver Brumby yet, but both Bignificent and I are quite keen to give it a read as it’s been billed as sort of an Australian Black Stallion type book! It’s also available on Audible if you or your kids prefer listening, and it was made into a movie starring Russell Crowe as well! The non-USA version retains the name The Silver Brumby, but in the U.S., it was called The Silver Stallion. It’s rated G, so I think we’ll give it a try if we can ever get our hands on it!
We found these cultures and places so fascinating and learned so much about Australia and New Zealand! I hope you will have a chance to check out some of these great books and to try some Anzac biscuits soon!
Thanks for joining us for this stop on our journey learning about Children Around the World with Winter Promise curriculum. For links to all of our stops, check out our Children Around the World landing page. And come back soon for our next stop – the Pacific Islands!