Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students explore the question: ‘What is the Australian tropical savanna?’ In groups, students research a specific region of a tropical savanna and describe the climate, vegetation, animals and the impact of fire upon the area. Students will complete a research worksheet and present their findings to the class.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Learning goals: 

  • Students explore how flora and fauna are uniquely adapted to specific regions. 
  • Students describe the interconnections between people, places and environments and identify the effects of these interconnections on the characteristics of places and environments.
  • Students interpret research data and other information to identify and compare spatial distributions, patterns and trends, infer relationships and draw conclusions.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 5 Science:  

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS093)

Year 5 Geography: 

  • The influence of people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, on the environmental characteristics of Australian places(ACHASSK112)

Year 6 Science:  

  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110)

Syllabus outcomesGE3-2, GE3-3ST3-4WS, ST3-10LW, ST3-11LW.

Topic: Cool burning

Time needed: 120 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – introduce new content, assist with student research, assess student outcomes.

Resources required: Internet, digital projector or Smartboard, Student Worksheet, Fact Sheet – Australian tropical savanna, Australian Tropical Savanna PowerPoint.

Digital technology opportunity: Obtain data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Locate major towns in the region where the tropical savanna exists. Find out which industries and human activities occur in these locations.

Assessment: See the attached rubric to monitor students’ learning based on chosen criteria and guidelines.

Rubric Years 5&6 – The Australian tropical savanna

Prior learning: Maps and states of Australia, eucalypt forests, ecological communities, climate, weather.

Key words: savanna, tropical, climate, weather, distribution, monsoon, adaptation, vegetation, fire, mean, conservation, species

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum. There is great diversity in histories and cultures among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. This resource includes investigations into and information about some of them. It has an emphasis, but not an exclusive one, on the histories and cultural practices of the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory. It is underpinned by consultation with Aboriginal communities in various parts of Australia. 

Special thanks to:

Fish River Station, John Daly, Dr Jeremy Russell-Smith, Peter Jacklyn, Peter McConchie, Dr Tommy George, David Claudie, Dale Musgrave, Carolyn George and Victor Steffensen.

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Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: Students discover that Australian tropical savannas cover a large area of northern Australia, which can be divided into regions. They explore how flora and fauna are uniquely adapted to each specific region. Students also understand that fire is a type of environmental change that occurs in this ecosystem. At the conclusion of this activity, students can produce a definition of an Australian tropical savanna.

Teacher content information: The Australian tropical savanna covers northern Australia from Western Australia to Queensland. The term 'tropical savanna' refers to an environment that is predominantly grassland with scattered shrubs and trees. Some savannas are mostly grass while others are heavily wooded. They all have thick coverings of grass. Savannas in wetter climates may include areas of rainforest, while drier climate savannas are usually semi-arid. The major influences on the tropical savanna are the extremes between the w

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: close your eyes and imagine that you are standing in an Australian tropical savanna. What do you see, hear and feel?

Watch: Restoring Country with cool burns - Then, view the Australian tropical savanna PowerPoint.


Investigating the savanna

Part 1: Thinking about the savanna

Your group will help answer the question, ‘What is an Australian tropical savanna?". Use the video and the PowerPoint to help your group think of five questions to investigate on this topic.










Part 2: Investigation activity

In your groups conduct an investigation of a specific region of the Australian savanna (your teacher will assign you a region). Research interesting information regarding the region’s climate, plants (flora), animals (fauna), fire regimes and human interactions.

Some suggested questions have been provided to guide you, but why not use your own investigation questions? Use this website as your main refere

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