Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This is a STEAM lesson, which adds the Arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). To find out more about STEAM and STEM click here. In this lesson, students will explore the influence that the departure of the local Indigenous people has had on fire trends and consequently the local flora and fauna. Students will observe what changes are being made by the traditional owners in order to monitor and protect local species.

Students will then create artwork in recognition of the importance and diversity of the Australian outback for display within the school. These works of art will be accompanied by artist’s statements developed by students to explain the relevance and importance of their art and its themes.

This lesson has been created in partnership with OfficeMax and Winc.


Learning intentions: 

  • Students understand the impact changing environmental conditions have on the survival of living things.
  • Students use analogous colour schemes to reflect time and place in their artworks.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Science

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)

Year 6 Science

  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)

Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts

  • Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114)
  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115)
  • Plan the display of artworks to enhance their meaning for an audience (ACAVAM116)
  • Explain how visual arts conventions communicate meaning by comparing artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks (ACAVAR117)

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-10LW, ST3-11LW, VAS3.1, VAS3.2, VAS3.3, VAS3.4.

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science Achievement Standards: Students analyse how the form of living things enables them to function in their environments. Students discuss how scientific developments have affected people’s lives, help us solve problems and how science knowledge develops from many people’s contributions.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science Achievement Standards: Students describe and predict the effect of environmental changes on individual living things. Students explain how scientific knowledge helps us to solve problems and inform decisions and identify historical and cultural contributions.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts Achievement Standards: Students explain how ideas are communicated in artworks they make and to which they respond. They describe characteristics of artworks from different social, historical and cultural contexts that influence their art making.

Students structure elements and processes of arts subjects to make artworks that communicate meaning. They work collaboratively to share artworks for audiences, demonstrating skills and techniques.

Topic: Art & Craft.

Unit of work: Learning Through Art & Craft – Primary.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – students may require support with specific decisions or processes during the painting phase of the lesson.

Resources required: Device capable of displaying video. Digital devices to use for research (minimum one per pair). Student Worksheet (one copy per student). Build an Icy Pole Canvas (one per student). Natural pop sticks. Acrylic paint (various colours). Paint brushes (various sizes). Hot glue gun and glue. Colour Wheel Handout (one per student or equipment to project to the class).

Related Professional Development: STEAM Made Simple

Keywords: Australia, Indigenous, native title, traditional owners, flora, fauna, endangered, environment, protection, harmonious colours, colour wheel, analogous colours, blend, science, art, craft.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the impact changing environmental conditions have on the survival of living things.
  • Students use analogous colour schemes to reflect time and place in their artworks.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain the impact on native flora and fauna when lands were taken from traditional owners.
  • ... explain the effects different forms of fires can have on flora and fauna.
  • ... explain what an analogous colours scheme is.
  • ... trial and select analogous colours schemes for meaning or impact.

Teacher content information:

Indigenous Culture and Connection to Land

Aboriginal Australians have a strong understanding of and connection to their land which is reflected in the symbiotic nature of their traditional relationships with it. When white settlement lead to the removal of Aboriginal peoples from their lands, the environment changed significantly. This has, in turn, impacted the local species. In some are

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Student Worksheet

Our Picturesque Desert

1. Visit the website below to research pyrophytic plants and complete the following sections:

Type of Adaptation Description of Adaptation Examples of plants with this adaptation

2. Working in pairs, visit the following website, Nature Conservatory ( and respond to the Australian Western Desert questions below:

What are some of the native animals in Australia’s deserts?


What problems are caused in Australia’s deserts by introduced species?

What other factors have caused a decline in the native species?

3. You will now be creating a painting to represent the Australian desert. Your work should include a painted background to represent the sky with flora and fauna of the Australian outback represented as silhouettes.


  • Sketch a design for your
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