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Teaching Ideas
“Exploring Sawfish” - Ideas for English

Literature- based approach

Activities linked to grade levels P - 7

• Read the ballad “We take so much for granted” with the class.

We take so much for granted

We take so much for granted
It’s almost beyond belief,
We think that all will stay the same
Even our precious reef.

Mel’s thoughts just kept on wandering
As she stared out to sea,
Her desire to help the ecosystem
Is just how it should be.

“I want to do my share”, she thought,
“And protect this precious place,
Save the threatened species”.
Then confusion changed her face.

“How can I do my bit to save
The sawfish becoming extinct?
What is it that these creatures need?”
Mel began to think

“I know the ocean is their home
So that’s a place to start,
If I become a volunteer
I can play my part.

Then there are the Coral Trout,
They’re also under threat,
From rubbish in the run-off
And small ones in the nets.

We can’t forget the turtles,
The Loggerhead for sure.
Disease and nets endanger them,
It can’t happen anymore.

The Manta Rays that glide with grace
Often look quite mean
But our sea without these wondrous rays
Would be an awful scene.

And then of course the Mud Crabs
That scurry across the floor,
They’re often not found in rivers
But through the kitchen door

If we just took the big ones
And left the females free,
The crabs would last for ever
Not just for you and me.

Pollution affects our dolphins,
Gillnets do the same
Pacific Humpbacks are in decline
But we can play the game,

By buying tuna that’s ‘dolphin safe’
We keep their numbers high.
But how can we help the Little Terns?
Mel then gave a sigh.

She knew their nests are disturbed,
And people should stay away
And foxes, dogs and feral pigs
Take them as their prey.

Then there are the estuaries,
Fouled by pesticides,
That get into the fish Terns eat
And poison them inside.

When diving for their daily food
They must avoid the fishing gear
And even yucky discarded oil
That covers them in smear

And there they can flounder
And suffer so.
We have to take it seriously
And act as though

It’s about the species
It’s their future that’s at stake.
We must protect these species
It’s all our choice to make.

Mel then stood up
Tall and proud,
“I will help”,
She yelled aloud,

“I’ll learn all the things I need to
To make the sea a place
Where all the creatures survive in peace,
And freely live with grace.

I’ll get my mates to join me
My family and their friends
We’ll work on doing what we can
Until the message ends

Up creeping ‘cross the land,
So everyone who comes
To see this wondrous place of ours
That glistens in the sun

Can stand and look in wonder
At creatures living free,
For no more threatened species
Its up to you and me.”

• Using the MESA Seaweek 2008 ‘Image Collection’, ask students to locate pictures of the animals mentioned in the ballad. (P – 7)
• Collate pictures showing one animal at a time, giving students time to comment on and respond to them. Allow time for students to pool all the information they know and to ask questions about the pictures. (P – 7)
• Make lists of students’ comments and questions. Present these under the headings ‘What we know’, ‘What we’re not sure about’ and ‘What we want to know’. (3 – 7)
• Make collages to show threatened species found in Australian waters. Display. Present lists of students’ comments and questions with the collages. (3 – 7)
• Using Readers Theatre, dramatise the story using puppets. Paint scenes of the sea for backdrops. Talk about the animals we take for granted in the scenes and storylines. (3 – 7)

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