Kangaroos Under The Pyramids

article by Philippa Werry , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning Intention:

I am learning about how paragraphs are used to structure a text so that I can improve my own writing of sustained texts.

Success Criteria:

  • I can notice how longer texts are organised into paragraphs.
  • I can identify the topic sentence and use it to make predictions about the content of the paragraph.
  • I can identify elaborated facts and details in the body of a paragraph.
  • I can make links between the main idea expressed in the topic sentence and the facts and details in the body of the paragraph.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how to structure an argument in the form of a paragraph can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Argument.

Before reading the article explain the textual features of a paragraph: a series of sentences that are all related to a single topic. It is a unit/section of a larger body of work and begins either with an indented line or a break between lines. Count and number the paragraphs of the article, including the introductory paragraph, in red. There are ten in total.

Read the article as a class and ask comprehension questions or complete a nonfiction graphic organiser to consolidate understanding.

Once students have a solid overall understanding of the content of the text, complete a close analysis of a paragraph. Start with the introductory paragraph, in red. Explicitly teach students the meaning of the term topic sentence: a sentence that summarises the main idea of each paragraph. You may further explain to students that a topic sentence usually explains the who and the what.

Ask students to highlight the topic sentence in the first paragraph. Then guide students in identifying the main idea in this sentence by underlining who the paragraph is about (the Australian troops) and what they did (took mascots for good luck).

When the Australian troops set off for World War One, they often took mascots for good luck.

Next, explain that the sentences that follow the topic sentence (the body of the paragraph) provide additional facts and details that link to the main idea. Ask students to look at the body of the introductory paragraph and instruct them to underline the facts and details about the types of mascots Australian troops took with them and why they took them.

People brought animals into the training camps, or the soldiers put out appeals through the newspapers, asking for people to donate kangaroos or wallabies. The animals provided entertainment and interest during the long sea voyages. In Egypt, the troops bought other mascots for a handful of coins in the bazaars.

Complete a close analysis of a series of paragraphs, using the steps above, to consolidate students’ understanding. Gradually release responsibility so that students are able to independently identify the main idea in the topic sentence, and facts and details in the body of the paragraph.

Finally provide students with a bullet point list of facts and details about a similar topic. A possible topic is Simpson and his donkey, with facts drawn from the Australian War Memorial website. Instruct students to turn the bullet point list into a paragraph, with a topic sentence introducing the main idea, and three to four subsequent sentences providing facts and details about the topic.