Sylphie's Squizzes: Rakali

article by Zoë Disher , "Rakali" by blachswan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Learning Intention: 

I am drawing on facts obtained from nonfiction texts so that I can create rich and innovative imaginary texts.  

Success Criteria: 

  • I can collect and prioritise facts and details about the rakali from two nonfiction sources.    
  • I can understand the conventions of picture books about native animals.   
  • I can plan a literary text that combines the information presented in the nonfiction text with the conventions of a picture book.  

Essential Knowledge: 

  • More information about how the author positions the reader to perceive the text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View.  

Prior to reading the text, show students a range of photographs of rats. Create a word bank of connotations with the word rat (for example: disgusting, slimy, disease).   

Read the article as a class. Discuss initial observations from the article that contrast with the word list generated by the students (for example: that rakali fur was prized for making coats).   

Instruct students to collect information from the article based on the following subheadings:   

  • Appearance  
  • Habitat  
  • Diet  
  • Behaviour  
  • Threats  

Next, view the ABC Science clip: You dirty water rat. During or after viewing, students add additional information to the above subheadings. Students should understand that rakali, as a top predator, play a key role in the ecosystem, such as keeping introduced rat populations under control.   

Explain to students that they should imagine they are taking up the call of Associate Professor Peter Banks by writing a children’s book that promotes the water rat. Their story will be told through the eyes of the water rat. The aim is to change the public’s perception of the water rat.  

Prior to planning their narrative, you may wish to show students a range of texts that model how authors use the point of view of an animal to tell a story. A good starting point is ‘That Pesky Rat’ by Lauren Child, which depicts typical street rat characteristics.    

A suggested list of texts about native animals include:   

  • ‘Don’t Call Me Bear!’ by Aaron Blabey  
  • ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French  
  • ‘Eric the Postie’ by Matt Shanks  
  • ‘Wombat Stew’ by Marcia Vaughan  
  • ‘Edward the Emu’ by Sheena Knowles  

Using a narrative planner, students plan a story that contains a range of factual details about the water rat. Possible complications could include:   

  • Human destruction of their environment  
  • Hunting by humans to catch their fur or to control the plague  
  • Homes being stolen by introduced rats  

Students can either pitch their narrative idea to the class, or design and illustrate their picture book for publication.