Unlikely Heroes

article by Beverley McWilliams , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse information, linking, and integrating ideas from print and digital sources.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use a graphic organiser to outline information in the text
  • I can use comprehension strategies to link ideas in print and digital sources
  • I can present a text for our class Unlikely Heroes gallery

As a class, read the article, Unlikely Heroes.

After reading, ask students to choose three animals who were unlikely heroes in the article. These could include:

  • Lanterns of the trenches, glow-worms
  • The slug brigade, garden slugs
  • Dashing through the snow, reindeers
  • The elephant company, elephants
  • Companions through the darkest times, animal mascots

Using a graphic organiser, ask the students to construct a WWWWWH chart.

The chart will allow students to organise their information and students can draw up the WWWWWH chart in their student workbook.


For example:

The slug brigade

Who? Common garden slug

What? Garden slugs were sensitive to gas

When? World War One, when poisonous mustard gas was a threat

Where? Into the trenches with the US Army

Why? The slugs could detect gas

How? They protected their lung membrane and compressed their bodies when exposed to gas.


Comprehension check in:

Ask students to re-read the last paragraph of the article, Unlikely Heroes and answer these questions

  • Name the monument in Canberra that commemorates animals that served, suffered and died in war.

           The Animals in War Memorial

  • What date is National Day for War Animals?

           February 24

  • What are people encouraged to wear as a mark of respect?

           Purple poppies


Explain to students that they can extend their research and explore the webpage National Geographic Kids list of animal heroes that have “answered the call of duty.” Students may use this additional information, to choose one of these animals in a WWWWWH chart.