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Alexander’s outing

Book cover: Alexander's Outing - Ducks walking in a line

A family of ducks goes in search of adventure in Sydney and gets a little more than they have bargained for when they lose little Alexander at the bottom of a hole. The family’s desperate quacking and flapping gets a number of people involved, each with different ideas of how to rescue the duckling. What props do you think they might use to try to save the little duck?

When nothing works, they get water from a nearby fountain using a variety of containers: “dipping and tipping, skipping and dripping, quacking and flapping, dripping and skipping” and fill the hole, Alexander rising to the top. Look around you: What could you use to transport water? What is the quickest or the most efficient way to get a lot of water from A to B?

There is so much potential for engineering projects and problem-solving tasks in this little story. You could present the children with the problem of the duck in the hole before reading the story together. What ideas do they have? Maybe you could even dig a hole in the garden and transport the water from a tap. Are there any other ways to rescue Alexander?

Discussing the story could take you down many different STEM avenues. Do the children know the song about the little ducks that go swimming and then disappear one by one only to reappear in the end? Beyond counting backwards in a fun way, the children could explore all the implications of a row of ducklings following their mother. What are the benefits and the dangers of this set-up? What would happen if the mother took the last place in the line? They could pretend to be a duck family and see what happens when they suddenly run fast or change direction, or when one ‘duckling’ is distracted. They could observe real duck families: How many ducklings are there? Is the last duckling the biggest or the smallest? The bravest or the shiest? How big or small does the gap get between mother and ducklings? This is a great opportunity to follow the Inquiry Cycle of scientific research. The children form hypotheses first, observe the ducks, document their observations and discuss them as a group.

With older children you could also look at the directions given in the story. Could they draw a map of the ducks’ route through the city? They can add the street names and landmarks from the story. Compare this to a real map of Sydney. Can you find the path the ducks took?

Avatar: Kerstin Johnson
Article author: Kerstin Johnson
Content Editor & Resources Developer

With many years’ experience developing educational materials for print and online publishing, Kerstin aims to use her editing and writing skills to produce engaging and user-friendly content across all our platforms.

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