Hedgehogs and autumn leaves

Snowman made from sand on beach

Australian seasons

Summer, autumn, winter, spring.
What do these words mean to you? What do they mean to the children?

The words we use in English are largely based on a European construct. One of our Little Scientists team members likes to collect Christmas cards with images that reflect this attempt to reconcile Australian reality with the European concept. 

You all know the pictures of Santa and a kangaroo in the snow or koalas and echidnas with Santa hats and snow outside the window. Being surrounded by snowy imagery and possibly even engaging in art activities involving snowmen or reindeer pulling a sleigh can be a bit confusing for young children, who may start to expect snow at Christmas time, despite it being 35°C.

Many places in Australia don’t have seasons that fit neatly into European concepts of Winter. Collecting autumn leaves is a little difficult if you don’t have many imported feral trees in your area. Spring flowers may have been flowering all ‘winter’.

Getting started

  • Some Indigenous Australian cultures have names for as many as eight seasons or more. Why not ask your local Indigenous Elders to share if appropriate?
  • You could also observe and document weather patterns with the children.
  • Produce a weather chart and decide when the season is changing. If you keep one each year you can compare your chart to last year’s.
  • Ask parents or grandparents to describe what the weather was like 20, 50 years ago.
  • Note when the wattle first starts flowering. Does it flower on Wattle Day (1 September)?

Have you completed a weather project with the children in your care?
Let us know in the comments below.

Hayley Bates
Article author: Hayley Bates
National Certifications Coordinator

Hayley has an insatiable thirst for learning – about everything! Her sheer joy of discovery and passion for professional development makes her the perfect person to run the Little Scientist’s House Certification program.

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