Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Oranges and lemons

[Episode 22 | 1798 : Sam]

Sam is out looking for the farm's goat when he hears someone humming the same notes as he is singing. Following the sounds, he is guided back to the farm, where the goat is waiting. After leaving out some milk to thank an Aboriginal boy for leading him to the goat, his bucket is returned.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Children's nursery rhymes
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Customs and traditions; Language and scripting
  • 'Oranges and Lemons' is an English nursery rhyme and singing game which refers to the bells of several churches all within or in close proximity to the City of London. Explain that Sam's knowledge of the song shows his connection to his home country, England, and his status in particular as a Londoner (not a farm lad). 
  • Students can listen to the whole song at the following website:
    Museum of Childhood, 'Oranges and Lemons', http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/childrens_lives/nursery_rhymes/oranges_&_lemons/
  • Refer students to Student Activity Sheet E22.5 Children's nursery rhymes and ask students to read the lyrics of the song. Ask them to find the various places mentioned on a map of central London. Sam is from London. Read Sam's story in the book My Place and focus on the part when he says that when he climbs the big tree he pretends he can 'see all the way to Shoreditch', where the rest of his family live. Ask students to find Shoreditch on the map.
  • 'Oranges and Lemons' can be played as a game. Ask the students to form pairs and sing the song. As they do so they are to walk through an arch made by two of the players (made by having the players face each other, raise their arms over their head, and clasp their partners' hands). The challenge comes during the final lines:

Here comes a candle to light you to bed.

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chop, chop, chop, the last one's dead!

  • On the word 'dead', the children forming the arch drop their arms to catch the pair of children currently passing through, who are then 'out' and must form another arch next to the existing one. In this way, the series of arches becomes a steadily lengthening tunnel through which each set of two players have to run faster and faster to escape in time.
  • Discuss with students how the song works as a communication device between Sam and the Aboriginal boy. The music to the song is non-verbally communicated. The Aboriginal boy would have learned the common nursery rhyme from contact with other settlers. Ask students to suggest other situations in which music can act as a 'common language'.

  • Ask students to write a short poem or song lyrics about 'their place'. It could be sung to the tune of 'Oranges and Lemons' and should mention street names, significant buildings or natural features that are evident in 'their place' and show their sense of belonging.


Activity 2: Feeling frightened
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Subtheme(s): Indigenous perspectives; Language and scripting; Relationships

Note:this activity requires students to view the whole of Episode 22 | 1798 (not just the third clip Oranges and lemons). The DVDs of the series may be purchased from the Australian Children's Television Foundation (www.actf.com.au/catalog/item/200) or the ABC Shop.

  • As a class, view Episode 22 | 1798, and focus on how Sam is taught to be afraid of Indigenous people. Focus on Mr Owen's comment in the first clip Farm lad, that 'behind every stand of trees, there are eyes that have no love'. Ask students to list ways in which the filmmaker attempts to make Sam and the audience feel frightened of Indigenous people. Refer students to Student Activity Sheet E22.6 Feeling frightened.
  • Explore other ways Indigenous peoples are represented in books, in pictures or illustrations, in the media, in films, etc. Look at a range of texts from past and present and compare these by asking some of the questions below:
  1. Do all groups express their point of view or is only one viewpoint given?
  2. Are readers made aware of the positive roles played by Indigenous people through history and today?
  3. Do photographs come with captions that include the name of the person or group saying where they are from?
  4. Are all people represented in the storyline, the text or the illustrations?
  5. Are people portrayed as being in control of their own lives and able to resolve challenges?
  6. Is the diversity of Indigenous cultures referred to?
  7. Are specific Aboriginal languages and cultures referred to, or is there an implicit assumption that there is one 'Aboriginal culture'?
  • Please note: many texts prior to the 1980s may use stereotypical images and language to present an often negative view of Indigenous people or position them as problematic. Be sure to examine the texts carefully using the questions above to guide you.
  • Find an article in the newspaper about Indigenous people and identify the positive and the negative language used to describe Indigenous groups or individuals. Ask the questions above and discuss how Indigenous people are represented in the media today.
  • Focus students' attention on the fact that although Sam used to be frightened of the Aboriginal boy, that fear has been replaced by friendship and respect. Ask students to describe:
  • What happened to Sam to cause him to change his attitude?
  • What visual evidence there is that shows Sam and the Aboriginal boy are friends at the end of the episode?
  • If this episode has been viewed by students, point out that in Episode 21 | 1808, the older Sam is still friends with an Aboriginal man. Note Sam's comment in that episode that there 'were no problems at all' with Indigenous people.
  • How is tension built in the clip where Sam is looking for the lost goat in the bush? What technical and framing devices are used by the filmmaker to create Sam's anxiety and frustration about finding the goat?

  • Divide the class into pairs. In each pair, one person takes the role of Sam and one the role of the Indigenous boy. The pairs can role-play a conversation between Sam and his new friend in which they discuss their thoughts and feelings about each other, their lifestyles, their daily duties, their roles and responsibilities, their daily diet, and so on. 
  • Explore the documentary Reel Injun, about the representation of American Indians (Native Americans) in film through the history of cinema in America:
  1. Reel Injun: on the trail of the Hollywood Indian, www.reelinjunthemovie.com/site/
  2. YouTube, 'Reel Injun Promo', www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqVmqK5Nbuk
  • Consider how Australian Indigenous people have been represented in films over time and how that is changing today.

The following websites may be useful:

  1. Australia.gov.au, 'About Australia: Indigenous film', http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/indigenous-film
  2. Australian Screen, 'Indigenous Australia' http://aso.gov.au/education/indigenous/
  • In small groups, choose one of the films mentioned in the websites above, or choose another Australian film from your library or research online. Watch the film, a promo or a clip from the resource and reflect on how Indigenous people are represented in the film using the questions below as a guide:
  1. Do all groups get to express their point of view or is only one viewpoint given?
  2. Do members of the group have a range of emotions and behaviour or do they all act the same?
  3. Are Aboriginal people shown taking part in the society in a variety of ways, or are they presented only in particular or limiting roles, eg hunting, fishing?
  4. Are people represented with a range of skills, or are they restricted, eg Indigenous people are good at sport or art.
  5. Are viewers made aware of the positive roles played by Indigenous people through history and today or is there a focus on the negative?
  6. Do the images include the name of the person or group, including where they are from?
  7. Are all people represented in the storyline? Do we get to know them as people?
  8. Are the Aboriginal people portrayed as being in control of their own lives and able to resolve their own challenges?
  9. Is the diversity of Indigenous cultures referred to or acknowledged?
  10. Are specific Aboriginal languages and cultures referred to?
  • Share your reflections with the class and discuss.


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