Games from India

[Episode 11 | 1908 : Evelyn]

Evelyn, her brother Edward and their friend Freddie Müller are playing an imaginary game under the tree. They are pretending to be tiger hunters in India. Miss Müller tells them about tigers and their inability to reverse down trees. Evelyn's father brings home the Mr Wong's 'No. 5' assortment of fireworks to be used on cracker night.


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 [3]

Activity 1: India and literature
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Historical events
  • As a class, discuss why Evelyn could be so obsessed with jungle animals and hunting. Ask students which country Evelyn was imagining she was in. Invite them to think about what might have influenced Evelyn, living in the early 19th century, to be interested in and knowledgeable about India. How do they think children accessed information and entertainment in the time before television, cinema and radio? Discuss the importance of children's books for entertainment and developing the imagination.
  • Explain that one very popular author at the time was British colonial author and poet Rudyard Kipling who wrote The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901) and other adventure stories set in India. Read examples of some of his stories and poems to the class and discuss their meaning and relevance to children in this era in Australia.

  • Use the school or local library and the internet to research Kipling and have students present a brief report explaining who he was and why he was such an influential writer. In 1907 Kipling became the first English language recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which helps explain his popularity in Evelyn's era. Ask students to find out why Kipling wrote about India. Why do they think stories about India were so popular with young children in the British Empire at that time?
  • Another children's book, popular at the time, that begins in India was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Have students read this book, or read it to the class. The story was written and set in a similar period to this episode and will assist students to discover more about life for children at this time. What is the link to India in this story? Look at how India is represented by the author and then later by the filmmaker in the 1993 film adaptation of the novel.
  • Have students use the library and the internet to find out what other children's books were popular in Australia at this time.


Activity 2: Bengal tigers and Indian elephants
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Character
  • As a class, discuss the information Miss Müller gives Evelyn about tigers. What does she say? Do students think tigers can reverse down trees? Have students consider the way Miss Müller gives this information. Do they believe her? Ask students to work in pairs to complete the following sentence on the worksheet, supporting their opinion with evidence from the text.

'We think the filmmaker wants Evelyn and the audience to see Miss Müller as a (reliable/unreliable) ... source of information because ...'

  • Encourage students to consider the way Miss Müller is dressed, her demeanour and the prop she is holding (a book). Ask them to discuss and compare responses.
  • As a class, discuss the importance of using reliable, authoritative sources when undertaking research. Then set groups the task of researching the question of whether or not tigers are able to reverse down trees.

  • Discuss 'Tiger or scaredy-cat?' from the Odd Spot in the Melbourne newspaper, The Age, 24 September 2009. A tiger in a Bristol zoo had climbed to the top of his new five-metre-high platform and couldn't climb down. The zoo keeper thinks the tiger will come down when he is hungry, but can he climb down from the platform? Who is right? The zoo keeper who installed the platform or Miss Müller who says tigers can climb up trees but they can't climb down. Can tigers jump down from a height of five metres? You can access the Odd Spot from The Age website,
  • Ask students to consider the concept of 'spoof' stories. Have them research other spoof stories that have been published in the newspaper or on the internet. A spoof, or parody, must contain elements of reality mixed with the unbelievable. Ask them to create a parody story of their own and identify a day in the year when it is customary to tell such stories.


Activity 3: Dressing for play
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Subtheme(s): Fashion; Relationships
  • As a class examine the clothes worn by the characters Evelyn, Edward and Freddie. Ask students to describe what each is wearing and to discuss why they are wearing these outfits for play. Evaluate the suitability of these garments for playing in and compare them to clothes students wear today. Examine the reasons why fashions change.
  • During this process complete a class KWLH chart to record evidence of:
  1. What we Know
  2. What we Want to know
  3. What we Learned
  4. How we learned it.

  • Locate images of Evelyn, Edward and Freddie in the 'Stills gallery' and download them. Ask the students to paste each one onto a separate sheet of paper. Underneath each image students are to write a description of the character's clothing, as if they were fashion reporters for a newspaper. Ask students to design a new outfit for each character. To begin this task, students should research the fashion styles worn by children of this era. Students should explain how their designs suit the personality of each character.


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