Wild Australian Life: Year 5 English, Science

Exploring the 2023 CBCA Short List: Information Books

The content description links on this page are in line with Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum. Use this guide to compare codes across versions.   

Unit writer: Karen Rogers

Year Level:

Text synopsis:  From a leading expert and talented visual artist comes this celebration of the astounding diversity of Australia's animal kingdom. More than one million animal species make their homes in Australia - from the deepest oceans to the tops of mountains and the harshest deserts. But just how do they survive? Discover the remarkable stories behind some of the world's most extraordinary animals in this must-have collection for every Australian family.

Rationale: In this unit students will interpret written and visual information and explore the way that information is organised and presented. They will use this learning to create an informative text of their own, demonstrating their understanding of text structure and layout. Students will simultaneously learn about Australian animals and their adaptations for survival in their habitat. They will create an animal of their own imagining to demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between physical features and habitats.

English concepts: Genre, Code and Convention

Science concepts: Adaptations, survival, classification, scientific representation, communication of ideas

Overarching questions: 

  1. How can information be organised and communicated? 
  2. How do illustrations and scientific vocabulary help us to learn about the world?
  3. How do the structural and behavioural features of animals enable them to survive in specific habitats?

Rich assessment task: Students are invited to create an original animal species with features designed to enhance its survival in a selected habitat. They will create a multimodal text that communicates information about their animal, its taxonomy and its adaptive features. Publish as a whole class book by collating individual texts and organising to create a cohesive informative text

Learning intention: Background knowledge helps to make meaning


As a class, look at the animals depicted on the front cover. Invite students to point out any that they are familiar with and describe what they know about that animal. Notice and discuss the way that the images are stylised representations rather than scientific images or photographs. You may like to compare the stylised image to a photo of the animal, e.g., thorny devil

Key questions:
• Which animals are familiar?
• What features are shown that help with identification?
• What do you know about the animals on the cover? 
• What is the same and what is different between the stylised image on the cover and a photo of the animal?
• What techniques has the illustrator used to highlight the identifying features?


Ask students to think about an animal that they like or find interesting. Think about the features that make it unique and draw a picture of the animal. After their first attempt, watch Austin's Butterfly with students, which highlights the difference between scientific and stylistic images. Allow students time to refine their animal illustration using self and peer feedback.

Guiding questions:
• What are the features of your animal that make it different to others?
• How can you represent those features in an illustration?
• How can you act on feedback to make your animal’s features more obvious to the viewer?


Evidence of learning


• identify unique features of animals
• state prior knowledge of animal features
• visually represent prior knowledge of animal features

Learning intention: Informative texts are structured to meet their purpose


Open the book to pp. 2-3 (Introduction and Contents). Read the Introduction with students, focusing on the second and third paragraphs which clearly state the intended purposes of the book – learning about how animals survive in their habitat and exploring the adaptations that exist for animals to ‘work in harmony with the environment’. Next, make predictions about the entries (and their order) that might feature on the contents list. Compare predictions to the actual list and discuss the way that the text is organised to meet the purposes.

Key questions:
• Why do authors write informative texts?
• How does the author share the purpose of the text?
• How do authors organise ideas in an informative text?


Collect a range of print-based texts that feature animals – include picture books, novels, graphic novels, information books, posters, etc. Invite pairs of students to explore one of the texts and record their observations about their features and purpose. Find someone else with a text that has a similar purpose and compare the text features.

Guiding questions:
• How does the purpose of a text influence the structure?
• How can we use the features of a text to understand its purpose?


Evidence of learning


• identify the structural features of an informative text
• determine the purpose of a text based on its features

Learning intention: Informative texts use signposts to guide the reader

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Complete list of learning intentions covered in this unit: 

  • Background knowledge helps to make meaning
  • Informative texts are structured to meet their purpose
  • Informative texts use signposts to guide the reader
  • Diagrams help us to understand complex scientific information 
  • Scientific language is used for accurate communication
  • Informative pages organise information using consistent structures
  • Opening paragraphs introduce the information that follows 
  • Labelled illustrations convey scientific information
  • Informative texts use present tense to assert authority 
  • Informative texts use precise vocabulary
  • Page layout and design supports the reader to make meaning