Day Break

Free lesson plan, writing template and printable word-search puzzles for kids

day break

Best suited to:

K – Year 6

KLAs covered:

English, history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures


  • that Aboriginal people view and mark Australia Day differently to non-Indigenous Australians;
  • the importance of remembering how white settlement changed the lives of generations of Aboriginal people;
  • the importance of Country to Aboriginal people and the strong connection they have to their Country;

Need to know:

  • author Amy McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton in Queensland;
  • this is a new book, published in 2021;
  • the story is told from the point of view of a First Nations little girl and begins with her confusion around Australia Day and why her father doesn’t hang the painting she did at school of the Australian flag on the family’s fridge;
  • on 26 January, the little girl, her dad and her grandmother make their way back to Country to remember in their own way, drawing strength from being together and from sharing stories as they move through a shifting landscape;
  • mentions the Aboriginal peoples’ presence on this land for thousands of years before 1788, the loss of Aboriginal lives and land at the hands of the white settlers and the grandmother being stolen from her family as a child;
  • helps develop children’s perspective-taking skills and empathy as they see Australia Day from the point of view of the father and grandmother and begin to understand how First Nations people feel about the way it has been celebrated by non-indigenous Australians;

Discussion Questions (before reading):

  • discuss the cover: what do you see? what do you think the book will be about? what does the title – Day Break – mean?
  • for younger children: point out the title and the names of the author and illustrator;
  • mention Australia Day and lead a brief discussion about it: what is it? why do we have it? what do we remember on Australia Day?
  • for younger children (K-Year 2): if the children are familiar with Sorry Sorry, prompt them to recall what happened when the Others came (sent the First Peoples away from their land, etc);
  • if younger children have not read Sorry Sorry, tell them that on Australia Day we remember the day over 200 years ago when the first English people came to live in Australia. Ask children if they know who lived here before the English people arrived;
  • for older children (Years 3-6): ask them whether there are people in Australia who might feel that Australia Day is not a day to celebrate: who are they and how might they feel about Australia Day and why?

Discussion Questions (after reading):

  • ask children what they thought about of the book. Did they like it? Not like it? Why?
  • how did the story make them feel? Sad? Hopeful? Happy? Invite them to share which parts of the story made them feel that way and turn back to the pages they indicate so the class can discuss them;
  • why do you think the little girl’s dad wouldn’t put her painting of the flag on the fridge?
  • why do you think Aboriginal people don’t like the Australian flag? (it is the flag invented by the English and reminds them/is a symbol of all the harmful things the English and Australian colonists did to the Aboriginal people);
  • for younger children: show the page where the little girl is standing on the desk in her classroom. What do the children think is happening in this illustration?
  • why does the dad say ‘This isn’t a celebration?’
  • Nan says ‘We’ll hold our own ceremony’. Why does she say this? What is the difference between a celebration and a ceremony (a ceremony marks or remembers something but is not necessarily a happy occasion; a celebration is usually a happy occasion);
  • why do you think the word ‘Country’ is written with a capital letter in the story (because Country has a special, very important meaning for Aboriginal people);
  • what do you think it means when the little girl’s Nan says ‘Our Country sings to us. It brings us home.’
  • what does the word ‘ancestors’ mean?
  • what does Nan mean when she says ‘The ancestors are still here, on this Country’? (their spirit remains on the land to which they belong);


All ages:

  • children write and/or draw a response to the story;
  • children complete a wordsearch using vocabulary from the story;
  • children use the vocabulary in the wordsearch to write sentences about what happened in the story;
  • sequencing activity: children retell the story using a sentence or paragraph for the beginning, middle and end of the story;
  • children write a book review, describing what they liked and what they didn’t like about the story;
  • children write and/or draw about how the story made them feel: happy, sad, hopeful or some combination of emotions. They may like to use the sentence starters: I felt happy when … I felt sad when … I felt worried when …

Years 3 – 6:

  • children write about how the story helped them to better understand the way Aboriginal people feel about Australia Day. What did they think about Australia Day before reading the story and what do they think now? Have their feelings changed, as well as their thoughts and understanding? How and why?
  • for older children: do you know of any other countries where European people colonised/stole the land and treated the first owners of the land very badly? (mention USA, Canada, South America, New Zealand if children do not). Why do you think this happened? (discuss religious freedom, land, a place to dispose of unwanted people in general terms);

Your free, printable word-search puzzles and writing template

These free, printable word-search puzzles for kids are great for building and reinforcing the vocabulary used when discussing Day Break. They’re especially helpful for EAL/D students.

There are three different puzzles in this file to enable you to differentiate the activity according to the learning needs of your students.

Download and print our free writing template for use with the picture book Day Break here (PDF).

a flamboyance of flamingos
my name is not refugee
bee & me
lest we forget
the peace book