Sorry Day

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

sorry day

Best suited to:

K – Year 6

KLAs covered:

English, PDH (family relationships, trust), HASS, Indigenous histories and cultures


  • how Aboriginal children were taken away from their families, how many hid to escape being stolen and the pain they and their families experienced;
  • what was the National Apology to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and when did it happen?
  • what does it mean to say ‘sorry’? Why is it important to say sorry? How does it make people feel?
  • what is National Sorry Day? Why do we have it? Why is it important?
  • what do we remember on National Sorry Day?

Need to know:

  • the National Apology was delivered by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 13 February 2008. National Sorry Day takes place on 26 May every year. Both these weeks are especially good times to share Sorry Day with children;
  • this book tells two separate stories set in different time periods but connected through the events, emotion and impact;
  • the two stories unfold on alternate double-page spreads;
  • the first story is about Maggie who’s waiting with her mum and with thousands of others to hear the Prime Minister say ‘sorry’ to the First Nations people for stealing their children;
  • the second story is about how the children were taken away, how they hid and the pain felt by the stolen children and their families;
  • the book is a wonderful and powerful way of introducing children of all ages to the story of the Stolen Generations;
  • explores the power and importance of acknowledgement and saying ‘sorry’;
  • suitable for younger children, while also providing opportunities for deeper discussion with older primary students about Australia’s history, reconciliation, etc;
  • the powerful word choice, use of colour and visual symbolism in the two stories evoke emotion and empathy in the reader;
  • Maggie’s terror when she loses her mother in the crowd is easy for younger children to identify with;
  • the historical story about the stolen children is illustrated in a monochromatic pallet, using tones of sepia, black and grey. In contrast, Maggie’s contemporary story is illustrated in colour;
  • the book does not explain why the children were stolen from their parents and this may spark some questions from the children;
  • there is information about the Stolen Generations and National Sorry Day at the back of the book;

Discussion Questions (before reading):

  • allow a few moments for children to look at the cover and title; 
  • for younger children (K-Year 2): point out the author’s name and discuss the terms ‘author’ and ‘illustrator’;
  • look at the title of the book together and ask: what do you think this means? What do you think this book might be about?
  • for older children (Years 2-6): ask what they know about Sorry Day and briefly discuss as a class;
  • look at the illustration on the front cover and ask: what do you see, think and wonder about this book? Write the children’s responses on the classroom whiteboard;
  • for younger children (K-Year 2): explain that this book tells two stories, one that happened a long time ago and one that happened just a few years ago;
  • read the Foreword aloud before reading the story;

Discussion Questions (after reading):

  • ask the children what they thought about of the book. Which parts or aspects did they like? Which parts or aspects did they not like? Why?
  • ask the children how the book made them feel. Which parts made them feel like that?
  • what do you notice about how the story is told? (it’s two stories, told on alternate pages);
  • why do you think the author wanted to tell two stories in this way? How are the stories connected?
  • can you see any similarities/parallels between the two stories in terms of the language used on each page (Maggie is twirling around her Mum’s legs, the children are playing; Maggie is standing very still with her Mum, the children are silent, hiding; etc)
  • what do you notice about the illustrations? Can you describe them? Are there any differences between the illustrations in the two stories? How are they the same? How are they different?
  • the words “Long ago and not so long ago” appear at the beginning and at the end of the historical story. Show the children these two pages and read them again. Ask the children: what do you think those words mean? Why do you think the author has used them at the beginning and at the end of that story?
  • open the final, fold-out illustration and look at it together. Ask the children: what do you see? Why do you think this illustration has been done like this? What does the illustrator want you to see? (the history of the Stolen Generations unfolding, from left to right, monochrome to colour);
  • for older children (Years 3-6): if children don’t mention it, ask what they know about why the children were taken away from their families. Lead a brief discussion about governments and people in the past thinking Aboriginal people were inferior to white Australians, that they knew better than Aboriginal people and that Aboriginal children should be brought up by white people;  


  • children complete a wordsearch using vocabulary from the story;
  • children write and/or draw a response to the story. They can draw or write about their favourite part or write about something they learnt from the story;

Years 3 – 6

Children imagine they are one of the children who has to run and hide to avoid being taken from their families.

Before they start writing, ask the children to consider (and perhaps to make notes about):

  • where they are
  • when this is happening – what time of day, etc
  • who they are with
  • what is happening and what are they doing before the men arrive to take them?
  • what happens when the men arrive – what do they do and say?
  • what thoughts are going through the child’s head?
  • what do they do?
  • how do they feel?

You may like to write these prompt on the classroom whiteboard.

Years 5 – 6

Children research the National Apology and National Sorry Day. They can read the information at the back of Sorry Day and can use laptops to research in small groups, pairs or individually and share their work with the class.

You may like to direct the children to these websites:

Free, printable word-search puzzles

These free printable word-search puzzles for kids are great for building and reinforcing the vocabulary used when you’re discussing Sorry Day. 

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

Free writing template

You can download and print our free writing template for use with Sorry Day here (PDF).

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