Through Whose Eyes? Aboriginal and European Perspectives in Literature

1. Interpreting Literal and Inferred Meanings in Traditional Tales

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To understand the difference between what is explicitly stated in a text and what is inferred

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can explain what is explicitly stated in a text
  • I can explain the possible underlying meaning in a text
  • I can provide evidence to justify my thinking

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

In addition, it is suggested that teachers refer to the guidelines around establishing a safe & culturally respectful classroom in the ‘Before you use this sequence’ section of the resource.

Display an image or images from well-known fables and ask students to respond to the image, e.g. The Hare and the Tortoise.

Question prompts:

  • What do you know about fables?
  • What fables do you remember?
  • What does this image make you think about?
  • What story might this image be referring to?
  • What can you suggest about each character in the illustration?
  • Do you know of any traditional stories from other countries or cultures?
  • What do we notice about all fables and traditional stories?

Discuss the storylines and characters.

Guide the discussion toward the life lessons inferred in fables and traditional stories.

Model reading a lesser known fable, for example, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing; and view an animated Dreamtime story from the Dust Echoes collection, such as Chapter 5, Namorrodor. Model a think-aloud to explicitly discuss the author’s purpose and intent with reference to vocabulary and sentence structure.

Consider the cultural backgrounds of your students when selecting traditional stories for shared, modelled and independent reading tasks.

Co-construct a Flow Map with students, summarising the main events in the story. Demonstrate alternative methods to summarise the story, for example, short sentences, dot points and drawings.

Provide a wide range of print and digital fables and traditional tales.

Working in pairs, students to collaboratively construct their own Flow Map, using one of the methods demonstrated. Alternatively, students could use a digital collaborative platform or app to create an oral retell and animation of a traditional tale.

Suggest the following collaborative structure to students, modelling each step to support students:

  • Alternate reading a section of the text or, if working with animated texts, watch the text together.
  • Independently list some of the key events.
  • Share, compare, discuss and refine the flow maps, agreeing on the main events in the text.
  • Write the moral or lesson from the text, using events in the text to justify your thinking.

Enable students to read and comprehend a traditional tale by providing texts appropriate for their reading and language skills. Explicitly teach vocabulary prior to starting the activity. Complete the construction of a Flow Map as a modelled reading task with the group, providing individual assistance as needed.

Extend students by encouraging them to provide detailed connections between the events in the story and their interpretation of the life lesson, and to use the language style and descriptive vocabulary used in the text in their own summary.

Discuss the difference between literal information that is directly stated in the text, and making inferences, based on information in the text and our prior knowledge.

Ask students “Is the information recorded on our Flow Maps literal or inferred?”

Facilitate a discussion highlighting the difference between the literal events in the texts and how they link to the inferred meaning in the text.

Explicitly demonstrate linking the key events in the text with the life lesson. For example, in the animation, The Namorrodor, the story warns of the dangers present at night around the campfire. When meat is cooked at night, the Namorrodor appears and threatens the sleeping baby. The life lesson teaches us to not cook meat at night on the camp fire because the smell may attract unwanted and dangerous animals, such as snakes, centipedes, scorpions, ants and other biting insects, and that babies should not sleep unprotected in the bush.

Model writing the life lesson of the story you have shared with the class and using evidence from the text to justify your thinking.

Allow time for the students to include the life lesson from the fable they selected on their Flow Map.

Invite one pair to share their work and explain the life lesson from their story and suggest how the events in the text support their interpretation. Model giving feedback using the Two Stars and a Wish protocol.

Organise students into groups of four. Each pair then takes turns to present their work.

Allow time for students to ask questions and provide peer feedback on how clearly they have explained the moral with supporting events, using the Two Stars and a Wish protocol.

Collect the Flow Maps to use as formative assessment.

ABC Education, 2021. Dust Echoes. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2017. Peer Feedback. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Click View, 2019. Aboriginal Dreaming stories. [Online]
Available at: 
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Library of Congress, n.d. A selection of stories from The Aesop for Children. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Second Level Support Service, 2008. Using Graphic Organisers in Teaching and Learning. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

The Fun Kids, 2015. The Top Five Most Popular Moral Stories. [Online]
Available at: 
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Thinking Maps, n.d. Flow Map. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

World of Tales, 2022. Stories for Children from around the world. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Back to Stages