Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo

Alison Lester
Suitable for: 
5 years+
CBCA Shortlist
Moving House

Ernie is going to live in Arnhem Land for a year. He flies above the desert, travels over the floodplains, crosses the East Alligator River and arrives at his new home.

A young boy, Ernie moves with his family to the outback Oenpelli Community of Gunbalanya, (24 km east of Darwin) in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, for a year. He writes home to his friends about his experiences. He learns that they are studying the exact place in which he is living. Follow Ernie’s adventures with his six new friends.

The story is based on the author, Alison Lester’s visit to the community.

This book is another in the series that Lester has written about those special kids:  Clive, Rosie, Frank, Tessa, Nicky, Clive and Celeste, and now our new friend Ernie.

Please find below suggestions extracted from Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo Learning Time sheet.  For more ideas please download the attached sheet.

Having Fun with Music and Movement

Listen to traditional Aboriginal Music

Provide the children with instruments to play along with.

You may want to investigate Aboriginal instruments and make some of your own.


  • Explain to the children that traditionally only men played the didgeridoo.
  • Collect some pictures of didgeridoos to show the children.
  • Give the children a cardboard roll, appropriate colour paints and fine paintbrushes to decorate their didgeridoo.
  • Encourage girls to make tapping sticks by decorating pieces of dowel or sticks they have found.
  • Make some shakers by filling empty plastic bottles with a variety of natural materials such as small gum nuts or stones. Ensure the lids are sealed tightly.

Exploring Our World

  • The children can draw pictures or “write” letters to their family or friends. Organise a walk to the closet letterbox or post office to post the children’s special deliveries. You may like to include purchasing the stamps for the children’s letters in your excursion.
  • Go for a walk around the block. How many different types of letterboxes can you see? Take photographs of the children’s favourites and display the photos on a poster.
  • Take the children outside for a treasure hunt of natural objects, eg, leaves, gumnuts, pine cones, small twigs, petals, seed pods. The children can use the materials to make individual or group collages.


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