In this unit, students deepen their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ traditional uses of natural resources. They research minerals and how they are extracted through mining. They explore the properties, uses, and impact on the environment of producing everyday materials such as plastics, glass, wood and metals.


At the heart of Jajoo Warrngara are the communities that lead the work on Country. We would like to acknowledge the storytellers Uncle Joshua Walker and Uncle Raymond Walker, who have shared their cultural knowledge, and pay our respects to the Elders past and present. 

Uncle Raymond Walker (Dege – meaning white hair) and Uncle Joshua Walker (Gilan – meaning grey hair) are proud Quandamooka Elders who hold strong and historical connections to Country and the community of Stradbroke Island. They both acknowledge their Grandmother Oodgeroo Noonuccal and her generosity in sharing with others and appreciating culture. They pass these stories down to their families, through yarning, dancing and creative expression. 


These tailored classroom protocols have been developed by Tribal Custodians and Elders Uncle Joshua and Uncle Raymond. This guide directly relates to the Quandamooka community’s knowledge and stories, which have been generously shared with the Jajoo Warrngara team. The teaching resources have been developed in collaboration with the Quandamooka community. Quandamooka Protocols

Essential Questions 

  • What are the traditional uses of ochre and various other mineral resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures? 
  • How do we define minerals and materials? 
  • What minerals and materials are extracted from mines? 
  • What properties exist in natural and human-made materials such as fibres, metals, glass and plastics?
  • What cultural, social and environmental impact is the mining industry responsible for? 
  • How do companies work with First Nations’ Custodians to protect Country and Culture?
  • Are there any potential solutions for sustainable use and management of materials today?
Links to Resources

Cultural Protocols

View the teaching protocols for this unit.

Teacher Resources

View the teacher resource for this unit.


Students understand the properties, uses, and impact of everyday materials. They investigate the Cultural, Environmental and Social impacts of mining in Australia.


Quandamooka Traditional Custodian Elisha Kissick welcomes you to Quandamooka Country and invites you to share in stories.

Our Earth's Magic Materials Lesson 1

  • Share the Quandamooka Welcome to Country with students.
  • Using the Map of Indigenous Australia | AIATSIS, identify where Quandamooka Country is, and in which Country your school community is located. 
  • As a class watch the Quandamooka Creation Story film. 
  • Outside of the classroom, form a yarning circle to discuss the films. Some questions to support your discussion are as follows:
    What are your initial thoughts and feelings about the films you observed?
    How is the landscape different from or similar to the Country where our school community is located?
    How does the story represent the importance of animals, plants and minerals to Quandamooka peoples?
    How does the story demonstrate the link between First Nations Cultural Knowledges and science?
    What was Uncle Joshua referring to when he talked about the 'ochre' and its effect in the water?
    How are minerals and natural materials used by First Nations peoples for medicines, arts, crafts and used in daily life?
    How might the extraction of these minerals and other mining activities bring about profound changes to societies and the environment they inhabit? 


  • In pairs, encourage students to connect with the land they are on by exploring the school grounds or oval and observe the natural surroundings. Ask them to pay attention to the trees, the leaves, the dirt or sand. 
  • In their notebooks, students will draw one of the observed specimens on their nature walk and label it to the best of their knowledge. For example parts of a flower: leaf, stem, petal, stamen and pistil.  
  • Investigate the objects in the school, such as the tables, chairs, buildings, poles. Ask students 'What are they made out of?'


  • Students share their completed task sheet, using scientific language to describe the properties of each material discovered on their walk - size, texture, shape, density, colour, hardness. 
  • In the next lesson, students will be investigating some of the natural and human-made materials they observed today on their journey. 
Mark as complete

Our Earth's Magic Materials Lesson 2

  • Following on from the last lesson, ask students to recall the places they visited and the things they found on their journey around the school. 
  • Starting the lesson with an Acknowledgement of  Country, next ask students to think about what the Country looked like and what was here prior to colonisation. Then ask them to reflect on what the Country looks like now and what natural and human-made resources we use every day. 
  •  Watch the following clip Properties of Materials | Science for Kids 
  • Divide the class into small groups or stations and give each group a set of materials to examine. (Any object will do, but try to have a range of materials with different properties. Some examples are: rubbers, rulers, plastic containers, pans, forks, bottles, mirrors, foil, makeup, cling wrap, toys.) 


  • Students are to examine the objects and describe their properties: texture, colour, flexibility, conductivity and transparency.
  • Students compare and contrast the properties of different materials with their group. For example, asking: Which fibre is the softest? Which metal is the most conductive? Which plastic is the most durable?
  • Students create a chart in their notebooks to record their findings. 


  • As a class, discuss the learnings. 
  • What materials do you think were used to build the classroom, your homes, the roads outside the school? 
Mark as complete

Our Earth's Magic Materials Lesson 3

  • Following on from the last lesson, organise the class into five groups or stations. 
  • Using the activity resource provided, instruct students to play the sorting game, Matching Materials.
  • Ensure you have already created the resource (by cutting out each card) so that the answers are not obvious.


  • Using the sorting game cards provided, students match each product to the corresponding minerals or fibres that make it, as well as matching each material to the products it creates. 
  • As an additional challenge, encourage students to compete with each other to see who can make the matches the fastest!
  • The game cards include the following: 

Glass (containing sand, soda ash, limestone) used in windows, mirrors, light bulbs

Metals (containing aluminium, copper, zinc tin) used in cars, trains, electronic devices

Wool (containing fibres from sheep, alpacas, goats) used in clothing, blankets, carpets

Cotton (containing fibres from the cotton plant) used in clothing, bed sheets, towels

Synthetic fabrics (containing chemicals based on oil products) creating polyester, nylon, rayon. Used in clothing, upholstery

Paper (containing cellulose fibres made from wood pulp) used in greeting cards, maps, art 

Batteries (containing minerals such as lithium and cobalt) used in TV remote controls, alarm clocks 

Concrete (containing minerals such as sand, gravel, and limestone) used in buildings

  • Students then create a list of ten products they use most at home or at school. Using the internet, they identify and list the materials used to create each product. 

Science of Glass Making: How is Glass Made? 

Synthetic Fibres | Types, Properties and Uses | Video for Kids 

Aluminium Facts - kidcyber

Cotton Facts for Kids

Concrete Facts for Kids

Facts about wool - kidcyber 

  • As an extension activity, students research the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources and record their definitions in their notebooks. 


  • Students to review their lists. Were there any materials that were used more than others? Were they renewable or non-renewable resources? 
Mark as complete

Our Earth's Magic Materials Lesson 4

  • Following the last lesson, students further their research to identify how the main source of each material is harvested/mined.   
  • Watch the first 14 minutes of Miriam Margoyles: Almost Australian episode 3 on ABC iview regarding the mining industry. NB You will need to pre-register to watch this clip on ABC iview. https://iview.abc.net.au/video/DO1902H003S00  



  • Students answer the following questions about the clip.
  • What is 'Colorbond' and where does it come from?
  • In two or three sentences, describe the open cut mine you saw in the clip. 
  • Why do you think people visiting or working in the mine have to wear 'high vis' and hard hats?
  • How much rock do the miners move per day?
  • Where is the McArthur river? On what Country does the McArthur River exist and who are the Traditional Custodians of this Country? Using the Map of Indigenous Australia | AIATSIS and Google Earth, students are to find which Country/s the McArthur River is on.
  • Are there any formal agreements with Traditional Custodians to mine this Country?
  • What is the process of 'moving a river' and what impact might this have on the river and the environment itself?
  • How has the mining company limited impact upon Country and Culture? 



  • What processes exist to protect the rights of First Nations Custodians and their Country when it comes to excavational drilling and mining?
Mark as complete

Our Earth's Magic Materials Lesson 5

  • Following on from the last lesson, students will continue to research the many minerals which exist on the continent and their extraction processes. 
  • There is a sand mine on Stradbroke Island, Quandamooka Country. Students are to investigate the environmental and social impacts of material production and consumption here and in other parts of the continent. Some links to support their research are as follows:







  • Using the knowledge gained through their research, students are to create a multi-model powerpoint presentation which presents an argument for or against mining minerals. 


  • When yarning with Uncle Raymond, he was interested in how the Earth responded to the Covid lockdowns. He noticed signs of regeneration during that time, which showed us the Earth's ability to heal when given a break from human activities. How might this reiterate the importance of taking care of our environment and making sustainable choices in the future?  


  • Students to share their thoughts and feelings about the presentations. 
Mark as complete



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the content on this site may contain images and references to deceased persons.