There are hot cross buns coming out of every bakery, the chocolate products are in abundance and many retailers are putting out their Easter themed products. It is the lead up to Easter and though this is a significant religious event for Christians it also has a lot of secular tradition attached to it. As a child (who often suffered episodes of over-thinking things!) I found the Easter holiday and its symbols very confusing. Why do we get eggs? Why are they chocolate? Why is there an Easter bunny? and What is with all the chicken imagery?
As a grown-up, I know most of the answers to these questions. The northern hemisphere have moved into spring, the season of new life and beginning- an echo to the religious themes of resurrection. So, this is why we have the eggs and the chickens and bunnies. The problem I have with all the pink and yellow, cute and sweet pictures of rabbits, is that they don’t look like the things I see in my world of the Australian autumn.
So, for Easter I have fallen in love with a more Australian symbol, the Bilby. The Bilby is a great bunny substitute. It is a quiet, furry and small creature with large ears. It lives in a burrow and moves around quickly at night when it forages for food. Unfortunately, it is endangered. Threatened by the rabbit and feral cat population as well as habitat destruction, it is estimated the remaining population numbers less than 1000. Bilbies live in a few isolated pockets of mainly arid land. When I picture a Bilby I can see the orange of the dirt they burrow in and the greyish green of the desert vegetation. These are the colours of autumn, the time of year Australia celebrates Easter.
The ideas that surround the promotion of the Bilby as an Easter symbol for Australians, fit beautifully into many aspects of the Australian Curriculum. The cross-curriculum priority of sustainability deals with topics such as ecosystems, local action to protect sustainability and future preservation of the environment. In the Science curriculum the Life and Living strand deals with topics such as ecosystems, life cycles and animal adaptations. There are many fiction and non-fiction picture books with bilbies as its theme or as characters. Studying some of these works can support teaching of the English curriculum. You could even get the students to write a persuasive text about why bilbies are a great Easter symbol for Australia (great NAPLAN prep!) There is a lot you can do with the topic of bilbies and its many links to the content of the Australian curriculum.
I hope you will show some appreciation for the Bilby this Easter and add an Australian flavour to the celebration by bringing a bit of Bilby love into your classroom.