A guide to Darcy Moon and the deep-fried Frogs
Darcy Moon is trying to stay alive in year five – but it isn’t easy when your parents are obsessed with saving the planet! Dad has turned the backyard into a giant compost heap, so everywhere she goes she probably stinks like rotten veggies. Meanwhile, Mum has volunteered at Save-a-Species day at school, so she can play music to a bunch of saplings. Darcy is mortified – no wonder she isn’t more popular! But then one afternoon at Aroona Park, something extraordinary happens – she starts to hear the animals talking – and they are in serious trouble! What if she is the only one who can help?
Darcy Moon has so many self doubts and thinks it’s impossible to be part of the cool crowd. But when she stops trying to be popular she makes new friends who like her just as she is.
The wetland ecosystem is a delicate balance of interdependencies and food webs. Without the frogs, the mosquitoes multiply and tortoise eggs become an alternative food source for the tiger snake. The food chain is broken, and the endangered Western Swamp Tortoise is unlikely to survive.
Darcy’s parents tread lightly on the Earth and live by the tenets of reduce, reuse and recycle.
Impact of Humans on the Environment
Darcy Moon provides examples of negative impacts on the environment (illegal frognapping) and positive impacts on the environment (Save-a-Species day).
Darcy and the other children unknowingly contribute to the decline of the local wetland by buying Skippity Chips and supporting Sid Bellows’ frognapping activities. Is it important to make informed choices about which products we buy? Why?
The children in the canteen do not question the ‘Natural flavours … All natural ingredients,’ label on the Skippity Chips packet. Processed foods are convenient and tasty, but do we really know what we are eating?
Click here for teacher notes by Fremantle Press
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Also, for Australian based teachers, please scroll down for ideas on how to use Darcy Moon and the deep-fried frogs to explore the Australian Cross-Curriculum Priority: SUSTAINABILITY.
Organising Idea 1: The biosphere is a dynamic system providing conditions that sustain life
What conditions do frogs need to stay alive? Can a frog survive without water? How does a frog breathe? How else is a frog dependent on water?
What conditions do Western Swamp Tortoises need? What conditions have changed over time for the Western Swamp Tortoise? How has this affected the Western Swamp Tortoise numbers and why?
What do humans need for survival?
Organising Idea 2: All life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.
Look at the wetland ecosystem, food chains and interdependencies. What happens when the balance is disturbed? What happened when the frogs were removed from the wetland ecosystem in Darcy Moon?
Organising Idea 3: Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
In Darcy Moon, what factors contribute to the ecological system? (animals – frogs, mosquitoes, snakes, tortoises etc, vegetation – paperbarks, pondweed, bulrushes etc, water, puddles, shallows, sunshine, rocks, minerals etc). Was the system healthy?
What things contribute to the economic system? Where did kids spend their money? How did Sid Bellows get so rich? Was the system healthy?
What factors contribute to the social system? Did the children know what was in the Skippity Chips when they ate them? Did they care? Did they check the ingredients? Did they buy the chips anyway? Was peer pressure involved? Was the system healthy?
How did the three systems interrelate in Darcy Moon?
Compare and contrast Darcy Moon ‘make believe’ systems with real world systems.
What responsibilities do corporations have to the environment? What responsibilities do consumers have? How can consumers be aware of what corporations they are supporting and how that may impact on the environment?
Some examples could be Palm Oil (rainforest degeneration/destruction of orangutan’s home/air pollution due to burn offs) Petroleum (global warming) Farming in Australia (salination of land, erosion)
There is a positive message in Darcy Moon that individual consumer responsibility and action can make a difference.
Organising Idea 4: World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice are essential for achieving sustainability.
What was Sid Bellow’s world view of the wetland? Did he value the frogs? If so, in what way? Did he value Darcy Moon’s opinions? Was this a sustainable world view?
What was Darcy Moon’s world view? Was this a sustainable world view and why?
What were Darcy’s parents world view? Was this a sustainable world view and why?
What were some other viewpoints expressed in the book?
Organising Idea 5: World views are formed by experiences at personal, local, national and global levels, and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.
What was important to Darcy at the beginning of the book? (fitting in, hiding her parents, being normal)
What was important to Darcy at the end of the book? (healthy wetland, friendships, personal integrity)
What experiences influenced her change of heart?
How did her actions influence the community? (teachers/other students/wildlife people/TV crews and beyond)
How did the community become involved and why?
Organising Idea 6: The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future.
Organising Idea 7: Actions for a more sustainable future reflect values of care, respect and responsibility, and require us to explore and understand environments.
What did Darcy’s parents do to contribute to the sustainability of the environment?
Who else showed respect for the environment and how?
Do you care for the environment? Why?
What are some things we can do to be responsible for the environment?
Organising Idea 8: Designing action for sustainability requires an evaluation of past practices, the assessment of scientific and technological developments, and balanced judgments based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts
Organising Idea 9: Sustainable futures result from actions designed to preserve and/or restore the quality and uniqueness of environments.
What do you think to Save-a-Species Day? Did Save-a-Species Day preserve the wetland and if so how? Did it restore the wetland and if so how?
What does you/your family/your class/your school do to preserve unique environments? What more could you do?
Organise your own Save-Species-Day or something similar.
What does it mean when a wetland or parkland is ‘protected’?
Why was it important that Aroona Park be protected?
Are there any protected environments near to your school? Why are they protected? Why is this important?
Research the Western Swamp Tortoise and find out what has been done to protect its environment? (breeding program, controlled release, fencing to keep out feral predators, irrigation to ensure enough water etc) Why is this important?
YEAR 4 SPECIFIC CONTENT DESCRIPTIONS
Biological Sciences: Living things have life cycles
Learn about the life cycle of frogs
Learn about the lifecycle of the Western Swamp Tortoise
In what way does the lifecycle of the Western Swamp Tortoise contribute to its low numbers?
Biological Sciences: Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive
Learn about the ecology and food interdependencies of an Australian wetland.
Learn about he Western Swamp Tortoise’s natural habitat and how feral predators, drought and the impact of man has affected its ability to survive.
Earth and Space Sciences: Earth surfaces change over time as a result of natural process and human activities
Learn about the impact of residential housing, roads and market gardens on the habitat of the Western Swam Tortoise, the impact this has had and the changes that have been introduced to save the Tortoise from extinction.
YEAR 5 SPECIFIC CONTENT DESCRIPTIONS
Biological Sciences: Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them survive in their environment
Learn about how the frog breathes through its skin and other adaptations like a sticky tongue, eyes that can see in all directions and never close (even when they are asleep) and strong hind legs – how do these features help the frog survive?
Learn about the lifecycle of a frog. How does this help them survive?
Could a frog survive in a desert? Why not? Look at the Desert Rain Frog that lives in arid sand dunes of Namibia and South Africa. What adaptations has this frog made to its environment?
Learn about the Western Swamp Tortoise – anatomy, behavior and lifecycle? How do these adaptations help the WST survive in their natural environment? What changes have happened to the WSTs environment over time? How has that affected the WST numbers and why?
How does man’s impact on the environment affect the Western Swamp Tortoise? Other endangered species? The cassowary? The quoll?
YEAR 6 SPECIFIC CONTENT DESCRIPTIONS
Biological Sciences: The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment
What was the natural habitat of the Western Swamp Tortoise?
How has this changed over time and why?
What impact has this had on the Western Swamp Tortoise?
What other species can you think of that has been affected by a change in their habitat?
YEAR 7 SPECIFIC CONTENT DESCRIPTIONS
Biological Sciences: Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs; human activity can have an affect on this
Draw a food chain from Darcy Moon. Draw a food web. What is the difference?
How did human activity affect this food chain? What was the result?
The frog-napping in Darcy Moon was a made up situation but what real life examples can you think of where human activity would affect a food chain.
Learn about the food chains and webs that exist in the Western Swamp Tortoises natural habitat.
What human activities have affected this food chain? And how?
What impact has the introduction of feral animals (foxes/cats/dogs) had on the Western Swamp Tortoise?
What have humans done to try to rectify this?
What other examples can you think of where human activity has affected natural food chains and webs?