Exploring Australia with Captain Cook – A Mathematics Unit for Years 4/5


Summary of Unit of Work:

This unit of 8 lessons aims to develop students understanding of the expeditions Captain Cook took and the impact that had upon Australia. Students will explore Captain Cook’s life, sequence relevant events in chronological order and examine the HMB Endeavour. Students will undertake a two-part integrated Mathematics project where they will map the voyage, create a timeline, create a scaled drawing of the ship and compare the HMB Endeavour with a ship from the First Fleet. This unit allows students to explore the life and expeditions of Captain James Cook through different subjects by integrating History, Geography, Mathematics and Literacy.

Australian Curriculum Links:

HASS Curriculum:

  • AC History: Year 4: ACHASSK084 The journey(s) of at least one world navigator, explorer or trader up to the late eighteenth century, including their contacts with other societies and any impacts; examining the journey of explorers of the Australian coastline (James Cook) using navigation maps to reconstruct their journeys.
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS081 Chronology, terms and concepts: Sequence historical people and events
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS082 Chronology, terms and concepts: Use historical terms
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS083 Historical questions and research: Pose a range of questions about the past
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS085 Perspectives and interpretations: Identify different points of view
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS086 Explanation and communication: Develop historical texts, particularly narratives
  • AC History : Year 4: ACHHS087 Explanation and communication: Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies
  • AC History: Year 5: ACHHS081 Chronology, terms and concepts: Sequence historical people and events
  • AC History: Year 5: ACHASSI094 Develop appropriate questions to guide an inquiry about people, events, developments, places, systems and challenges.

Mathematics Curriculum

  • AC Mathematics: Year 4: ACMMG084 Use scaled instruments to measure and compare lengths, masses, capacities and temperatures
  • AC Mathematics: Year 4: ACMMG290 Compare objects using familiar metric units of area and volume
  • AC Mathematics: Year 4: ACMMG090 Use simple scales, legends and directions to interpret information contained in basic maps
  • AC Mathematics: Year 5: ACMMG108 Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass
  • AC Mathematics: Year 5: ACMMG113 Use a grid reference system to describe locations. Describe routes using landmarks and directional language

ACARA General Capabilities

  • GC41 analyse information logically and make reasoned judgments
  • GC42 evaluate ideas and create solutions and draw conclusions
  • GC35 pose insightful and purposeful questions
  • GC58 consider what it might be like to walk in another person’s shoes
  • GC56 identify increasingly sophisticated characteristics of their own cultures and the cultures of others

Unit Overview:

Suggested Lesson Sequence:

  1. Captain Cook Introduction – Focus: Who was Captain Cook and what impact did he have upon the settlement of Australia?
  2. The Journey on the HMB Endeavour – Focus question: What would life have been like aboard the HMB Endeavour?
  3. Captain James Cook – Focus question: What do we know about the life of Captain James Cook?
  4. Mapping Australia & Grid Coordinates – Focus question: What were old maps of the world like and how do we read grid coordinates?
  5. Creating Scale: HMB Endeavour – Focus question: What did the HMB Endeavour look like? How do you create a scaled drawing?
  6. Captain Cook Voyage Map & Timeline – Focus question: How can I record Captain Cooks different expeditions?
  7. Ship Comparison & Fact File – Focus question: What other ships travelled great distances to get to Australia?
  8. Sharing our findings

Assessment Ideas:

Part A: Captain Cook Voyage Map & Timeline of events

Demonstrate an understanding of the voyage Captain Cook took to Australia through mapping and sequencing events.

  1. Map the journey: Create a map demonstrating the journey Captain Cook took to Australia using a grid refence system.
  • Grid reference system and identified coordinates
  • Scale & legend
  • Labelled continents
  • Clear path of the voyage
  1. Timeline of events: Create a timeline of key events from the journey.
  • Events are clearly dated and in chronological order
  • Shows all stops and points of interest

Part B: Ship Measurements & Comparison

Demonstrate an understanding of scale to recreate and compare ships.

Create a scaled version of the ship ‘Endeavour’ which was used for the voyage. Compare that ship with another of your choice (must have been used in a voyage to Australia)

  • Create a scaled drawing of your chosen ship
  • Explain how the ships are similar and different
  • Create a fact file and compare researched information between the two ships


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