Fly, peewee, fly

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					Fly peewee, fly!
A short film about a young boy, his dad, grandmother and a peewee (magpie lark)

Teaching ideas from Aboriginal Education in the Department of
Education and Children’s Services in South Australia, for primary
schools based on the 10 minute film Fly Peewee, Fly! by Aboriginal
filmmaker Sally Riley, 1995, in the ‘Sand to celluloid’ series. Information
about the film is available from Film Australia at: A copy may be obtained from
Tape Services, DECS

                                                  “When 6-year-old Robbie takes up residence in his
                                                  favourite tree to be with his friend the peewee bird,
                                                  his family is forced to see the world from his point of

Educators should view the film before planning specific activities for their learners. Outcomes
could be linked to Health and Physical Education, English, Society and Environment,
Arts and Technology.

    Essential learnings could link to:
    Identity (Aboriginal, families)
    Futures (for humans, native birds, career choices in filmmaking)
    Interdependence (humans and the eco-system, diversity of cultures, extended families)
    Communication (through storytelling, writing, film, art and strategies for dealing with
    stressful time)
    Thinking (imagining different perspectives on the same story, suggesting solutions for

Ask learners what they know about Aboriginal children's lives
today. Explain that the film is about a young Aboriginal boy.

Based on the title of the film, discuss what they might expect to
view. The ‘peewee’ is a Murray magpie, sometimes called a
magpie lark.

Have learners view the film. Stop it at different points if you wish to
have small groups of learners guess what might come next.

Discuss with learners what is the same or different about this
boy's family and other children's families. This will allow discussion
about what is a 'normal' family and for children to discuss the
diversity of family structures today, eg single parents, living with
one or more grandparents, foster families, lone children, two parents.

Discuss whether all children are sometimes disappointed, sad, angry, frustrated or lonely
and listen to theirs' and other positive strategies to deal with this.

Discuss with children if the grandmother might be Aboriginal and then talk about and clarify
how the definition of an Aboriginal person is someone of Aboriginal descent, who identifies as
being Aboriginal and who is accepted as such by their community.

Fly, peewee, fly: Available from the Aboriginal Education resource collection                         1
Share personal feelings about happy times which might have followed a stressful time. This
could be through small group discussion, drawing or writing or a combination of these.

Share stories about caring for injured birds and brainstorm ways to make their gardens safe
homes for native birds, including the importance of keeping pet cats indoors at night and of
planting prickly as well as nectar producing plants.

Obtain and examine a poster from the school library or the Gould League of Urban birds,
Farmland birds, Wetland birds or others and have learners observe, identify and draw birds
at home and school.

Explain the differences between a Murray magpie and a magpie. Find out which bird is on
the South Australian coat of arms.

Discuss reasons why you think Sally Riley, the Aboriginal film maker, made this film. Review
the film and publish it in a school newspaper.

Sally wrote the following comments in September 2001 about her film Fly, peewee, fly, her
first film:

‘I'm a Wiradjuri woman from central NSW.

Fly Peewee, Fly! is based on my family, and so is a very close story to me. The characters
are based on my mother, my brother and my nephew. The storyline (Robbie and the
Peewee) is made up by me, but the relationship of the three characters, is very firmly based
on my family and their true life relationship. I am pretty close to all three of them. In fact,
some of the lines in the film are things that they actually said to each other.

As it was the very first thing I attempted to write, and my first film, it was important for me to
write about something I knew well. For me that's my family and my personal experiences.
That also made it difficult to write, because it is hard to separate the real life people and
make them into the characters that you see on the screen in the film.

My aim was to show the point of view of Robbie in this relationship. To show that he had an
opinion and that he had power. He shows this by forcing the adults to come into his world
and up that tree. I also wanted to show the extended family and how it was still working in
communities across Australia.

The inspiration for the film came from my nephew. We were driving in the country town where
we come from, and there was a Peewee sitting in the middle of the road. He put his head out
the window and yelled, Fly! Peewee, Fly!, telling it to get out of the road of the car. From
there I had the name and the characters, I just had to find a story line.’

Research aspects of filmmaking with learners including various careers involved.

Have students design a storyboard for a short film based on an incident in their lives.

Choose a story to make into a film, involving all students in some way.

Fly, peewee, fly: Available from the Aboriginal Education resource collection                   2

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