New Album Story Activities {1. The Panicum Tin}

My new album Listen to the Land is available now and to celebrate I’m writing a series of posts filled with simple nature activities to bring each of the stories to life, as well as connect your little one with the natural world.
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The new collection was written here on Djiringanj country on the far south coast of NSW and the first full-length story on the album, The Panicum Tin, honours the traditional custodians of the Australian continent, our first farmers, the Aboriginal People.

Download FREE STORY of The Panicum Tin

or listen to the audio version in the player above

Celebrating Australia’s First Farmers

Story: The Panicum Tin

Nobody knew what was hidden inside Gran’s secret Story Tin but Abbey and her cousins never stopped guessing. “I think it’s gold…..No it’s precious jewels for sure…..Oh it’s just her old false teeth?!” But no matter how wild and outrageous their guesses, Gran kept the secret of the ancient Story Tin shut tight inside….. 



The story of The Panicum Tin celebrates the ancient wisdom and sustainable land management practises used by the Aboriginal People of Australia for thousands of years, prior to their displacement by European settlement. There are many secrets hidden within this story, and for the young child, hearing about our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, as well as finding out just what really lies within this secret tin, is exciting enough. But on a deeper level, it gently introduces a hugely important and little known story about how Aboriginals did indeed ‘farm’ the land. The story is very much inspired by the work of Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu) and Bill Gammage (The Biggest Estate on Earth) as well as my own questions of place and belonging here on a land that was stolen from another.  

“If we ….. explain to our children that Aboriginal people did build houses, did build dams, did sow, irrigate and till the land, …. then it is likely we will admire and love our land all the more.” ~ Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu

 1. Find or Create Your Own Family Story Tin

Search through family treasures or Op Shops to create your own family’s secret story tin. Once you’ve found the perfect tin, find a place within the home for it to live and start collecting family tales inside. Each time an Uncle, Aunty, Grandparent or dear old family friend comes to visit, ask them to share a story and make sure your little one is there with the Story Tin in hand, lid open and ready to collect your family story treasure inside!

2. Connect to Culture

While The Panicum Tin is written from a ‘white fella’ perspective, the practise of harvesting native grains is an ancient Aboriginal one. Take the opportunity to connect with your local land council, National Parks or Aboriginal education officer and find out the indigenous name for where you live (if you don’t know already) and also what native grasses were once harvested on that land. There were many different types of grasses harvested all over Australia (as well as other fruits and vegetables), and the harvesting and preparation was practised within a ritual or story specific to each tribe. While this particular knowledge may be lost, or may not be appropriate to share in  your area, I’m sure there are many other things you might find out and share with your little one in the process of seeking. 

3. Seed Treasure Hunt

I love telling this story to children and adults, sharing that quiet reverence and wonder as we finally find out what lives in the tin, and each of us gets to feel the Panicum seeds ‘tickling’ their own hand. And without fail, every time I’ve finished the story, at least one child races outside and brings me back freshly harvested grass seeds. Sure, they’re mostly Paspallum or the like, but just that act of seeking and finding seeds within the context of the story, is so very simple and special. And there are so many wild, if not native, grasses growing throughout the parks, streets, vacant lots, paddocks and bush of Australia, there’s no end to the grass seed treasure you will find together. 

ANNIEWEB (1 of 1)-3


4. Bake Damper Loaf

What child (or adult) doesn’t love cooking damper round the fire?! You could even grind up your own grass seeds (make sure they’re edible!) to mix with the flour in the damper dough before you carefully wrap them in foil or around the stick and help your child to cook up their own loaf of bread – bush style!

5. The Song of the Bush

Head into the bush or even amongst the trees or shrubs in your local park, and sit with your eyes closed and see what you can hear. Birds? Insects? Leaves? Or maybe even a deep low sound of singing coming from within the earth? Children see and hear so much more than we adults often do and this is a great chance for you to get down to their level while also tuning into the song of the bush, whatever that may be for you.




So I hope some of these ideas help you and your child to really bring the tale of The Panicum Tin alive in your hearts, hands and heads as well as lots of adventures in the natural world. And don’t forget to leave your ideas in the comments box below.

Also, keep your eyes out for my next blog with nature activities from the tale of Greener Pastures, a ridiculously fun story about a grumpy old Wombat who longs for paddock pampering and a groomed Horse who pines for the life of freedom and adventure. The story is filled with metaphors on domestication versus wild animals as well as our relationship to fences and boundaries and I’m sure you and your child will both enjoy joyously exploring some of this in a gentle, silly and sensory way!  x Annie

{read another post here}

 I’m a storyteller & musician currently living on the far south coast of Australia and I love sharing my nature-inspired audio stories and songs for children in the Storytent and on The Seasonal Collection series or my new album Listen to the Land. You can have a listen below or click here to find out more.   

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