Giving children the best start to school

Helping Indigenous children get the best start to their formal schooling by modelling the day-to-day running of an early primary classroom is one of the aims of the animated children's series, Little J & Big Cuz.

Back for its second season, the Logie award-winning show follows lead characters Little J and Big Cuz as they navigate common school experiences like show-and-tell, lunch breaks and school performances, with the support of their teacher Miss Chen.

The show's director, Tony Thorne, says the series captures the joy and excitement of Aboriginal children discovering their world.

‘The show's creation is another step in the empowerment of Aboriginal people to represent their contemporary lives from their perspective,' he says. ‘Little J & Big Cuz has a profound relevance beyond its Indigenous audience and has delighted children and indeed adults nationwide.'

Producer Ned Lander says series two of Little J & Big Cuz brings young Indigenous children another 13 episodes of exciting new stories about the adventures of their favourite animated cousins.

‘Whether they are on an imaginary road trip in the desert, searching for Old Dog after a storm, or mutton birding in Bass Strait, our little stars offer a proud and positive view of Aboriginal Australia,' he says.

Resources for educators

To complement season one of the series, a suite of free Little J & Big Cuz educator resources mapped to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum is available to support early childhood educators and primary school teachers in including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, understanding and skills in their teaching and learning programs.

Case studies developed as part of an evaluation of the first series revealed that using Little J & Big Cuz in education settings supported learners' emotional development and wellbeing, assisted language development and presented educators with many teachable moments.

A set of 12 bilingual readers and supporting resources will be developed, based around season two storylines and will assist the development of oral language, word recognition, phonics and other essential literacy skills.

‘The second series of Little J & Big Cuz will again provide a springboard for all sorts of engagement, educational materials, conversations and new possibilities for kids across Australia,' Lander says. ‘It also seeks to help subtly inform our education system, arming teachers and planners with fresh insights about contemporary Aboriginal Australia.'

Little J & Big Cuz is created by a team of Indigenous writers and animators, led by director Tony Thorne. The voice cast features renowned Indigenous actors Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, Aaron Fa'aoso and Ningali Lawford-Wolf.

Lawford-Wolf recorded her part in Little J & Big Cuz season two shortly before her unexpected death in August 2019. Episode 13 of Little J & Big Cuz season two will be dedicated to Lawford-Wolf in memoriam.

The series was conceptualised by the ACER Foundation, the charitable arm of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

Little J & Big Cuz season one was developed in partnership with Ned Lander Media, SNAICC, NITV, Screen Australia, Screen Tasmania, Film Victoria, the Australian Children's Television Foundation, Dusseldorp Forum and Lotterywest.

Season two was further supported with principal production investment from NITV in association with the ABC.

Season two of Little J & Big Cuz will air on NITV every Friday from 10 January at 7.30 pm and will be available on SBS On Demand following broadcast.

Visit the Little J & Big Cuz website to view the full suite of resources for each episode in season one. Season one is currently available on SBS On Demand, with selected episodes available in Indigenous languages with English subtitles, and on DVD available through ACER’s online shop.

How are you using Little J & Big Cuz in the classroom? Get in touch with the Teacher team and let us know.