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It was a fun summer down under at our partner site, Salvation Army Barton Center! Through our It’s a WRAP! program, our students “traveled” to Australia and learned about the rich history and culture of not only the Aboriginal people, but also of modern-day Australians. We divided the travelers into three groups, and each night of the program the students experienced writing and reading activities, art experiences, and performance lessons (WRAP)  – all related to our Australian theme.

Tutors met with students for two and a half hours twice a week during the month of July and helped prevent summer learning loss through this exciting enrichment program. Students of all ages participated, and each night of the program they rotated through different educational stations.


Reading activities focused on Stories from the Billabong by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace. This book contains a rich selection of some of Australia’s ancient Aboriginal legends. Our students heard three of the elegantly retold stories: “What Makes the Frog Croak”; “Why the Kangaroo has a Pouch”; and “Why the Platypus is Special.” The students sat around the Billabong (watering hole) and heard the stories told by our group leader. They discussed what they heard in the stories and took that information to choose an area of study to focus on individually. The students, using the iPads, researched their selected topics, gained knowledge, and then talked about what they had learned in the recorded podcast during their theater rotation.

Asante’ Children’s Theater worked with the students each night to use voice projection and inflection to tell engaging stories about their “travels” to Australia. Every student in attendance got the chance to record their voice on the sound equipment Asante Children’s Theater brought to the shelter. The kids had fun hearing their own voices played back to them. They were amazed at how different their own voices sounded to them!

Over the course of the program, students learned a lot about the climate and geography of Australia, including learning more about animals that live on the continent. They did this through technology and through hands on experiences! Students and their families were treated to a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo as part of the program, thanks to our partner Royal United Mortgage. Our partners Google and TCC Gives donated the technology necessary to travel the continent through virtual reality!

rum vr

The students also enhanced their learning with art projects each week. They learned basic weaving techniques with yarn and cardboard cutouts of snakes and turtles. They painted bamboo walking sticks with ancient symbols that are often seen in Aboriginal art. They created contemporary murals on sketches of animals found in the Australian outback. And they used clay beads to create jewelry similar to that of ancient Aboriginal pieces. The students were all quite proud of their work – it truly was beautiful!


Our students, staff, and volunteers had a wonderful time learning more about Australian geography and culture through writing, reading, art, and performance! Their families had a great time at our end of summer program celebration listening to the podcast the students created and observing all of the art and projects they’d taken the time to create during the month of July.

art 3  Art 2  art 1

Thanks to our volunteer tutors and the supporters who made this program possible. Funders and in-kind supporters includes, The Lilly Endowment, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, Google, TCC Gives, Royal United Mortgage, and the Miller Summer Mission for Children Fund, a fund of CICF.

Are you looking for ways to get involved and think School on Wheels sounds like a great fit for you? We are in need of tutors for the 2018/2019 school year. Learn more and apply today!