Media Representations Resource

Suitable for Years 5 - 6

This learning resource builds media literacy by examining how and why representations of people, places and ideas are constructed for television.

Teacher notes

Working either independently, in pairs or as a class with teacher support, this resource guides Year 5 and 6 students in examining representations and points of view in children’s television. Students will learn from industry experts, then view and respond to short clips drawn from children’s television programs. The short learning tasks encourage students to critically reflect on their roles as audience members and content creators.

A printable worksheet is included below. Students could record their responses here, or alternatively share their responses verbally with a partner or the wider class.

Australian Curriculum links

  • Explore ways that media languages and media technologies are used in media arts works and practices across cultures, times, places and/or other contexts (AC9AMA6E01)
  • Develop media production skills to communicate ideas, perspectives and/or meaning through manipulation of media languages, including images, sounds, texts and/or interactive elements, and media technologies (AC9AMA6D01)

This resource was co-developed by the ACTF and ACMI Education.


Media describes anything that we make to communicate a message. Knowing this, what do you think ‘media literacy’ means? Take a moment to jot down or discuss your ideas.

Perhaps you already know that media literacy helps us to think critically about the news and factual information: we need to consider who created the message, why they created it and if they can be trusted. But did you know that media literacy is also important when using entertainment media?

Even though we watch entertainment television to relax and have fun, these shows also communicate ideas about our world and have the power to influence audiences. This is because media creators make choices about representing things for viewers in certain ways and according to particular points of view.

‘Media representation’ means the ways in which the media represents people, communities, places, experiences and ideas from a particular point of view.


By focussing on media representation in children’s television, the following videos and learning tasks will build your media literacy skills.

1. Representing Places

Many different places are portrayed in many different ways on television. Television creators make choices about all the different elements that shape representations: camera shots, lighting, editing, music, sounds, costumes, acting and dialogue can all influence how a place appears on screen and how audiences react to this.

To learn more, watch the following Interview with Paul Gartside from the ACTF. Paul and the other members of his team – Jo and Li-Kim – review scripts written for TV shows and provide feedback to help make the best show possible. Paul discusses representations of place on television, and how these representations can influence the audience’s response to the story.

Next, watch the following clip from children’s television series, Dance Academy.

This Dance Academy clip portrays two very different places – a peaceful country home and the bustling city of Sydney. Paul asked you to think about how the creators chose to represent these two places.

Did you notice how a sense of place was established with the first shot of Tara’s house in the country? This is called an establishing shot. When the story moves to Sydney, another establishing shot tells the audience where the story is happening.

Rewatch the Dance Academy clip, paying attention to the images, music and dialogue. Then respond to the following prompts verbally or on your worksheet:

  • Use 2 or 3 suitable adjectives to describe the representation of Tara’s country home. 
  • Use 2 or 3 suitable adjectives to describe the representation of the city. 
  • Think about the visual and audio elements used to construct these representations. How were they different for the two places portrayed? 

    2. Representing Ideas

    By choosing to portray things in certain ways, media creators are seeking to share certain perspectives. Of course, it’s not only places that are depicted on screen: all kinds of ideas are shared with audiences through television.

    In the following interview, Jo Kasch from the ACTF discusses why it is important to think critically about the ideas being represented on television – both when viewing TV and when creating our own media.

    Jo shared some perspectives that could be communicated through TV representations of school. The following video includes two children’s television clips which aimed to represent school in very different ways. The first clip is taken from Little Lunch and the second is from Are You Tougher than Your Ancestors? As you watch, think about what is being communicated in each of the clips about the experience of going to school. 

    These clips show two very different representations of school. Both were produced for entertainment television, but the creators wanted viewers to have different reactions. After reflecting on these representations and your response as an audience member, respond to the following creative challenge verbally or on your worksheet:

    Imagine that you are developing a new TV show about school life.

    • How will you represent school on screen? (Fun, boring, magical, scary, etc.)
    • How do you want the audience to feel about school? (Amused, intrigued, etc.)
    • Sketch a simple establishing shot for your TV production about school. (Think back to the two establishing shots in the Dance Academy clip for ideas.)

    3. Representing People

    Now we will consider how representations of people are constructed for television. It is important to think critically about how people are portrayed on screen. When people, communities or cultures are shown in an inauthentic or two-dimensional way, this can create or reinforce stereotypes. Stereotypes can be dangerous because they can continue misconceptions about individuals or groups of people.

    In the following interview, Li-Kim Chuah from the ACTF shares some guidance for representing people on TV.

    Keep Li-Kim’s advice in mind as you watch the following clip from The Inbestigators. This clip portrays a group of people that you will have great insight on – year 5 and 6 students!

    How do you feel about this television representation of your own age group? After reflecting on this media representation, share your thoughts verbally or on your worksheet.

    • Was your age group represented accurately in this clip? Why / why not?
    • What are some media stereotypes about young people?
    • If you were creating a TV show about your age group, what are three key ideas you would share through your representations?


    Reflect on the learning tasks you completed above to answer the following questions:

    1. What does media representation mean?
    2. What have you learnt about how media creators represent the world, people and ideas on screen?
    3. How will you apply this knowledge in your own media making?

    After the lesson

    We welcome feedback from teachers who have delivered and adapted our resources. Please reach out to with questions, comments and suggestions.

    This resource was co-developed by the ACTF and ACMI. 

    Development was supported by the Strategic Partnerships Program through the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

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