melbourne cup lesson plan


Rosie’s family celebrates the Melbourne Cup each year. Her dad loves to bet on the winning horse! But recently, she read a media story about how horses are treated in the racing industry.


Year Level: 3–4

Learning area: Humanities and Social Science

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking; personal and social capability; ethical behaviour

Lesson duration:

105 minutes


Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • generate questions about the Melbourne Cup event using a KWL chart
  • examine media stories about Melbourne Cup protests in Australia and distinguish factual accounts from opinion pieces
  • think critically about the horse racing industry and ask questions to do with whether certain issues are right, ethical or fair.

HASS curriculum codes:

  • ACHASSI052, ACHASSI073: Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (asking questions before, during and after an investigation using tools such as a KWL chart, generating a range of questions about contemporary issues reported in the media)
  • ACHASSI056, ACHASSI077: Examine information to identify different points of view and distinguish facts from opinions (exploring different points of view about a familiar event)

Tip: To view PDF slides in full screen, select ‘View’ and then ‘Full Screen Mode’.

Optional materials: Construction paper and marker pens for student presentations.


Scroll to the top to download this lesson’s slides

  • Melbourne Cup PDF Lesson Sides
  • KWL Chart Template (PDF) download here

PDF media stories (for Part B)

Recommended optional resources (external)

  • Horse Racing RSPCA Knowledge Base article here


35 minutes

Vocabulary: protest, thoroughbred, foal, lobby group, tongue ties, spurs, doping

Part A: Rosie’s Dilemma

Go through the Melbourne Cup lesson sides together as a class. Students will consider Rosie’s dilemma (should she celebrate the Melbourne Cup with her family this year?) and learn about key animal welfare issues linked to the racing industry.

Give students 10–15 minutes to write a list of questions they would like to investigate about the horse racing industry. They can use the KWL chart template to write down things they already know and things they would like to know. Leave the third column (‘What I Learned’) until the next part of the lesson. Students will use this information to help Rosie make up her mind.


45 minutes

Tip: The media stories provided refer to an ABC 7.30 report investigation, which can be viewed here (Warning: video may contain distressing content)


Part B: Fact or Opinion?

Students will have a look at different media stories about the horse racing industry and determine whether its fact or opinion.

Media stories (PDF)

Divide students into four groups and hand out one article to each group. Students should:

  1. Discuss the questions they’d each like to investigate
  2. Read the article and determine whether it’s fact or opinion, providing three reasons or examples why
  3. Were any of their initial questions answered? Fill in the third column of the KWL chart (‘What I Learned’).

Students will then decide together as a group what Rosie ought to do. Each group should prepare a short presentation discussing what they’ve learned about horse racing, what Rosie’s decision ought to be, and the main reasons for the group’s decision.


  25 minutes

Part C: Group Presentation

Give each group five minutes to present their findings to the rest of the class.

Suggested format

  • brief summary of media article
  • reasons why it was a factual or opinion piece
  • what the group wanted to find out
  • what the group learned
  • final decision on what Rosie ought to do and why.

60 minutes

 Discussion: What should your class do on Melbourne Cup day?

Part D: Reflection/Extension Activity (Optional)

Ask students to think about what they’d like to do on Melbourne Cup day. You can brainstorm ideas and have a vote. Some ideas could include:

  • Have a class picnic. Students can make and wear fancy hats and have their own races for fun
  • Raise funds for an animal charity. Students can pitch in a few dollars, draw a name out of a hat to win a box of chocolates or another prize, and then donate the rest
  • Spread awareness. Use the day to create campaign posters, flyers or a class video to raise awareness about the horse racing industry. Students can present this at your school assembly or in your local community.

Related lesson: ‘Making an Activist’

Students will learn about different methods of activism, including community building, lobbying, petitioning and protesting. They will then plan, draft and publish an imaginative, informative and persuasive text for the purpose of activism.