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Gorton House preschool children build a Humpy

- August 9, 2017

The children in Gorton pre-school continue to learn about Wangal land, and what the land may have looked like thousands of years ago, when only Wangal and Gadigal people walked and lived on this land.

At Gorton House preschool we have been exploring and discussing Aboriginal people's relationship with land. Aboriginal people are known for the respect and care they have for their land, caring for it and using only what they need, so that the impact on the land is minimal. Caring for nature, just as nature cared for them, gave them what they needed to live in harmony with mother earth. Learning about this close connection with nature has led to some of the children strongly associating traditional Aboriginal life with the natural environment, and this became evident during group time one day when a child asked “can we go outside and collect sticks and things and make “Aboriginal things?” I was curious and asked “like what, what do you mean by Aboriginal things?” and the child pondered, and then announced “humpies, I want to make a humpy”. This led to greater discussion on housing made within the natural environment.

The children had first seen images of humpies in a dreamtime story of the Goorialla, the rainbow serpent, and this had led to lots of discussion of different ways of creating shelter within nature. As we ventured out and discussed the large sticks we would need and how we might put these together, enthusiasm grew. We found ourselves outside searching for the largest sticks we could find out by the goose paddock, and the children decided this was the place to build our humpy.

 

 

It was built then and there, children collaborating as they held sticks in place and these were tied together with twine. For more than an hour the children worked, and were so disappointed when it was way past lunch time and we needed to return to pre-school room. Plans were made to return that afternoon and then again the following day. The children suggested we could eat lunch by the humpy so a picnic lunch was planned for the following day, and again the following week.

 

 

We have continued to enjoy visiting the humpy, conducting many of our group times around this space. The children have read and then enacted various dreamtime stories from various parts of Australia. They have pretended to hunt for food and then lit imaginary campfires to cook their food. This play and discussion has encouraged the children and educators to further explore how we can learn from both traditional and current Aboriginal values around respecting and caring for mother earth. How can we be more sustainable and look after nature, the way it cares for us?

 

 

Since then we have built another humpy within the Pre-school playground and the children have plans for another one by the large tree near Mel’s office. The children’s ideas have been supported with enthusiasm and we are so enthused to hear that other groups of children within TIH have also been visiting the humpy. What a beautiful community we are part of!

Nicky Roditis, Early Childhood Teacher at Gorton House Preschool

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