- July 17, 2017
NAIDOC week is an annual opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with activities centred around a chosen theme, held from the 2nd to 9th July 2017. This year's theme was "Our Languages Matter". Our centres celebrated in many different ways, which are shared here.
Johnson House Toddlers
The Johnson House Toddler children engaged in literacy experiences to celebrate NAIDOC week.
The children had the opportunity to engage in experiences that facilitated and built on their existing knowledge of dreamtime stories and importance of maintaining a connection to the land in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
As the children were sharing the dreamtime stories- “How The Birds Got Their Colours “and “Dunbi The Owl”, they were learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander myths and birds.
The children demonstrated their interest in a picture book called “Big Rain Coming”. The story focuses on the concepts of weather, seasons and the important connection the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to the land and environment. The story encourages the children to anticipate when the rain would come, just as the characters in the story anticipated when the rain would come.
As the children engaged in the literacy experiences they were discussing the patterns, shapes and the colours they could see in the illustrations. The children had the opportunity to engage in a creative art experience to create their own “Birds”, “Owl” and “Rain”. This creative art experience offered the children an opportunity to express themselves and make their own meaning from the story.
- Cathy Fauth, Johnson House Toddlers
Johnson House Preschool
We have tried to embed Aboriginal perspectives in all aspects of our educational program. The team has focused on placing materials and resources within the learning spaces that enhance and extend the children’s thinking and respect for the First nations peoples not just in this week, but as a constant presence.
We have touched on strategies to bring the children closer to the land, a respect for the land and a level of integrity and acknowledgment of the fact that the land is and will always be at the core of Aboriginal peoples belonging. We go out daily and walk on Wangal land, and the children began to collect the fallen “gifts” that Wangal land has given us.
These gifts were everything from fallen leaves and rocks to seed pods. With every gift we found we wondered about its connection to the land and then its connection to us. We came back from each walk and began to sort and classify the “gifts”. The intention here was to draw tangible links for the children from the learnings we have been investigating, in particular the symbology within Aboriginal art, the connection to our current actions of going for walks, gathering around and meeting together and our very own sense of belonging on Wangal land.
- Mariam Christodolous, Director of Johnson House Preschool
Murray House Infants and Toddlers
Indigenous and Aboriginal perspectives and cultural competency have slowly been embedded into the toddlers’ program over the recent months. This involved the acknowledgement and the understanding that our ancestors (and in particular, the Wangal tribe) had once lived, played and loved the land, that is the same one in which we live on today.
As we marked the morning with paying respect to the land before commencing small and large group routines, the children increasingly developed appreciation (by saying thank you!), and awe from reflecting upon the sense of continuing to share the land under the timeless concept of acknowledging how the culture had shaped our Australian culture – of our past, present and future.
The cultural perspectives were introduced through various dreamtime stories including ‘how the birds got their colours”, “The rainbow snake”, “and how the kangaroo got their pouches”. The stories were very enjoyable, but a lot of attention were also brought towards the authors of the book. As we looked at the photographs of them, more connection was made when similarities and differences were identified. They were people just like us, and still amongst us.
As more weeks rolled by, the children also had the opportunity to observe symbols that were previously used for communication and make meaning. The introduction of these symbols were presented during art opportunities, and also in the environment, and naturally during their play. The children had also been involved in making clapping sticks, and re-creating what they have heard from the stories told.
At the end of last month, a spontaneous leaping experience emerged when a group of children lined up and waited to stand on the board in Murray House yard, and attempted to practice long jumps.
Indigenous symbols of the waterhole and animals (snakes and kangaroo) were drawn underneath the wooden balancing beam, for the children to extend the challenge of leaping/ jumping forward in an imaginative context. The combination of ideas excited more peers to become involved, who pretended to jump over the 'swirling whirling waterhole' like a kangaroo.
Based on the children's feedback, another indigenous waterhole was drawn on the ground, in which some children repetitively sat in and pretended to be "stuck!", and called out to their peers to help pull them out. Upon hearing the children's cries for help, some children came forward and listened to the ideas being implemented. Then, they started climbing up the A frame and also pretended to jump off like kangaroos to imitate their peers.
Through these experiences, the children continue to develop an appreciation for aspects of the indigenous culture, and how symbols can be used to communicate meaning across communities. These symbols become powerful when they are collectively recognized, and responded to from the children.
During NAIDOC week, the toddlers revisited their game. Educator Wendy invited the children to jump into the water hole. There are some lovely photos of these three children swimming and also taking the dog for a swim!
- Vinsensia Christanto, Director of Murray House
Rigby House Infants and Toddlers
This year’s Naidoc Week theme –“Our Languages Matter”, encourages us to think about the important role that our First People’s languages play in their cultural identity. Each language is connected to their country, has a deep spiritual significance and allows them to maintain their connection with their ancestors, land and law.
The visual arts played an important part in our First People’s communication and so, since Reconciliation week, Rigby Babies have been looking at traditional Aboriginal art and talking about the colours and shapes and movement in the paintings, and enjoying exploring and playing with the paint.
Rigby children have been listening to Dreamtime Stories, and enjoying Indigenous music, songs and artwork and going for walks around our beautiful grounds to connect with nature. These experiences are developing our children’s awareness of our First People and enhancing our children’s rapidly developing language skills.
Rigby Toddlers have been enjoying the sensory experience of using various art mediums and exploring the possibilities of what they can do with paint, glue, crayons, natural materials and other objects.
They have been going on walks around our lovely grounds and paying attention to our trees and plants, and variety of birds that visit our gardens. They recognise these things as we read stories about our unique Australian animals and plants. They play with Aboriginal symbols.
Rigby Toddlers have been exploring the colours of the Aboriginal flag and creating a group collage. They enjoy the feel of the glue and work hard to place the red, black and yellow yarn on the canvas. As they work there is much talk about the colours and the Aboriginal flag.
The Rainbow Snake has become one of our Toddlers’ favourite stories. They are enjoying the learning environment that has been created for them and playing with props that represent the characters of this story. They are intrigued with the colours of the Rainbow snake and many of them are drawing long lines of colours to represent their ideas of the Rainbow Snake.
Through these experiences the children are building their awareness and knowledge of Aboriginal culture, and also developing their communication skills as they describe what they see, ask for favourite Dreamtime stories, name characters from the stories and recount the stories in their own way.
- Isa Holmes, Director of Rigby House
Gorton House Toddlers
The children in the toddler's room have been engaging in activities and reading books about aboriginal culture for a while now. In our team effort to ensure that aboriginal studies is embedded in our program throughout the year we began an aboriginal studies project in our room following and extending on the interest of the children in our care.
As our colour project started to wind down I came across a book called “colours of Australia” which is written by an aboriginal author. The children were quite intrigued by the different patterns and art work that was used in the book which began our discussion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the art work that they produce. We offered the children opportunities to engage in dot painting with sticks and create their own Aboriginal art work. The children had questions “what are aborigines? Why do they paint with sticks? Where are they?
I came across another book called “my country Australia” which talked about the different groups of Aboriginal people and showed where they lived and introduced the children and I to some new Aboriginal words. Some of them were very tricky however, the children had lots of fun practising saying the words and using their mouths in different ways as they pronounced sounds they never have before.
We are fortunate enough to have Jesse and Jamie as well as Shaniqua attending our service who are of Aboriginal Torres strait Islander background, so when we were in the sand pit that week Jesse called out “let’s make a fire”. The children and I were inspired! In the following weeks the team and I took the opportunity to extend on Jesse and the children’s interest in making an even bigger campfire as we started to collect sticks, stones and leaves to create our campfire experience.
To continue on what the children had been learning about aboriginal culture we talked about the different reasons as to why Aborigines used fire. Jesse and Jamie took such pride in being able to say that they were Aboriginal as we learnt about our Aboriginal friends and their way of life. This was a wonderful opportunity for Jesse and Jamie that gave them a sense of connection and belonging to their culture as well as provided a channel for them to share who they are and where they come from with their friends.
We sat around the fire to stay warm, we talked about the different foods that aboriginal people cooked on the fire, we discussed how our Aboriginal friends were very clever with the use of fire and used it to scare away snakes, clear the land for new life as well as use it in special ceremonies. We made our own fish for the children to catch with a spear and place on the fire and learnt about fire safety. It was wonderful to see how the children appreciated their natural surroundings and connected with nature as they learnt how the Aboriginal people had such respect for the land and appreciated all that it gave to them.
The use of technology was very instrumental in bringing this fascinating culture to life. We watched on as we learnt how to start a campfire with sticks and use kindling to keep it burning for longer. We sat around the campfire and listened to “how the kangaroo got it’s pouch”. Story time will never be the same as the children were quite intrigued and some were a little unsure of how to interpret the Aboriginal actor’s actions and movements as they took on different animal characters in the story.
Jesse, Jamie, Malbec, Annika, Henry and many others watched on, absorbing as much as they could as they were introduced to a new way of storytelling. Naturally our little discoverers wanted more, more, more, so I shared with them an aboriginal dream time story called “the echo of the minis”. This was by far the most popular with the children with requests coming in again more, more, more. We watched this video many times and danced along to the aboriginal music as we all stomped on the floor to wake up the happy spirits called the “minis”. The children were able to experience and truly enjoy a popular pastime of our Aboriginal friends and make it their own as we acted it out ourselves and retold the story. The children worked together to take on different roles and truly engage in the meaning of this Dreamtime story.
Taking active steps to celebrate and share this diverse and rich culture with the children as well as providing ways for them to truly engage and share it amongst themselves is one way that our team can continue to ensure that Aboriginal history and culture is acknowledged, respected and celebrated.
- Widad, Gorton House Toddlers Educator
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