At Genius Childcare, we strive to educate our children about all cultures and identities, and in particular place a strong emphasis on learning about our own Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We believe it’s never too early to begin teaching children about these Indigenous cultures, and thankfully there are an abundance of resources to help parents navigate these topics at home in an age-appropriate way.
While teaching Australian history and culture to our children in centre, we read Aboriginal books, enjoy Aboriginal art activities, games, and teach them about Aboriginal symbols and songs. To include some of these things in your home, we have compiled a list of easy, entertaining and creative cultural activities you can enjoy at home with your little learner while continuing their education on our native people. Read on to see some of our suggestions!
Acknowledgement of Country
Each morning at Genius childcare centres, we begin the day with the Acknowledgement of Country to pay honour and respect to our Aboriginal people, their land and culture. It’s an essential part of our program every day!
The Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for everyone to recognise, reflect and show respect to the traditional owners of the land and the continued connection all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have with this country. There are no specific words written for Australia’s Acknowledgement of Country, and it is changed from centre to centre depending on the traditional custodians of that area. An example would be "We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging." The Acknowledgement of Country can be offered by anyone at the centre, and we like to offer ours together in a group acknowledgement to remind all of our children and educators of the land on which we reside, and the respect we have for our first nation people.
Books are a fantastic way to introduce Aboriginal culture to your child. Your local library will have an abundance of Aboriginal picture books and stories teaching children (in an age-appropriate fashion) about their history, culture and the Dreamtime. Dreamtime stories are sacred and at the heart of Aboriginal culture and religion. They tell the Indigenous interpretation of how the land and earth were formed and everything within it. These books have the most beautiful and colourful Aboriginal drawings, which children find fascinating. At Genius, our favourite Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are The Rainbow Serpent teaching children how the rivers and earth were created, and Tiddalick, The Frog educating children about drought and how rivers were formed. As your child grows there a huge range of books on Aboriginal culture to introduce the more complex and sometimes confronting themes within it.
Aboriginal Singing and Dancing
Some of our favourite in-centre songs are drawn from Aboriginal culture. For Aboriginal people cultural songs, dance, movement and mime are fundamental to celebration and ceremony. Music and dance are essential for corroborees, funerals, weddings, and other large tribal celebrations. Accompanying these gatherings are usually Aboriginal instruments such as didgeridoos, and clapping or rhythm sticks. Aboriginal clapping sticks are made from the hardwood of the eucalyptus tree and used to clap along with the rhythm of the ceremonial dancing or singing. We often use clapping sticks when singing Aboriginal songs in our centres so even our youngest children can take part.
Why not create your own clapping sticks at home? Using some hard sticks fallen from gum trees in your local area you could create some with your child and use them to sing along to the traditional songs “Inanay” or “Taba Naba” which our children love to sing in centre! "Taba Naba" is an Indigenous song that usually incorporates a sitting down dance. This song incorporates traditional movements which correspond with the lyrics. The Wiggles have an excellent version for little ones; you can sing with your child today, watch it here.
Aboriginal art incorporates many activities such as textiles, needlework, sculptures, body painting, baskets, handicrafts, carvings and traditional dot paintings. Creating art projects inspired by Aboriginal mediums and techniques is a positive way of teaching your child about Aboriginal arts and how our native people teach their history through these pursuits.
Aboriginal dot paintings are designed to tell a story about hunting, gathering, creation and culture. To create your own dot painting, you will need paints, paper and something to make the ‘dot’ - either a stick, the end of a thin paintbrush or a finger. Australian museums and galleries are also a fantastic way to directly present to your child what indigenous art looks like, how it is created, and its history.
Beginning the education path with your child about our native people, their culture, and history will only enrich their learning and appreciation of the traditional owners of our land. Why not begin the journey of learning about Aboriginal culture with your child today and try one of these activities?