This Sunday 4 August, is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. Celebrated on this date for over thirty years, the day provides a special opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate their children and for us all to get to know a little more of their culture.
Although this year the day falls on a Sunday, there is no reason it can’t be celebrated in the classroom during the week. In fact, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures one of the ACARA cross-curriculum priorities, every day is a good day for celebrating our children and helping them to feel special and included.
The theme for this year’s celebration is We Play, We Learn, We Belong. It focuses on the importance of education for young children with special emphasis on the need for it to be culturally appropriate. The website has many suggestions to help you celebrate the day and some free downloadable resources.
In this video, this year’s ambassador, Nanna from Little J and Big Cuz, introduces the day.
Where to start
If you have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in your class, encourage them and their families to share their culture. It is also useful to contact the Aboriginal Elders of your local community and invite them to share their stories and knowledge. They may also help you celebrate the day in culturally appropriate ways.
Magabala Books is a great source of books that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
Gregg Dreisse’s lovely book Kookoo Kookaburra is just one of his books published by Magabala books. (Read an interview with Gregg here.)
Young Dark Emu A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe is also published by Magabala books. (You can read about Young Dark Emu here.)
These are just two of the more than 200 titles that Magabala books have published in celebration of ‘the talent and diversity’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. Teacher notes that include links to the Australian Curriculum are available to support many of their titles.
Gregg Dreisse’s book My Culture and Me was recently released by Puffin Books — Penguin Random House Australia.
In this song, Gregg tells about his book and his passion for sharing his culture.
A list of a selection of Indigenous Australian picture books and resources is available to download free in readilearn resources.
ABC Education is a great source of teaching resources focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, including the story of Guulaangga, the Green Tree Frog and a delightful video of children singing in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Little J and Big Cuz, an animated series for early years children (K – 2), is about Little J, who’s five, and Big Cuz, who’s nine. They live with their Nanna and Old Dog and, with the help of Nanna and their teacher, learn about culture, community and country. Each episode is supported by numerous teaching suggestions and resources for both classroom and home. While written with Indigenous Australian children in mind, the stories will have wide appeal.
Little J and Big Cuz is just one of the programs on offer from Jarjums, the NITV (National Indigenous Television) programming dedicated to children and providing fun and educational Indigenous and First Nations content from Australia and around the world.
Check out this lovely video of the song I am Australian translated into the Mabu Yawuru ngan-ga language and sung by children at Broome Primary School.
You might also like to access recent ABC Plays School episodes which feature Kiya, a new Indigenous doll added to the collection in celebration of NAIDOC Week at the beginning of July. Kiya means ‘Hello’ in Noongar language from Noongar country in Western Australia
The website Creative Spirits holds a wealth of information about Australian Indigenous culture. It includes many free resources for teachers and students, and others available for a small cost. The website is curated by Jens Korff, an Australian-born German who, faced with the lack of readily available authentic information about Indigenous culture, decided the situation needed to change.
Stronger Smarter Jarjums is a program that assists early childhood educators in providing the best learning opportunities for children prior to school and in the transitions between home, early childhood programs and school. They have a vision of “Stronger Smarter communities enabling all people to honour and affirm positive identities and cultures, whilst thriving in contemporary societies”. (Note: Jarjums is an aboriginal word for children.)
The Go Foundation was set up by Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin in 2014 with a focus on improving the lives of Indigenous youth through education.
However you celebrate, enjoy sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
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