Resources for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

  • Published on July 3, 2020

Resources for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

NAIDOC Week celebrations, which would normally take place in early July, have been postponed until November this year due to Covid-19. However, that is no reason to cancel sharing Indigenous stories and lessons with your class. After all, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of the cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum and is an important part of our national heritage. While some may not feel confident teaching Indigenous perspectives, the only way to become more confident is by being informed.

In this post I share some websites and resources that you may find useful in preparing lessons and some organisations whose goals of improving the education and future success of our Indigenous students you may wish to support.

Raising culturally aware kids

In this article, How to Raise Culturally Aware Kids written for ABC Life, Samantha Turnbull introduces us to Kirby Barker a Bandjalang worman and early childhood teacher from northern New South Wales. Kirby teaches her preschoolers to counter racism with kindness. The article shares Kirby’s advice on how to present information to young children including words that can be used to explain the history. She discusses

  • the need to celebrate difference
  • ways of explaining traditional owners and inviting them into the classroom
  • how to talk about reconciliation with children
  • the importance of sharing stories
  • learning Indigenous languages
  • developing empathy.

While only a brief article, you will glean many ideas from Kirby Barker which, though easily implemented, will have a profound effect.

Indigenous Literacy Foundation

The aim of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is to raise literacy levels by supplying books to remote communities.

You can support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation by

  • Donating — Follow this link to donate now
  • Joining in with Indigenous Literacy Day on 20 September — a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy
  • Fundraising
  • Participating in The Great Book Swap.

(You may notice Gregg Dreise, ambassador for The Great Book Swap in the video. Check out the interview about his book Kookoo Kookaburra here, or visit his website here.)

Magabala Books

Magabala Books is an Australian Indigenous publishing house based in Broome, Western Australia. It publishes books in a wide range of genres by Indigenous authors and illustrators from all over Australia. It is my first stop if I am looking for Indigenous stories and histories to share. Purchases from Magabala Books help support Australia’s Indigenous peoples and protect and preserve their histories and cultures. In addition to the books which are available for purchase, the website has many free teaching resources to support use of their books in the classroom.

Go Foundation

Go Foundation, founded by Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, works with Indigenous Australian youth with the aim of empowering them to take control of their own lives. Scholarships support students on their educational journey from kindergarten to tertiary. Visit the website for more information about scholarships or to see how you can support this wonderful organisation.

ABC Education

ABC Education has an extensive collection of free teaching resources for every subject including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. Resources are linked to year levels and the Australian Curriculum. You can keep up to date by subscribing to the email newsletter or by following their Facebook page @ABCEducationAU or on Twitter @ABCEducationAU.

Map of first languages

Among the ABC resources is an interactive map of Australia’s first languages which is really useful when researching the languages of your area.

Indigenous weather knowledge

For Indigenous knowledge of weather, refer to the Indigenous Weather Knowledge pages on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

Little J and Big Cuz

Little J and Big Cuz is an animated series for early years children (K – 2) on NITV. The series 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 the resources, developed by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) and Indigenous Educational Consultants, were 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.

Stronger Smarter Jarjums

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”. Check out their brochure here. Perhaps there is a program on offer near you. (Note: Jarjums is an aboriginal word for children.)

Creative Spirits

The website Creative Spirits holds a wealth of information about Australian Indigenous culture. It includes many free resources for teachers and students, and has a bundle of NAIDOC Week resources and other resources available for a small cost.

I hope you find this information useful. Please let me know of other helpful websites and resources in the comments.

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Comments

    A lovely post, Norah, and excellent resources for teaching children about the culture of the indigenous people of Australia. I learned a lot about the Maori’s when we visited New Zealand in 2016.

    Thanks so much, Robbie. We all need to learn more about and from our Indigenous peoples.

    What an important segment of learning for all students in Australia. I linked to some of the resources, and was wondering if there is a movement to publish Indigenous voices in the Australian book industry?

    There certainly is, Charli, in both children’s and adults books. And I think readers are now looking for them too. An Indigenous author won the Miles Franklin Award last year (adult books) and a couple of Indigenous authors are shortlisted this year. I think the population is finally waking up that there are many stories to be told in Australia.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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