NAIDOC Week is fast approaching. All over the country, in schools, workplaces, and communities, a wide range of activities and events take place to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for their history, culture, and achievements.
Each year, NAIDOC Week has a different theme that brings attention to different parts of the lives of Indigenous Australians.
As we learn and change how we see our surroundings and the cultural heritage of the Traditional Custodians, here are some great ideas you can use during NAIDOC Week to supplement your preschool or daycare activities.
What is NAIDOC week?
NAIDOC Week is a period dedicated to honouring Indigenous culture and heritage, celebrating more than 65,000 years of history and connection to the land. NAIDOC Week began with being the Day of Mourning before it became Aborigines Day in 1940-1955.
Aborigines Day then became a day to celebrate Aboriginal culture after 1955. They mourned on the second Sunday in July. Then, between 1956 and 1990, the NADOC committee was formed.
After 1990, Torres Strait Islander peoples were included, and NADOC became NAIDOC. It’s now a week-long celebration in Australia with a different focus each year to highlight major concerns and circumstances. As such, the acronym NAIDOC means National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, who were once the organisers of the week.
This week focuses on celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, accomplishments, and culture. In 2022, NAIDOC week will be held from 3-10 July.
Why is NAIDOC week important?
Learning more about Australia’s First Nations peoples is important for moving forward and for all Australians to feel a part of our national identity. It helps us understand the past and work together to build a better future.
NAIDOC Week is a great time for everyone in Australia to learn, especially kids and families. Along with other events like National Sorry Day, National Reconciliation Week, Mabo Day, and Aboriginal Children’s Day, it’s a big chance for the whole country to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This year, the theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! which stems from a history of getting up, standing up, and showing up. Now, it’s time to continue doing so for systemic change and to remain united around crucial issues.
All of us are encouraged by this topic to advocate for institutional and structural change in Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities, while also appreciating those who have already pushed for and led change.
Why do we celebrate NAIDOC week in preschool?
The National Quality Standard and the Early Years Learning Framework helps teachers incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. In order for early childhood programmes to be more effective, meaningful ties must be made with the local community.
Educators should build relationships with Aboriginal elders, community members, and organisations in their area so they can learn about local perspectives and use them.
This racial literacy also helps people see the world and how different cultures perceive the world around them. Children need to know about race so they can become culturally competent and understand cultural differences with how people appear, talk, and act.
NAIDOC Week activities are also a great way for children to learn about Indigenous languages and the cultural significance of animals.
What does NAIDOC week teach children?
All Australians are encouraged to learn more about the history and culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through yearly themes and festivities. NAIDOC Week specifically promotes diversity and inclusiveness. People are encouraged to embrace differences and have fun doing so.
They want to have people speak about the world’s oldest continuing living culture and the challenges and triumphs faced by Australia’s First Nations, the local Aboriginals.
Best NAIDOC week activities for preschool
The NAIDOC committee already has some educational resources on their website but here are more ideas and resources you can use in the classroom to support the understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Picture books and storytelling
Books may spark children’s interest about history and culture. Some books for early childhood settings include:
- My Country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan
- Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo by Alison Lester
- You and Me Murrawee by Kerri Hashmi
Little children love to sing and dance. Some songs and lyrics may be very effective for child care centres and preschools:
- ‘Djinda Djinda Kanangoor’ – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Noongar Lang
- ‘Kaart, Djerdim, Boonijt, Djena‘. – Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Noongar Language
Arts and craft
The ‘Stronger’, NAIDOC Week 2022 colouring in poster by Ryhia Dank, a young Gudanjui/Wakaja artist from the Northern Territory, can be used in the classroom for kids to try to create in their own coloured version of the poster.
While children between ages two and five should watch less than an hour of screen time daily, a little quality entertainment can benefit them a lot.
One episode from Little J & Big Cuz can be shown to preschoolers on a day during NAIDOC Week. It can also be used by educators to reflect, recognise and acknowledge aspects of their culture.
Excursions and incursions
Encourage children to observe nature outdoors as the weather permits. Give each kid a bag or basket and allow them to explore. Ask them to gather interesting natural stuff such as leaves of different colours, twigs, or maybe even fruits and nuts.
While collecting, you may want to discuss the traditional owners of Australia and their profound relationship to the land, as well as traditional hunting, gathering, cooking, and land management. This is a terrific way to teach kids about nature and its importance to Indigenous culture.
After gathering, give each child a piece of cardboard or poster paper to start assembling their collages. Allow them to create a poster and colour it to reflect the theme.
How families can join in on NAIDOC week activities
Check the local NAIDOC Week events section to see if there is an event scheduled in your local area.
Aboriginal art activities
- Aboriginal Dot Paintings – Dot paintings or rock paintings are forms of indigenous art. Aboriginal Dot Paintings are made by putting small dots of paint together to make a whole picture or pattern. Simply put different colours of paint in bowls and let the kids use cotton ear buds to make dot paintings on paper plates, poster paper, or rocks.
- Flag with Aboriginal Handprints – Use hand prints and different colours to make a great Aboriginal flag. Teach them that the black means “people,” the red means “earth,” and the yellow means “sun.”
- Here are some other art activities that you could also use!
Visit cultural sites
There are numerous sites that can be visited around Australia and we’ve listed some below.
- VictoriaGertrude Street in Melbourne was where the majority of Aboriginal people were residing in the 50s to 70s. A mobile app, Yalinguth, guides users along the street as it shares the Aboriginal background of Fitzroy using immersive sound, geolocation and a pair of headphones.
- New South WalesIn Sydney, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which is home to 350 identified Aboriginal sites. View significant rock art and engravings through an Aboriginal Heritage walk.
- CanberraNamadgi National Park would be an ideal place to enjoy a good walk through nature reserves.
- Western AustraliaKings Park in Perth is where you will find the Boodja Gnarning Walk.
- QueenslandK’gari (Fraser Island) is the world’s largest sand island where you can walk in the footsteps of a local Aboriginal guide.
The week-long celebration is a chance for people of all ages to learn about the history, culture, and achievements of First Nations people. Teachers, families, and other members of the community can use the activities above to keep children engaged and give meaning to the week.
Finding the Right Childcare
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