5 ways to celebrate NAIDOC week

Library Home  >  Arts, Crafts and Activity Ideas
  Published on Tuesday, 06 July 2021

5 ways to celebrate NAIDOC week

Library Home  >  Arts, Crafts and Activity Ideas
  Published on Tuesday, 06 July 2021

The first week of July is NAIDOC Week, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the traditions and knowledge of Australia’s First Nations People.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’; now, it is a time for all Australians to come together and learn about the rich history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

All Australians are encouraged to take the opportunity to listen to what Indigenous communities have to say, and to enjoy some of the art, music, stories, rituals and more that make up these fascinating cultures. 

This week five simple ideas for celebrating and learning about NAIDOC week in your service.

  1. Plant a native garden

This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week is ‘Heal Country’. One great way to acknowledge the literal interpretation of that theme, while also learning about an important element of Aboriginal culture, is to plant a native garden with the children in your care.

Native Australian plants can start to heal the land as they use less water than many introduced species, and support native wildlife by providing food sources and shelter for insects, birds and other small animals. 

What you plant should depend on what area you’re in and what you want to attract, while ensuring that none of the plants used are poisonous in case little hands and mouths decide to try them. Talk to an Indigenous plant expert in your area to better understand what to include in your garden. You can use the selection of plants to teach children about the difference between native and introduced species, as well as showing them the variety of Australian animals they may see in their new garden. 

The plant selection can also be used to teach kids about how native natural elements play a part in Aboriginal cultures and traditions. For example, show them the plants like lily pillies and warrigal greens that are used as traditional foods, those such as native mint and Kakadu plums that are used in bush medicines, and grasses such as flax and mat-rush used by communities for making baskets and fishing nets. Basket weaving from natural fibres could also be a fun activity for the children to try.

  1. Try some traditional foods

Ask a bush tucker expert to bring in some traditional foods for the children to taste and have a cooking demonstration. To find out if there is a community member in your area who would be able to do a demonstration like this, contact your local council to connect with local Indigenous organisations.

If no one suitable is available in your area, however, you can still hold a demonstration and tasting experience by gathering some traditional ingredients and cooking with them. Queensland company My Dilly Bag runs online cooking classes using native ingredients that could give you some great ideas to try out. Or why not keep it simple and try these wild rosella shortbread biscuits?  

  1. Share books

Explore some great picture books aimed at increasing racial literacy and teaching children of all backgrounds what it means to be a First Nations person.

There are any number of books available for an ECEC audience, written by Indigenous Australians about life as an Indigenous Australian. From the classic Dreaming story of the Rainbow Serpent, through to Splosh for the Billabong, a fun and funny story teaching about native animals, landscapes and all things that squelch like mud between your toes.

Respect, by Fay Stewart-Muir, Sue Lawson and illustrated by Lisa Kennedy, is an award-winning book that introduces young children to the concept of respect for life, land, people and history that is inherent to native Australian cultures. It is a great place to start if you’re looking to build awareness in early learners about First People.

  1. Make some art

Print out this year’s winning National NAIDOC Poster ‘Care for Country’, designed by Gubbi Gubbi artist Maggie-Jean Douglas and use it to discuss the importance of visual art and storytelling to the history, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Tell the children how different pigments are made and used, how different marks were originally made, and how they are used to tell a story in each artwork. Help the kids to mix together natural pigments to make their own paints, and guide them toward creating their own works of art to tell a story about what being Australian means to them.

  1. Hold a yarning circle

Listen to ABC Kids’ ‘Little Yarns’ podcast, where Indigenous words, cultures and concepts are introduced to children by individuals from different communities around Australia.

Designed for preschool-aged children, the Little Yarns podcast teaches kids about the diversity of language and culture among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from Yugambeh Country in south-east Queensland and north-east NSW to Noongar Country in south-west WA.

Each episode is also a fun exploration of topics like the effects of the moon on the ocean, Aboriginal weather knowledge, native animals and lots more.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 05 July 2021