Celebrating NAIDOC Week: Learning from the Elders

This week, from July 2 to 9, we are excited to be celebrating NAIDOC Week! The theme for NAIDOC Week 2023 is ‘For our Elders’ — a reminder of the wisdom, knowledge and guidance Aboriginal Elders provide.

NAIDOC Week is the perfect time to honour and recognise the valuable contributions of Indigenous Elders and as early childhood educators, we have the incredible opportunity to nurture a deep appreciation of Australia’s rich Indigenous culture. 

Keep reading for some ideas to help you plan engaging and meaningful NAIDOC activities for the children in your care.

Appreciating NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC Week is a time for all Australians to come together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of Indigenous heritage and traditions, acknowledge the Elders who hold a wealth of knowledge, passed down through generations.

Let’s look at a few approaches that can help you to embrace NAIDOC Week and elevate Indigenous culture and voices:

Learn from Elders’ stories

Invite local Elders or Indigenous community members to visit your centre and share their stories with the children. After all, hearing Indigenous stories from Indigenous people is the best way.

Elders possess a unique perspective and can offer valuable insights into their history, traditions and connection to the land. This interaction will not only deepen children’s understanding but also foster empathy, respect and a sense of connection to the Indigenous local community. 

Connect to Country

Help children develop a connection to the land and environment by incorporating nature-based activities. A walk to a local park or nature reserve, or even a cultural heritage site is a great place to start. 

Engage in activities like animal spotting and exploring native plants. Discuss the importance of respecting and caring for the land, drawing on Indigenous perspectives and teachings.

Play Aboriginal games 

Another fantastic way to engage children in NAIDOC Week (and beyond) is by introducing them to traditional Aboriginal games. 

The Yulunga Traditional Indigenous Games resource by Sport Australia offers a great collection of Indigenous games that can be adapted for young children. These games not only promote physical activity and coordination but also provide an opportunity for children to learn about traditional cultural practices while engaging in cooperative play.

Incorporating these games into your NAIDOC Week programs can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture while providing a fun and inclusive experience for all children involved.

Keep incorporating Indigenous education beyond NAIDOC Week 

NAIDOC Week provides a valuable opportunity for early childhood educators to celebrate Aboriginal culture with children, but let’s not only make time for this in NAIDOC Week. Every day is an opportunity to further learn from and about Australia’s remarkable Aboriginal culture.

At Bonkers Beat, we have helpful Aboriginal educational free resources for educators and families here. Plus, we even created a pack for educators to help you find more ways to bring education on Aboriginal culture into your services. Our Australian Aboriginal Resources Pack consists of beautifully designed hands-on activities for children from 2 to 8 years of age. This pack is a perfect tool to embed indigenous perspectives and celebrate cultural diversity in any Early Childhood, kindergarten, school setting or even at home. Wendy Pakota, said the pack offers “Great variety of materials – the children really enjoyed all of the activities”.

As we all incorporate more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into each day as well as during NAIDOC Week, let’s celebrate the invaluable contributions of our Indigenous Elders in shaping our past, present and future.

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