NAIDOC week was fast approaching and for the educators it wasn’t an overwhelming thought about what “stereotypical” experiences we would be setting up just for the week. We have been on our Reconciliation journey with the children for the last few years now so no matter what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander celebration was approaching it was just another opportunity for us to stop and reflect on how we are incorporating these cultural perspectives within our learning environment and through our day-to-day teaching.
“ Because of her, we can!” Couldn’t have been a more appropriate theme for us as it connects to our current art project. Over the last few months the children have been inspired by the colourful and expressive abstract paintings from Aboriginal artist, Sally Gabori.
With regular visits to Cooee Art Gallery which is found in our local community of Paddington, It’s here the children’s connection to Sally deepened and wonderful things began to happen. Our art studio became a place for story telling through abstract art, the children just like Sally began to tell stories and capture significant places or moments in their life through their art. Sally’s name became a familiar name to all the children and their parents after the children would go home and tell stories of the talented Sally who only started to paint at the age of 80. Such an inspiration to us all. Because of her, we can now confidently share our own life experiences through abstract art and have a stronger appreciation for contemporary Aboriginal art. We will be showcasing the children’s art in our very own art exhibition for our families to attend as the children thought this was the best way to share their stories just like Sally.
As educators NAIDOC Week gave us the opportunity to reflect on our indoor and outdoor environments to see what changes can be made to excite the children’s ongoing learning. Making ochre paint has been a huge interest after Uncle Jimmy an Aboriginal Elder made some with the children last year. Our sandstone rocks in our outdoor environment has been used for grinding down the rocks to create the powder for ochre paint. We decided to take this interest inside, children were provided with bowls to collect their powder before bringing it to the art studio where an easel, water and paintbrushes awaited them.
When asking the children how they would like to celebrate NAIDOC Week knowing this years theme was to celebrate the essential role that women have played - and continue to play as positive role models in our lives. Their answer to this was simple, why can’t we celebrate the women in our lives?
So that’s exactly what we did! Children celebrated these powerful women, their mums, grandmothers, aunties, sisters or any other women that has had a positive impact on their lives in some way. Through drawings they captured this trusting relationship that has filled their hearts with love as they finished this sentence with respect and gratitude.
“Because of her, I feel loved”
“ Because of her, I can laugh and be happy”
“ Because of her, I enjoy life”
NAIDOC Week is a time for us to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s a time of celebration for Indigenous communities, and for all Australians it’s an opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s long, rich history and discover how much we can learn from the custodians of this land. As we continue our journey to reconciliation we want our Sun Room children to know the people who have shaped Australia.
Educator: Sara Smith