My name is Cassie Davis and I am a Kindergarten Teacher at Penrose Kindergarten located in Tarneit of Melbourne, Victoria. We are a Wyndham City Council Kindergarten service that offers each child 15 hours of Kindergarten per week in a sessional setting.
This is my 5th year with Wyndham City Council and I have worked in Early Childhood Education for over 15 years now. My Reconciliation journey only just began when I became a Wyndham City employee in 2015 and I feel so proud to be part of an organisation that always keeps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and views in the forefront of our minds each and every day.
After 5 years of operation at Penrose Kindergarten, as a team we feel we are developing and growing more and more each year and it is very evident that Aboriginal perspectives are embedded into our programs and learning environments across our entire service both indoors and outdoors.
In term one, the children were particularly interested in music, so we began using the 8 Aboriginal ways of Learning and developed an investigation with the children into music. The children love the clapping sticks that we use each morning when singing our Wominjeka – (good morning welcome song) each day, so we began our investigation by giving the children some clapping sticks each to use as we sang along to Inanay. We also performed our song to our friends next door in Red group as well as our welcome song.
From here, many learning opportunities emerged and the children wanted to learn more about the didgeridoo after watching Uncle Norm play the didgeridoo at our family picnic evening for Harmony Day back in March. We used the internet to investigate the Didgeridoo further using the Deconstruct/Reconstruct element of the 8 ways, and looked at the didgeridoo as a completed instrument and then watching how a traditional didgeridoo is created right from the beginning. This provided great discussion amongst the children and questions, not to mention inspired the children to use recycled materials to create their own didgeridoos and clapping sticks at Kinder. We also investigated what a Corroboree is and the children decided to take some of our clapping sticks and musical instruments outside in the yard and created their own Corroboree under a tree. This was so beautiful to see!!
The children also developed an interest in Football as the AFL season began in March. After engaging in some Footy talk with a small group of children, I read the story Marngrook to the group and the children’s interest grew stronger and they were so amazed by how a traditional Marngrook is made. We then did some research online and printed some images to look at as a group and displayed the images on our wall.
From here, we made a plan about how we could create our own Marngrook at Kinder and brainstormed what materials we could use. The children then used a balloon and glued brown paper all over the balloon and let it dry for a few days. The next session, we found some brown fur cut offs in our materials box so the children used this to glue all over the paper on the balloon.
The children were so happy with the end result and couldn’t wait to show their families the Marngrook they had created as a team on our display table in our room.
With all of the wonderful learning taking place in our Kinder group this year so far and the beautiful reconciliaton journey we are currently on with our children, our team reflected and discussed how important it is that our families understand our why, and have the opportunity to see our program for themselves and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture at our service. To celebrate a wonderful Term 1 in Orange Group, we invited all of our families on the last day of Term 1 for a family breakfast. The children ate a lovely breakfast together with their families and then we asked our families to join us on the mat for a group time and showed our families what a morning typically looks like in Orange group. We sang Wominjeka followed by reciting our Acknowledgment of Country. We then invited our families to listen to the story "Sorry Sorry" as we read it to the group. The children are very familiar with the story and like to talk about their feelings around the events in the book.
Cassie then invited the families to take a tour of the room with her where she explained the 8 ways of learning program in more depth, our program plan and the children’s interests so far and how we are embedding Aboriginal perspectives throughout our program and learning through culture at Kinder.
To conclude our morning, we invited our families to join us in our yard and raise the flags with us for the day. We believe inviting our families to learn about our program and see it in action is such a valuable approach to use in keeping our families informed around our practice and Reconciliation journey, and will be something we continue to do at our service after the wonderful feedback we received from our families.
Written by Cassie Davis.