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Incorporating Indigenous Resources in Early Learning Services

When planning a rich curriculum that embeds Indigenous practices, there are a few things to consider to ensure they become meaningful.

Written by: Educational Specialist - Jo Harris  

While annual events such as Reconciliation Week and NAIDO Week provide an opportunity to highlight Indigenous Perspectives within Australian society and culture, they can also be the impetus to continue the learning and conversation throughout the year. 

Including Indigenous resources as a part of every day Early Learning can lead to more meaningful and genuine learning experiences for future generations that become a natural part of quality programs and services in which all people can feel valued, included, and celebrated. 


Sustaining the focus on Indigenous Australia as a continuous practice

When planning a rich curriculum that embeds Indigenous practices, there are a few things to consider to ensure they become meaningful and practical in application. Our suggestions include:-

Planning outdoor play spaces within the natural environment offers opportunities to explore and implement an understanding of the cycles and elements of the natural world which are integral to Indigenous people

  1. Editing teaching resources to ensure that are culturally appropriate and sensitive to Indigenous culture
  2. Exploring local Indigenous events and visiting local landmarks to understand their significance and meaning
  3. Creating an Acknowledgement of Country ceremony with the children and families and sharing it each day as a mark of respect
  4. Attending and engaging in Professional Development sessions that encourage reflection and challenge biases


Where should I begin?

Shaping a well-balanced and culturally sensitive environment that incorporates Indigenous resources can be easier by implementing a few key pieces to draw attention to the senses.

Adding soft furnishings like rugs and cushions featuring Indigenous designs can invite a sense of colour and interest, while also becoming a provocation to study its origins in a meaningful way.



Books & Story Stones

Reading stories on arrival, or between transitions of the day can support children to connect with and reflect on their thoughts and feelings as they grow and change through daily play and connection with others. Children of all ages can enjoy the closeness and opportunity to bond, listen to, and engage with educators and peers. Thanks to the emergence of some wonderful Indigenous publishers and a growing mainstream interest in Indigenous culture, there are now many Indigenous books available to add to your collection. 

Educators who take time to recognise each child’s unique and individual needs when reading new books will understand how powerful this can be. Talking about the story during and long after it has concluded, and hearing children request these books to be re-read, tells us that children see themselves represented in the words or pictures. 

Children may also learn to create their own stories using wooden or felt  Indigenous Story Stones that invite them to use the visual symbols to choose characters and actions that reflect their interests and imagination.



Games & Puzzles

Updating a game collection to reflect culturally diverse concepts and imagery provides an opportunity for children to apply new learnings to familiar processes. Adding Indigenous Serpents and Ladders or a Memory Game and adding new Australian puzzles to your set, is a quick and easy way to update your collection and spark new conversations.


Dolls & Animals

Adding a variety of dolls that reflect the contemporary lifestyles of Indigenous people and their family members, offers an opportunity to learn about traditional and cultural dress and clothing, and the opportunity to explore how different people live daily. 

Incorporating Indigenous dolls into the permanent doll collection in your practice helps to create familiarity for the children and helps to add diversity to your range of resources.

Introducing a small-world Australian crochet set can be an opportunity to model quiet and imaginative play before setting it up, as an independent activity and supporting children to understand the important connection to the land by witnessing and observing the movements of animals.  


Musical Instruments

The Music Corner can be enhanced with the addition of some Indigenous musical instruments.

From shakers and drums to rain sticks and rattles, Indigenous musical instruments are a tactile and sensory way to evoke discussion between nature and the elements in the bush.



Start Small and Build on Your Collection

When it comes to incorporating Indigenous resources into an existing classroom setting and to avoid overwhelm, we suggest:

  • Start small and be consistent - learning is a continuous process, and selecting an appropriate professional development session is an ideal place to start. Attending a Reconciliation Week Event in your local community can lead to finding professionals and programs that support professional and personal growth
  • Spend time revisiting your service’s Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) and identify the National Quality Standard areas for improvement that the service team feels could use improvement. This can also help to guide the kind of training and learning goals of your service that will contribute to implementing
  • Research the origins of products and resources that your service purchases. Learning about the artists and stories including Emro Designs and Magabala Books that inspire their work is a simple way to grow knowledge and understanding to give context to those that are purchased and implemented within programs


Bellbird is committed to continuing our professional development and continues to source resources that support the growth of Indigenous businesses. Resources purchased this way contribute directly to the income of the artists and enable us to continue to share our rich Australian culture.

To learn more about creating play spaces with resources that inspire cultural inclusion, please visit our website


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