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Integrating Indigenous Resources within Daily Learning

There is a movement for true reconciliation for First Nations cultures. Although there is progress to celebrate - it is essential to understand the many changes and steps being taken that can be embedded into everyday practices.

Written by: Jo Harris - Educational Advisor  

We are living in exciting times in which there is a movement for true reconciliation for First Nations cultures. Listening, learning, and committing to understanding their significance can be made simpler by referring to action steps created in a Quality Improvement Plan or Reconciliation Action Plan.

Although there is progress to celebrate - it is essential to continue to research and understand the many changes and steps being taken that can be embedded into everyday practice with children and families.

Many educators can feel confused or even unsure of where to begin, which resources to use, or what activities to plan. To combat this, it can become simpler by viewing this learning as part of a lifelong journey of change, when it is considered in terms of regular daily actions rather than isolated events throughout the year.

Even the smallest steps can lead to big change

One of the most simple yet powerful changes made is the Acknowledgment of Country by using local place names. Exploring this with young children could begin with hanging a map of Australia and teaching these names. With a puzzle map of Australia place names can be identified. Cities like Naarm (Melbourne), Meanjin (Brisbane), and Boorloo (Perth) can become easily identified through daily repetition and whilst referring to any of these locations during discussions with children. A project could be taken up to research the traditional owners of the land that a service is built upon along with streets and landmarks in the wider local areas.

Written acknowledgment can be as important as spoken language and may offer a deeper level of connection and assimilation. There is an increasing amount of literature that is freely available to anyone wanting to learn and extend their knowledge. 


Dunghutti woman Deborah Hoger, owner of a business specialising in Indigenous educational resources found in her research  “It is becoming increasingly common to see services using Aboriginal words for various naming purposes: to name specific buildings… The inclusion of First Nations words in this way can be a beautiful expression of reconciliation and a very visual demonstration that your service celebrates their First Nations culture.” 

Recognising the origins of Australia’s precious natural resources

Whilst learning about our own local areas are important, extending an interest in learning about some of Australia’s most recognisable landmarks can encourage further understanding. Many culturally sacred locations including Uluru derive their name from the Pitjantjatjara language. When translated, the word means ‘Great Pebble’. 

The Papoose Felt Outback Australia Set could be set up to invite play opportunities to learn more about the people, plants, and animals that live in and around this magnificent monolith. With 18 pieces the play mat represents the Australian outback, with a Gum tree and billabong in which characters such as crocodile and platypus for children to create their own stories about.

Additional pure wool Australian Felt Animals that could extend the play include Frill Neck Lizard with this set. Alternatively, the Outback Play Mat with a Boab tree and ant hills included represents a realistically styled native tree as a play provocation.   

Utilising an existing collection of Australian animal replicas could also be added to these playspaces, or combined with a book from Bellbird’s Book Packs choosing from titles including Mad Magpie, Alfie’s Big Wish, or Indigenous ‘Our Place’ Hardcover Book Pack.

Another world-famous heritage-listed site is the Great Barrier Reef. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the traditional owners and have lived there for tens of thousands of years. Reading Big book titles such as Let's Learn About the Sea, or completing a 49-piece Coral Reef Habitat Puzzle to stimulate discussion about the importance of the Great Barrier Reef as and symbolic cultural place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Deepening the learning of this natural wonder can be explored through setting up small world scenes. A Tropical Island PlayMat paired with a felt coral set, Island (boat) invites play with accessories including a wooden boat, people, and driftwood pieces.

Celebrating the diversity of unique ecosystems connects us to nature

Australia’s unique and incredibly diverse species of marine life are integral to its health and protection. With an emphasis on encouraging young learners to learn about each creature’s role, there are greater opportunities to activate the advocacy of their safety in future generations. Water play with Sea Animals including handcrafted models of turtles, sharks, and whales children can examine the natural world in miniature.

Providing Non-fiction books such as those in The Sea How Why Book series detail information about how much of the Earth’s surface is covered with oceans, lakes, and rivers. Children can distinguish between the oceans and seas, and how they relate to one another. They can also discover the similarities and differences between sea creatures and their impact on food chains and fragile ecosystems.

Further investigation of creatures can be encouraged by adding Lets Roll - Ocean Life creative rollers. Suitable for play in mud, sand, water, or soil, they can also be pressed into play dough and clay. Featuring sea animals including a seahorse and seagrass and an octopus and a cave, children can explore their habitats.

Integrating Indigenous Resources within Daily Learning

Documents such as service policies and procedures are vital touchstones that warrant developing deeper integrative practices with children and educators. Observations and wonderings from the children can provide opportunities to set up provocations to explore and challenge thinking in learning experiences and activities.

‘Pretend Cooking’ using indigenous flora could involve adding native plants and flowers to a playdough experience. ‘Real’ cooking could take place by learning from collaboration with local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders and offered before or after role play experiences to embed learning and understanding.

Dolls and Props that feature different skin colours and culturally relevant items such as possum cloaks or traditional baby carriers can be offered in pretend play experiences.

Observing significant days and celebrations such as NAIDOC week are important markers to share and learn more about Indigenous cultures that are celebrated nationally, creating a wider understanding to share with local communities.

Sharing that we are all learning together, invites children to stay curious and open to the world around them. There can be a greater sense of enjoyment and participation as they understand that learning is lifelong and that adults continue to grow and develop alongside children, this is deeply respectful and mirrors much of the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders pass on and share their knowledge as they have done for millions of years, ever aware and open to the mystical ways the land provides all the information they could ever need. 


For more information on learning more about teaching and learning from the world’s oldest living cultures, visit


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