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Research project considers use of Aboriginal stories, artefacts in early childhood education

Callan Morse -

A research project considering the benefits of including Aboriginal stories and artefacts in early childhood education has been conducted at a Victorian kindergarten.

The Now Play Project, which involved students from Wodonga's Southern Rise Kindergarten, saw Monash University researchers Janet Scull and Anne Keary consider how learning experiences including Aboriginal artefacts, themes and languages supported children's language and literacy development.

In collaboration with Koorie Engagement Support Officer, Tim Clark and the Wodonga Council, children at Southern Rise Kindergarten explored Aboriginal artefacts, read stories, drew pictures, created paint with ochre and painted on paperback - all whilst incorporating Indigenous languages.

The research project also saw children engage in dancing and explore different Aboriginal symbols and their meanings.

Wodonga Council Educational Leader, Jessica Pollard, said the project extended children's knowledge of Indigenous cultures.

"The children who participated were very engaged and interested in the activities we planned and demonstrated their ideas and learning through their responses to the stories and their drawings and paintings," Ms Pollard said.

"The children particularly enjoyed painting on paperbark with ochre and drawing symbols in the sand, as well as having a go at using the emu caller to make noise.

As part of the project, Wodonga Council filmed a series of videos featuring children taking part in the learning activities for further use in educational contexts.

The videos will be used as one of the tools in a toolkit to support and assess Indigenous children's language, literacy, and cultural knowledge, and for supporting Indigenous children with language difficulties.

Designed to be useful to Indigenous communities both in Australia around the world, plans are for the adaptable toolkit to be implemented in Indigenous communities in countries including New Zealand and Canada.

Results of the toolkit's use will provide data for assessing its impact on children's learning and on the knowledge and practices of family members, teacher educators and researchers.

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