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Early Learning celebrates NAIDOC 2021

9 July 2021

Kangaroo skins, lemon myrtle biscuits and bush tomato scones, cultural scavenger hunts, bush tucker plants, plenty of Dreamtime stories and so much more. MercyCare’s 14 Early Learning Centres did a tremendous job celebrating NAIDOC Week 2021.

Here are just a few highlights:

Ballajura: Our educator Nikki brought in artefacts loaned to her by her uncle, a Wadjak man with strong connections to Ballardong and Wilman clans of the Noongar Nation. The children beamed as they adorned the yarn headbands and engaged in songs with the clapping sticks. Nikki shared her knowledge of the boomerang and kangaroo skin as the children felt the weight and textures of these tools and materials. The kangaroo skin is used as a pouch which Nikki demonstrated for the children by draping it over her head and tucking the tail end over the rest of the body.

Merriwa: Our Merriwa Early Learning Centre kindy and vacation care classes headed to Yanchep National Park for an Aboriginal cultural experience. The children learnt the emu dance, with one hand up for the emu head and the other resting under their elbow or behind their back for a tail. They pecked on the ground, looked around, scratched themselves and ran. Host Derek Nannup shared Dreamtime stories, introduced items including boomerangs, spears, shields, baskets, kangaroo bags and didgeridoos, and explained how to make fire. Did you know Noongar people kept fire embers in a Banksia seed when travelling to make it easier to start the next fire? Children and our educators alike agreed it was the most amazing experience and felt very lucky to learn about the world's oldest culture.

Kelmscott: Move over Nigella, our talented bunch of Kelmscott MercyCare MiniChefs are here! The children in the Chuditch room learnt to bake lemon myrtle biscuits which they also took home to share with family. Did you know lemon myrtle is traditionally used as medicine for centuries by Indigenous Australians due to its antibacterial properties?

Landsdale: Landsdale weren’t about to miss out on MiniChef either. The lucky Landsdale kindy families enjoyed bush tomato scones made by our little MiniChefs.

Wembley: The thriving vegetable garden received new bush tucker plants and the children explored Jambinu Zest (Geraldton Wax) using all their senses. Jambinu Zest has edible needle-like leaves and waxy flowers similar in flavour to a Lemon Myrtle.

Bennett Springs: Our educators created Dreaming Story Stones using Australian animals and Aboriginal symbols. The children picked out their favourite stone and the educators told them a Dreamtime Story related to the stone. Natural materials of paperbark, gum nuts, leaves and sticks were used by the children to create beautiful artworks.

Bassendean: Our educator Dona created the cutest Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) model for the children to explore. When identifying the different objects in the model, our educators added a tag with the Wadjak language name of the object.

Banksia Grove: The children had a special visit from Koora Middi. Presenter Greg Nannup talked about our history and showed some amazing Aboriginal Artifacts. Children also made one of the first pigments used by humankind – ochre. The children crushed the soft rock, which contains clay, to create the ochre which they then painted with using sticks. What a great way to learn about how ancient Aboriginal art was created.

Heathridge: The babies painted hand-made tap sticks that they will be using for Acknowledgement of Country each day, while the kindy children had a go at painting their own Aboriginal art-inspired pieces. The children came together in a yarning circle to talk about what Heal Country meant to them.

Seville Grove: The babies room got in on NAIDOC celebrations by exploring the different colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags! They then made shakers with the flag colours, identifying the colours along the way.

Newman College OSHC: It was a day out at Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park for MercyCare's Newman College Out School Hours Care. The children learnt about the Noongar season of Makuru in Kaarta Koomba (Kings Park), enjoyed Noongar storytelling and a cultural scavenger hunt.

Thornlie: The Bunuru room explored Indigenous symbols and their meanings, putting a lot of research into exploring the meaning of totems.

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