I've been thinking about the Indigenous educational materials present in our home. I would love to see more Indigenous representation in our art (and art appreciation studies), in the foods we eat, in the music we listen to and in the clothes/designers we wear, and I'm making changes in those areas.
We have a few children's books by Indigenous authors and we love to explore with Ochre. What about other educational materials like games, puzzles and manipulatives? Are there early learning materials by Indigenous creatives that are suitable for a Montessori home? It turns out there is a lot and I'll be sharing more ideas on this later. But why is it important that we have Indigenous materials in our homes?
Indigenous culture doesn't deserve to be looked at or discussed only from a historical perspective, Indigenous culture is alive and vibrant, it can be a part of our children's every day experiences. Sharing and using Indigenous resources with our children can assist them in developing knowledge and appreciation of Indigenous culture at a young age. We want our children to know and love Australian Indigenous culture, we want them to build connections not only with the natural environment but with our Nations First Peoples. We also want to show respect, we want to support Indigenous creatives and businesses. This starts in the home.
Here are a few gorgeous early learning materials that we've been using. All are made in Australia and include designs by Indigenous artists.
This is the Kangaroo and Emu Peg Puzzle puzzle from Yarn Strong Sista. I love how it focuses on the animal and tracks, it is also designed to encourage story telling! The knobs make this good for developing the pincer grasp and fine motor skills.
When I first saw the next two puzzles I thought they were artwork and I wanted to put them on the wall, then I realised they were puzzles. They are so bold and visually... wow! For the home or toddler class or playgroup I can't recommend them highly enough. They have nine pieces and the art work is by Charlie Chambers Jr. This one is the Kangaroo Dreaming puzzle. They are challenging for Otto (2.5 yrs and a puzzle lover) especially at first but after lots of repetition he is able to do them both independently. I would recommend for children from 2.5 to four years. These two puzzles come with an information sheet about the puzzle, the Dreamtime story, some activity (extension) ideas and a little about the artist and the design. Perfect, love it!
We have a lot of birds around our home so all bird work is loved! This is the Ga Ga the Kookaburra Puzzle also from Geko Educational. It's gorgeous. This also has nine pieces and is a part of the Dreaming Series by Charlie Chambers Jr. Also on repeat at our home.
These are so interesting, the Aussie Animals Matching Cards - NSW Font from Geko Educational (also pictured very top). The cards come in a handmade Aboriginal fabric bag. This is designed as a memory game but for younger children it can be used as a matching game. You use the cards to match the drawn Australian animal with the Aboriginal traditional drawn animal. It contains 16 pairs. Not only is this a great introduction into some of the lesser known Australian animals, it is also a great introduction to Aboriginal art.
This is a Fish Billabong Puzzle at Geko Educational recommended for children 4 years +. It is twelve pieces but it isn't easy due to the design. I would look at introducing it from three years. The artwork and interpretation is by Donna Hensen of the Wiradjuri People. As with our other puzzles from Geko, this comes with an information sheet which shares the story of the pictured Billabong and activity (extension) ideas. It's great to give the child some detail about what is shown here (there are four hunters, that have spears and boomerangs, they can see the tracks of the goanna that has entered and left the Billabong, there are fish and an eel in the Billabong). Learning Aboriginal symbols is a fun and important step.
We also have a new Animal Board Book from Yarn Strong Sista (they have more toddler books here). This is an Indigenous First Discovery Book which includes 10 pages of Australian bush animals. This is a wordless book that contains Aboriginal symbols for animals. Suitable for children from birth. There is a legend at the back listing what each symbol means.
Yarn Strong Sista have a good range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resources including puzzles, toys, dolls and books. When you purchase educational resources from Yarn Strong Sista you are supporting Aboriginal Businesses, 15% of purchases to Yarn Strong Sista supports the Yarn Strong Sista Deakin University Scholarship Program.
I'm also thinking of a few DIY activities around bush tucker food and exploring native fruits. I love these Bush Tucker Language Cards too!