Picnics or similar outings are events that most students have experienced and enjoy. In this activity they will learn about how this simple activity has remained similar for a long period of time, but also how it has changed in small ways. This gives students a way to conceptualise change and continuity in families in an accessible way. For some experiential learning, you may want to conduct this lesson on a picnic at the local park.
This resource from the National Museum of Australia provides some excellent images dating back to the 19th Century. Through looking at these images on a projector (or printed off if you are actually on a picnic), students get a sense of how things have changed (different clothes, equipment etc.), but also the continuity of a group of people who care about each other and enjoy one and other’s company.
Only the first activity, ‘Observe and Sequence’ is really suitable for Early Stage 1. As a group you can ask the students to sequence the photos, discussing justifications for the ordering. It may be useful to break this activity up over two days so that the students can go home to talk about it with their parents after an introduction to the photos. To bring out the subject matter, students should be encouraged to use themselves, their parents and grandparents as indicators of how old the image might be. You might also encourage them to discuss what roles/activities each family member might perform while on picnics, and what they might do to help, too.
Meet Samantha. It is Samantha's first birthday and her Vietnamese family is planning a very special celebration....
Bjorn Wallin's insight:
Birthdays are often an event celebrated with families. This resource can be used to explore people in students’ present families through the lens of a culturally significant event. Similarly to picnics, birthday celebrations are also often enjoyed by young students, so it is likely they will be enthusiastic in this topic.
This activity can be split into two sessions, with the first being a viewing of this short video. The video also usefully incorporates a global perspective by documenting the Vietnamese culture. A discussion after the video can centre on which family members were present and what they were doing. The students can then be asked to go home to ask about their own first birthday, maybe even bringing in some photos or artefacts from the event.
At the following session, as a class you might ask the students to talk about each other’s birthdays using the information, records and objects they have gathered from home. Some suggested questions adapted from the site include:
- Do you think birthdays are special, and why?
- Is it important your family is there?
- Do you remember what your family members did on the day?
- What are the similarities and differences to a birthday in a Vietnamese family?
Culturally significant events like birthdays are a great way to explore the meaning of social connections like families. For young students, it also allows us to explore heritage and the significance of historical milestones in a familiar and accessible way.
It can be difficult to find resources specific to Early Stage 1 for learning about people in families from an Indigenous perspective. However, with some creativity many activities can be adapted for your youngest students. Some more advanced tasks will have to be done by the teacher. Some of the more advanced themes and topics under the subject matter of families (such as the stolen generation), should be left out at this early stage. However, a topic such as the stolen generation is an important one, and the ground work for learning about it can be laid in Early Stage 1.
Related to this is the possibility that a student may not have a relationship with their immediate biological family, or that their recent history has been lost or interrupted. We must emphasise in cases like this that a 'family' is often just a group of people that cares about us, and that other types of families are not any less meaningful than the traditional biological kind.
The support resource ‘A Shared History’ provides some excellent Stage 1 material which can be adapted to Early Stage 1. Importantly, it is created in partnership with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. The site contains a range of teaching ideas, resources and links for further reading. One activity under Stage 1, Change and Continuity, is to ask parents of students to fill in a short form indicating the geography of their family history, focussing on their history in Australia. Students return to class with this information, and as a group mark out their families on map of Australia or the region. You may then ask students, depending on their skill level, to draw something that relates to their family. To develop early writing skills, they could trace over a simple label such as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.
Here we have an opportunity to bring in Indigenous perspectives. Students can mark out their family’s geography according to Indigenous place names on a first nations map (e.g. http://mgnsw.org.au/sector/aboriginal/aboriginal-language-map/) or a more localised Indigenous map for the region. For example, rather than placing their family’s heritage in ‘Melbourne’, then might place it in ‘Woiworung country’. Students are then exposed to the idea that just as there are different regions of the world, there are different regions in Australia itself. Further, that there is a rich and long history of people in our own country.
The framework of similarities and differences is the focus of this activity. Learning about different types of families is an excellent way to make children who do not come from stereotypical ‘normal’ families feel included in this subject matter, and broader society as they get older. By comparing the people in their present families with other student’s families, and imagined ones in narratives, students can work towards this outcome while also learning to appreciate diversity. In this way, students can critically reflect on their preconceptions of what 'family' means.
The lesson plan is still well suited to Parr’s book. Following a shared reading experience, you can discuss the different family types shown by Parr and ask students to compare them to their own. You might also ask students to think about how families change over time. An older member might pass away, a baby might be born, a parent or young adult may leave.
While the differences are important, we also want to bring out the similarities. You may want to discuss with children why they like their families, and why they are important. To break up the discussion and also form an assessment task, students can be asked to draw their families and also illustrate their importance. It may be as simple as a picture of mum and dad with a plate of food because they feed the student. This simple task brings out the caring and providing nature of families, and the roles each member plays.
The idea of a family is something common to all cultures around the world. They may vary in size, composition and purpose, but the idea of a close-knit group of people remains a structure to which we can all relate. By asking students to think about their own family and comparing it to others around the world, we can bring out a global perspective in this subject matter.
This site provides a range of activities for fostering a sense of global community through families. Activity 1, ‘We Are Family’ can easily be adapted to Early Stage 1 interests and capabilities. As a class you might begin by conducting a discussion what a family is, and what it means to your students. Again, we must be mindful that your students’ families will be varied, and to include students who do not have traditional or mainstream family structures.
One suggestion is for students to view pictures of families on a projector from different countries doing different activities, assisted by some commentary from the teacher. Using an interactive map on a projector (e.g. Earth view on www.google.com/maps/) we can inquire about where these different families are from. Students can then be asked to identify some similarities and differences amongst these global families, and their own. A global perspective on social units such as families can lay the foundations of a tolerant, empathetic and welcoming attitude to people from different cultures.
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