Country and culture

Understand & Learn from Traditional Custodians

Traditional owners and custodians of this land have been caring for country for thousands of years. It is important to understand and learn from traditional owners especially in regard to protecting our local environments for generations to come. This Eco-focus will help the kids in your early learning centre share stories, gather respect for indigenous teachings and increase their connections to nature.  

Early Years Learning Framework

Learning Outcomes: 

1.1 – Children feel safe, secure and supported

2.2 – Children respond to diversity with respect

5.1 – Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes


4. Respect for diversity


6. Culture and competency 

CHALLENGE: Connection to Nature - Nature Collage


stencil of artwork (e.g. create outline with recycled paper, string, chalk or non-toxic marker) / green litter (e.g. dried leaves, sticks, rocks)/ native animal artwork (provided below OR create your own


30 minutes for yarning circle – STEP 1

15 minutes for drawing animal outline – STEP 1

1 hour for green litter collection – STEP 2             

2 hours for filling up stencil – STEP 4 


Step 1 - Acknowledgement of Country

Share with your class that no matter where you are in Australia, no matter where you come from and how long you have been in Australia, we are all united by the fact that we stand, live, work, and learn on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land.

Acknowledgement of country is important for children to pay respects to Traditional Custodians, learn about traditions and understand the meaning of connection to country/place. You can use this template provided by the Queensland Government and personalize it to your centre according to your local language group of traditional owners:

*Insert centre name* encourages and promotes diversity, fairness and respect for everyone and acknowledges that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples are Australia’s first peoples.

We would like to acknowledge the *local tribe name* people as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which our service sits and pay our respects to the Elders past, present and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Indigenous Australia

Step 2 - Yarning Circle Decision Making

First thing’s first, the children need to decide on the animal stencil they would like to use for the nature collage. We have provided you with animal stencils created by Delvene Cockatoo Collins (an aboriginal artist based on Quandamooka Country, Minjerribah -North Stradbroke Island) which you can download using the link below. You can print these out and ask the children which of these they would like to use.

A great way to discuss which animal to create would be to form a yarning circle with the children. A yarning circle is a traditional practice often referred to as ‘listening from the heart’. Children can share ideas, thoughts and feeling in a safe and non-judgmental way.  EcoMarines advocate patron Dr Robert Anderson (known as Uncle Bob) is a Ngugi Elder from Mulgumpin Quandamooka (Moreton Island). He has given a very special message to Early Learning Centres about the importance of connection to Country, observing and listening (video below). Play this video for your children!

Step 3 - Collection of Green Litter

Once you’ve observed and listened to what the children have to say then you can choose the most commonly selected animal to use the stencil of.  You can create the outline of the artwork on a vacant area of grass using a variety of materials, such as chalk, non-toxic markers, string and recycled paper.

Traditional custodians of the land have various uses for natural items. In this challenge, we ask the kids in your centre to get creative and find items in nature that could be used to create a beautiful nature collage.

Children will be asked to walk around their centre’s outdoor environment and collect green litter to fill the animal stencil. ‘Green litter’ includes dried leaves, sticks, rocks – we recommend clarifying with the children that they don’t go around collecting live insects, bugs etc.

Step 4 - Building of Nature Collage

Now that green litter has been collected, the children can gradually add to the nature collage with your supervision. This part of the challenge can be done within a dedicated activity time, or it could run across a couple of weeks – this depends on the amount of time you would like to dedicate to this project.

Step 5 - Submission

We would love to see the finishing masterpiece so please send over photos of the amazing nature collage your centre has produced!

If you would like to keep the artwork framed in your centre, then we recommend gluing the collage onto a large piece of cardboard.

The winners of this challenge will be decided by the EcoMarines staff and the prize will be a Dreamtime Story Book and a framed artwork created by Delvene Cockatoo Collins. We can’t wait to see all the differently constructed, creative artworks!

Activities about Culture and Country

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