Country and culture

Understand & Learn from Traditional Custodians

Traditional Custodians have been caring for country for thousands of years. It is important to understand and learn from their ways, especially regarding the protection of our local environments for generations to come. This Eco-focus will help the kids in your centre to share stories, learn about Indigenous teachings and increase their connections to nature especially through the senses.  

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: Sensing Nature


Book or online resource: The River by Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr

Art supplies to create senses poster OR printed copy of template


15 minutes for book reading – STEP 1

30 minutes for outdoor learning and yarning circle – STEP 2

1 hour to create sensing nature poster – STEP 2             



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 an important way 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 - Story Time

We have worked with Dandiiri Library in Brisbane to select a story book to help connect your children with nature. Dandiiri Library provides educational resources to allow educators to engage with the story of Indigenous Australia professionally and personally.  

We recommend reading your children “The River” written by Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr. This is an Aboriginal Dreamtime story that teaches children to look, listen and feel nature surrounding them. You can purchase the book or show a video below: 


Step 3 - Connecting to Country and Sensing Nature

Connecting with nature is a vital step for children to learn to respect and protect natural environments. We recommend taking children out to a local park or your centre’s garden and asking children what they see, hear and feel. 

You can then choose a spot in the centre to host a yarning circle. 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 (Moreton Island) on Quandamooka Country. 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 4 - Creating your 'Sensing Nature' Poster

Now that your children have identified what they see, feel and hear in their natural environment, your centre can create a poster or story board to share with your community. You can use the A3 poster template below which uses the Jandai Language phrase “Mil Binung” (observe and listen) or create your own with language from your centre’s local mob. 

Have your children create their own artwork of what they see, feel, and hear and you can attach that to the poster. You may even like to add elements of nature to add such as sticks, dried leaves or images depicting the natural environment. 

 We also have some colouring in pages available to add to your poster below. 

Step 5 - Submission

We would love to see your centre’s sensing nature poster. Send us a photo with a few words on why children chose certain elements and you can go in the draw to win your centre a copy of the The River story book (if your centre does not have one) or another Dreamtime story recommended by the Dandiiri Library. An EcoMarines team member will even visit the centre for a ‘Story Time’ reading presentation. 

Activities about Culture and Country

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