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Exploring local First Nations and Non-Indigenous History

February 7, 2024
Kaitlyn Elsegood

PROJECT TITLE: Leda Primary School Year 2’s Explore local First Nation and Non Indigenous History

School Name: Leda Primary

Teacher’s Name: Tash Milby and Kendall McGuire

Year Group: 2

Number of students:

Creative’s Name: Noelene Mantellato and Kaitlyn Elsegood

Creative Practice: Visual Arts

Main Curriculum Focus: HASS and Geography

About our project: Exploring local First Nations and Non-Indigenous History

Kwinana. Its local history and the enduring connections between place and people. This was the focus of the Creative Schools project for Leda Primary’s Year 2 students, which, in the words of the Western Australia Year 2 Syllabus gives students ‘the opportunity to develop their historical understanding through the key concepts of continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy and significance. These concepts are investigated within the context of exploring the history of their local area and why the past is important to the local community, and therefore worthy of preservation.’

About our school:

Leda Primary opened in 1992 and became an independent public school in 2015.  It is in the Kwinana suburb of Leda, around 40 kilometres south of Perth. The school caters for around 500 students from Kindergarten to Year Six. Our newly established, purpose-built Early Learning Centre (Kindergarten and Pre-Primary) is supported by the pre-kindergarten program 'KEYS' and is working towards the National Quality Standards (K-Year2). Our school maintains strong links to Leda Education Support Centre which is situated onsite and caters for students with special needs.

What happened?

Under the guidance of teachers Tash Milby and Kendall McGuire, artist Noelene Mantellato (a descendant of the Yamatji and Noongar people)  and visual artist Kaitlyn Elsegood, we explored Kwinana’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous history. Noelene led the First Nations activities while Kaitlyn coordinated activities referencing non-Indigenous history.  

We investigated how place names are connected to people, and researched Margaret Feilman: the first female town planner in Australian, and the person who designed Kwinana.

We thought about the connections of people in Australia to other places in Australia, in the Asia region, and across the world, through family, trade, travel, special events, and natural disasters. We learned about the differences and similarities between damper and scones, and how scones originated in Perthshire, Scotland.

We studied Smirk’s Cottage heritage site to understand its cultural and historical importance for today’s generations. And we made tin can telephones to consider how the technology of the past differs from what is used today.

The children were always excited for Creative Schools and really responded well because the content was relevant to them.  
- Teacher

How did we use the Five Creative Habits of Learning?

Noelene came up with a great way for students to tally the creative habits they had used. As a group, we would go through each of the Habits. Each Habit had a sheoak painted its colour.  Depending on the Habit that resonated most that week, a student could come up and take the sheoak and put it in a container of the same Habit colour. Students could then compare which Habit had been most used that week.  

I now have creative tools and connections to community members that I can use for programs in the future.
- Teacher

What did we discover?

The Leda students need more hands-on and interactive ways to learn and retain information. Keeping lesson delivery also consistent was important. For example, early on Kendall flagged that possibly lessons were not being retained by students as every lesson was action-packed. We then decided to start each session on the mat with students sharing what they recalled from the previous lesson. This worked really well.

Over the two terms we carried out a series of activities that complemented one another. All activities were designed to challenge the students, while also giving them enough scaffolding to feel confident to give things a go. They had dignity of risk, allowing them the opportunity to take ownership and agency with the creative delivery of the activity.

We also ran the same workshop each week. After our students had reflected on the previous week's learning, they sat in a circle, listened to a piece of music, eyes closed. Students then shared what they imagined was happening. As term progressed, they got more confident in sharing and would use more detailed and complex language to describe what they thought was happening. They also were less likely to copy each other; something they tended to do when first encountering the activity and being unsure if they were getting it wrong.  

The impact on the Teacher/Creative team:

Throughout this creative journey, I think I have learnt just as much as the children. Noelene and Kaitlyn hold so much knowledge about the history of our school's local area which was perfect for our focus on History and Geography. It was inspiring to see this knowledge turn into creative and engaging lessons.
- Teacher
Collaborating over the 16 sessions with the teachers and Noelene was really beneficial and I know it massively enhanced my overall experience. Their openness and willingness to brainstorm during our planning sessions and build on my initial ideas really evolved things for me. From a creative aspect it was wonderful working with Noelene as I would always gain new ideas and inspiration from what she was planning, and it was really enjoyable to come up with complementary activities together from both the First Nations and European perspectives. I got to learn new previously unknown things with Kwinana/ Western Australia’s First Nation history.  
- Creative Practitioner

Main Curriculum Focus: Humanities and Social Sciences / Geography

Geography: people are connected to many places

Cross-curricular Links:

• Numeracy

• Critical and creative Thinking

• Intercultural Understanding

• Personal and Social Capability.