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A guide & resources for embedding Family by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson into your teaching program.

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Today, I would like to acknowledge the Yuggera people as the Traditional Custodians of the beautiful land I am standing on today. From the mountains to the river, I open my heart and my eyes as I walk this land, listening, learning and caring for Country. I want to extend this respect to Elders; past, present and emerging and to all First Nations peoples reading this post today. We are all remembered here.


* Please know that this post is not sponsored. Each blog post is based on my own experiences, opinions, and what I have been taught, and does not represent all First Nations peoples. Connecting with your local First Nations Community is always the most respectful way for you to embed First Nations content specific to your area.


Family; this is a topic I covered in my very first year of teaching, all those years ago and one that I am certain most of you have covered at some point in your classrooms too. At the time, I was a full time year 1 classroom teacher, working in Western Sydney on Darug Country at a school that had just over 600 students, from all different cultures and backgrounds. Very different from the small bush school I went to, that's for sure. It was in this first year of teaching and because of this topic of family, that I have chosen to share, Family by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson with you today.


"Family. Heart and home."

My family, where and how I grew up was very different from the way that my students were growing up and they found it so interesting, which kind of shocked me, because well...to me, it was normal I guess. Funny things like; having to take all of our rubbish to the tip or burn it because we lived too far away to be eligible for council to give us a garbage bin, burning off to care for Country and to keep us safe during fire season, running round everywhere with no shoes on, having a dingo as a pet, and the one that my students found really funny... having to drive about a kilometre up a dirt, pothole ridden driveway just to collect the mail, from a mailbox, made from an antique metal milk container, with a mud flap strapped to the front, bolted to an enormous gum tree and another family's house number on it. My goodness my student's found this funny!


A digitally illustrated image of a part our driveway back home on Dunghutti Country.



Each afternoon, I would share a little story with my students; using google maps, I would take them for a little drive up our very long dirt driveway, stopping at every point in the road where there was a story to share and a life lesson learnt (There was a lot of stopping and a lot of "are we there yet, Miss Gibbs?" haha not yet). Most of the stories were funny, but all were about my family and had a good life lesson and moral embedded into it. I would update my dad each day about how the story went and where the kids laughed, he loved hearing all about it and would then remind me of a story that I could share with my class for the next day. A time, I look back on now and treasure.


For me, having yarns and sharing stories with my students about my family, where and how I grew up, was so important because it is a part of who we are as a people and a part of who I am. I learnt this from my Dad, a natural storyteller and teacher, a man who had a way of being able to capture any audience, teach anything, and bring people together all through stories and a good laugh.



Wingaru Heal Country Challenge focus area:

Understanding Country

As a part of the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge, this week we are focusing on 'Understanding Country' and what better book is there to explain this concept than Family; by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson and illustrated by Jasmine Seymour. Family really does take me back to my first year of teaching and particularly reminds me of how family; a topic that all of my students and I had in common, yet also topic that celebrated our differences at the core of who we are and how we come to be.


Family is a book of both celebration and deep understanding and respect, and it highlights the important role that Country plays in family, which is something that Aunty Fay shares more knowledge with you on, in an incredible video later on. I so wish, that this truly incredible children's book had been around all those years ago, so I could have shared it with my gorgeous year 1's and my Stage 1 teachers back then, but none the less, I get to share it with you now, which makes me the happiest teacher on the planet.


© Magabala Books ©Aunty Fay Muir ©Sue Lawson ©Jasmine Seymour


Book summary

Family, is a stunningly deep and captivating First Nations children's book, written by Boonwurrung Elder Aunty Fay Muir and accomplished children's author Sue Lawson and illustrated by proud Darug woman and descendant of Maria Lock, Jasmine Seymour.


Family, captures the deep family connections, our ways of knowing, and belonging that resonates in the hearts and minds of the children who read it. It celebrates the complexities and deep connections of First Nations family and kinship systems and shares a respect, a voice and a place for Country as a foundation of family.


Family is perfect for prep / kindergarten through to year 4 and can be easily embedded into both your English and HASS programs.


Awards and accolades

Shortlisted, 2021 Australia Book Industry Awards, Small Publishers' Children's book of the year.




The text

Family is the second book in the ‘Our Place’ series and it is such an honour to be able to share with you, another children's book written by author and Boonwurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Muir. Together, Aunty Fay and award winning children’s book author, Sue Lawson, share with our students, the complexities and connections of First Nations family and kinship systems and a respect, a voice and a place for Country as a foundation of family, "Family. Heart and home."

The illustrations

The illustrations, by Darug woman, Jasmine Seymour really do capture the heart of family and celebrate our ways and the connections we have that make us whole. Jasmine's ability to embody the importance and heart of family in each illustration, for our students to learn from, is a true gift, and they share with us a beautiful and powerful message on every page.



Publishing

Family is published by my all time favourite, First Nations publishing house, Magabala Books. And, in my opinion, Family brings us all together for a way of understanding Country on the path to healing Country together, though storytelling, by Elders and Community and accompanied by illustrations that speak to the minds and souls of your students with circular levels of First Nations ways of teaching and learning. Magabala Books' work is like no other!


Guides and teaching resources


Today I have two FREE resources for you, one is my all time favourite teacher notes from the always incredible Magabala Books and the second is a compilation of resources I have put together in a free downloadable PDF for you, as a part of the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge and to cover the topic focus area of 'Understanding Country'. I hope you enjoy them!


1. Magabala Books Teacher notes

As you know Magabala Books always goes above and beyond with supporting teachers to embed First Nations perspectives into their teaching by creating a set of detailed teacher notes to go with their books. Just about every book published by Magabala Books comes with a set of teacher notes, which in my opinion is why they are the perfect place for all Australian teachers to begin their journey of embedding First Nations perspectives. You can rest assured that you are investing in quality First Nations resources, that provides you with the support you need as a teacher, to embed this resource into your programs in the most powerful and respectful way. These teacher notes were created by Christina Wheeler and contain:

  • An overview of the book

  • Themes

  • About the author and illustrator

  • The audience and writing style

  • Links to the Australian Curriculum

  • Classroom lesson and activity ideas divided into year groups with and aligned with the Curriculum

These teacher notes are detailed and come FREE for you to download straight off the Magabala Books website and I highly encourage you to refer to these whenever you are using a book published by Magabala Books.

Check out this little snippet, of just some of the activities from the Magabala Books teacher notes shared by this incredible First Nations publishing house on their instagram page.


2. My Wingaru Heal Country Challenge; Understanding Country Free download



As you know, for the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge, my plan is to share a different resource with you each week along with lesson ideas that you can ultimately use all year round to celebrate First Nations peoples, cultures, histories and languages in your classroom. This will go for the whole of term 3 2021, but these resources and lesson ideas can be used at anytime into the future, even though they are based around the Heal Country NAIDOC theme of 2021. All of the resources and lesson ideas that I will be sharing are designed to support you in embedding First Nations perspectives into your everyday teaching, in a way that best suits you and your class.


This is an overview of the lesson I put together for the focus area of 'Understanding Country' for the Wingaru Heal Country Challenge. I have created a free download for you that contains this lesson overview along with clickable links to all of the resources. I have also included a short description of each section of the lesson, and linked these to the 8 Ways Aboriginal Pedagogy, a pedagogy that was shared with me by Community and Elders in Dubbo on Wiradjuri Country and in Brewarrina on Ngemba Country. All of this is complied into a PDF format so you can print it off and embed it into your everyday teaching.


Please remember that all of these lessons are created simply to make it a bit easier for you to embed First Nations perspectives into your teaching and are made based on what I have been taught and my own understandings. Please remember that the most respectful way to embed First Nations perspectives is to always work with your local First Nations Community to make sure any lesson or resource suits the context of the land you are on. This FREE resource is also bound by strict copyright laws and I want to thank you for respecting these in advance.


To get your free copy just click here and you can download this free resource from the Freebie Library.



Summary


So, to sum up Family, I would say... If you have not read it with your class then I would absolutely make the time to do it. This book, is a way for us to all come together while also celebrating our differences too at the core of who we are and who we are destined to become. It passes on deep understanding and knowledge and gives teachers a way of sharing with our students, the complexities and connections of First Nations family and kinship systems and a respect, a voice and a place for Country as a foundation of family, "Family. Heart and home."


I really hope that today's post has given you some practical lessons and resources and has made embedding First Nations perspectives into your daily teaching a little bit easier. If you haven't already been over to the Magabala Books website, then you can do that by clicking here to check out all of the resources they have available.


I also really encourage you to check out Magabala Books on instagram @magabalabooks and to also join their mailing list to keep up to date with all of their new releases. They have so many incredible resources coming out ready for you to use in your classroom.



Want to buy Family?


You can purchase Family directly from Magabala Books, which helps support their growth as a not for profit organisation, to share our mobs stories with the world, and to help you to embed First Nations perspectives into your teaching.



Thank you!


I want to take a minute to express how deeply grateful I am to Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawson, Jasmine Seymour and the incredible team at Magabala Books for allowing me to share Family with you today and thank you for continuing to create and share all of your work and talents with us! Having a children's book that captures the knowledge of our Elders and Community to share our ways through education, is such a powerful resource and it makes me so proud to be able to share this with my students and all of you today. Thank you!


I also want to thank the incredible Squishy Minnie Bookstore, and again thank Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson for allowing me to share their outstanding online conversation with you as a resource for your classroom. It is yarns with Elders just like these that share a deep understanding and knowledge through education and bring our ways of listening and learning into the classroom. Thank you for taking the time to create such an incredible resource for teachers all around Australia, and for sharing your knowledge.



Share, like and comment


If you found today's post useful, please like this post and share it with your colleagues and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below on what you loved about Family? Have you shared it with your class yet or are you planning to? What matching resources resources did you use or plan to use with it? And, anything else you loved or other ways you have embedded Respect into your teaching.



Do you know of a great First Nations teaching resource?


I love seeing and sharing all of the new First Nations resources that are coming out, so if you know and use a great First Nations website or resource, that I haven't mentioned or featured in a blog post before, then I would love for you to send it through to my email so I can share it with everyone else.



Want your business or resources featured?


On the flip side, if you are a First Nations business or organisation who is interested in being featured on my blog please pop over to my contact page and send me an email, I would love to hear from you.



Want to be sent FREEBIES, new blog posts, resources and updates?


Remember, to keep up to date with all of the new and exciting First Nations teaching resources, books and freebies I want to share with you, don't forget to join our Community email list to get these updates sent straight to your email.










Finally, I have truly loved sharing Family and all of these incredible resources with you today, and as always... Happy embedding!



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