269 – Indigenous culture promotes children’s STEAM learning through play in early childhood education settings

Presentation - ECV2022-269

Indigenous culture promotes children’s STEAM learning through play in early childhood education settings

Shukla Sikder, Charles Sturt University, Australia (ssikder@csu.edu.au)
Courtney Glazebrook, Charles Sturt University, Australia (cglazebrook@csu.edu.au)
Muhammad Alamgir Hossain, Macquarie University, Australia (muhammad.hossain1@students.mq.edu.au)

Background: Children’s cultural development is influenced by their everyday socio-cultural experiences as outward conditions in their life. According to Indigenous culture, children are born with full potential and mature their understanding gradually through regular cultural experiences. However, children’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) learning opportunities as part of Indigenous culture through play are still missing in early childhood education settings.

Aim: This research investigated how educators can promote Australian Indigenous culture for children’s STEAM learning opportunities through play.

Method: Digital video observation as part of cultural-historical methodology has been used to gather data in a regional childcare centre where most children are identified as Indigenous. A total of 50 hours of video data was collected over seven weeks. This paper used the dialectical-interactive approach to analyse the building process of a sculpture using traditional Indigenous culture in children’s play. The second author is an identified Indigenous person and research assistant of the project, who helped analyse the cultural aspect of Indigenous perspectives. 

Results: Children were engaged in each experience, such as collecting natural dried plants, burning natural gum to produce glue, hammering nails to create the shape of the sculpture and using wool to design the sculpture’s final form. The sculpture design process was a combination of familiar Indigenous culture to children. Thus, they were interested and spontaneously engaged in the whole process. Children developed their science, engineering, and art-based learning in play with the support of educators.

Conclusions: Children’s STEAM learning can be promoted using traditional Indigenous culture as they find learning interesting, valuable, and authentic. If children learn to use Indigenous culture to extend their academic knowledge from early years through play experience, it will impact positively in children’s learning journeys and enrich Indigenous traditional culture. 

Implications for children and families: Parents, you can explore your family culture with your children to extend their STEAM learning through everyday practices. For example, decorating your house requires science, engineering, and art skills.

Implications for practitioners: Educators, you can use your local or children’s culture when you teach STEAM in play-based learning, and your intentional teaching plan can support you in making a workable plan.

Funding: Charles Sturt University Internal Fund – Faculty of Arts and Education Research Establishment Grant

Keywords: early childhood education, STEAM, science, engineering, art, Indigenous culture, play, intentional teaching

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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