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Aboriginal seasons

About this lesson

Students learn about the different seasons and compare them to the local Aboriginal seasons in their area.


Year level: 1, 2, 3

Theme: Water and the natural environment


Learning objectives

Students can:
  • understand the difference between seasons
  • discuss the local Aboriginal seasons in their area
  • complete a activity sheet on the local Aboriginal seasons.

Curriculum links

Humanities and social sciences (geography)

  • How weather (e.g. rainfall, temperature, sunshine, wind) and seasons vary between places, and the terms used to describe them ACHASSK032
  • The ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples maintain special connections to a particular Country/Place ACHASSK049

Mathematics

  • Name and order months and seasons ACMMG040  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Things you will need

Lesson description

Plan your lesson in consultation with Aboriginal staff or local community members. Please see our Western Australian Aboriginal language centres contact list.

Discuss

  • What are the different seasons of the year experienced by your local community and how is the climate of Australia characterised by floods and droughts?
  • Do you have seasons such as spring, summer, autumn and winter in your region, or are there different seasons such as wet and dry?
  • How do you know when it is about to rain, snow, become windy or get really hot? Are there signals that indicate what the weather will be like, such as pink clouds in the evening, certain cloud shapes or odours/smells in the air? What is the reason for your answers?
  • Why there are different climates? How do they effect what activities people can do?
  • Does your environment change with the seasons? For example, what weather signals indicate the best time to plant vegetables.

Activity

  • As a class read the book Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu by Diane Lucas and Ken Searle (an example of seasons in the Gundjeihmi language group). The book 'walks' us through the bush of Northern Australia and follows the seasonal calendar of the Gundjeihmi people of Kakadu. Use this information as an example and compare it to your local area Aboriginal seasons.
  • Have students create a personal annual calendar showing the months and seasons. In particular, not significant seasonal events, but not based on western traditional seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring. Include home and school events.
  • Using the Aboriginal seasons fact sheet and the seasonal survey activity sheet get students to conduct a survey of flora and fauna found in your local area at certain times of the year. If possible conduct your survey over two of the seasons to indicate how the area changes seasonally.
  • Have students shade the selected season on the Wetland survey Noongar seasons activity sheet and record their observations.

Reflect & summarise

  • Discuss why different seasons are important to Indigenous Australians.
  • Locate in your region a wetland area. Look on your weather chart to find the Aboriginal seasons in your area.
  • Identify which season is the right time to hunt birds (summer). What techniques did Aboriginal people in your region use to ensure sustainability of the wetlands?

Extension activities

  • Research the Aboriginal seasons in the north west region of WA. Get students to explain how these are different from seasons of the south west.
  • Watch video: Five seasons (50:46). Ask students to break down the seasons in the video into a table. What are the names of the five seasons? To which months do they relate? What activities happen at that time? What's the environment like?

Teacher background information

How Aboriginal seasons are determined

For hundreds of years, Europeans noted that the year could be broken down into 4 seasons, and many societies and cultures today still use these 4 seasons.

The ‘year’ is measured in a cycle of changing seasonal patterns. Each season has its own patterns of weather, plant growth and cycles of animal life and death. Understanding these patterns helps Aboriginal people to know the right times for activities such as hunting and gathering, burning and ceremonial life.

Importantly this knowledge lets Aboriginal people know that certain food supplies are becoming available. For example, in the Torres Strait when the wind begins to blow from the north-west, Islanders know that the turtles are mating and will soon lay eggs.

This intimate knowledge has been acquired over thousands of years by observing the environment, and through interpreting the knowledge accumulated through traditional stories and passed on in customary traditions.

A common representation of the Aboriginal knowledge of annual seasonal changes is a circular map that shows events in nature and their relationships sequentially organised.

In Australia some Aboriginal groups identified 7 or more distinct seasons over the year.

Resources

Did you know?

In WA the seasons for each Aboriginal group varies between 2 and 6.

Key vocabulary

  • Calendar: a system of timekeeping that defines the beginning and length and divisions of the year.
  • Climate: the weather in a location averaged over a long period of time.
  • Season: one of the natural periods into which the year is divided by the equinoxes, solstices or atmospheric conditions.
  • Seasonally: depending on the season.
  • Weather: the meteorological conditions.