Two years ago Sydney Creative Play partnered with Mums 4 Refugees on a free community event for Harmony Day. (I was also the Community Development Coordinator for M4R at the time).
I knew that most schools tended to put on Harmony Day events (or at least make the token effort of wearing orange.) So I wanted to do something for people whose kids were not yet school aged but wanted to connect with their community that day.
We ran the day like a pretty typical playgroup with toys, art activities and culminating in songs and stories. Knowing that in Canterbury we had a diverse group of families who regularly attended, we decided to focus on recognising each other’s cultural backgrounds.
We utilised a world map colouring book which featured info about all different parts of the world. In addition to setting out colouring sheets for different countries, we used the world map for a “family tree” activity.
I coloured in each continent a different colour:
Red for Australia
Orange for Asia
Yellow for Africa
Green for Europe
Blue for North America
Purple for South America
Pink for NZ/Pacific Islands
And we set out a tray with paints in corresponding colours. Each child was given a “Family Tree” print out and along with their parent/carer they did a finger print to represent themselves and their family members, showing where each of them was born.
I wanted trees that didn’t prescriptively fill in “mum”, “dad”, “grandma”, “grandpa”, etc. because I wanted to recognise that not all families fit that mould. Some might have branches that twist off in all different directions, or missing branches and I wanted a template flexible enough to allow people to interpret it how they like. I’ve included a link at the end of the post to download the template.
It was fun looking at all the different colours on our trees and talking about where our families have come from.
For another activity I was inspired by this quote from Maya Angelou:
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
We offered a little invitation to sew as part of a colourful, collaborative tapestry.
One of M4R’s fellow conveners, Dulce Munoz, gave a brief presentation and we discussed some our community projects (read about our mosaic project in Lakemba for Refugee Week here.)
Then it was story and song time!
“I’m Australian Too” by Mem Fox is my favourite book for discussing multiculturalism and a soft intro to refugees for a young audience.
I’d love to hear more about what your schools or community groups are doing to celebrate Harmony Day!
As promised, here is a pdf of my FAMILY TREE TEMPLATE free to download!