My mom loved Australia.
She became a citizen in 2008 and whenever we traveled, she made a point of using her Australian passport and making sure the local consulate knew she was there. She was proud of Australia and I assure you there are Australian-born nationals with less national pride than she had in her adopted country.
Tomorrow (26 January) is Australia day. Tomorrow is also exactly one month since my mom took her last breath in my house in England. I could not think of a better, more fitting way to make it through tomorrow than to celebrate Australia day, for her.
Here are 11 fun ideas for celebrating Australia Day 2014:
1. Make Lamingtons
I’m pretty sure these are what we call Ystervarkies in South Africa, but you know, it’s Australia Day. I’ll not start a turf war over chocolate covered cake today. Here’s a Thermomix recipe for the Lamingtons in the picture.
2. Bake Cookies
Use a regular sugar cookie recipe, and let the kids have a go. It’s like playdoh, but they can eat it afterwards. Bonus! We used these Australian Animal Cookie Cutters from Australian Geographic, which were ideal for this activity.
3. Australian Animal Actions
We have a bunch of Australian animal toys – kind of like these. We put them in the bag and had the children blindly draw out an animal, then cross the room like their pick: hop like a kangaroo, climb like a koala, all fours like a dingo. Good fun, and they loved it. They stopped using the bag eventually, and just picked the animals they hadn’t tried or the ones they liked best.
4. Soft Play
For the smaller children we had a bunch of stuffed toys – koala bears, kangaroos and a wombat, among other things.
iChild has a fabulous koala bear mask. We ended up saving those for another day.
6. Flag Colouring
Another iChild printable, but there are plenty of options available online. The children spent a bit of time colouring the flag of Australia. We had a kangaroo holding the flag for inspiration.
7. Music: Make A Rain Stick
We had a fabulous time making a rain stick. It worked out really well, and is still one of Ameli’s favourite activities from this week. Here’s a great YouTube clip of how it should sound, which obviously it won’t quite do in a cardboard tube, but it’s also nice to show children what it is you’re making.
8. Clapping Sticks
Another fun and easy musical activity is making ‘clapping sticks’. We used lollipop sticks and decorated them. Easy peasey. (I also found this little ditty. It’s not at all Australian or aboriginal, but it’s quite sweet to get the children making music with their sticks!) If you want to take the ‘knowledge of the world’ learning further, this Youtube video has aboriginal singing, dancing and great examples of the clapping sticks in use.
Green and ‘gold’ rice is good fun, always. In our group the almost two year old’s love it as much as the over four’s. It’s just a great sensory experience. Here are some instructions on how to make coloured rice, and we used Australian animals, but could have added cups, pourers, gardening tools, forks – anything really. It all adds extra elements to the game. To add a learning element to the fun, you can also add matching pictures for smaller children to find and make pairs.
10. Be A Boomerang
Where were we before YouTube? We found a couple of videos to show the children how boomerangs work, but since we were indoors in a house we weren’t going to demonstrate with the real thing. Instead I pretended to ‘throw’ the children, and the ‘spun’ all the way to the wall and back to me. The simplest thing, and they loved it!
11. Where are We?
There’s little point to celebrating a country, yet not knowing where it is. We brought out a globe and spent a few minutes looking at where Australia is, where we are, and how we would get there. Something that could work well is getting them each to hold a string between where they are and Australia.
How are you celebrating Australia Day?