The Ministry of the Interior organizes national celebrations for Harmony Week recognize the diversity and inclusion activities taking place throughout the week. Harmony Week is celebrated during the week (Monday to Sunday) that includes March 21, which is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Since 1999, over 80,000 Harmony Week events have taken place in child care centres, schools, community groups, churches, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies across Australia, highlighting the importance of inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values.
In early years settings, the Ministry made the following suggestions for how services might wish to mark the occasion.
Talking points for group time
- What is diversity? What are some of the ways people can be different from each other?
- All the same: What makes us the same?
- What is Harmony Week?
- What does Harmony mean? What are some examples of harmony in nature/in the world?
- Family diversity: Who is in your family? Talk about how families are the same and different.
- Diverse Stories: Read and listen to stories depicting a variety of people, cultures and ways of life.
- My Groups: Talk about any groups you belong to, eg team, family, friendship group, hobby. What are the things that help you feel like you belong?
Discussion dice, on families, celebrations and international food can help facilitate conversation with older preschoolers.
Explore the language
- Say “good morning” and “good afternoon” in a different language every day
- Learn the origin of people’s names
Music and movement
- Sing songs or listen to music from different cultures and countries, and paint what you hear with different colors and brush strokes.
- Diverse dance: Invite community members to share cultural dances
- show a dance they learned.
- Make a collage about diversity in your classroom. Be open to the many ways to do this.
- Self-Portrait: Mix the paint to match your skin, hair, and eye color as closely as possible. Paint a picture of your face.
- Multilingual songs: find a traditional song sung in several languages, for example “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Learn the song in another language.
A variety of resources are available to help children explore diversity, including:
- Heads up: Introduces students to the diversity of headgear and their usefulness and significance in a multicultural society.
- Musical atmospheres: Allows students to react to music from different cultures through abstract line art.
- Color and create figures
STEM and diversity
- Diverse life: how are animals and plants the same? How are they different?
- Herb Garden: Create an herb garden for the class. What type of cuisine is each herb associated with? Use the herbs to prepare a dish, for example herb bread.
- Animals: What animals have you seen in Australia? How many are from Australia? Where were the others from?
- Plants: Study the trees and plants in your learning environment. How many are from Australia? Where were the others from?
- Varied materials: Use a variety of objects for counting and other math activities that reflect the diversity of everyone in the classroom.
- Bilingual counting: Learn to count to 10 in another language.
- Forms of Buildings: Look at some buildings in your community that have been influenced by other cultures. What shapes can you see there?
Health and Nutrition
- Ask the kids what they ate for dinner and investigate the origins of their dishes
- Use each letter of the alphabet to think of a food and talk about where food comes from
- World Games: Investigate the origins of the games and sports that children love to play. Play games from different cultures.
For more ideas on how to recognize Harmony Week in ECEC please see here. Image source Hills County Council.