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November 6, 2020

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Rachel McCann | November 6, 2020

Naidoc Week

NAIDOC Week this year is from Sunday 8 November to Sunday 15 November and the theme is Always Was, Always Will Be. Normally held in July each year it was postponed this year until November due to the impacts and uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


A celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the fact that they were Australia’s first explorers, first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists. Australia has the world’s oldest oral stories and longest continuous culture of any country with engravings, paintings and unique technologies long predating well-known sites such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.

While there are a number of teaching resources available to celebrate this year’s theme I wanted to share with you a lesson which gamifies Mathematics to make it both physically active and fun. A stand alone lesson from the Maths 'N' Movement resource collection this is an adaptation of spear fishing.  

This game, which can be accessed by clicking on the image above, uses over arm throwing to target bright colourful fish and other sea creatures. Students can then be asked to add or subtract the total of the fish they “catch” and the score for the fish can be changed to suit your student’s level of mathematical ability.

In Aboriginal communities fortunate enough to have a stocked water system such as a river, lake or the ocean Aboriginal people hunt and fish a range of marine and freshwater species. Coastal people hunt sharks, dolphins, rays, turtles and marine fish. In the north they hunt saltwater crocodiles, and dugong (sea cows) which feed on sea grasses in shallow waters.

To catch fish Aboriginal people made and still make fishing spears as they have for millennia. Today, throughout Arnhem Land they are still a very important hunting tool and are commonly used, especially along the coastal regions. 

For safety this game does not use a spear but rather sticky darts, a sticky counter using double sided tape or Blutack or a bean bag could be used. Students stand outside a hoop, representing a fishing location, and throw their dart at the sea creatures. Each sea creature has a value on in and after throwing all their “spears” students add up their total score. The “spears” are then given to the next member of the team to catch their meal. While a range of sea creatures has been provided students could create those specific for your region if you wish. They could also add land animals to broaden the lesson of food collection and the fact that traditionally Aboriginal people are not allowed to eat the animal represented by their totem as this is their species to protect.

If you have students who struggle with games and the idea of not winning play as a personal competition to see if students can improve their score over 3 rounds of the game. This will develop the idea of perfecting a skill like fishing rather than just competing against others for fun.

I hope that you have a wonderful NAIDOC Week and please let me know of other games you played with your students to celebrate the traditional custodians of this wonderful land we get to inhabit.

NAIDOC Week

Maths 'N' Movement

Gamifying Maths

Active Learning


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