Please note: this article and the websites linked therein may contain images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away.
“National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations'”, Reconcilliation Australia.
National Sorry Day in the Classroom and Beyond
Observed each year on 26 May, National Sorry Day carries great significance for The Stolen Generations and First Nations peoples. It’s an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on how we can contribute to the healing process for our nation together.
In schools, National Sorry Day provides teachers and students with rich opportunities. We can connect prior knowledge of First Nations histories, perspectives and culture with meaningful, topical, and current events and happenings in our communities. It is also a lead-in to National Reconciliation Week, which runs from 27 May to 3 of June. This year’s theme is More than a word; reconciliation takes action.
We’ve put together this series of National Sorry Day activities for you and your students.
Creative National Sorry Day Activities
We encourage you to open up conversations and plan activities about the experiences of Australia’s First Nations people regularly in your classroom. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of the Australian Curriculum’s three cross-curriculum priorities. If you’d like to know more on this, perhaps you can take a listen to teacher Jordyn Pol talk about how to embed this learning in your everyday teaching on the podcast.
Our collection of resources about Indigenous Australians is a fantastic place to start your planning. Also, be sure to check out Emma’s great blog on sharing Indigenous perspectives in the classroom.
National Sorry Day Sun Art
To create this artwork:
- Decorate the hand templates with colours and pictures that represent National Sorry Day.
- Cut out the hand templates ready to build the artwork.
- Cut a circle out of yellow paper or cardboard. Write the word “Sorry” in the centre.
- Fan the decorated hands out around the yellow circle to create a National Sorry Day Sun.
National Sorry Day Painting Activity
This is such a simple way for you and your students to acknowledge National Sorry Day.
To create these National Sorry Day paintings, you will need:
- washi tape
(1) Simply use the tape to mark out the word “Sorry” on the paper. Younger students may need some help with this.
(2) Provide students with paint (we used the colours of the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag) and let them paint over the top of the washi tape.
(3) When the paint is dry, carefully remove the washi tape to reveal the word “Sorry”.
More National Sorry Day Activities and Resources
Build field knowledge by using these wonderful songs, videos, and picture books by Indigenous creators with your students. Examine the history of the Stolen Generations and reflect on why Sorry Day is such an important day for Australians.
Archie Roach’s song “Took the Children Away”
Listen to “Took the Children Away” via the NFSA (National Film and Sound Archive of Australia).
Stolen Generations Stories
The Healing Foundation website and the Stolen Generations Testimonies websites provide access to the personal testimonies of members of the Stolen Generations. Teachers are advised to review the content of videos to determine suitability for their students.
“My Place” The Apology Episode
The wonderful ABC television series “My Place” has an episode which centres around The Apology.
“2008: Laura” is Episode 1 of Season 1 of “My Place” which can be purchased through the Australian Children’s Television Foundation online shop and may also be available at your school or local library.
“Stolen Girl” by Trina Saffioti & Norma MacDonald
This picture book is suitable for primary-aged students. It is a fictional account of the Stolen Generations. Stolen Girl is about an Aboriginal girl taken from her family by the government and sent to a children’s home. She sings and dreams of her mother and the life they once shared, but each morning is woken by the bell to the harsh reality of the children’s home. Finally, one day she unlocks the door and takes her first step toward home.
Next Saturday is the 20th year of National Sorry Day. Our lesson, Stolen Girl, provides students with a clear…
“Tell Me Why” by Robyn Templeton and Sarah Jackson
“Tell Me Why” by Robyn Templeton and Sarah Jackson tells the true story of a young girl’s search for identity and desire to understand her Aboriginality. Seven-year-old Sarah goes to her great-grandmother and asks questions about her family. This universal feel-good story looks at how family history shapes our childhood journeys. The Malgalba Books website explains:
“[Robyn] wrote Tell Me Why with her daughter, Sarah, in response to her questions and personal journey. She recalls feeling the same way and hopes that their book will help other children, or adults, who are exploring their identity.”
For more ideas about how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the classroom, check out the following posts:
Teach Starter Learns: Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives
"The main message I took from yesterday was that doing nothing is worse than doing the wrong thing because at least we learn from our mistakes..." Find out more about our most recent staff professional development day.