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 is held on May 26 every year to recognise and acknowledge the Stolen Generations. Sorry Day provides the opportunity for students to make connections between their classroom learning about the histories, knowledges and experiences of our First Nations people and the commemorations they will see in their communities and on Sorry Day. Here are some simple Sorry Day activities you can do with your students to continue these important conversations and learning experiences.
Sorry – a little word that we teach children every day.
Sorry Day Art Activity Ideas
We encourage you to make conversations and activities about the experiences of Australia’s First Nations people a constant in your classroom. Our collection of resources about Indigenous Australia, as well as the ideas presented in our blog posts will help you with that!
On National Sorry Day, creating a symbolic representation of acknowledgement and reconciliation is a beautiful way for your students to connect with the Sorry Day message. Here are two Sorry Day art activity ideas for you to consider.
Sorry Day Sun Art
Use the National Sorry Day Reconciliation Hand template to create this beautiful Sorry Day Sun. The template is free to download.
To create this artwork:
- Decorate the hand templates with colours and pictures that represent 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 Sorry Day Sun.
Sorry Day Painting
This is such a simple way for you and your students to acknowledge National Sorry Day.
To create these 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”.
Additional Sorry Day Activities and Resources
It’s important to contextualise these activities with your students. You can use some of these wonderful songs, videos and picture books with your students as an introduction to the history of the Stolen Generation and why Sorry Day is such an important day for all Australians to acknowledge.
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 Generation Stories
The Healing Foundation website and the Stolen Generation Testimonies website provide access to the personal testimonies of members of the Stolen Generation. And, as with all resources, teachers are advised to review the content of videos to decide suitability for their students.
“My Place” The Apology Episode
The wonderful ABC television series “My Place” has an episode which centres around The Apology. This dramatisation makes the stories and concepts surrounding the Stolen Generation and the 2008 Apology extremely accessible for middle and upper primary aged students.
“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 fictionalised account of the Stolen Generation that tells of 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…
If your school is a member of Aboriginal teaching resource website Wingaru Kids, you’ll have access to their great lesson about “Stolen Girl”. Read more about Wingaru Kids and find out how to get 20% off your first year subscription fee.
“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:
- Wingaru Kids: Helping You Teach Aboriginal Studies
- The Apology Anniversary Activities for the Classroom
- Celebrating Australia Day in a 21st Century Classroom
- Teach Starter Learns: Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives