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How to use The Arts to explore cultural diversity in your classroom

On 21 March, Australia recognises Harmony Day with the central message that ‘everyone belongs’ and the theme for Cultural Diversity Week in Victoria this year is ‘harmonies from around the world’. Teachers, below are five ideas for using the classroom-ready resources on ARTS:LIVE to engage your students in this important topic. Don’t forget to log in to ARTS:LIVE before clicking the links below. If you don’t have an ARTS:LIVE account, you can sign up for free here.

  1. Explore samba-style rhythms with junk percussion

    Target age group: Years 5–6
    Art form(s): Music, Visual Arts
    Available: 16 × 45 minute lessons

    Samba is a popular Brazilian music and dance genre. Use these resources to teach students how to make percussion instruments from recycled materials. Then watch the quick videos together and learn how to play samba-style rhythms with your instruments.

    Ideas for class discussion or research:

    • What are the cultural roots of samba?
    • Discover how many Australians were born in Brazil or claim Brazilian ancestry.

    Find the Junk Percussion resources here.


  2. Break it down with hip hop

    Target age group: Years 7–8
    Art form(s): Dance
    Available: 9 × 45 minute lessons

    Hip hop originated in New York in the early 1970s. Individuals from any culture or background can bring their own flavour to the dance moves. Study these resources with your students and have them create some of their own moves and sequences.

    Ideas for class discussion or research:

    • What is your understanding of hip hop culture?
    • Seek out some examples of Australian hip hop arts like the Indigenous Hip Hop Projects.

    Find the Hip Hop resources here.


  3. Create a keepsake using Visual Arts Starters

    Target age group: F–2
    Art form(s): Visual Arts 
    Available: 2 × 45 minute lessons

    Let sculptor Lucy Irvine take your class on a virtual tour of Heide Museum of Modern Art and encounter the sculpture, ‘Sweeney’s Keepsake’ (1987). Watch Lucy demonstrate her method for making sculpture then have your students respond by creating sculptures based on their own feelings and memories.

    Ideas for class discussion or research:

    • What special souvenirs or keepsakes do you have at home?
    • Whose parents or grandparents were born overseas? What special cultural keepsakes did they bring here?

    Find the Visual Arts Starter resources here.


  4. Learn to mime with Improvisation Starters

    Target age group: Years 5–6
    Art form(s): Drama
    Available: 1 × 45 minute lesson

    Gift giving is common across all cultures, but people go about it in different ways. Elisa Williams demonstrates a drama activity asking students to develop creative responses to ‘accepting an offer.’ Watch how the students take pleasure in this activity and how quickly they learn to develop short narrative scenes.Ideas for class discussion or research:

    • Discover the traditions of ‘La Befana’ in Italy or Diwali in India.
    • Study this map of different gift giving etiquette around the world.

    Find the Improvisation Starter resources here.


  5. Design a story board

    Target age group: Years 3-4
    Art form(s): Media Arts
    Available: 8 × 45 minute lessons

    Storyboarding involves telling a story through pictures. It guides thinking about which shot type will best capture the information you want to convey in a film scene. Explore the resources with your students and have them develop film concepts around these topical ideas:

    • Design a documentary about an important historical or cultural figure linked to your students’ cultural backgrounds.
    • Develop a story related to family history or cultural identity and place.

    Find the Making Media Easy resources here.


    Don’t forget to connect with ARTS:LIVE on Facebook and Twitter and have a happy Harmony Day!




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