October Cultural Calendar Ideas

The many names for October’s moon reflects how filled this moon is with fall activities, harvesting and preparing for winter. 

Gitsenimx̱ – Hloxsa sinlaaxw” –- which is the month to go fishing for trout

Nisga’a – Xlaaxw wil yuwim-laaxwdli, people fishing 

Nēhiyawēwin – Migrating Moon

Ayajuthem – Moon of the frost 

Inuktitut – UKIAKASAK, days becoming shorter

The inevitable temperature change brings more rain, and frost begins. Landscapes are colourful with bright berries, for example northern landscapes still have crowberries, mountain cranberries and bear berries. Fish move upriver, and the birds start migrating south. Ducks are fat and ready to hunt, and soon they will also begin moving South. 

There are a variety of fall harvest foods, depending on location. Salmon, white fish, arctic char, wapato, wild rice, hazelnuts, pumpkin, squash, corn, beans, walnuts, juniper bark, Indian celery, rose hips, highbush cranberries, ducks, caribou, elk, and moose. Feasts held at this time typically would include these foods – or these food items would be prepared so that they can be stored and used later. 

It’s an important time of the year for Indigenous food security, often foods harvested in the fall would provide nourishment throughout the year!  

When planning your Cultural Calendar for October please consider what foods are being harvested on the territories of your program. Could these items present opportunities? Such as a field trip or food preservation activity with parents, Indigenous foods for menu items, or feast? 

Saying “October”

How do you say October in your language? 

Activity Ideas

October/Fall is the time when First Nations, Métis and Inuit people begin preparations for the long cold winter months. Cultural activities depend on each nation’s territory and what items they would need to get through the winter.   

Depending on location, fall preparation activities could or can include:

  • Harvesting berries, roots, and/or nut. 
  • Picking plants for teas and other medicines.
  • Hunting, trapping, and getting snares ready. 
  • Dying fish and meat, canning and other methods of preserving. 
  • Setting net. 
  • Working on snowshoes, tools and other items needed in the winter months. 
  • Making moccasins and other warm winter clothing items etc.  

What preparations are underway in your region? Which activities do community members and families still partake in? How can your AHS program be involved in this process?  

October 22 is historic Métis Leader Louis Riel’s birthday. Children and families love to learn by celebrating. Whether it’s the happy birthday song translated into your program’s languages or your nations’ Celebration song, children can learn and bring home celebration items with historical facts for families.  Do you have a historic leader in your community that can be celebrated?  

For professional development planning consider planning a visit to a nearby AHS program to meet new supports and share ideas. This could be another program from the Urban Aboriginal HeadStart programs or an on-reserve program. If the program is close enough, consider working together to plan a fieldtrip for children and families. 

Crafts

Have the children help make a centerpiece or decorations that can be used at home to celebrate a fall feast. 

Items to consider using for this project: 

  • Traditional baskets or clay pots. 
  • Baskets and clay pots that can be decorated with cultural designs. 
  • Gourds, pumpkins, Indian corn, pumpkin seeds, leaves, moss, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine cones – or other items that can be collected out on the land by the children. 

Another craft activity could be children making rattles out of gourds. Gourds have been used to make rattles by many Indigenous groups.

Sensory

October brings early fall weather that is perfect for experiences in the outdoors.  

  • The salmon run happens (depending on location) until mid to late October – this is a perfect time to visit streams and waterways before they begin to freeze over.  
  • During nature walks discuss the weather changes. 
    • Invite the children feel different items in nature, and talk about how when certain items get cold, the items will become brittle. 
    • Children can experience the weather change at different intervals through the eyes of nature with consistent exposure to the outdoors for extended periods.  
  • For sensory play both inside and outside – invite the children to collect items from the harvest garden at your program or at a local community garden. 
    • These items can include bumpy gourds, smooth squashes, mini pumpkins, and dried corn of all shapes and sizes. Thes can go on a sensory table and/or science area for different types of play.  
    • Use these items and other items from nature for children to explore with clay and playdough. 
    • Smaller pieces of dried Indian corn are a great playdough roller for little hands. 
    • Cornmeal Playdough Recipe
    • Toddler Fall Sensory Bag

Cooking/Food Prep/Gathering:

Take children out to a farm, pumpkin patch or community garden to pick pumpkins, squash, corn and beans. 

  • Include all these items in your menu for the month and send home recipes to encourage families to incorporate new recipes using these healthy foods.  
  • Have children help wash the items, take out seeds, shuck corn and watch as the items are prepared.  
  • Children can help make items such as pumpkin muffins, sweet potato pancakes, cornbread, apple sauce, butternut Squash Fritters recipe 

Documentation boards can be created showing the process of harvesting the food item and then what that item was made into. 

 

Science

  • Apples:  lifecycle of an apple, why do apples turn brown, etc. 
  • Pumpkins: lifecycle of a pumpkin, parts of a pumpkin 
  • Pinecones:  What are they? Why do they open and close? 
  • Animals: How and why do animals such as squirrels store food for the winter?  
  • Fall Experiments for Kids

Playful additions:  

Building Block/ Construction Area  

Add baskets full of fall items to the block/building area. This can include pumpkins, sticks and wood rounds, leaves, fall-coloured glass rounds, forest animals, bird figurines pinecones, cedar branches, spruce boughs etc. Wooden busses are also a fun addition as school busses will be used more regularly with school having resumed 

Printable Fall Pattern Art Mats

Dramatic Play Area 

October is a fun month to dress up! 

Try adding a variety of different cultural masks from your area and around the world. Animals from your territory can be incorporated by adding animal masks and costumes for the children to select from.  

Pumpkins, gourds, and other nonperishable Indigenous food items can be added with shovels and buckets to have children role-play harvesting activities.  

Art Centre   

To change up your art center monthly try having a wide variety of paints, crayons, markers, modelling clay, pastels and chalks, tissue paper, construction paper, paper plates, cellophane, and glitter in contrasting fall colours available for the children to create fall-inspired masterpieces with. 

Items such as dried Indian corn, nuts, gourds, mini pumpkins, and leaves are fun for the children to use instead of paintbrushes to decorate or to trace shapes.  

Display brightly coloured pictures and items from nature at the child’s level to help inspire them.  

Leaf Cutting Tray

Reading Area   

Innovative idea: Add a mirror to your quiet reading area – around the mirror add some fun yoga moves. Dusk’a Aboriginal HeadStart, Whitehorse Yukon shared this innovative idea. 

This area can be a place away from the busyness of the room and a great place for children to reset and relax by encouraging exercise!  

Outdoor Ideas 

The gentle fall weather is a great time to have the children spend loads of time outdoors – as much as possible!

A few outdoor activities and ideas:

  • Plan Field trips with Elders to harvest traditional fall food and medicine items. 
  • Visit a river or a stream with spawning salmon. 
  • Walk to your local school playground. 
  • Go on an Autumn scavenger hunt. 
  • Host a bake sale. 
  • Take a ride in a hay wagon at a local pumpkin patch. 
  • Go on a nature walk to experience firsthand the sites, smells and sounds the fall weather brings.
  •  October is also a great time to visit a historical site and have a picnic lunch!  
  • Host an outdoor family photo session – the beautiful colors of the season are a perfect backdrop! 
  • Other fun outdoor activities

Community Outings

Taking the children out into community to experience Indigenous Culture and Local Nations is an important aspect to AHS cultural planning.

Innovative Idea:  Children at Kermode Child Care Center in Terrace visited local carver John Wilson, Haisla from the Killer Whale Clan! They were able to see different designs and feel the different textures the carving made to the wood.  

AHS would love to see other community outings that programs are hosting for children and families please submit to michelle.gravelle@ahsabc.com

 

Circle Time  

Continue having circle time and visitors indoors and outdoors before the colder weather arrives!

Innovative Ideas:  Little Cubs invited special guest Carey Price as an Indigenous Role model and NHL hockey player.  

Has your program had a special guest you would like to see posted please send to michelle.gravelle@ahsabc.com.

Awasisak Achakos AHS in Kelowna had the innovative idea to create a “wonder wall.” This is where Early Childhood Educators ask the children for their insight, input and direction. Educators then follow through with the ideas presented and revisit and reflect on the experience with children to see how their perspective has changed. 

Providing a visual tool is a great way to have children focus, and when they see their ideas being added they feel valued and full of pride!

Elder Involvement

  • Have elders lead on the land nature walks and harvesting trips. 
  • Elders can also attend field trips to community gardens, nut farms, orchards, pumpkin patches, and other places of interest. 
  • Oct 1, 2023, is National Senior Day – invite Elders for a special meal, outdoor picnic, or special performance by the children etc. 
    • Program elders may also enjoy helping to plan a special outing to a senior’s home for October 1st, so the children can visit those who may not be able to get out to visit on their own.
    • Elders can also help host indoor workshops, teach protocol teachings and teach songs to families and children. 

Parent Involvement

 

  • Invite parents to accompany children on nature walks and other fall outings.  
  • Host a fall feast for families to attend. 
    • Or invite them out on the land with Elders to learn how to set traps/snares and to have fish and tea over the fire.   
  • Invite families to the centre after hours for food preparation workshops. 
    • A few examples: fall canning, and cooking classes (like making stuffed salmon or other fall-inspired dishes).
  • Include a wide variety of pictures from throughout the month in the fall newsletters for families to feel included in activities they could not attend.  
  • Host an evening where parents and children can learn about traditional teas and make their own tea blends.  
  • Host an indoor craft workshop such as drum or rattle making. 

Outreach /Activity kits  

 Create a kit with items for the families to create their fall feast at home!

  • Items can include traditional fall feast items such as: bison, duck, elk, rabbit, salmon, arctic char etc.  
  • Send home recipes and supplies for fall-themed items. Examples include cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, wild rice casserole, roasted chestnuts (or other recipes featuring traditionally harvested nuts). 
  • You can send pre-made items such as traditional teas, wild rice, fresh corn, squash and beans, pear preserves, and traditionally inspired syrups (such as maple and elderberry),. 
  • A family craft can also be added. 
    • Gourd rattles, family centerpieces, fish scale art, pine needle ornaments or baskets etc. are all excellent options. 

Fall Equinox duck recipe 

  • ONEIDA: Traditional and Healthy Foods for Our Community Cookbook


Lofty Ideas

Decorate your loft like a fall tree, corn field or pumpkin patch. Invite children to help decorate leaves, corn or pumpkins to be hung. Have each child’s name and picture as a part of the display for them to recognize. 

For children who cannot have their picture displayed have them draw a picture of themselves, so they are included! 

Your science area can be moved to the bottom of the loft this month for a change of environment. A pumpkin stand can be set up using a table, different-sized pumpkins and a scale. Children can learn how to use the scale to weigh different pumpkins.  

Alternatively, you can set up a quiet reading area in your loft to switch up the reading environment. 

Resources and related articles:

  1. Where Can We Source Indigenous Foods?
  2. The Importance of Connecting Children to Nature and resources 
  3. Early Years Professional Development Opportunities 
  4. Indigenous Seasonal teaching resources
  5. BC ACCS Cultural Planning Resource  
  6. HUSH Sacred Seven
  7. Kicksled Revolution


Book of the Month

Giving Thanks A Native American Good Morning Message 

Author: Chief Jake Swamp  

Illustrator: Erwin Printup 

This book was created as a tribute to the environment that embraces the traditional protocols of giving thanks.  “This good morning message is based on the belief that the natural world is a precious and rare gift. The whole universe — from the highest stars to the tiniest blade of grass — is addressed as one great family.” Chief Jake Swamp 

 

Recommended Children’s Books/Resource Books: 

  • Takwakin- It is Autumn 
    Author: Cam Robertson 
    Introduction to basic Cree phrases about Autumn
  •  If Instead of A person 
    Author: Courtney Defriend 
    This Coast Salish Author uses rhymes to describe the interconnectedness between humans and nature.
  • We love you as much as a fox loves its tail.  
    Author: Masiana Kelly  
    Inuk/Dene author shares a sweet and simple narrative that embraces a parent’s love for their child(ren).
  • We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga 
    Author:  Traci Sorell and Frane Lessac 
    A Cherokee story expressing gratitude for blessings and challenges brought from each season

Recipe of the Month:

Lii Gaatoo di milaas Aan Michif, Granny LeClerc’s molasses Cake 

In honour of Louis Riel’s Birthday we would like to share Michif Elder Norman Fleury’s special celebration cake recipe. Maarsi Norman for sharing this special recipe with us.  

Ingredients 

1 cup of brown sugar 

2 ½ cups of flour 

1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp salt 

4 eggs  

1 cup butter 

Optional: 1 cup dates, half cup walnuts, 1 ½ cups raisins or currants 

Directions 

Preheat oven to 325.  

Bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours.  

Cream together sugar and butter add eggs.  

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl then slowly add to egg mixture. Bake in a well-oiled loaf pan or square cake pan.  

Traditional Foods and Wellness link of the month: 

Why is serving Indigenous foods so important?