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Cultural Calendar Ideas for August

Little Moccasins AHS

August is when little birds test out their wings and are starting to practice flying.

In Nunavik the month of August is referred to as “Aujaliruuti” meaning “the last of summer.”

In the Baffin region August is referred to as “Saggaruut” which means “the caribou skin is ready.” This is a reference to caribou having beautiful fur in August – once caribou are hunted women would traditionally make clothing.

August is a great time to explore the creation stories of the Nations represented in AHS programs, as well as the traditional territory on which you reside.

Creation stories are an important topic for discussion and exploration as every Nation has a story of origin. Learning about creation stories nurtures a great sense of pride in children, families, Elders and staff as they can share or learn about where their Nation(s) come from. Sharing can also include legends and creation stories and any type of special connections and representations.

August is also a great time to discuss and learn about the lunar calendar that many Indigenous groups and Nations follow. This 13-moon cycle should be included and represented in the Cultural Calendar at each AHS program. If you compare the traditional calendars of many Nations, you will see each moon name reflects the seasonal activities in nature that would be prevalent at this time according to the geographical area the Nation resided.


Anishinaabeg -- Minooini Giisis (Wild rice moon) and Mdaamiin Giizis (Corn Moon)

Cree/ Nehiyaw -- The flying moon

Saanich people -- Centawen (The coho salmon return to earth)

Swinomish -- Moon of the Salal Berry

Tlaamin Nation -- Tagams ta ThaXtlawum (Harvest moon) and T’agams ta Kliyam (the moon of the cockles)

Iroquois -- Ohyotosheli (green beans) and Onastase’ (small green corn)

More information on the 13 Moons:


A few craft ideas for August include:

  • Order wooden spoons (ones that have no finish on them) and invite families to come into the center to dot paint a pair of spoons for their child.

  • Invite a Knowledge Keeper/ Elder or an artist that does dot painting to teach the traditional technique and to give traditional teachings about dot painting and the spoons. After the craft is complete, make sure you treat these items with a product that will ensure longevity.

  • Buying musical wooden spoons: Metis Products & Sucrerie de la Montagne


August is a great time for children to explore sensory play outside. Naturally occurring experiences that you can discuss with children include:

  • bare feet on wet grass

  • climbing a boulder

  • digging for worms and bugs

  • picking flowers or berries

  • rolling down a grassy slope

  • playing in the rain etc.

Items you can add to continue outside sensory play:

  • Playdough/ clay with seashells and other items from nature to make imprints

  • Fingerpainting with mud

  • Sprinkler play or play with spray bottles

Cooking/ Food Prep/ Gathering:

It’s berry season! Take the children, Elders/ Knowledge Keepers/ families out on the land to pick berries. Have an Elder or Knowledge Keeper or parent from the local territory lead the berry picking event. Doing this helps with following and encouraging local traditional protocols.

Blueberries, cherries and peaches are also available in some places for a hands-on field trip so children can see the processes that happen on farm/ fruit store/ fruit plant. This can be a follow to a traditional berry-picking expedition.

Science Topic to Explore:

Playful Additions:

Every Child Matters
  • Building Block/ Construction Area: At the child’s level have pictures with numbers and the accompanying word in traditional languages.

  • Every Child Matters blocks, limited series. Partial proceeds are donated to the Orange Shirt Society and Reconciliation Canada.

  • Have staff take turns sitting with children and counting blocks in traditional language.

  • Dramatic Play Area: Set up your indoor play area like a traditional camping site that would reflect your Nation. Canvas tents, teepees, etc. are all items that could be used. Create a pretend fire set up, camping dishes etc.

  • Have the cook serve camping foods for lunch one day, to tie into the children’s exploration and creativity with the camping theme.

Thi Lelum Smuneem AHS

Art Centre:

Have pictures of traditional dot painted designs in the art area to encourage creativity and the use of traditional art forms. Have bingo markers, Q-tips, circle stickers and other items accessible for the children to use.

Have an area outside where children can use seashells, bark ,and other items from nature to create rubbings with. Make Leaf and Bark Rubbings

Kids Book: Strong Readers Set B: Leaf Rubbings Author: Brenda Boreham

Reading Area:

Expand on your reading area -- have books available in all play areas that can add on or expand creativity.

Such as: the lego table can have books with pictures of log cabins, teepees and other traditional items children can build. Have transportation or community helper-themed books to encourage exploration of the child’s building in these areas.

Outdoor Ideas:

Thi Lelum Smuneem AHS
  • See if there are story walk options in your community. If there is no opportunities most Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) locations are willing to partner with AHS and provide story walks.

  • Add seashells and other items from the beach, to the outside play area.

  • Host a scavenger hunt in traditional language and invite families to participate.

Thi Lelum Smuneem AHS
  • Build excitement and host a “treasure hunt or a fossil hunt” in the sandbox with the children.

Thi Lelum Smuneem AHS

CONGRATULATIONS to Tansi AHS in Chetwynd who completed their new playground through the Enhancing Land-Based Early Learning (ELBEL) initiative. The program celebrated by inviting the community to an outdoor Open House. Guests were welcomed into the space, which includes a range of fun and exciting options for play that complement the natural space.

Circle time area:

At the LOVIT Way Provincial Family Gathering, we provided spoons to all the attendees. Over the past couple of months, we have heard that children from numerous centers have greatly enjoyed utilizing these spoons.

  • Incorporate the spoons into songs and activities, play fiddle music and role model how to spoon to the beat of the fiddle. Invite Elders in to join in or lead some fun activities with the Spoons.

  • You can order finished, and ready-to-play spoons (not art project appropriate) at: Gabriel Dumont Institute

  • For metal spoon options (recommended by Elder Betty Gladue) can be found at: Long & McQuade

  • Grover Trophy Musical Spoons at: Tom Lee Music

Williams Lake AHS

Elder Involvement:

  • Invite Elders to lead on-the-land gathering and berry-picking activities.

  • Ask Elders to demonstrate how to preserve and store traditional berries and other items harvested.

  • Host a jam-making session at a PAC meeting, parent event or on your social media site.

Parent Involvement Ideas:

Parent Boards:

  • Create a parent board full of back-to-school resources.

    1. Such as: free backpack day, free haircuts, links and resources on back-to-school routines, easy recipes for evenings/slow cooker recipes etc.

  • Create a Healthy Living Board and feature Indigenous and community resources.

August is the perfect time to host a health fair to prepare parents for the busy back-to-school season. Invite local vendors to have a table and create a network for families. This could include dental health, vision screening, Speech and language therapy, CCRR, car set seat safety (BCAA), Nutrition and Health promotion (could be someone from a health food store,). This could also include AIDP, ASCD, literacy supports, outreach supports, Jordan’s Principle staff, or literacy access services provided through your Host Agency.

It is also important to include Elders and Knowledge Keepers with traditional medicine and food knowledge. You can feature activities like medicine bag making, salve or tea making, etc.

Consider reaching out to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) as they may be able to send a representative and often have wellness campaigns that could be incorporated.

Kermode AHS Health Fair

Outreach/ Activity kits:

  • Send home easy-to-read bedtime stories.

  • Create a kit with the newest addition of Canada’s food guide and choices of healthy foods.

Lofty Ideas:

Awasisak Achakos AHS

Decorate your loft and incorporate different items that match the children’s favourite stories. You can also have laminated copies of pages and pictures from a book of choice so that the children can correlate the book to the environment. This provides a place and encouragement to act out the stories they are hearing and reading.

Examples of stories you could choose:

  • Awasisak and the world-famous Bannock

  • Sometimes I feel like a fox

Resources and Related Articles:

Recommended Children’s Books/ Resource Books:

  • Powwow Counting in Cree Author: Penny M Thomas About: Vibrantly illustrated book that features the numbers 1-10 in Cree.

  • Bowwow Powwow Author: Brenda Child, Gordan Jourdain About: Colourful book that follow a dog and its owner on the powwow trail.

  • Ami Osawapikones/ Dear Dandelion Author: CJ Okimow About: Plains Cree language content and the topics of self-care and self-love

  • I Am a Rock Author: Ashley Qilavaq-Savard About: A book featuring life in the arctic and Inuit culture.

  • My Powerful Hair Author: Carol Lindstrom About: A book that explores cultural values in regard to hair protocols and promotes the importance of self-pride and cultural pride.

Book of the Month:

Author: Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London Illustrator: Thomas Locker

This book has vivid paintings and features poems from many Nations that explore the Indigenous 13 Moon cycle. This book emphasizes on the land teachings and respect for nature.

image courtesy of Haida Tourism

Recipe of the Month: Seafood Fritters

  • Canned crab, clams, or salmon may be a great child-friendly and budget-friendly substitute.

Traditional foods & wellness link for August: Eating Healthy

  • Find nutritional tips, healthy eating strategies, and many more wellness resources


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