Cultural Calendar Ideas for October
October is referred to as “hloxsa sinlaaxw" - which is the month to go fishing for trout in Gitxsenimx. In the Nisga’a language it is "xlaaxw" which means time of eating trout and "Xlaaxwwilyuwim-laaxwdii", people fish for trout in October. In the Cree calendar it is called the Migrating Moon and in Sliammon it is the Moon of the frost. For the Stolo nation it is referred to as “Tempo:kw which means time for Chehalis Spring Salmon.
Inuit Communities in the Eastern Arctic refer to September & October as “Ukiakasak”.
This represents days becoming shorter, the inevitable temperature change that brings frequent rain, and frost beginning to occur. The tundra landscape is full of a variety of brightly colored berries such as: crowberries, mountain cranberries and bear berries. Ponds and lakes freeze over, 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 geographical location. These fall harvest foods can include: 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.
This time of year is a very important time 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 traditional territory of your program. Could these items present opportunities? Such as a field trip or food preservation activity with parents, menu items, or traditional feast?
How do you say October in your traditional language?
Here are some examples from across the province that we have collected.
“'Ma̱gwabo'yi” - Kwak̓wala
“Lhots uze’ ” - Witsuwit’en
“sk̓aʔáym” - Syilx
“Pesllwélsten” - Secwepemc
“Ha'lila̱xsig̱a̱boox” - Sm'algya̱x
October/Fall is the time when traditionally First Nations, Metis and Inuit people begin preparations for the long cold winter months. Cultural activities depend on each Nation’s traditional 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 nuts.
Picking plants for teas and other medicines.
Hunting, trapping, and getting snares ready.
Drying fish and meat, canning and other methods of preserving.
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 Metis Leader Louis Riel’s birthday, Children and families love to learn by celebrating through having parties (cake, songs in traditional language, cultural goody bags. Do you have a historic leader in your community that you can have a party in honour or an elder to celebrate through having a party!
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 traditional 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.
Other craft ideas: Have children making rattles out of gourds. Gourds have been traditionally used to make rattles by many Indigenous groups including the Metis people.
from Montessori Music Room: Let's make gourd rattle!
Sensory Play Indoors & Outdoors:
October brings early fall weather that is perfect for outdoor play.
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.
Have 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. These 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.
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 etc.
Butternut Squash Fritters recipe: YouTube
Documentation boards can be created showing the process of harvesting the food item and then what that item was made into.
Science Topic to Explore for the Month of October:
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?
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.
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.
Traditional animals from your traditional territory can be incorporated by adding animal masks and costumes for the children to select from.
Pumpkins, gourds, and other non-perishable traditional food items can be added with shovels and buckets to have children role-play harvesting activities.
Have 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 and to decorate or to trace shapes. Display brightly coloured pictures and items from nature at the child’s level to help inspire them.
Examples of Leaf Cutting Tray
Thank you to Dusk’a Aboriginal Head Start hosted by the Kwan lin Dun First Nation for sharing this innovative idea.
Add a mirror to your quiet reading area – around the mirror add some fun yoga moves.
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!
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!
Circle Time Area:
The Circle Time area is often busy and filled with many discussions!
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!
Does your program have an innovative circle time idea to share?
If so, please send your idea(s) to: email@example.com!
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.
Parent Involvement Ideas:
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.
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. Ideas could be gourd rattles, family centerpieces, fish scale art, pine needle ornaments, or baskets etc. are all excellent options.
Recipe: Stuffed Duckling
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 still 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.
Resources & Related Articles:
The Outdoor Learning Store, includes ProDev certificate: Connecting to the land through Indigenous learning
Development Finder: Early Years Professional Development Opportunities
Resource Ideas from our Neighbours in the Yukon (Dusk’a AHS):
Book of the Month:
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.
Remember Author: Joy Harjo Picture book adaptation of world-renowned poem that encourages children to embrace their identity and connection to nature.
We love you as much as a fox loves its tail Author: Masiana Kelly 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 story expressing gratitude for blessings and challenges brought from each season.
Recipe of the Month:
Lii Gaatoo di milaas Aan Michif
In honour of Louis Riel’s Bday we would like to share Michif Elder Norman Fleury’s special celebration cake recipe. Maarsi Norman for sharing this special recipe with us.
Granny LeClerc’s molasses Cake : Ingredients:
1 cup of brown sugar
2 ½ cups of flour
1tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
Optional: 1 cup dates, half cup walnuts, 1 ½ cups raisins or currants
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 & Wellness link of the month:
We all have a deep connection to food. Food can bring back memories, remind us who we are, and make us feel safe. When we are away from home, few things can be more comforting than the familiar scent and taste of our foods...