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Cultural Calendar Ideas for September

Kinanaskomiten to Cree Elder Don Campbell for assisting with this month’s teachings, to inspire AHS Programs.

Smameletawtxw Little Pebbles AHS

September is referred to as the “Harvest Moon.” This is in reference to the full moon (Sept 22-23), which is closest to the Fall Equinox. It also goes by:

  • The Autumn Moon (Cree)

  • Leaves turning Moon (Anishinaabe)

  • Moon of Brown Leaves (Lakota)

  • September is when many animals (such as moose, elk and deer) are looking for a mate. This is why the Cree people will also refer to September as “Nochitowi-Pisim” (the rutting moon or mating moon).

Young animals are also weaned in September, which is why the Tlingit refer to this month as “the Child Moon.” Some Coast Salish refer to this time as “CENQOLEW” – the time when the Dog Salmon return to the Earth.

Things to consider in the month of September?

  • How is the month of September translated in the territory your program is in

    • What is happening in nature at this time and place? & what word would you give it?

  • What would the children say or suggest?

Grandpa Don reminds us, September is a great time to learn about the turtle.

The back of the turtle has 13 marks which represent the 13 moons. Many Indigenous Peoples believe there are 13 moons in a year. In the time of our ancestors, there were no physical calendars – instead, the moons and the season changing were what was followed.

  • These teachings were outlawed due to colonization – however many nations are bringing these teaching back.

There are 28 marks outside the turtle shell which are said to represent the 28-day moon cycle. The Moon circles mother earth every 28 days. When the moon circles there is a gravitational pull, especially on water such as lakes and oceans.

  • However, we are also made with water, and we can also feel this gravitational pull. The moon is our teacher and is closely linked to women and women’s medicine. For many Nations, due to this connection, women are also named the “Keepers of the Water.”

  • The moon causes tides, creating a rhythm that has guided humans for thousands of years. Most water life also spawns according to the cycles of the moon.

September also marks the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. This year the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation falls on Saturday, September 30th, 2023. Even though at AHS we believe every day is a day for truth and reconciliation, this statutory holiday is a good reminder.

A reminder to: look at, evaluate and add to our resources and other offerings, to partner with other organizations, and to bring attention to this important topic.

  • Across the country, hundreds of local activities will be taking place to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

  • Please check to see the most recent updates to Indigenous Mental Health Supports: Indigenous mental health

  • For Reconciliation Tool Kits: Reconciliation Tool Kits

The Salmon Run:

In British Columbia, the fall salmon run is from the end of September to the beginning of October. This provides a unique learning experience for children and families in the outdoors. Salmon has significant cultural importance to First Nations in British Columbia. This is a great teaching opportunity for elders, community members and parents to share their knowledge.

Crafts for September:

  • Create a mural or an art project that shows cultural pride this can be displayed in honour of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

  • Host a parent-child craft event – this can be at your Welcoming/ Back to School Event, or can be a special lunch, or orientation day activity.

    • Ideas could be: decorating a picture frame for a family photo, a traditional fall craft that little hands can help with, decorating a fabric bag that can be left at the centre to hold spare clothes, or personalizing an orange shirt etc.

Sensory Ideas:

With the falling leaves and other natural items available due to the weather and season changing this is a great time to experience sensory play in the outdoors.

  • Raking leaves, jumping in leaf piles, collecting and sorting sticks, acorns, and leaves.

  • Use traditional language for colours and go on a scavenger hunt to find natural items in these colours.

  • Fall-scented paints and playdough can be brought outdoors to paint with leaves or make leaf imprints in playdough.

  • Fall Spice Scented Paint: Pinterest link

Cooking/ Food Prep/ Gathering:

  • Plan fun and engaging ideas for the children to help prepare their food items.

  • Invite elders and knowledge keepers along with children to pick late summer/ early fall fruits, berries and forage out on the land.

Thi Lelum Smuneem AHS
  • Jams and jellies, muffins, scones and loaves can be made with children and families out of these items.

  • Create a documentation board as a visual display/ presentation for children and families.

  • Gather the last of the seasonal herbs from the garden and have children help to make their own salad dressing out of these herbs. 3 Five-Minute Fresh Herb Salad Dressings

  • Take the children to the orchard/ farmers market to get apples and pears. Make meals with children such as applesauce and canned pears or plums. Canned Pears

  • Have the children husk their own corn in the water table and then have corn for snack. They can also husk the corn to make cornbread muffins.

Science Topic to explore for the month of September:

Playful additions:

Smameletawtxw Little Pebbles AHS

Building Block/ Construction Area: Add items such as a train set, conductors' hat, fireman and other community helpers' hats and vehicles to the building block and construction area. Logging trucks with sticks to load are also a relatable and fun addition with hard hats and high visible vests as many families work out on the land in the logging industry. Pictures of these community helpers actively working their trades at the children’s level will help children to expand their play opportunities and the stories and scenarios they create. Dramatic Play Area: Make available a wide range of traditional regalia available to try on with a mirror close by to look at themselves. This can include cedar hats, button blankets, moccasins and mukluks, Cowichan sweaters, and hats, pow wow regalia etc. Have books and pictures that show Indigenous people in regalia and at ceremony/ events in the dramatic play area.

Art Centre:

  • Provide playdough, plasticine, markers, pencil crayons and paper, and yarn in a wide range of skin tones, eye colour and hair colours.

  • Include popsicle sticks, paper bags and other items children can make puppets out of.

  • Post the names of assorted colours at the children’s level and in traditional language.

  • Use fallen leaves from the ground to make artistic creations these can be glued on canvas, used to make designs on wax paper etc.

  • Make a mural depicting the fall salmon run – have the children create salmon in a variety of ways to add to this mural.

Reading Area:

Munu AHS

Provide comfortable items such as pillows and furs in the reading area, with a wide range of big books, regular books, and board books. Include flannel stories and listening stories. Consider having books that depict the salmon run and have stories about salmon fishing.

To borrow a salmon resource kit: Curriculum Kits

Outdoor Ideas:

Conayt AHS
  • Spend as much time as possible outdoors having the children experience the changes to the season.

  • Go to a local pond that has turtles and point out the 28 marks on the side of the shell and 13 marks on top. Have an elder give these teachings.

  • This is a fun time for walks, time on the land collecting and foraging, and enjoying the last of the picnic season. With all the many colours Fall will bring in mid-September, this is a terrific opportunity to reinforce and teach traditional colours.

  • In many places, it is Apple/ Pear season. Take the children to a local orchard to experience the sights, smells, and feel of orchard life. If you are in a Northern community, take the children to the farmers and local grocery markets that will have these items on display and readily available.

  • Rosehips an important traditional medicine and food for many Nations, and will be ready to be picked. Sooner in the North and later in the South.

  • Juniper Berries, nettle seeds, burdock, yarrow, and hawthorn berries will be ready.

  • In the garden, this will be the last harvest of herbs such as sage, mint, oregano, and thyme. Show children how to dry these to be used later.

  • Invite elders and families out to see the salmon run in designated spots around communities across the province.

  • Where to See Salmon: Salmon Spotting

Circle Time Area:

September is a time many sites welcome new children in – as the five-year-olds from the previous year have left for their journey into kindergarten. Have pictures of previous grads up so children can have conversations on the journey from AHS to Kindergarten. This will prepare the children who will be moving on the following year.

Sas Natsadle AHS

Keda Yaze Kime AHS

This is a perfect time for Welcome songs, name games and other fun activities that include traditional language and introduction to Elders from the community. Children take immense pride in learning how to introduce themselves in traditional language and this is also a wonderful way to have the older children role model the skills they have learned from the previous year.

Munu Learning Centre AHS

Naptime may be an intimidating experience for new children attending for the first time. Traditional songs and lullabies may help with this transition.

Recently, AHS Centers were gifted a special CD of Cree lullabies that can be used. A songbook was included, and these can be sung at the circle time before nap to get children ready for the quiet, restful atmosphere. If you would like to pick up your copy: Darlene Auger’s Lullabye Teachings

Other Lullaby Ideas:

  • Mino-Nibaa Abinoojiins Native American Lullabies

  • Dream Big Little One – Jason Burnstick and Nadia Gaudet

  • Sacred Blessings; native songs, stories and lullabies.

  • Under the Green Corn Moon-native American Lullabies

  • Native American Flute Music/ Healing Sleep Music

Elder Involvement:

  • Invite elders to be involved in daily programming, according to activities they enjoy.

  • Ask elders to share and introduce themselves and host circle time activities. This can include drumming, singing, jigging and other traditional dance, leading nature walks and on-the-land activities, and of course, playtime (indoors or outdoors).

Little Moccasins AHS

Parent Involvement Ideas:

Conayt AHS Hand Print Medicine Wheel
  • Plan with Elders/ Knowledge Keepers to help host a workshop on the medicine wheel.

  • Be observant of traditional protocols and be aware of the differences between medicine wheel teachings between different nations.

    • Different nations use distinct colours and may have different placements. The medicine wheel teachings provide traditional understanding and strength using the four directions and our lifecycle.

  • Host a yearly orientation event such as a BBQ, feast etc. for all the families to get to know each other and meet new members of the community.

  • During this time of transition this is a opportune time to present strategic planning for the year and to get further input and directions. Invite elders, and team members from your host agency so that families will get to know them further.

  • Promote Orange Shirt Day/ National Day of Truth and Reconciliation activities and events, as well as resources and supports.

    • This is often a difficult subject for parents to explain to the 3-5 age group so gentle books on the subject can be sent home. Conversations can happen between Parents/ Caregivers/ Elders and AHS staff on how to approach this difficult subject in a child-friendly matter that will not cause too much stress to the child.

Outreach/ Activity kits:

  • Hand out kits at your Back to School/ Welcoming Event.

    • Fill with items that can be used at home to practice skills.

    • Items can include child-size scissors, paper and cutting activities, pencils, pencil crayons, sharpener, potty training charts (if needed) stickers, glue sticks, play dough ingredients, recipe and cutters, other items that help refine fine motor skills, books about emotions, routines, seasonal.

    • Other Ideas Nimoshoms bus, fall in Saikuz, Pow wow counting in Cree, The Metis Alphabet etc.

    • A copy of the daily schedule and routine, handbook, host agency programs, healthy snack ideas, food guide etc can also go in these kits for families.

    • Infant/ toddler ideas: paint smock, infant/ toddler finger paints, large crayons for easy grasping, bath time play toys, large non-toxic stamp pad, finger puppets, cultural board book and puzzle. Age development songs and sensory ideas to accompany.

Lofty Ideas:

Turn your loft into a grocery store, restaurant, movie theatre, hair salon, airplane or any other place of interest this month. Use props and be creative to inspire innovative ideas in play! For those that don’t have a loft be creative use classroom items to make a creative place to play.

Conayt AHS

Resources & Related Articles:

Recommended Children’s Books/ Resource Books:

Phylis’s Orange Shirt Author: Phylis Webstad Preschool introduction to the concept of residential school and why we wear orange in honour of those that attended.

Nimoshom and His Bus Author: Penny M. Thomas This story is about riding the school bus with – the driver on the bus being special, as he’s a grandfather. Contains the introduction of words in Plains Cree.

Shi-Shi-Etko Author: Nicola M. Campbell This story follows a child who is treasuring their last few days in their community and exploring all its rich offerings before leaving for residential school.

A Salmons Sky View Author: Carol McDougal Experience the seasons through the eyes of the salmon.

A Salmon for Simon Author: Betty Waterton A story about a boy on quest to catch a salmon – instead, he creates a relationship out of respect for the salmon.

Book of the Month:

Title: With Our Orange Hearts Author: Phylis Webstad Illustrator: Emily Kewageshig Founder of Orange Shirt Day, Phylis Webstad creates a book about sharing feelings and listening to the feeling of others. Expressive book made in the spirit of reconciliation.

Recipe of the Month: Corn Bread Muffins

This recipe is the perfect item to serve with all your newly made traditional jams and jellies. It would also be great with August’s recipe: Sage & Maple Butter.

photo courtesy of: Elise Krohn,

Traditional Foods & Wellness Link of the Month: Reviving Traditional Food Knowledge

pictured: Kelp Pickles

Special Events and Fundraising Activities: (Submitted by Clever Raven)

The Aunties at Clever Raven organized a hot chocolate and muffin sale. The children had to do everything from making the stand, poster and signs. Working together to bake the muffins and taking turns running the stand. This Project Ensured:

  • Process of achieving goals

  • Engaging in the community

  • Science and Math skills through baking and money counting

  • Having fun working together

  • Sharing duties; baking, taking turns, using manners and entrepreneurship

  • Interacting with the public

On the day of the sale, there were lots of family members and Elders. The children raise $270 -- their goal was to go bowling. On the day they walked to the bowling alley it was raining hard and hailing, but that didn’t put a damper on their fun.

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