Pilot project brings Aboriginal perspectives into elementary classrooms

Russell Nahdee drummingRussell Nahdee, coordinator of the Aboriginal Education Centre, beats a dewega, a traditional First Nations drum, during a lesson for a Grade 5 class at St. Peter Catholic Elementary school.

A new partnership between the Aboriginal Education Centre and the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board combines the grade school curriculum with traditional culture and teachings.

The 4 Winds STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and Beginning Time Teaching Project is targeted towards students in grades 5 and 6.  It introduces all students—those from First Nations, Métis and Inuit backgrounds and others—to these areas while providing a unique aboriginal perspective.

Last week, UWindsor staffers Russell Nahdee and Danielle Handsor visited a grade 5 class at St. Peter Catholic Elementary school in Tecumseh to deliver a lesson called “Heartbeat of Mother Earth,” designed to teach students about cardiovascular health with the aid of some traditional Aboriginal drumming and story-telling.

While Nahdee beat a traditional drum to replicate the sound of a heartbeat, Handsor engaged students in a variety of exercises like jumping jacks or squats while passing around red and blue balls to represent the flow of oxygen and blood through the heart and lungs.

Watch a video of the activity here:

Learn more about the project on the school board’s website.