A celebration of language, cultural diversity and tea at Carlton Learning Precinct has become a meaningful lesson in community and collaboration.

The rich multicultural community at CLP has inspired the latest collaboration between the ELC and Carlton Primary School.

Educational Leader Liz Ong says the project took seed when she noticed some of the multilingual children only spoke English when they were at the ELC. Liz, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, did some research and found that among the educators alone, 19 different languages were spoken.

“It’s important to recognise the role that first or home languages play in children’s development, especially when it comes to literacy, learning and identity,” Liz says. “We wanted to do something to highlight the wealth of knowledge our local community has in these different languages and encourage children to be proud of their language.”

The project quickly became a multi-age project, connecting the children and babies at the ELC with primary-school students from all grades.

Liz says they decided to centre the project on the picture book Luli and the Language of Tea, a book about finding common ground and bringing people together.

“It was the perfect choice because tea is a universal drink that connects people,” she says. “We were able to learn the word for tea in all the different languages we speak here and we talked about whether or not we drink tea at home.”

The idea culminated in a one-week program, which saw a different group of primary-school students and ELC children meeting each day for a tea party, story-time session and collaborative art project.

“The project involved aspects of language, literacy, play and connection,” Liz says. “The children at Gowrie set up a tea party with different types of tea (rooibos, chrysanthemum, and peppermint) and five canvases with different art mediums throughout the week.

“The students nominated someone from their class to read the story to the group and then there was time to connect and chat, and share moments.”

Each day, the groups would add a different medium to the canvases. “We used tea for painting one day and gradually built up layer upon layer of art, a bit like tea, which becomes richer the longer you leave it to brew.”

Shelf Life

During August we celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day and International Literacy Day. Here, CLP Early Learning Manager Alistair Gibbs shares four important picture books and some key reflective questions to ask when sharing them with children.

All Are Welcome

  1. What cultures do you notice in this book?
  2. Do you see your own culture? Where do you come from?
  3. What is diversity?
  4. Think about where you are now? Is everyone welcome?
  5. How could you make everyone feel welcome?

Black is a Rainbow Colour

  1. What things do you notice have the colour black?
  2. What do you feel about the colour black? Why?
  3. What is culture? What do you think black culture is?
  4. The character talks about their colour being black, what is your colour?
  5. Are people treated differently because of the colour of their skin? Why?

I Am Enough

  1. What makes you shine?
  2. Some of the pictures and statements show the characters caring for each other, how do you show love?
  3. Do you look the same as people around you? What is different? How do you celebrate that?
  4. What would you do if someone was being treated unkind for being different?
  5. Are you enough? Why?

Our Home Our Heartbeat

  1. What is your history? How does it make you strong?
  2. Who is in your community?
  3. Who do you talk and look like?
  4. Where is your home? How are you connected to it?
  5. How do you speak and use your voice?