Perth primary schools collaborate on Nativity e-book in Noongar and English

30 November 2021

‘Catholic schools are called to be Christian prophetic communities, fostering the ‘new life in Christ’ and growth in Christian values, as proclaimed by the Catholic Church. This includes helping students to integrate faith and culture, to be encouraging of all that is good in society – as well as to challenge all that is contrary to Christ’s message.’ Bishops’ Mandate, #89 

Students and staff from Infant Jesus School and Santa Clara Primary School recently worked together on a unique project, creating a digital book to tell the Nativity story in English and Noongar.

The bilingual project began with the two schools’ Leadership Teams looking to collaborate and utilise their different strengths: Infant Jesus School’s expertise in digital technology, and Santa Clara School’s Noongar Language Program.

Infant Jesus School Assistant Principal, Melissa Myles, said the two schools wanted to take up the opportunity to integrate faith and culture.

Santa Clara Noongar Language Teacher, Maddie Smith, working on a translation of the story with her Nan, before the project brought students together record the story in both languages, and create collages for the illustrations using native plants and textured materials.

Students used digital technology to animate an aspect of each page of the book.

“The activity allowed students to teach each other new skills as well as share pride in Noongar culture and Catholic faith,” Ms Myles said.

Infant Jesus School students, Lilly and Nate, said it was fun teaching and learning new skills with their Santa Clara School partners.

“I taught my partner how to use Keynote, and she taught me some painting skills,” Lilly said. 

“My partner taught me how to say different words in Noongar,” said Nate. 

“I never knew how to speak any Noongar before I met them,”

Mitchell, one of the Santa Clara School students, said:

“It was really cool to be in such a fun and collaborative project, and use different technology with other students to make an exciting e-book,”

Wayne, Bennell and Rose, three Aboriginal students at Santa Clara who were involved in the project said:

“It’s important to keep the culture alive by sharing it with others, and linking it to our Catholic faith,”

The project aimed to create a resource, which along with a proposed teaching guide, will provide Catholic schools on Noongar Country with opportunities to celebrate and promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Noongar culture and people.

“Initially, I began the translation of the Infancy Story as an opportunity to expand the use of Noongar language at Santa Clara for myself and my students, using this topic as a curriculum focus for Term 4; I never thought that it would lead into what we have today,” Ms Smith said.

“For me personally, I feel like I have done something that is now going to help other schools and give students throughout the region the opportunity to experience what the students at Santa Clara have,

“On a cultural level, it was hard to manage as the Infancy Story isn’t a traditional Noongar story, so this project has been challenging but rewarding at the same time,

“To be able to learn more and make this happen has been a unique experience,” she said.

“This digital, bilingual book is a positive way to strengthen the relationship between schools and local Aboriginal communities, a key component of CEWA’s Transforming Lives Strategy, instilling in our students the role they play as instruments of Christ in our modern world,” said Santa Clara Primary School Principal, Clinton Payne.


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