NUMBULWAR’S CEILING DICTIONARY
Working with indigenous children to develop wall dictionaries was certainly a great way of extending vocabulary in remote communities. Having children draw pictures of particular subjects, objects and community focus points which then carried naming words offered an extended familiarisation.
These dictionaries on walls enabled students to develop ready reference points for words they used when writing. After a time, the need for referral became less as children learned how to use these words from The viewpoint of innate knowledge.
At Warburton Ranges in Western Australia in the very early 1970s, I developed the concept of wall dictionaries.
We moved to the Northern Territory in 1975. Our appointment was to Numbulwar, at the time called Rose River in South – East Arnhemland. My classroom had less wall space than desirable for the affixing of a developing dictionary. Walls were certainly used but more space was needed!
To this end, and with the children I extended the dictionary to embrace classroom ceilings. The charts we developed needed to be securely affixed because of a tendency for them to detach and fall down if insufficiently secured. Naturally, the fans were turned off whenever any charts were being added.