Aboriginal Art Lesson Series

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Please find below an example of a lesson series primary school teachers could use to teach their students about the amazing art genre that is Australian Aboriginal Art. As well as this lesson guide, you’ll find a wealth of information here in the Dreamtime Library that can assist you.

Please note that due to the large number of schools around the world teaching an Aboriginal Art curriculum and the many thousands of students participating, we are unable to answer individual requests for information. Rest assured that between the Dreamtime Library and other resources online, teachers and students alike will be able to quickly discover the information they are looking for.


Objective: Introduce students to the rich history, techniques, and significance of Australian Aboriginal Art.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Culture and Art

  1. Objective: Introduce students to the Aboriginal people, their history, and the importance of art in their culture.
    • Activity: Watch a short documentary or animated video about the Aboriginal people.
    • Discussion: Talk about the significance of storytelling and tradition.
    • Homework: Ask students to draw or describe their own family’s traditions or stories.

Lesson 2: Symbols and Their Meanings

  1. Objective: Teach students about the symbols commonly found in Aboriginal art and their meanings.
    • Activity: Show students various symbols such as concentric circles (communities), U shapes (people), and animal tracks.
    • Hands-on: Give students cards with symbols and ask them to match them with their meanings.
    • Homework: Create their own artwork using three symbols they learned about.

Lesson 3: Dot Painting Workshop

  1. Objective: Introduce students to the technique of dot painting, a hallmark of Aboriginal art.
    • Activity: Demonstrate how to create dot paintings using sticks, cotton buds, or the end of paintbrushes.
    • Hands-on: Allow students to create their own dot paintings on paper or canvas.
    • Discussion: Talk about how different dot patterns and colours can convey different meanings.

Lesson 4: Dreamtime Stories and Art

  1. Objective: Introduce students to the Dreamtime, the Aboriginal understanding of the world and its creation.
    • Activity: Read or play a Dreamtime story.
    • Discussion: Talk about the significance of the Dreamtime in Aboriginal culture and its representation in art.
    • Homework: Write or illustrate their own version of a Dreamtime story.

Lesson 5: Modern Aboriginal Art

  1. Objective: Show students how Aboriginal art has evolved and its influence on modern Australian art.
    • Activity: Show examples of contemporary Aboriginal art and discuss how they differ from traditional forms.
    • Discussion: How does modern Aboriginal art combine ancient traditions with contemporary themes?
    • Hands-on: Create a piece of art inspired by a modern Aboriginal artwork.

Lesson 6: Cultural Respect and Art

  1. Objective: Teach students the importance of respecting and understanding cultures different from their own and avoiding cultural appropriation.
    • Discussion: What is cultural appropriation and why is it problematic? Use examples related to art.
    • Activity: Create a group charter about how to respectfully appreciate and engage with art from other cultures.
    • Homework: Reflective journal entry about what they’ve learned about respect and art.

Lesson 7: Field Trip or Guest Speaker

  1. Objective: Give students a first-hand experience with Aboriginal art.
    • Activity: Plan a trip to a local museum or gallery that showcases Aboriginal art. If a trip is not feasible, consider inviting an Aboriginal artist or expert to speak with the students.
    • Discussion: Post-visit reflection on what they saw or learned.

Lesson 8: Art Exhibition

  1. Objective: Review what students have learned and showcase their artworks.
    • Activity: Set up an art exhibition in the classroom where students can display their art from previous lessons.
    • Discussion: Reflect on what they’ve learned, their favourite parts, and why understanding Aboriginal art is important.
    • Homework: Write a letter to a future student explaining why they should look forward to learning about Aboriginal art.

Lesson 9: Essay Competition 

  1. Objective: Have the students write an essay on one of three chosen topics about Aboriginal Art and enter their essays in our annual Aboriginal Art Essay Contest where the winning student receives a prize and their school wins a magnificent piece of Aboriginal Art to showcase. For more information and to register interest, please email art@artlandish.com and request the essay contest for schools information.
    • Activity: Determine 3 or 4 topics for the students to write about and have them choose one to write about
    • Discussion: Talk about potential ideas and angles for tackling the subject that are unique and stand out to better increase their chances of getting noticed by the judges
    • Homework: Draw an image that relates to your chosen essay subject to go with your written paper. Draw the image whilst sitting on the ground to experience one of the ways many Aboriginal Artists prefer to paint.

Note for Teachers: Ensure that these lessons are approached with sensitivity and respect. Always encourage students to appreciate, not appropriate. The lessons aim to foster respect for the Aboriginal culture and its artistic contributions. Remember, it’s important to check resources to ensure cultural accuracy and respect.

At the same time, don’t overly worry about saying the wrong thing. The changes taking place in what is considered appropriate language to maintain respect are happening faster than anyone could keep up with and is never universally agreed upon anyway. Common sense and a clear attempt to be respectful and sensitive will always be looked upon more favourably than someone just spruiking the latest buzzword.

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