Aboriginal Dot Painting for Kids

Aboriginal Dot Painting for Kids

This week we learned a bit about early Australian history. We read some lovely books and had fun making Aboriginal dot art paintings.

Books

We began by reading Explore History: Australia, which explains how the earliest settlers came to Australia from South-East Asia when the continents were still close together and Australia was only a few hundred kilometres from Indonesia.

Australian History Books

We read the about the Aboriginal Dreamtime, including the Rainbow Serpent creation myth, in Stories From The Billabong. These are stories are short and sweet, and beautifully illustrated with dot paintings.  The book includes a section on the symbols that are used in Aboriginal art.

Aboriginal Painting – What Do All Those Dots Mean?

… Aboriginal paintings often resemble a map of sorts.  Traditional symbols are used to represent water, waterholes, clouds, stars, fire, cliffs and sandhills. There are also symbols that represent people, especially people sitting, alone or in groups, and often in front of a fire or camp site.

Thaneeya McArdle

The painted dots in Aboriginal art can be symbols too, but they are also often used to obscure rather than add meaning – the secrets of the Dreamtime are closely guarded, so dots are added to paintings to conceal sacred symbolism from the uninitiated.

Aboriginal Dot Painting for Kids

Make Your Own Aboriginal Dot Painting

We took inspiration from Stories From The Billabong and from images of Aboriginal Dot Art to make our own dot paintings. There are so many ways you can do this, and I’d love to experiment with other ideas but, for what it’s worth, here’s how we did it this time:

What You Need

  • brown paper – any shape, any size
  • acrylic paints
  • paintbrush with a blunt, circular end (most kids’ paintbrushes work) or a Q-Tip
  • black tempera paint (optional)
  • black sharpie (optional)

What You Do

1. Tear around the edges of your paper to make them rough.

2. Scrunch up your paper and unfold it several times.  This makes it look tree bark or rock.

3. Have a look at some examples of Aboriginal Dot Art and the traditional symbols it uses, and get dotting! 

Aboriginal Dot Painting For Kids

4. Keep dotting until your page is filled.  This takes some patience, because you need to dip your stick in the paint after every two or three dots. But it’s satisfying work, and combined with some traditional Australian music (see below), even quite meditative.

We were inspired by this tutorial which suggests using an animal as the central image.

Stories From The Billabong mentions several Australian animals that we weren’t familiar with, and we enjoyed looking them up and finding out about them. The children now know that, unlike Perry on Phineas and Ferb, a real platypus does not have a flat head.

Aboriginal Dot Painting For Kids

Aboriginal Dot Painting For Kids
Dot painting with campfire and people symbols

 

Aboriginal Dot Painting
Platypus dot painting

 

What We Might Do Differently Next Time

Next time we might use tempera paint rather than acrylic to colour the central animal, for a less shiny effect. Acrylics work perfectly for the dots, though.

Music To Paint By

We listened to some gorgeous didgeridoo music as we painted. So soothing – I might play this more often!

Aboriginal Dot Painting For Kids

 

Join me here:

April Culture Swapper at All Done Monkey

History and Geography Meme 69 at All Things Beautiful

Look What We Did at Hammock Tracks

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Hobbies and Handicrafts at Highhill Homeschool

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Money Saving Monday at Life’s Little Adventures

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

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46 thoughts on “Aboriginal Dot Painting for Kids

  1. They have paintings similar to this in the cancer ward where my daughter gets her treatment. They are really cool. I had no idea they were Aboriginal. Thank you for sharing this. I pinned it for our future Australia studies.

    1. What a lovely thing to have on hospital walls. I think children can really relate to this beautiful, colourful form of art. Thank you Julie, and for hosting Hobbies & Handicrafts 🙂

  2. I wish I had seen this when we studied Australia last autumn. It would have been such a good hands-on project! I like your designs. They sure look like works of patience, with the dots and all. 🙂 And thank you for the link to the music. It is indeed very meditative. I now have new music to relax/meditate to!

    1. I’ll tell you the “patience” secret – we used pretty small pieces of paper! 😀
      Glad you liked the music, it’s lovely isn’t it? I used to use Aboriginal music to help induce trance when I was working with hypnotherapy clients!

      1. Thank you for the tip! I’ll remember to use small pieces of paper when we do this project. Hypnotherapy is a very interesting field. I researched it a few years ago, just out of interest and curiosity. Working with the subconscious in a trance-like state has many applications indeed. It’s very good when used to help other people, as you are doing. 🙂

        1. I love that you researched hypnotherapy out of interest and curiosity – we’re kindred spirits!

          I used to read library books about hypnosis when I was about eleven and try and induce trance in my younger siblings. I only told my mum this recently. She said it explained a few things:-D

          Funnily enough when your last comment came I’d just been thinking about writing a few posts linking what I know from NLP and hypnotherapy with homeschooling. (The cogs are whirring!)

  3. I love these paintings! What fun to do. I think I will let Keilee try these. It reminds me ‘in a way’ of Georges-Pierre Seurat and his Pointillism. This has given me an idea for a little study. I have always wanted Keilee to watch “The Gods Must be Crazy” and we can do that and do your paintings! Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Karen! I know what you mean about Pointillism – I hadn’t made that connection, and I like connections! 🙂 Love the idea of watching the movie and then painting – what fun!

    2. I love that you researched hypnotherapy out of interest and curiosity – we’re kindred spirits!

      I used to read library books about hypnosis when I was about eleven and try and induce trance in my younger siblings. I only told my mum this recently. She said it explained a few things:-D

      Funnily enough when your last comment came I’d just been thinking about writing a few posts linking what I know from NLP and hypnotherapy with homeschooling. (The cogs are whirring!)

  4. I love how you did this. This is one of the projects I have chosen for Art next year… but I think I will dress it up a bit now – in a more cultural experience.

    Thank you for being so thorough and talented frankly!
    blessings,
    Emily

    1. Thank you so much, Emily, you are very kind! It really was so quick and easy to add the extra cultural bits. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
      Lucinda

  5. Hi,
    I always love getting your emails. Homeschooling has become a drudgery and your posts inspire me. I need to break away from the normal, everyday, traditional way of doing school and step out in faith that I can make a difference in my kids’ education without using textbooks

    1. Hi Maria,
      Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to say hello – I really appreciate it.
      I’m having one of those days where neither of my kids seem keen to do much so it’s LOVELY to (a) be reminded of all the fun things we do and (b) feel like I’m part of the inspiration flowing around this wonderful online community!
      Lucinda

    2. PS – Maria – I just wanted to add my whole-hearted vote of confidence that you CAN make a difference in your children’s education without using textbooks! (unless you want to use them, of course :-))

  6. This is just great! Thanks for sharing on Look What We Did. You are always such an inspiration to my art challenged mind. I have featured you today on the Homeschool Review. Also, if you would like to join the writers who contribute to the Homeschool Help series…please send me an email. I would love to include you. -Savannah @ HammockTracks

  7. What a great activity, and they turned out beautifully! So interesting, I didn’t know the meaning behind the symbols, or that the dots were often used to obscure the meaning! I do remember reading that the perspective in Aboriginal art is totally different than in Western art – usually it’s looking down from above instead of from the side as I am used to. Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

    1. Thanks so much, Leanna – for your kind words and the feature! I’m so pleased to have come across your Culture Swapper linkup, it’s full of the kind of activities we love to do.

    1. thanks, Jody! Thank you for co-hosting the blog-hop. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog a bit more – it looks really interesting 🙂

  8. I loved this post so much that I featured it on the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop that went live today. Please stop by to grab your “featured on button” and to link up more of your great content!

  9. Great post! Such a simple and easy way to get the kids interested in our amazing Aboriginal culture. Thanks for taking the time to inspire our children. Cheers, JJ 🙂

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