Australian Aboriginal Dot Painting for Children and Art Resources

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Australian cultural heritage that is passed on for thousands of years by its Indigenous people is very authentic, deeply rooted, and represents all the beauty and tranquillity that nature so generously provides. I found that there is a lot for children to learn about Visual Art through the world of Aboriginal art.

It does not just represent a form of self-expression. Indigenous art is also a response to the world that conveys meaning and has a spiritual purpose.

Even decorative designs found on objects such as shields, boomerangs, and baskets may represent symbols relating to the spiritual or dream world and illustrate relationships with nature.

Originally, indigenous people of Australia used dots to disguise the sacred meanings behind the stories in the paintings. They drew designs that included dots on the soil, and sand, and made body paintings for ceremonies because they could easily erase them as they were considered sacred.

Aboriginal artist painting dots
Photo: Canva

Dot painting originated in 1971 as a Papunya Tula Art Movement. To keep their messages hidden from others, Aboriginal artists removed the sacred elements and abstracted the designs into dots to hide their sacred meanings.

Now dot painting is one of the prevalent Aboriginal Visual Art techniques children enjoy doing so much. We were very excited to try it. Doing visual art with children is fantastic for their fine motor, especially this one. A used cotton tips for dipping into the paint and making patterns with dots.

Indigenous people use colours associated with the earth, including brown, umber, brick red, terracotta, yellow ochre, warm grey, burnt sienna, tan, and shades of green such as moss. We used colours that are very close to colours mentioned above.

Inspired by a gorgeous book with Aboriginal paintings  “Why I love Australia” my daughter did her dot painting.

Here is what we did:

  • Read a book with Aboriginal pictures paying attention to beautiful pictures of art and their meaning
  • A thought about the picture she would like to draw
  • Prepared cards board with colour that suited the theme the best
  • Cut out curvy lines to make the picture more interesting
  • Used cotton tips to paint pictures with dots
  • Gave it a name.

It was lots of fun and a great learning experience for my 3-year-old preschooler.

We often revisit activities that are inspired by Indigenous Art and culture with my children, especially when we talk about Australia and its cultural heritage. We have conversations about the land where we live in the context of its original custodians who lived in harmony with nature. We look at their way of living that was and is so intricately connected to nature, the landscape, the flora, and the fauna of Australia.

Aboriginal Art
Aboriginal puzzle

Exploring Native Australian culture brings a very strong realisation of just how far we disassociated our identity from the natural world.

illustrations from an Aboriginal book with waterway

We treasure the moments when we can get a glimpse of the mystery of human nature that is rooted in centuries of staying connected to the land.

child making dot painting
Aboriginal book and child's painting

My children thoroughly enjoyed this book by Gregg Dreise My Culture and Me.

My culture and Me Gregg Dreise book cover aboriginal boy

There are vast resources for teaching and encouraging the discovery of Indigenous Visual Art in Australia. This is an excellent lesson on teaching children to do dot-art

Here you will find gorgeous Australian & Indigenous wooden puzzles.

Here you will find fabulous Aboriginal Colouring Pages. 

Read more about the techniques and colours of Aboriginal Art here

Aboriginal Art Slide Show

Kid Books with Indigenous Art:“Why I Love Australia”

My First Dreamtime Dot Art Colouring-in Book“: Book 2 and Book 3

Linked with Montessori Monday and Learn and Play

Children’s Books and Printables About Australia

Hands-on Geography Activities You Might Enjoy

  About Anastasia. Anastasia is a former Early Childhood Teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 20 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Browse Anastasia's educational resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

5 thoughts on “Australian Aboriginal Dot Painting for Children and Art Resources”

  1. Beside the obvious dots that indigenous Australians use in their painting, it is the method of story telling which is the main purpose of the painting. They have a clear ‘symbol key’ to show features of the painting that relate to water and watering holes, animal prints, men and women for example which are clearly visible when you can identify the symbols. I think this has to go hand in hand when you are teaching ‘Aboriginal dot painting’. Its definitely not about just putting pretty patterns in dots on a page. You can easily google ‘meanings of aboriginal dot paintings’ and will get thousands of useful entries, including handouts for kids that clearly show what the aboriginal symbols represent. It has to be taught in context otherwise their is nothing Aboriginal Australian about it which is a shame and probably insulting if you are an indigenous Australian.

  2. i think your ideas are wonderfull but i am an aboriginal from tasmania and we dont use dots can you help my email address is auntie dawnb @g mail .coma

  3. Carole Farrington

    Dot Painting was first done in the 1970’s by a school teacher and some of the aboriginal communities took it on as part of their Australia art, but to some it is just dot painting and nothing to do with the aboriginal culture at all.

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