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Aboriginal Dreamtime Symbols

Create a dreamtime symbol in the style of modern Aboriginal culture.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Aboriginal art is very important in native Australian culture. All Aboriginal art is based on how different parts of nature relate to each other. Invite students to learn more about Australia, its native peoples, and their art. Locate the country on a world map. Find pictures of animals that are common on that continent, such as kangaroos, lizards, and birds. Sketch simple outlines of them with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils.
    2. Sgraffito is an art technique that students probably call "scratch art". It's fun to do and easy when using Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons, Construction Paper Crayons or Slick Stix. The word Sgraffito comes from the Italian word sgraffire, which means to scratch. There are layers of colors and the top layer is scratched off to reveal the colors underneath.
    3. On a piece of heavy paper, color a multi-color background with Crayola Crayons, Construction Paper Crayons, Slick Stix or Dry Erase Crayons. Very bright colors are common in Aboriginal art, so it is easy to make the artwork look as authentic as possible. Use all different colors except for black. When the entire paper is covered, color over the multi-colored paper with a black Dry-Erase Crayon or black Slick Stick.
    4. Use a modeling tool like a craft stick, paper clip or toothpick to scratch an Aboriginal designs. Aboriginal art is decorated with meaningful designs (symbols). For example, a squiggly line could be a snake, concentric circles usually represent a camp/village, straight lines mean a road/traveling, and dots (which are very popular in modern Aboriginal art) can represent animal tracks. Encourage students to add designs that relate to the animal. Students can invent symbols. Fill the picture with striking patterns and designs.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

    MATH: Compose two-dimensional shapes or three-dimensional shapes.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationship to various cultures.

    VA: Identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

  • Adaptations

    Research current Aboriginal symbols and find how they are used in contemporary art.

    Identify other cultures and religious traditions that base their artwork on images of nature and animals.

    Write a story based on your Aboriginal artwork. Explain how the symbols of nature relate.

    Assessment: Students draw an animal that lives in Australia and fill their drawing with replicas of Aboriginal symbols.

    Students work as a team with several classmates to create original Aboriginal artwork. They may combine artwork into story form and collaborate to write a story that incorporates all of the team's artwork. The group should be prepared to present this story to an audience.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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